Ikea Hack: TARVA Drawer Dividers

I make no secret of the fact that most days I’d rather be standing on a 2×10 plank over twenty feet of open stairwell, sanding drywall dust off the ceiling directly into right eyeball than doing laundry.

Which is weird, right? Because a.) drywall dust to the eyeball sucks, and b.) laundry isn’t really that hard. And since the farm consists of, uh, me (and a dozen animals that don’t wear clothing), it actually doesn’t take that long either.

But still, for some inexplicable reason, I loathe it. Then, a few weeks ago, while I was reading a book or article or some other such thing on organizing, I had an epiphany. I don’t hate “doing laundry” I hate figuring out what to do with laundry. Which is why I end up with a small mountain of clean used to be clean maybe clean half clean half dirty clothes on top of the washer and dryer. Sometime when I have company I move that pile to my bedroom floor where it becomes a nest for the cat.

I’m so good at life.

So a couple of weeks ago I decided to get my act together when it came to the laundry situation, and the first step was to purge. Do you know how many pairs of long johns I own? Enough to keep a small Eskimo village warm.


I donated four garbage bags full of clothes, threw another two bags away, and then separated everything that was left into piles. You know, work clothes, workout clothes, work-on-the-house clothes, work-on-the-farm clothes (holy shit, do you think I work much?) and then I did exactly what you think– left them sit in piles on my bedroom floor for the better part of a month because I had nowhere else to put them.
I thought about building a couple of dressers from scratch, and then I realized I’d be navigating land-mines of laundry in my bedroom for another two months if I waited to do that, so I opted for the next best thing: Ikea. At $80, these TARVA dressers are cheaper than the materials I would use to build some from scratch, and their super-easy to modify (if you have a barn full of tools at your disposal.) While I’ve got big plans for finishing these things, the first step was to add some drawer dividers since squashing different categories of clothes together in the same drawer drives me nuts. To start,  assembled one of the drawers, then marked the areas for my divider on the front and back pieces. Then I got out one of my favorite tools (who are we kidding, they’re all my favorite)…


In this case “my favorite” was the palm router. I clamped a piece of scrap wood on to act as a guide, and then used a straight bit to make a channel in the front and back pieces.


I bought 3/8″ stock pine to create the dividers. The pieces are 5-1/2″ wide, and I used 13-1/2″ lengths for each divider.


Since I bought two dressers I had six drawers to do. Two of them were divided into three small compartments for smaller items and the rest were divided in half.


Assembly was fairly simple, although the fasteners were a little cheap.


I chose to run the channel in the back piece all the way through the board, but in the front I stopped around 6″ to preserve the top of the drawer front.

Divided three ways…


Divided in half…


All in all, this was a pretty simple modification. Once I got the template set up, in only took about an hour to route the channels, and another hour to assemble all the drawers.

Next up, assembling the frame, cutting the legs down and adding trim to the bottom of the dresser, painting everything, adding new hardware, and creating a new chunkier top out of some different wood. This will be one of my “vacation” projects next week, but in the meantime (and much to the chagrin of the cat) I’ve moved the clothes off of the floor and into the drawers that are stacked on the floor.

Baby steps, people.

9 Responses

  1. Very clever. There is a webspot for Ikea Hackers, you would fit right in.
    You might want to put cooler hardware on it,since the knobs are pretty basic, it would change the look a great deal. Just a thought…great job!

  2. Very nice. How can you claim to be disorganized and then go build something to, well, organize yourself so well??
    Maybe the key is that it was a fab excuse to PLAY WITH YOUR TOOLS!
    I can relate…… Great job!

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