November 17, 2013

I have got to believe we’re not the only ones. Are there more newlyweds out there who made some furnishing purchases they now regret? We went for a big IKEA shopping day after our honeymoon to get enough furniture to give us somewhere to lay our heads. And our TV.

And I’ve been kicking myself ever since. Only one of the pieces truly unbearable. (Especially after I saw Emily Henderson make Hemnes dressers work in this room makeover.)

This nyvoll bed. Why, Rachel? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?


It comes in brown-black, light gray, and medium brown. All of which are a faux-wood, laminate finish. So gross. I feel nothing, but shame. I tried to return it, but I know that was a losing game even before I waited on the phone for 40 minutes.

This post is now done with the sob story, and it’s time to make the best of this nightmare situation. Oh wait, I paid $180 for the ugly bed, too. Way more than this DIYer would spend on ANYTHING in a right state of mind. Okay, now the pity party is really over.

I brainstormed two viable options:

  1. Upholster the bed. I love what Daniel did here to his ikea bed.
  2. Or, paint.

The second point has a massive BUT because ikea products are notoriously difficult to paint over. And then I found Jenny’s project for working on some ikea pax dressers.

I talked it over with my mom and we decided painting should be tried first. Upholstering would be quite tough (weird shapes) and fabric would get pricey. Paint was low(er) risk financially, and I was optimistic at the world of possibility if I was successful in painting ikea’s slick surfaces.

Now we just needed our color. After the usual “should we decorate for our short term apartment or a long term house” debate, we chose Knoxville Gray by Benjamin Moore. It’s that swatch taped to the bed.


I’ve kind of vowed to never paint something again unless I’ve seen it in action in someone else’s space. It’s just too risky and the internet has too much information to go into it blind. Knoxville Gray I had seen and loved. It looks blue/gray/green depending on daytime and sunlight, and dare I say ANY color looks good with it.

Our mattress migrated and we spent the night in the living room. The project wasn’t too invasive because we could just have a movie night campout to the max (as seen on my instagram).

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Although some friends stopped by on saturday and I had to give them the disclaimer, “some people will be like ‘oh, I’m sorry my house is so dirty,’ but our house is literally insane. The mattress is in the living room.”

First, we put on a layer of Zinsser B-I-N shellac based primer. My Home Depot guy (who is one of the good, actually informed ones) said this is your magic trick to tackling ikea stuff. You can use it to paint tile, glass, and lots more things. And it’s going to stick. Plus, no sanding!

I had him tint my primer just a bit to get a truer color of the top coat.


It also dries in only 45 minutes, which I LOVE since it made this a 24 hour project, rather than 48.

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And there it is, folks! You can tell from those two pictures some of the range of how the color reads. The top is during mid-day with natural light and the bottom is similar to night time (if it was a tad more green too.)

It’s looking much, much better. Now that the whole piece is done, I’m revisiting the question of painting the night stands. My friend, Adam, suggested painting the tops only to cover the more worn parts. I love the idea and will be/have been mulling it over. My only beef with the bed now is that it’s quite low to the ground. But let’s be real, this was a huge upgrade.

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Another change I’ve preferred is ditching the plaid sheets for white ones. The white ones are super cheap, so I’m on the hunt for some hotel bedding to invest in. But in the mean time, the white is so much fresher than the red/brown, even if we have to sacrifice some warmth. (The others were flannel). I think I’ve realized I hate brown unless it’s a wood tone.

Next, it’s time to wait and see if this paint job truly is as resilient as promised. I’m on chip-watch 24/7. I got to say, this bedroom is on its way to looking good for we humble apartment dwellers.

My New Cookbook



  • Nyd

    Thanks for sharing! What kind of brush did you use for this project? I’m trying to paint yellow a bed frame that is dark brown. I bought the supplies you suggested and painted on a side that can’t be seen. It looks very smudgy whereas your finish looks great!

    • Rachel Schultz

      4 in foam roller! <3

  • Anne

    How has the paint held up for you? I am debating getting a second hand nyvoll and doing this. Also, how has the nyvoll held up overall? Pretty sturdy? Thanks!

    • Rachel Schultz

      The paint held up well. Good primer is the key I think. The nyvoll was very sturdy!

  • Josie M

    Hi Rachel!

    I think this looks amazing! Especially with that accent wall. Lovely. I came here looking for ways to paint the IKEA Kura bed for our preschooler. We need a solid finish on the paint since he’ll drive cars on it and rub books, toys, and whatever else on it. HA!

    Could you confirm pretty please that you used:
    – 1 coat of tinted Zinsser B-I-N shellac based primer
    – 1 coat of LATEX semi gloss paint (was it Latex, was it 1 coat?)

    In one of your comments you mentioned wishing you’d applied a polyurethane finish. Do you think that would have given it a more durable finish or did you think it would offer something else?

    Thank you so much in advance! You’ll save me weeks of heartache :-)

    • Rachel Schultz

      Hi Josie,

      Yes, we used the primer and two coats of latex paint. I would poly it if I did it over again. We’ve seen a few tiny chips.

  • Tavoris

    Hey Rachel! I’m considering painting my Ikea bed as well. Do you think I could pull off the same look with a different style bed? It has medal rods at the headboard and footboard of the bed.
    Ikea Trysil Bed

    • Rachel Schultz

      Absolutely! Let me know how it ends up.

  • Jennn

    I’m doing this to an ikea kitchen table. Did use latex paint over the primer? Did use a paint brush or a roller brush for the primer and paint? Has it held up?

    • Rachel Schultz

      I used a roller brush and did not prime it. It’s held up well. I wish I would’ve polyurethaned it, though.

  • Giselle

    I bought the same bed and in the same color, and I regret it! This really does beat buying a new bed. How’s the finish? Semi gloss? flat? So all you have to do is apply that special primer and paint? What do you mint by adding a tint to the primer? How is it holding up? Is the color cracking? Thanks for sharing!

    • Rachel Schultz

      Hi Giselle, we used a semi-gloss finish. At Home Depot or Lowe’s or wherever you can just ask them to tint your primer and they’ll know just what you mean. It just makes the top coat go on a bit more true to color when the primer is tinted.

  • 1. Loved the shout out
    2. How does the bed color look against the navy wall? It looks similar on an electronic screen but I understand that is not the case
    3. Your reference to manhattan-nest opened a whole new world to me (I am also semi just discovering the Internet now that I have it at home for the first time since college) – I am filled with envy of their new, but very old, house project. I also wish my apartment had 1/4 of the charm that their Brooklyn place does.
    4. Powertools are on my Christmas list, anything blog related on yours?
    5. Any advice on buying used rugs and/or blankets (blankets for upolsturing)? – wool typically can’t be washed

    miss you – xoxoxo

    • Rachel Schultz

      2. They are similar and it was the main discussion in the “making choices for current apartment vs. future house discussion.” This bed will eventually go to our guest room when we buy a house. (So you’ll be sleeping on it!) I probably wouldn’t choose the color combo for a permanent home, but I don’t think they clash for now.
      3. YES, manhattan nest is right up your alley. I should’ve told you sooner. He does some great stuff. Although some of his problems lately have made me gun shy to ever buy an old house (asbestos and structural stuff)! The charm though. It’s irresistible.
      4. I want photoshop! I can’t believe I’m still using iPhoto to edit my pictures. It’s sensationally terrible. I’ll probably get that before xmas actually. Also, I plan to get a kitchenaid soon if that counts. I need clothes mostly. What else should I ask for for christmas? Blog or otherwise?
      5. Used stuff that’s upholstery related freaks me out. The rug we bought is not great quality but it was cheap from overstock (and new).

  • Wow!! It totally changed the feel of your room. Great work!

    • Rachel Schultz

      Thanks Brianna. I agree :)

  • Alice R.

    Very nice! Thank you for the tip on the primer. I use only white sheets as well, and love it. I have white flannel ones for winter. They came from the Company Store, and I’ve been pleased with them.

    • Rachel Schultz

      Great to know! Thanks Alice.

  • Rosemarie Hill

    Great job but weren’t you overwhelmed by the fumes? We used that product one time inside the house and couldn’t believe how bad the fumes were even with all the windows open and the fans on, but I do have to say the finish has held up for years. We painted over a cedar wall full of shiny slick varnished wood without sanding and it still looks great.
    An idea for you which we just did with our low to the ground bed, We bought bed risers from Walmart -They come in a 4 pack(one for each leg :) for $8.00. OH MY GOSH what a wonderful difference it made. They are 5 3/4 inches tall and you really don’t think that is alot until you put them under the legs. They are heavy duty black plastic but they still look nice. They do have shorter 3 1/4 ” wood ones at Fleet Farm which are UGLY wood but they could be painted if you prefer wood. We went with the plastic for more height and they look wooden anyhow. Keep Posting. I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!

    • Rachel Schultz

      Thanks for the info Rosemarie!

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