DIY Projects

Transform a Basic Budget-Friendly IKEA Bed into a Unique Find

If you've been unable to find your dream bed—or simply cannot afford it—apply a little DIY magic to transform a cheap find into a statement piece. That's what I did when I couldn't find a daybed for our nursery. Every vintage (or vintage-style) bed I came across completely blew my budget. When I spotted the Ikea Hemnes bed, I was attracted to its price and its three practical storage drawers, but a glossy white daybed wasn't quite the look I was going for. Since I'm eight months pregnant, you’d think a bed refinishing project would have been out of the question for me, considering all the chemicals and nasty VOCs contained within many paints and strippers. But by refinishing the bed with milk paint, I managed to find a solution that’s completely nontoxic and creates that aged, distressed character I desired.
View the slideshow above for instructions on making a one of a kind bed.
Milk Paint

  •     Milk paint: Because milk paint is made with earth pigments, you won’t find every color (neon green is not an option). But you can mix any of the 16 colors to create different hues. I went with Soldier Blue and Slate Gray for my bed. I wound up using two pints of the blue and one pint of the gray.
  •     Milk paint extra bond
  •     Milk paint clear coat
  •     Angled brush
  •     Small foam roller (plus roller covers)
  •     Cheap dollar brushes for mixing paint
  •     Clean plastic containers
  •     Foam brush
  •     Kitchen sponge
  •     Extra fine grit sandpaper
  •     Dusting cloth
  •     Room temperature bottled or filtered water; you can’t use unfiltered tap water for making milk paint since it has chlorine
  •     Rags and drop cloth

Milk paint—used since the 1700's— is a durable, but nontoxic paint that predates the use of petrochemicals, toxic bases and solvents found in modern paint. Its simple ingredient list includes milk protein, lime, clay and earth pigments. You'll find it in powder form, and only need to add water to begin. The truly biodegradable liquid can be flushed, contains zero VOCs and dries odorless—making it a great option for a nursery or any other DIY-loving moms-to-be out there.
Mix Your Milk Paint
Making milk paint, much like mixing chocolate milk, doesn't require exact measurements. If your paint becomes too thick or runny, just add a bit more water or milk paint powder to achieve the right consistency. As a general rule of thumb, add equal parts milk paint powder to hot or room temperature bottled water (cold water will create lumps), and stir well! Mix your paint in small batches — you can always add more.
Tip: Because milk paint is nontoxic, it’s safe to use a handheld mixer or blender to combine the paint and water (which is the easiest way to remove any small powder lumps in the paint solution.) I used cheap dollar brushes to mix my milk paint, though, which worked nicely.
Bond Your First Coat
Great news! You don’t need to prime your bed for this refinishing project—just make sure the surface is clean, smooth and dust-free. Since I was starting with a new piece of furniture, I dove right into painting the first coat. Make sure you remove any hardware and drawers from the bed to make it easier to paint every section.

For the first coat of milk paint (especially if you have a shiny, polyurethane surface) you’ll need to add in Milk Paint Extra Bond, or the milk paint will peel off and won’t adhere to the piece. Follow the instructions on the label — basically it’s a 2:1 ratio of your milk paint mixture to the extra bond solution. The Milk Paint Extra Bond is a creamy white solution that easily mixes into the milk paint (and it’s also nontoxic.)
Apply First Coat
You can use either brushes or rollers to apply milk paint to your bed. I tried both, and found it easier to use a brush for the very first coat containing extra bond. You’re not going for solid coverage—just a first layer so that the milk paint adheres to the surface. Make sure to cover areas like grooves and slatted sides. Your first coat will look very sheer—milky, even.
Add Coats for Solid Color
My goal was to create a solid dark blue color that would peek out from a distressed gray coat. I needed three coats of the blue paint to create a solid, rich foundation. I'd recommend switching over to a small foam roller for the second and third coat, because it’s faster to use, enables better coverage and you don’t have to worry about brush strokes. I did find it helpful to use a small artist brush for applying the paint to the slatted grooves on the back and sides of this daybed.

Some Tips:

  •     Stir your milk paint solution every so often to keep a smooth consistency. If your milk paint has thickened, add a little more water and stir.
  •     Be sure to let the milk paint dry for an hour between coats.
  •     Wrap your foam roller or brush in plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator so the paint doesn’t harden on the applicators while you’re waiting for paint to dry.

Sand for Smoothness
Once your base paint has dried, sand your bed to create a smooth, even surface. You may find tiny dried bits of milk paint that haven't dissolved; these imperfections can easily be smoothed down with sandpaper. Milk paint sometimes flakes, which is great for creating that distressed look when it is the top coat that starts flaking. If you see flaking in the bottom layers, be sure to sand them away to keep the surface smooth for your top coat. Use a clean cloth to remove any sanding dust.

Tip: When you’re done with a brush, clean with warm water and a little soap.
Mix Paint for Top Color
I was looking to create a Scandinavian-chic look for my daybed, and so I opted for a gray color for my top coat. Again, mix add equal parts powder to water and stir well to make your milk paint.
Apply Paint with Foam Roller
I applied one coat of gray over the entire bed for the final paint coat. It was fasty and easy to apply with a mini foam roller. You will still need a small brush, though, to apply paint to any grooves or slats in the bed.
Distress Top Coat
To create that awesome aged look, you’ll need to sand the bed to lightly distress it.
I spoke to a service representative at the Milk Paint company who shared a great tip about distressing furniture. You can use a new, dry kitchen sponge (the soft side) to lightly distress the piece when the top coat is half dry. I found this to work beautifully, and the sponge also smoothes out imperfections while rubbing away small spots of your top coat.
After the paint dries thoroughly, use fine grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface and distress the natural spots where you’d see wear (like on edges and in the slatted grooves).
There’s no right or wrong here in terms of how much to distress the bed. Continue to sand and lightly distress your piece until it achieves the look you want. Be sure to wipe away any sand dust with a clean cloth.
Top Seal
Milk paint leaves a chalky, matte finish that’s extremely porous and will show fingerprints and stains if left unsealed. The best way to seal the furniture is with Milk Paint Clear Coat (a solution which is also nontoxic). The Clear Coat solution not only protects your surface, but it creates a satin finish.
Pour a small amount of Clear Coat solution into a clean plastic container and apply to your surface using a foam brush.

Carefully run the foam brush over the surface to create a light, even coat. Your solution will look cloudy or bubbly on the surface if you’ve applied too much. Keep a rag handy to wipe any excess solution away.
Allow the Clear Coat to dry for two hours between coats. One to two coats should be fine. (The more coats you add, the shinier the finish of your bed.)
The Daybed: After the Makeover!
Meet my refinished daybed! I’m thrilled with the results. It now has the character I was looking for, and the distressed gray-blue color has a soft, vintage style that I love. Once the bed was painted, sealed and dry, I screwed in a special set of hardware to the drawers. I went with worn, vintage brass knobs that I found through the Etsy shop, DaveysVintage for the perfect finishing touch. Who would guess this bed with an old-world feel came from Ikea, right?
By iVillage (Photo Credit: Ikea)

Tags: Nursery

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