When I couldn’t find the style of armoire I wanted to use for the story Refresher Course in the February 2009 issue of Style at Home, I decided to customize an off-the-rack one. I found a diamond in the rough at IKEA. The Standa wardrobe is made of solid spruce and has nice proportions. But I felt the knotty wood, exposed black bolts and hardware left it looking more rustic than classic. The solution? An upmarket makeover courtesy of stock mouldings, new knobs and a lick of paint. I admit, because I was on a tight deadline to complete the project for the shoot, I had a contractor friend, Val Kokalov do the wood work, while I handled the painting. But it’s definitely a project an avid DIYer can tackle. Here’s how to:
1 Assemble the Stranda according to IKEA’s instructions but don’t install the doors until after you are finished adding the moulding and painting the armoire.
2 Fill the predrilled holes for door pulls with wood filler. Let dry, then sand.
3 Using wood glue and screws, attach a strip of MDF to each side off the armoire at the bottom so that the top of the strip is level with the bottom of the front frame of the armoire.
4 Position a ½ inch thick piece of MDF board on the top of the armoire so that the back is flush with the back of the armoire but the board extends past the cabinet front and sides by about 1/8 inch. Cut two pieces of MDF to act as centre support brackets between the original armoire top and the new false top. Glue, then screw the new false top and the supports in place to secure. The edge of the board provides a square surface to which the crown moudling can be applied.
5 Measure, then cut baseboard mouldings to wrap around the sides and front of the cabinet’s base. Use a mitre saw or hand saw and mitre box to make mitred corner joints. Attach the baseboard to the cabinet by nailing through moulding and into cabinet front and MDF strips on two sides. Counter sink all nails, then fill with wood filler, let dry, then sand.
6 Repeat Step 5 but this time for crown moulding.
7 Prime then paint the armoire. I used Pointing in Oil Eggshell from Farrow & Ball.
8 Measure, then drill new holes for knobs. I used IKEA’s Antik knobs in a brass colour finish. Install the armoire doors, then adjust the hinges as needed so they hang evenly.
Photography by Virginia Macdonald