Refinish an Ikea Hemnes Nightstand

Since we dropped the bed down a foot or two, our Ikea Hemnes nightstands from the previous setup were a bit too tall. They’ve been patiently sitting in the corner of our bedroom since the room re-paint, so this week I decided to slap on a new finish and cut them down to size. Before you give me kudos for being on the ball, there’s something you should know…

I’ve spilled 2 full glasses of water that were resting on the carpet since we’ve been without the nightstands…which was enough to propel me into action! Procrastination be damned! No more watery-rug-clean-ups in the middle of the night! World peace!

You remember this guy, right? (Ikea Hemnes Nightstand)

The first and most important step is to take apart the nightstand. Yes, it’s a pain. But let’s not kid ourselves. Trying to sand off the old stuff is much more of a pain when you have to get the sandpaper into tight right-angle joints and the like. Take the furniture apart so you can clamp the pieces down one-by-one and do it right. Save all of the hardware in a safety deposit box or fire-proof safe…or sandwich bag.

I used 80/120grit with my orbital sander. For tight spaces I use a a scrap piece of wood wrapped with 80grit (makeshift block-sander) or the 80grit by itself. Be sure to get ALL of the old clearcoat off. The new stain won’t penetrate it.

I decided to experiment and leave some of the black paint. If it looks horrible, no big. I’ll just sand it away!

Here it is after the sanding.

I cut off about 4″ from the legs to match the height of the platform bed.

Sticking with the stain application I used on the king-sized platform bedframe, I dip my brush in water to saturate the wood, and then brush on the stain unevenly. I want it to look rough. I wipe excess stain off and let it all dry out.


I opted to re-assemble the nightstand and apply the clearcoat. It’s easier to apply when the furniture is standing up like this.

The directions on the polyurethane state that you do not have to sand after each coat, but I recommend doing so if you want a nice smooth surface. Use a fine-grit 220 paper.

I always apply a thicker 2nd coat followed by another sanding session.

Vacuum away the dust and wipe with a wet rag if need be. Now apply the final coat. Do not sand after the final coat! The piece should be nice and smooth by now.

Here’s a before/after!

I think it looks pretty good! What do you think? Next up I’ll be doing the same to our Ikea chest and that nightstand standing there on the left. Look out!


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

August 22, 2014 at 05:08 AM

We are novices wanting to cut about the same 4″ off the legs of our Hemnes night stands. Could you please explain exactly how you made the cuts? (Hand saw? clamp? Shims to ensure a right angle cut on a tapered leg?) Thanks!

August 24, 2014 at 05:08 PM
– In reply to: Liz

Hi Liz- I believe I used a circular saw for cutting the nightstand legs and sanded as needed to ensure the table was level. A hand saw would certainly work just as well, though. I’d love to say I used shims to make sure the angle was perfect, but I eyed it up to the best of my ability and went for it!

January 16, 2016 at 12:01 PM

I am wanting to repaint my nightstands as well but cant find anything online about how to take the Hemnes Nightstands apart. any suggestions?

July 14, 2016 at 05:07 PM

What stain did you use? I like the color.

July 15, 2016 at 10:07 AM
– In reply to:

Rustoleum Dark Walnut

July 17, 2016 at 06:07 PM

Hi, what are the 80 grit and 120 grit sandpaper used for during the process?
Thank you so much!

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