{Ikea Hack DIY} How to Add a Drawer Knob

It's almost embarrassing to call this project an Ikea Hack given the simplicity of the change, but I was looking for a quick and easy way to give our Malm dresser a little sumpthin'. We're working on an envelope to add Pier 1's Hayworth Dresser to our master bedroom suite (we have the nightstand and bedside chest already), but in the meantime, our 6-drawer Malm is functional, even if a little clunky. 

I was already in the midst of about five other projects this weekend, so I wouldn't allow myself to chew off any more than simply adding knobs to the drawers. I love the idea of O'verlays and/or adding mirrors or gray grasscloth to the drawer faces, but I opted for easy peasy, knowing we wouldn't be keeping the dresser (and anything too custom might make it tougher to sell on CL when we're ready for the Hayworth piece).

Funny enough, there are tons of awesome posts out there with tips for upgrading various Ikea dressers and nightstands, but they seemed to skip an important detail in their tutorials/DIY recaps: how to add the knobs. They mention that step, but it's not much more than a mention. "Add knobs." Oh...kay. And it may be an intentional omission because the assumption is made that it's too easy to cover, but I had no idea how to go about it, so this little girl needed some help. I Googled and found this awesome video, which helped me knock out this project in a snap. So, dear blogosphere, I offer to you my step-by-step recap, dedicated to those of you who also need the 101 deets.

What you'll need: 

  • Painters tape
  • Pen/pencil
  • Yardstick (or measuring tape)
  • Knob and screw* - I used these satin nickel and acrylic knobs
  • Drill with appropriate sized bit (I used 3/16 per the recommendation of the dude at Lowe's)
  • Screwdriver
  • Cloth/rag
  • Washer (optional) 

The Drawer {Before}
First, find the center of the drawer using the measuring device of your choice. Apply a strip of painters tape on the drawer face, and mark the crosshairs of the center with your pen/pencil. (If you're doing a handle with two screws, you obviously need to do that math to find the appropriate placement in the center, since it'll depend on the size of the handle. If I were doing a handle, I'd probably make a template to reuse. But center is simple enough to find for a single knob.) 

Enter: power tools. This was the first time I've used a drill, which was probably a little bold given M was away working on set all day, but I was like, "Well, I mowed the lawn, edged, and had a beer today, so maybe it'll all just fall into place." Workin' on my dude skills, y'all. Turns out, not so scary. And I only sacrificed one drill bit. (Yeeeeeah, so the direction of the spinning...matters. Lesson learned, am I right?!) Before drilling, I applied another strip of painters tape on the inside of the drawer (where the drill would come through) to help minimize splintering (in the absence of scrap wood). Then, drill on through at the crosshairs. Confidence is key!

Looky! A hole! Use the rag to wipe away the debris, and remove the painters tape. (I actually saved the strips of painters tape for the subsequent drawers, and pushed the sticky side of the used tape down on the freshly drilled wood shards to minimize mess; then wipe with rag, or in my case, washcloth.)

Now, attach the knob and screw. I added a washer on the inside of the drawer for a cleaner look, but that's totally optional. Use the screwdriver to get it nice and secure.

That's it! It took less than 30 minutes to do all six drawers, and I was so surprised at what a change it made. The addition of the knobs has been great motivation to finish up more of the decor elements in our master, such as adding a tray, catchall, and some objets to style the top of the dresser, hanging curtains, and adding a plant to the corner (behind the dresser). I'm thinking a fiddle leaf fig in a round basket. (Of course I am, right? Blogger, duh.)

Thanks for bearing with the shoddy iPhone photos. And if you're still feeling frisky, check out some of my other DIYs!

*Lil tip: make sure you have the right screw length for the drawer thickness. Neither of the screws that came with my knobs fit, so I had to make another run to Lowe's to find an in-between length. Fun.


  1. Trying this today with a 3 drawer malm! I was nervous but thanks for the detailed instructions on how to drill the hole!

  2. I know this was a while ago but I'm just about to do this on my malm dresser! What size screws did you all end up using? Thanks ☺

    1. I honestly can't recall the size of the screws, but I measured the width of the drawer front and allowed about 1/4"-1/2" longer so I could screw it in and secure it properly to the knob. I actually think I bought two size screws so that I could test out which was best (with minimal excess) and took the others back, so maybe do the same so you can find what is just right for the knob of your choosing!