Baby’s Dresser

39 Comments

Posted by Rebecca, April 11th, 2012

Since we started planning a nursery, the Hemnes 8-drawer dresser from Ikea has been in my plans.

(via Ikea)

The question was the color. Ikea has a few options that would work– the black brown, the gray brown (pictured above), the white or we could paint it a bold color. The bold color was my choice up until we actually painted the room. When I saw everything all complete, I couldn’t help but think of a white dresser.

I figured this would be a piece of cake, we would just buy the dresser in white! But then I realized something– Ikea’s white furniture is not solid wood. Part of the appeal of the Hemnes collection was that (I thought) it was all solid wood. After selecting a solid wood crib that was made without the use of formaldehyde, I wanted to also have a safe dresser.

Our line of thinking around here has always been that we do the best we can. We knew that it would be impossible (or rather, out of our budget) to make a 100% eco-friendly, non-toxic nursery, but we wanted to make smart decisions where we could. I knew it would be inevitable that say, an upholstered chair and our hardwood flooring would off-gas somewhat, so we used no-VOC paint, solid wood molding for the paneling behind the crib, non-toxic construction adhesive and purchased an organic mattress and changing pad. We tried to cut out the chemicals where we could.

I also know that nearly no dresser is 100% solid wood. Unlike cribs, many dressers contain particleboard to make up the back of the dresser or drawer components, so I assumed this would be part of our “suck it up” off-gassing to account for. Still, I could not swallow the idea of a particleboard and fiberboard dresser. We started to look for other dressers that were white and solid wood.

I should mention here that my original, original thought was to find a secondhand dresser to refinish. I don’t know where all of these bloggers with awesome Goodwill stores and thrift shops live, but we looked for a few months and never found anything we liked as much as the Hemnes dresser. Okay, we never even found anything we liked, period.

In looking at other options, we quickly realized that no one can beat Ikea in price. Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod have high quality, solid wood furniture, but it is more than double the price of Ikea. $700 for a dresser was not in our budget. We also checked the usual baby furniture at Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby, but we did not find a single dresser we liked there either… and they were more expensive than Ikea.

We decided to take a trip to Ikea to check out the dresser in person. We liked it. We scratched our heads. We talked in the dresser section for probably 20 mins. We said our mantra was always to do the best we can within our budget. Since we’re going over budget with our glider purchase, we knew we couldn’t do it again. We decided that I was just being neurotic and that plenty of people have non-solid wood furniture. We cut out where we could. Mike told me that if this purchase was going to bother me, then we shouldn’t do it. But we did it, and it did bother me even minutes after buying it.

I felt that maybe we should have gone with one of the children’s furniture lines because at least they have some sort of certification from the JPMA or whatever. So I decided to email Ikea and ask them if their non-solid wood products met any sort of emissions standards, specifically if they were CARB compliant in the state of California (the strictest emissions standards in the US). Their response shocked me. Part of the email read:

We have strict rules concerning formaldehyde, and we do not permit the use of paints and varnishes containing formaldehyde additives. For wooden products, we apply the German E1 standard and have done so for many years now. For textiles, we apply the Finnish regulations.  In both cases, these are currently the strictest within their field worldwide.

I googled around a bit and found that Ikea had run into some trouble with formaldehyde emissions in their furniture products back in the 90s. Since then, they have a policy that they will meet the strictest regulations that exist within their markets, which for furniture is currently Germany. That way, they don’t have to make a separate piece of furniture to sell in the US, Germany, Japan or wherever. Kudos Ikea!

My googling also let me to find that the second round of California’s CARB emissions should be more strict that the European E1 standards. Interesting and good for California! Now if only the rest of the country would catch on…

I have seriously read so many documents about parts-per-million, different types of wood and standards around the world that my head is spinning. I feel much better about my purchase knowing that it contains minimal amounts of formaldehyde (since formaldehyde does indeed occur naturally in wood and some off-gassing will inevitably occur in all pieces).

Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to email companies and ask them about their policies. Even if it just helps you sleep better at night knowing what you purchased, it’s worth it.

Very long story short: We have a new dresser and we are very happy with it 🙂

Some parts of the dresser are indeed solid wood and the drawers are lined with adorable yellow striped paper. These little top drawers are perfect for storing our cloth diapers.

We thought of changing out the standard drawer knobs, but I actually like them. The dark balances well with everything.

It’s amazing how quickly a room can get smaller when you add furniture. I seriously used to think this room was too big for a baby!

We love how classy the white looks in the room. We’re happy that it only cost us $299 for a brand new dresser and that it came with some morals. Thank you Ikea for bringing some non-solid wood standards to the little people, you get a bad rap far too often.

Okay, who made it to the end? 🙂

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39 Responses to “Baby’s Dresser”

  1. Elisa says:

    Good to know! Also saw this while we were shopping for a Hemnes cabinet and considered it good changing table material. So in short.. I read every word. 😛

    Question though — I thought this table might be a bit tall for my 5’3″ self — guessing you guys are a bit taller since it didn’t seem to bother you? Mmm mm, love their Hemnes line..

    • Rebecca says:

      I’m only about 5’4″ and while it does seem taller than changing tables, I think it will be fine. I put the changing pad on there and pretended to lay down an imaginary baby just to make sure…

      Plus I read on a bunch of other blogs that people of all heights use it as a changing table with no problem!

    • beth says:

      All great comments that will save tons of money, but as an impending Grannie just wanted to add the idea of a mirror mounted over the dresser. Your new baby will very soon, enjoy looking at you and their own face so great way to stimulate while doing all the messy stuff.

  2. Laura says:

    I love love love this dresser. I bought it in brown/black when I moved to California. When I moved back home to Pennsylvania I couldn’t move it back with me. 🙁 I bought the same one almost immediately after I moved back because I loved it so much. It holds up well and it has plenty of storage. I was even thinking of using it in a future kids’ room. Great choice!

  3. Ainhoa says:

    That is so good to know since we have the same dresser! And I, too, like the knobs it came with. The nursery is coming along so nicely!

  4. Kim S. says:

    My daughter picked out that same dresser for herself just a couple of months ago. She is 13, so not only will it work for babies but it is teen approved!

  5. I love that dresser! And it’s good to know all of that information about Ikea furniture too!

  6. Megan says:

    I’m so glad you found all this out because I have always loved that dresser 🙂

  7. I have such a crush on the Hemnes line. It’s easily my favorite collection at IKEA. Glad to hear it’s safe 🙂

  8. Petra says:

    Looks beautiful! Did you see the blue one?! Why didn’t you get the grey and paint it with your trim paint to get both solid wood and white? I’m surprised too that the white isn’t solid pine like the other colors, and that all colors are the same price even though the white is almost all particle board.

    • Rebecca says:

      Yes, love the blue one but it didn’t go well with our room! We seriously considered painting one white, but it would take a lot of time since the solid wood dressers still have a clear acrylic top coat. We also weren’t sure of how it would come out and we didn’t want to screw up a brand new piece of furniture that we paid full price for. Plus with my due date about a month away, I don’t have the time or energy to take on painting an entire piece!

  9. You just made my life with this post. Seriously… are we the same person? I felt like I was writing this! : ) Except you saved me about 5 hours of Googling to make sure the Hemnes was safe for our little man. THANK YOU! I am definitely purchasing now!! And I feel good about it. Yayuh.

  10. Signe Newman says:

    We just purchased this dresser for our nursery yesterday, I found you in googling for a link to share with nursery curious family. You make me feel better about our decision. We also discussed buying solid wood and painting, but decided against it. Thank you for the detailed post!

  11. Timera says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!! I too have been considering purchasing this dresser for my (soon-to-be) son’s nursery. I have been extremely worried about the safety of the products used and the fact that it wasn’t a children’s room piece. We are going to splurge on a safe crib (young America) so we need to cut corners for budgetary purposes anyway we can.

    Thanks again, looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  12. Thomas says:

    Congratulations on making it through the insane amounts of information regarding toxicity in baby furniture and still managing to come away with something that you really like, was in your budget and is healthy. It isn’t easy.

  13. So glad I came across this post. I love Ikea and their furniture, so this is such a great thing to hear about. Plus I love this line of furniture. 🙂

  14. Elissa says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! We bought the dresser this weekend and ended up getting the small dresser w/ changing table (already assembled) for $80! It was the last one so they put it on clearance. We looked at the Pottery Barn furniture and honestly, I didn’t like it. The draws are much smaller and they were hard to open. It was like wood on wood trying to slide which wasn’t working out so well. Then you look at the price tag – $899! and made in China! No thanks. We love the Hemnes!!! Just wondering what everyone did for a crib. We were still thinking the Kendall PB crib but I don’t think the PB simply white matches the Hemnes. Any thoughts? Thanks so much!!!

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi Elissa! Our crib is from Baby Appleseed and is solid wood, you can read about it here. Some solid wood brands I came across in my search were DaVinci (who also makes the very popular Jenny Lind crib), Bonavita, Baby Appleseed and Million Dollar Baby (manufacturer of DaVinci), and you can read more about those here. Instead of trying to match colors we just went with a dark crib and a white dresser

  15. Elissa says:

    Hi Rebecca, Thanks for the email and reply! We found a crib to match it perfectly!!! Basset Baby makes a crib in Sailcloth white although I think they may be discontinuing the exact crib, hopefully they keep the color. We actually got it on clearance at Babies R Us for $170 after the coupon! My husband put it together this past weekend and it is a really well made piece, living up to the Basset name. We also found that Sorelle made a crib in a creamier white that would have matched too.
    Thanks again for your help!
    Elissa

  16. JenJen says:

    Here is how IKEA might have tricked you:
    They kindly replied to your mail stating that they have the highest industry standards (that might be true- however mind this – industry has very low standards so to be highest does not mean much really)…
    now this:
    they also in whole honesty answered that they have strict rules regarding formaldehyde use in their “varnishings and paints”. .. Do you get the wording? watch carefully.. varnishings! and Paints!
    those are the top coats of the furniture.
    Now, as you diligently discovered IKEA’s furniture are not free of MDF – Medium Denisity Fiberboards and other boards that basically are are made of wood dust glued together in such a manner that they are super strong, not because they use the wood but because they use super strong bonding chemicals and since they contain those wood particles – they can say that it has “something to do with wood” 🙂

    Now, the IKEA letter nor your question did not address the use of formaldehyde in the material used for the construcion of the given furinture, not as much as in the varnishes or the paints – and this is basically what they addressed in the question – they ONLY reffered to what they use or not in their FINISHES or TOP Coats, or sealants, whatever you name it.

    Now do they use the formaldehyde in their construction of their furniture ? most likely.. why? because it is cheal apdn because they did not say the are not using it!

    The industry standards do allow use of formaldejyde and their basic take is that if you paint over it and seal it then it does not emit .. as much.. as it would without finish. So do they paint their engineered wood and boards to seal the emission of the formaldehyde?
    We still don’t know as their reply to you does not address their furniture beyond the varnishes and paints. Get it?

    Industry standards even in Europe allow some parts of furniture to contain the parts containing formaldehyde releasing boards for bottom of drawers, backs of your chest etc.. without being in conflict with the very statement of Highest INdustry standards because this is the HIGHEST industry standard.

    So if you would really like to get the answer you need from IKEA you porbably need to change the wording of your question and make it direct and onot allwoing room for ambiguity and vage answers:
    “Dear Ikea, Does ANY of the materials used in the construction of a given piece of furniture contain formaldehyde in any amount? Please rest assure that when I am asking about the construction materials, I do not mean the finishing coats, and varnishes but I specifically reffer to the wood, particle boards, engineered wood, MDF and any other and all parts that have been used in the construction of this unit. Please let me know if there is ANY part of the furniture that might contain formaldehyde that is a know to be present in bonding adhesives and resins that are used to bind the wood paraticles in the engineered wood and then subsequently emit the formaldehde into the air despite being sealed with top coats that might limit the emission but they do not explicitly remove it entirely”

    So there goes your industry standard..

    Good luck, and to cherer you up do look other famous brands and you will see many of them using things like MDF.. and that translates most certainly into formaldehyde.

    My beef is that if they use it they should reveal it to the parents and they are not doing it. A parent is left in the dark and we all are trying to protect our kids by buying from trusted names that at the end are not as trusted a s we would like them to be and as they accordingly charge us to believe so.

    • CRHJ says:

      I agree, there should be a replacement for the MDF used. I think part of the issue is sustainability, but at what cost. Certainly if there were an extra cost option for those concerned it would be popular IMO.

    • Prathyusha says:

      Hey Everyone,

      I recently purchased the Hemnes White (glossy one) dresser only to lookup online that it was mostly particle board and fiberboard. Other colors are more solid wood.

      So I emailed Ikea yesterday with the content JenJen posted above..glad to share I got this reply today..if it helps anyone like me who do a search and find this website like me:)
      I was planning to return it and buy a 800$ dresser (out of my budget) just to be a safe bet for my baby..but now I changed my mind. Kudos Ikea and Thank you!

      Reply from Ikea on 6/23:
      Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We are always happy to share information about our products.

      Formaldehyde occurs naturally in the environment as a colorless gas with a distinctive odor and it is an essential part of all living cells – for example in all fruits and trees.

      Formaldehyde obviously occurs naturally in wood. In furniture, formaldehyde is used as a binding material for glue, lacquers and paint. In textiles, formaldehyde is used in different resins and adhesives. It is included as binding material in the glue which is used for the production of products made of particleboard, for example.

      For many years, IKEA has required all lacquers used on our products to be formaldehyde-free. We put a lot of effort and resources into lowering formaldehyde emissions, especially targeting the glue used when producing wood based products. The purpose of our work is to develop and implement low emission board and to improve the glue applications used in production. Together with the industry concerned and our suppliers we work to improve production techniques, materials, sourcing and glues in order to lower formaldehyde emission levels.

      The IKEA limit value is approximately half of the European limit for individual wood-based materials. We apply strict limits for all markets. The limits decided within IKEA are kept by a comfortable margin to the stated limit values.

      IKEA requires formaldehyde free surface coatings (lacquers, paints); this means that the final product will have an even lower emission level than the individual materials.

      Half of the European E1-limit corresponds to the strictest level (Phase 2) of the California (CARB) regulations. The IKEA boards, particleboards and fibreboards correspond to the CARB phase 2 requirements. The same applies for plywood, and the CARB level 2 in this case is even stricter than half of the European legal limit, it corresponds to about 1/3 of the European limit.

      We work closely with our suppliers to continually improve and implement quality routines and procedures. As part of our quality assurance program, we do continuous random tests for both the materials used in our products and the finished products.

      As a global retailer IKEA has a significant responsibility in developing products that are safe. Our ambition is to work to always improve the material and the production methods used in the manufacture of our entire product range.

      We will continue to strive with our supply partners to reduce formaldehyde as much as possible, to improve material and production methods, and to provide our customers with products that are as consistently safe as any in the world.

      The HEMNES 8 drawer dresser in Black Brown is made of solid wood, but we have listed the dimensions for the HEMNES 8 drawer dresser in white below:

      We hope that this information has been helpful, and we thank you for your inquiry.

      Best Regards,

      Nicole

      IKEA Customer Care

      IKEA US Customer Support Center

      Email: UScustomercare259@ikea.com

    • Prathyusha says:

      Hey Everyone,

      I recently purchased the Hemnes White (glossy one) dresser only to lookup online that it was mostly particle board and fiberboard. Other colors are more solid wood.

      So I emailed Ikea yesterday with the content JenJen posted above..glad to share I got this reply today..if it helps anyone like me who do a search and find this website like me:)
      I was planning to return it and buy a 800$ dresser (out of my budget) just to be a safe bet for my baby..but now I changed my mind. Kudos Ikea and Thank you!

      Reply from Ikea on 6/23:
      “Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We are always happy to share information about our products.

      Formaldehyde occurs naturally in the environment as a colorless gas with a distinctive odor and it is an essential part of all living cells – for example in all fruits and trees.

      Formaldehyde obviously occurs naturally in wood. In furniture, formaldehyde is used as a binding material for glue, lacquers and paint. In textiles, formaldehyde is used in different resins and adhesives. It is included as binding material in the glue which is used for the production of products made of particleboard, for example.

      For many years, IKEA has required all lacquers used on our products to be formaldehyde-free. We put a lot of effort and resources into lowering formaldehyde emissions, especially targeting the glue used when producing wood based products. The purpose of our work is to develop and implement low emission board and to improve the glue applications used in production. Together with the industry concerned and our suppliers we work to improve production techniques, materials, sourcing and glues in order to lower formaldehyde emission levels.

      The IKEA limit value is approximately half of the European limit for individual wood-based materials. We apply strict limits for all markets. The limits decided within IKEA are kept by a comfortable margin to the stated limit values.

      IKEA requires formaldehyde free surface coatings (lacquers, paints); this means that the final product will have an even lower emission level than the individual materials.

      Half of the European E1-limit corresponds to the strictest level (Phase 2) of the California (CARB) regulations. The IKEA boards, particleboards and fibreboards correspond to the CARB phase 2 requirements. The same applies for plywood, and the CARB level 2 in this case is even stricter than half of the European legal limit, it corresponds to about 1/3 of the European limit.

      We work closely with our suppliers to continually improve and implement quality routines and procedures. As part of our quality assurance program, we do continuous random tests for both the materials used in our products and the finished products.

      As a global retailer IKEA has a significant responsibility in developing products that are safe. Our ambition is to work to always improve the material and the production methods used in the manufacture of our entire product range.

      We will continue to strive with our supply partners to reduce formaldehyde as much as possible, to improve material and production methods, and to provide our customers with products that are as consistently safe as any in the world.

      The HEMNES 8 drawer dresser in Black Brown is made of solid wood, but we have listed the dimensions for the HEMNES 8 drawer dresser in white below:

      We hope that this information has been helpful, and we thank you for your inquiry.

      Best Regards,

      Nicole

      IKEA Customer Care

      IKEA US Customer Support Center

      Email: UScustomercare259@ikea.com

  17. Sydney says:

    Pottery Barn Kids dressers are a combination of wood, veneers, and MDF, according to their website.

  18. Out and about peon says:

    It’s really difficult to find all wood childrens furniture, especially at affordable prices. Which realistically, I don’t want to spend $1,100 for an all wood dresser that my son is guaranteed to write on with marker or etch his name in with a pen, at sme point, in the next few years.

  19. Carrie says:

    I love the dresser in your room! We were just at Ikea tonight and I panicked that the white dresser is too yellow and that they drawers were a slightly different color than the dresser body…did you find that? The dresser seems to look great with your white trim! Thanks for any thoughts! -Carrie

  20. Lauren says:

    Hi, do you remember if you purchased the Hemnes dresser in “white” or “white stain”? They apparently have two different white finishes. I think I am experiencing the same problem as the last poster in that I purchased the “white” and it is more of a creamy off white than a bright white. It’s driving me crazy! Their website photos are no help at all.

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi Lauren! Ours was just white, at the time there was no other option. It is sort of glossy so I’m assuming it’s not considered a stain!

  21. Julie says:

    I am obsessed with the Hemnes 8 drawer dresser, however I am in need of advice…I like either the gray-brown or black-brown but am not sure what color crib to get to coordinate with either one of those colors. I am not planning to get the crib from Ikea. Please help! Thank you!

  22. Ash says:

    The “white stain” is definitely more true white then the “white”. The way they make the “white” now is definitely more on the creamy/yellowish side. We originally planned to go for white but after seeing it in the store decided on the white stain as our crib is white and wanted a more true white dresser!

  23. Bongo nets, CTD rosette (with MOCNESS in background), and ROV photos by article author. The primary (and most well-liked) method is to meet dates in a social setting, like a trendy bar, a nightclub, a concert or even by partaking in various activities. Contrary to popular belief, scuba diving is not a big part of every marine biology research project.

  24. Jessica says:

    Hi,

    What color paint did you use for your walls and ceiling for your nursery?

    Thanks

  25. Cheenu says:

    We love the color and finish of the hardwood floors shown – would you know what stain color (or mix of colors it was), and possibly how it was finished.

    Thanks much.

  26. Miss Rumbold says:

    Hi I was in the same position this evening as I could not decide! Ok so ikea white is a gloss finish more of an antique white made out of MDF where as White stain is a bright white made out of solid pine. I preferred the look of the white finish but decided on the White stain as it’s made from natural wood and it’s for my boys room. Hope this helps.

  27. Tanne says:

    I recently punched the Hemmes 3 draw dresser
    It was exactly what I wanted my place is very small
    No good closet space and I wanted white .
    I have had the dresser in my sleeping room for
    2 to 3 weeks now and it just has a strong toxic
    Smell giving me a headache all the time
    I have a air filter running 24/7 and when I go out
    I put the ozone purifier on I leave what little windows
    I have open.
    I called Ikea to ask if they suggest anything I could do to help
    Decrease the smell they just said bring it back
    I have to pay someone to deliver it plus it is all put together now
    Looks great …also effecting my breathing.
    They had no info if fire retardants were used or chemicals
    Treating the product they just kept reading what it said in the catalogue
    Solid wood -pine, stain, fiberboard acrylic paint.
    I would like to resolve the toxic smell and keep it
    Or it may be cheaper to sell it to someone with a bigger space and
    Less chemical sensitivities then me, than pay delivery back to the store.
    If anyone has a suggestion I would appreciate it. I couldn’t imagine
    Anything like this toxic in a child or baby’s room

  28. Jen says:

    kove the ceiling light. Where is it from?

  29. Kira says:

    Hello!! I have been researching dressers for so long trying to find a good one. I LOVE your review on this one. I know it’s a few years old, so I was wondering if it’s still holding up? Also, IKEAS website says there is “white” and “white stain.” Which one did you choose? I want a really white one….:) Any extra info helps!..If you’re still paying attention to this thing haha. Thank you!

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