NEW FEATURE! Polished!: Ikea Helmer Hack for DIY Polish Storage

As my polish hoard, uh, collection, has grown I’ve been wanting to add a special feature so I can dish about polish outside of just what arrives in my subscription boxes. I’m kicking off my new Polished! feature with a topic that pervades every forum and group with serious polish collectors. Storage.
Helmer
One of the most common storage solutions for expanding polish collections is the Ikea Helmer. Priced at a modest $39.99 it can house hundreds of bottles of your favorite hues in an itty bitty living space. With my collection currently clocking in at 365 bottles, this little guy would give me a spot for all my bottles, with room to add on to my collection.

Unfortunately, the Helmer looks like an office filing cabinet rather than a piece of cute furniture, so I decided to give it a transformation by decoupaging the drawers and replacing the handles. I’m creative and crafty but not the best with precision so I was crossing my fingers that the end result would be decent.

THE TOOLS
Tools

Hard Coat Mod Podge: After extensive research on the elventybillion types of ModPodge, I opted for the HardCoat.   It’s perfect since it’s designed to be used for furniture and doesn’t require a sealant.
Exacto Knife & Scissors: I recommend an exacto knife for precision.
Brush: For applying Mod Podge
Tongue Depressor or Popsicle stick:
For flattening out the paper
Paper: I went a bit spendy with my paper choice because I love the Rifle Paper Co. I opted to use their gift wrap in two different prints and alternate them on the drawer fronts. If you want to cover all the drawers with the same print, just be ready to spend a lot of time lining up the patterns correctly.
Rubberized Shelf Liner: You want to line the drawers with rubberized shelf liner otherwise the bottles are going to move around when you open and close the drawers.

THE CHALLENGES

The cabinet has slots for putting in labels. I had hoped they were an extra piece I could pry off, but unfortunately they are molded into the metal so I had to work around them. I also knew I wanted to switch out the handles that came with the Helmer, but I couldn’t get an adequate fix on the size until I had the cabinet in hand. Unfortunately, the handles are smaller than average (approx. 2 1/2 inches), and I needed either 6 matching handles, 2 sets of 3 matching handles, or 6 coordinating handles. Adding to the challenge, I really wanted something in a vintage brass since I thought that would match well with the style of the Rifle paper.

I came across these on Ebay and grabbed them for $14.88 including shipping. I was hoping the backplate would cover up the label slots, but unfortunately they were a bit small for the task.
Handles Handle

CONSTRUCTION

With some cursing and much annoyance, I constructed the cabinet with the exception of the drawers. It’s important to note that the cabinet has some weird tabs that you just “push” down rather than using actual screws. It tells you to use a screwdriver to push down the tabs. If I need a screwdriver, why not just use a damn screw? I’d feel a lot better if the thing was held together with actual metal screws instead of just a tiny piece of bent metal and some faith, but I digress.

Using the exacto knife, I cut out paper the same size as the drawer fronts. I applied a layer of Modpodge to the drawer fronts, carefully aligned the paper on top, then another layer of Modpodge. I used the tongue depressor to smooth out any bumps. I let that layer dry and then added an additional layer, focusing on the edges. Since you’ve now covered up the holes for the handles, you’ll just need to carefully poke the holes for the screws.

While the drawer fronts dried, I cut the rubberized shelf paper to size.
Lining
Then, I completed the drawers. I was still waiting on my handles, so I went ahead and finished the cabinet using the original handles in the box and added my plethora of polish.
Drawer
Zoya Drawer Julep

Here’s a looksee of the version using the included Ikea handles:
with Ikea HandlesOnce my new/old handles arrived I replaced them. I used the same handle screws that came with the Helmer, but I plan to add some washers or pick up some slightly different screws so the handles are a bit tighter. They are serviceable but it would be better if they were snugger.

COSTS
I already had the scissors,exacto knife set, brush and tongue depressor so I didn’t need to purchase those items. The cost to me for this IKEA hack is as follows (including tax & shipping):
White Ikea Helmer: $42.79
Rifle Paper Co Wrapping Paper:   $21.95
HardCoat ModPodge:     $6.22
Handles: $14.88
Rubberized Shelf Lining Paper:$4.74
TOTAL   $90.58

I opted for expensive paper in two different prints so if you use cheaper paper, or just one print, your cost will be lower. In addition, you could always skip adding your own handles as another way to get the cost down.

OVERALL
With Vintage Handles

The Helmer is perfectly sized to hold polish, but not taller items like Nail Polish remover. I have a vintage train case that I use to hold my swatch sticks, tools and taller items.  So just be aware you’ll probably need to make room elsewhere for other polish related paraphernalia.
Train Case

The cabinet isn’t the sturdiest thing in the world, and I was super concerned when putting it together, but now that it’s all in one piece it’s much stronger than I thought it would be and better than I expected at this price point. I’d like handles that can do a better job of covering the bump (see below) where the label would be inserted. I’m going to keep my eyes open and see if anything pops up on Ebay or Etsy.
Bump

I’d love to hear your opinions on my IKEA hack and whether you’d like to see more DIY or polish posts!

Once upon a time, long, long ago, Lisa attended Syracuse University where she studied singing in a giant castle surrounded by ice and snow. After she earned her music degree, she headed to the island of Manhattan, down to the West Village, to a place called the New School. There, she earned another degree in the great art of writing stories for children. She currently works on that same island trying to help real people, while making up stories about imaginary ones. Her first book, “The Ice Maiden’s Tale,” a fairy tale adventure, was released on May 30, 2017 and is up for sale on Amazon. In the meantime, she keeps herself occupied by obsessing over subscription boxes and home renovations.

16 thoughts on “NEW FEATURE! Polished!: Ikea Helmer Hack for DIY Polish Storage

  1. Girl, this looks GREAT!! I always wish I had to ability to do some IKEA hacking. I have the time, I just don’t have the space! My apartment would go from clean to messy in seconds! I have my nail polish stored in a wall rack that fits just over 100 bottles. It keeps me from buying any more until I give my collection a clear out!

    • Thanks! I’m not sure the pictures show it, but this cabinet is really tiny. Like the drawer height is the exact size for polish. I have a small apartment so I couldn’t do anything too big. I’m limiting myself to whatever fits in the Helmer, so if I get too many polishes, I either stop accumulating or give some away to friends.

    • Thanks! The rubberized liner is really helpful for any kind of drawer where you have items that tend to move around. Great for other makeup too!

  2. I am sooooo impressed! What a great job you did! I don’t know if I could even put it together let alone decoupage it. I wish Ikea was closer to where I live, it’s about 50 mi away. I think I need this not just for nail polish but for other makeup. I’ll probably just keep mine in the the basement of maybe I could clean up my office and keep it in here. I hope it’s not too difficult to put together. Thank you for the great ideas!! I’m gonna take it one step at a time 😉

    • Thanks! They have a really pretty red and a bright green so you could always just opt for a fun color and maybe change out the handles if you want to personalize it. Honestly, I had an easier type with the decoupage than putting the stupid thing together, but if I can manage I think anyone can. These will work great for makeup storage. They are perfectly sized for beauty storage – small but with just the right height and space for the products. They’d also work well for jewelry and accessories.

  3. This is so beautiful! Those Rifle Paper Co are some of my favorite papers! I go nuts when I find a store that carries their products. So I’m loving that you put them on this cabinet. It looks so much more personalized! Great idea and I’m thinking this might be something I need to pick up because my nail polish is getting a bit ridiculous!

    • I swear it’s like the nail polish multiplies when you’re not looking. It’s actually a very small cabinet even though it fits a ton of polish. Personally I think it’s one of the best type of polish/beauty storage for people short on space in their homes.

    • Thanks! I don’t have the patience to line up the same print perfectly so I knew I had to go with alternating patterns. I was worried they’d look weird, but I think it worked out.

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