Nesting Chronicles: TARVA Chest of Drawers IKEA Hack

Unlike any pregnancy prior to my current one, when the 2nd trimester kicked in… so did my urge to nest. This urge hit me fast and hard; never saw it coming. This was such unfamiliar territory. What was I supposed to do? Was nesting like a food craving that must be satisfied? Or was my brain just doing its thing where I create a false sense of urgency and everything had to have its place? Instead of deep diving a Google search of typical nesting behaviors I went with my gut. As this is my last intended pregnancy I’m make the most the experience. While accepting my weird combination of truths I decided to feed the urge.

Tarva Chest of Drawers, IKEA

I jumped into nesting head first by looking up storage solutions that didn’t take up a lot of space! Having a quaint 3bd/2ba house that’s less than 1,300 sqft for a soon-to-be party of 6 meant every inch of floor/wall space needed to be used intentionally. I quickly landed on the TARVA Chest of Drawers by IKEA. I loved the unfinished solid wood, the feet for added height, and the modern clean look. This would be perfect for baby clothes, linens, and shared storage for my current youngest toddler. Once I decided I had to have this piece of furniture it was purchased, retrieved from the nearest store (+1 hr drive), brought home, and quickly assembled.

Removed knobs + painted exterior

I already knew prior to purchasing the chest I wanted to add a finish to the wood, but I didn’t want just any stain or a typical “baby” theme design. I wanted something fun, unique, and intriguing. Once the chest was assembled I took to Pinterest for design inspiration. Everything seemed so “expected.” I put my phone down, picked up a pencil and some paper, and got to sketching.

Painted and reapplied knobs

I settled on a modern abstract motif. The original design would evolve to something more playful, less rigid, and more complimentary with the color palette. Over the course of 4 days I would add layers upon layers of paint, playing with scale, textures, and depth of colors until I was finally satisfied. The entire process was very rewarding. Admittedly there were moments during my multi-day paint job that I thought going for my own abstract design was an absolute mistake! I would argue with myself wondering why I couldn’t keep things simple? Would it even turn out ok?

Sketch of design concept

Of course everything would work out. I had to allow myself grace, patience, and allow myself to trust my own process! If this was supposed super easy everyone would be customizing furniture, and we all know that’s not the case. I didn’t mention it, but this was my first attempt at painting a piece of furniture… ever! At the time this was the largest painting project I had ever committed to finishing. After I quit beating myself up my vision became much clearer with the final details. It’s as if the design came to me vs me feeling the need to force it to be.

Design reimagined for scale

As in all things, this project reminded me that what we do is a direct reflection of who we are and could become. As I allowed myself to become less rigid and more playful (at peace) with my circumstances; things began to flow. I hope that message reaches  whoever needs it. I plan on keeping it with me through my pregnancy and as I pivot my way through postpartum life.

Adding final details

Now that I’ve covered my own figurative lessons, let me share some literal ones. Bob Ross wasn’t lying when he said “There’s no such thing as mistakes, only happy accidents.” When it comes to painting, you can’t really take away, but you can make additions to enhance what’s already there.

Here’s a list of tools that helped me achieve my final design.

  • Painters tape – for creating sharp clean lines and edges
  • Pencil – to sketch the design and make temporary markings
  • Stencils – anything used as a base for tracing shapes/images
  • Artistic Brushes – various brush tips help create clean details/effects
  • Paint Markers – for creating bold/fine added details
  • Sealant – preserves the paint and wood and gives a polished look to finished furniture

When you’re ready to start painting make sure you’re working from the bottom layer to the top. Whatever you want in the foreground (even for “flat” images) should be the last details added. Make sure you give the paint time to dry in between coats so colors don’t get muddied or blended unnecessarily, but that’s up to your discretion based on the look you want to achieve. Working with thinner layers of paint allows for quicker drying times, and ease of manipulating, customizing, and blending colors as desired.

Finished with Polycrylic sealer

If you like this project, please give it a try! No need to start big or to add a fancy design. Maybe refinish a piece of furniture you currently have to breathe new life into it? Let me know if you got anything out of this post or have any questions in the comments below! Until the next project, much love.


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