1. Assemble the Fira chests.
Follow Ikea’s written instructions.
2. Sand the chests.
Smooth off the edges with the sanding sponge.
This is not the best quality wood, so these early
prep stages are important to do properly. It can
make the difference between a smooth finish and
a dull, unprofessional look.
3. Stain the chests.
Add 2 coats of stain using a rag instead of a brush.
Wipe on the varnish with one rag, then wipe off the
excess with a clean rag. Keep a steady supply of
rags handy, and wear rubber gloves to avoid
staining your skin. Let the stain dry.
4. Sand again.
After staining, give the chests a light sanding, and
wipe away dust with a large dry paintbrush or
clean dry cloth.
5. Varnish the chests.
You can use a spray varnish to get a nice, even
coat. Slow and steady wins the race with this task.
You can add a plastic handle that attaches to the
spray can, which makes spraying easier and gives
your finger a break.
You’ll need about 8 coats of varnish with some
light sanding after the second and sixth coats. Make
sure to varnish in a well-ventilated area, and wear a
mask if possible.
6. Line the drawers.
Photography by Angie Johnson
After the varnish has dried completely (leave it
overnight at least), line the inside of the drawers.
Johnson used vintage wrapping paper. She measured and cut it to size, then glued it on with
some watered-down white craft glue and an old
paintbrush. She used the end of the paintbrush to
smooth out the paper as she went. This method
helps avoid bubbles and lumps.
Johnson also lined the bottom of the drawers
with cream-colored felt. She didn’t glue it down,
in case she wanted to change the color. As long
as it fits snugly, it isn’t going anywhere.
Figs. A & B: Ikea Fira chest
or Nelson? Fig. C: Attach
the table base. Figs. D & E:
7. Attach the Fornbro table base.
Using small screws no deeper than the thickness of
the wood, attach the table base to one of the chests.
You can also use No More Nails glue for extra security (let it dry 24 hours). For added stability, attach
the round Fornbro tabletop to the base, then attach
the tabletop to the chest.
8. Attach the chests to each other.
Zigzag heavy-duty glue in the centers of the chest
bottoms and tops that you want to stack, and tightly
attach them to each other. No More Nails works
great for this, but a lot of other types of thick glue
could work, too.
TIP: To keep all her earrings and necklaces untangled, Johnson used metal watchmaker’s cases with glass
lids from Lee Valley Tools. They come in many different
sizes, are surprisingly affordable, and have the added
benefit of allowing you to see your jewelry through the