Assembling an Ikea Dresser

In the last chapter of our nursery preparation adventures, we were shopping around for a dresser that could double as a changing table (more on that here.) We ended up settling on a white 8-drawer HEMNES dresser by Ikea — and being naive and inexperienced when it comes to Ikea furniture, actually assembling it was an ordeal that took us the better part of a week.

The unopened Ikea dresser boxes sitting in the nursery.

Look at how small and innocent the two boxes pictured above look, just sitting there, all compact and contained. But then we opened them, and unpacked everything, and just seeing the dozens upon dozens of components made us wonder if we’d gotten in over our heads in the furniture-assembly department:

I call this shot "an Ikea dresser exploded all over the nursery."

By comparison, assembling the crib was child’s play (pun intended) — it comprised of just five pre-assembled pieces, only a handful of bolts, and required just one tool (an Allen wrench) that came included in the box. All told, it took us about an hour from start to finish. (See here for my post on the crib assembly experience.) This Ikea dresser, on the other hand, required a slew of tools and fasteners, which we laid out in the crib for organizational purposes:

Various tools, nuts, and bolts laid out in the crib.

There are even more hiding under the instruction manual in the above photo. Speaking of the instruction manual, it was long, and it communicated its instructions using only pictures, never a single word of English (or any other language). Below is a closer shot of a random page:

A closeup of the assembly instruction manual.

For the most part the instructions were clear and understandable, although a few of the more poorly-drawn steps led to some childish joking around (I know, I know, the manual wasn’t actually telling us to do something naughty to the dresser while standing on a rug.) Anyway, we diligently set to work on the assembly process, and after the first night we ended up with something like this:

Is it a dresser yet?

From there, we continued working at it for maybe an hour per night, just trying to get in a few more steps whenever we could. Overall, the whole thing went pretty smoothly except for two small snags:

  • When we reached the step that involved fastening the dresser to the wall (recommended by Ikea for maximum stability) we thought we’d have to go shopping for some toggle bolts for our plaster walls. But it turned out there was solid wood behind the spot in question, so a normal screw worked just fine.
  • Once we had the dresser mostly-assembled and moved into place against the wall, we realized that it was wobbly, like one leg was shorter than the rest. At first we thought we’d made some horrible mistake in assembling it, but then we realized the problem didn’t happen if we moved the dresser elsewhere in the room — apparently the floor in this old house is just slightly uneven in the corner. So we stuffed a small piece of cardboard under one leg and all was well.

The final stretch involved assembling the drawers one by one — Joe and I each ended up tackling half of them.

An upside-down and partially-assembled dresser drawer.

And the end result was a nice functional dresser, fully assembled and securely fastened to the wall. Our brand-new gifted changing pad is sitting on top, waiting for the last few finishing touches to turn this ordinary dresser into a full-fledged changing table:

The finished dresser!

So now that we officially have the two biggest furniture items for the nursery out of the way, I thought it would be helpful to look at what still remains on the nursery to-do list:

  • A comfy chair — for what will no doubt be many hours of rocking and nursing. We’ve already ordered one, and if all goes well we should be picking it up on Sunday — more details on that coming soon.
  • A fan of some sort — to help with air circulation, which we’ve heard is correlated with a lower risk of SIDS. Maybe a nice ceiling fan if we can figure out how to install one.
  • A screen door — to keep unauthorized kitties out, as discussed in this post.
  • A soft, thick rug — for baby to crawl around on later, and to cushion her parents’ aching feet late in the night. This one is probably optional, but it would be a nice addition.
  • Decorations — the fun part! We’ve got the mural, but the nursery is still lacking various other cute, colorful things for the walls. I’ve also been aching to handcraft some sort of DIY mobile.

The list is a little longer than I would prefer now that there are only five weeks to go, but I feel like we’ve been making good progress so far. And it’s nice knowing that even if Baby Hart were to come home today, at least she would have a place to sleep and get her diaper changes.


  1. Congratulations, your marriage survived a serious test: team assembly of furniture via obscure instructions often leads to swearing and hurt feelings, not to mention occasional hurt fingers! Glad to see you’re happy with the finished result too! Love to all!

  2. I think if you’ve figured out Round Peg A into Square Hole B, putting up a fan is doable! Just remember to turn the power off first, and well – do it in the daylight! And now Joe is becoming mechanically inclined! Has to be a labor of love!

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