Make your own card catalog from an IKEA Tarva chest of drawers dresser.
My dream for a book-related room is becoming a reality. I started adding little touches here and there to my daughter’s room—like book-inspired art and bookshelves—to make it more like a children’s reading nook instead of a bedroom. But the one thing I really wanted was a card catalog to bring it all together. Finding a card catalog is very hard, and vintage ones sell for thousands of dollars, so I decided to make my own.
Just like my last dresser makeover, I used a plain unfinished dresser and removed the hardware. Using some additional wood, Clark+Kensington paint, and new label pulls, I transformed a basic dresser into a beautiful card catalog. My daughter can fit all of her clothing inside, and it adds a lovely pop of powder blue to her room. The color I choose was “Got the Giggles” from Clark+Kensington. It was a tough decision, but I painted a big test piece of pine with paint samples and placed it in her room so I could see it in her lighting and with the surrounding colors. Everyone agreed that the light color looked the best. So I primed the dresser and got to painting. I absolutely love Clark+Kensington paint because it goes on thick to cover wood imperfections and cracks. Clark+Kensington’s paints + primers are top-rated and offer more coverage than standard paints thanks to their Microbead technology. I can’t believe how easy it was to put a couple layers of paint on this pine. It dries fast, and I was able to finish the painting part of the project in a few hours.
Supplies to make the card catalog dresser
- Tarva Dresser from IKEA – This is a standard chest of drawers 5 drawers with the top one being half the size as the others.
- 1 sheet of 1/4 inch thick plywood
- Card Catalog Label Pulls – There are so many different kinds and finishes of card catalog hardware to choose from. I wanted the dresser to look brand new so I went for a silver chrome finish. You can buy card catalog handles that look worn as well. For this tutorial, you’ll need 36.
- Clark+Kensington paint in Got the Giggles
- Paint Primer
- 1/4 inch thick plywood sheet – They come in 4 ft X 8 ft panels. Get the smoothest piece you can find.
Card catalog instructions
To make the drawers look like card catalog drawers, we broke them up into equal sections by using a ¼-inch-thick piece of plywood to give the drawers some depth.
Individual Panel Dimensions: 6 3/4 inch X 3 3/4 inch. Each panel is spaced 1/2 inch apart.
To attach the boards, mark where each panel needs to be. Use wood glue to place the panel into equal distances apart with the 1/2 inch spacing. We used 1-inch panelboard nails so the nail doesn’t go all the way through the drawer.
Then, we sanded the plywood edges and primed them.
Finally, we put two layers of “Got the Giggles” onto the drawers. The finishing touches were the nickel-plated label pulls. Each fake drawer gets one to finish the look. You can also slide a piece of paper into the label pull to make it look even more authentic.
We also cut the legs on the dresser shorter because this dresser is going into my youngest daughter’s room and I wanted to make sure she could reach all of the drawers.
This faux card catalog looks amazing in my daughter’s children’s book inspired room. It brings the whole room together like you’re sitting in a library. It’s amazing to see all the ways you can transform one of these plain IKEA dressers.