Creating my DIY Ikea ALEX Vanity has seriously added joy into my everyday life. It may sound silly but having this really nice, well lit, comfortable, organized setting where I can spend some Me Time getting ready has felt super luxurious and has been a wonderful improvement in the quality of my daily life. I’m an avid watcher of YouTube beauty gurus and if you are too then you know that the Ikea Alex 5 Drawers are part of the “Basic Beauty Guru Starter Pack” but that’s for good reason, they are amazing for storing makeup! And affordable. I will say this post is not a true DIY so you’re not going to have to make a bunch of trips to Home Depot (insert prayer hands emoji here), but more of a how do you put together the Ikea ALEX vanity like all those other beauty gurus step-by-step guide as well as information on other alternative options. I spent a ton of time researching my set up before finally pulling the trigger and making the purchase so now I get to share my findings with you all!
Keep in mind that if you just get the vanity itself (2 Alex drawers and table top) it’s going to cost you just $173.
Vanity Lighted Mirror
I’d also like to give some credit to my BFF Annabelle (be sure to check out her hilarious blog Adderall and Compliments) for giving me my Vanity Girl Starlet Lighted Vanity Mirror which is the most expensive part of this whole set up at $299 + $29 shipping. If you are a beauty junkie like myself you will love this mirror. It is huge (25″x18″) and comes with salon-grade dimmable soft, clean white lights that also make for excellent selfie lighting. It’s an investment, but it adds such a girly glamorous touch to the set up. It also has a lifetime guarantee which is awesome.
If this fancy schmancy vanity is outside of your current budget, remember that you can use any old mirror mounted on the wall behind your vanity and you can get LED light strips to put on each side to fake it until you make it! There’s also tons of YouTube tutorials on how to make your own lighted vanity if you’re feeling crafty.
Ikea ALEX Vanity Drawers
The Ikea ALEX 5 drawer unit has become a staple for beauty enthusiasts because they are affordable ($79) and they are the perfect size and shape for makeup storage. The drawers are the perfect depth for makeup without forcing you to stack makeup so when you open them you can have a nice clear view of everything. They can store a LOT of makeup, more than you would think upon first glance. One important note for getting your drawers to last a long time is yes they can fit a lot of makeup, but be sure to divide it up so no one drawer is too heavy that’s what will really cause them to break. For my vanity I bought 2 Ikea ALEX 5 Drawers in white. I’m not a very strong girl so I was worried about going to the Ikea store by myself to get them, but I managed alright. I did need another person and a shopping cart to get them upstairs and into my apartment.
How to Put Together IKEA Alex Drawers
I luckily had found this video by the incredibly talented MadeULook which was EXTREMELY helpful when putting together the drawers:
Ikea ALEX Vanity 5 Drawer Dupe
Now, you might have seen on Pinterest that there is a dupe for the Ikea Alex 5 Drawers at Michaels- the Recollections 5 Drawer Cube. The cheaper price tag may have tempted you, but I did a lot of research, watched tons of videos, and read many reviews and came to the conclusion that the quality of the Recollections 5 Drawer Cube is just not there. You may think that Ikea doesn’t have the most top-quality products, but these Ikea Alex drawers are durable and really a decent quality and the Recollections 5 Drawers are nowhere near it. I personally think it’s worth the investment in the Ikea set. Here’s the blog post where I got the picture above from.
Table Top for Ikea ALEX Vanity
The next part that I did a decent amount of research and measuring in my room for was what size table top to go on top of the two Alex drawers to create the vanity. I went with the Ikea Linnmon table top in white the 47 1/4x 23 5/8″ size ($14.99 for IKEA Family members or $19.99). I needed a size that would be big enough for my huge vanity mirror as well as me actually getting ready at the table. This size is great there’s plenty of room for everything.
Acrylic Sheet Protective Top for Ikea ALEX Vanity
When I first put together my vanity my friends made fun of me because I totally kept the plastic wrap on the Linnmon table top because I was terrified of spilling makeup on the pristine white surface and staining it forever. I finally forced myself to go to Lowe’s to get an acrylic sheet to protect the table top and unfortunately this is where I messed up. I actually bought the correct one- The OPTIX 0.08-in x 24-in x 48-in Clear Acrylic Sheet ($25.98) which is the correct size for the Linnmon 47 1/4 x 23 5/8″ the problem came when I thought I had bought the Linnmon in the size I originally was going to get which is the 39 3/8 x 23 5/8″ (so ~8in. shorter across) and had them custom cut it (which they do for free in store, if you can actually find an employee to help you in Lowe’s ugh that store is my personal hell). If you want to avoid Hell on Earth aka shopping at Lowes and decide to buy online be sure to use Ebates to get 6% cash back. So yes, always measure twice cut once and avoid my mistake! Luckily I had them give me the piece they had cut off and I just have it pushed up next to the bigger piece which doesn’t look as perfect as I’d like, but is better than spending another $30 on a new one. This acrylic sheet is 10x stronger than glass and has a 10 year non-yellowing warranty. When researching vanities I had considered getting one of those beautiful (and super pricey) mirrored vanities they have at Z-Gallerie and Pier One, but the thought of dropping a curling iron and chipping the glass freaked me out too much so I’m happy with my Lindsay-proofing of these less fragile drawers and table top instead.
Seating for Vanity
This is one part of my set-up that is a work in progress. I already owned this Target Room Essentials Cube Storage Ottoman (edit: this is no longer available this is a similar one from Amazon) and it had it sitting by my bedroom door so I could place my purse on it when I got home. Seriously where the f do ladies put their purses at home? It’s too heavy to hang up, I don’t want to just throw it on the floor… I digress.. This ottoman is not the nicest quality, but it’s comfortable enough and it doesn’t take up much space. I was worried originally when I bought my Vanity because I knew any seat I had would be backing up against my bed and block the only path there is to walk to the other side of my bed. This ottoman can fit underneath the vanity when I’m not using it and therefore keep the path clear. I’d like to get a nice comfy seat with a back in the future, but this is what I’m working with at the moment.
I now have this faux sheepskin rug that I found on Amazon for under $20 laying across my vanity’s seat. It’s a great accessory and makes the vanity more cozy.
Makeup Brush Holder
My makeup brushes are actually in a candle holder from Target. This is the Antique Mercury Glass Candle Holder- (edit: this is no longer available here’s a similar one from Amazon and here’s a cute set of 3). Other things you can use for makeup brush holders- pretty cups/mugs, flower pots, repurposed candles, vases, etc.
At $3.99 this Skurar off-white plant pot from Ikea is another beauty guru DIY makeup brush holder fave.
This Kassatex Arabesco Resin Tumbler in white marble would also make a great brush holder.
Makeup Palette Holder/Organizer
When I saw these Ikea Liksidig napkin holders ($3.99) I thought they might make cute makeup palette holders/displays on top of the vanity, and they work! The only thing is they only fit about 2 palettes each so keep that in mind!
This Kantek Acrylic Mini Sorter ($10.99) would also work nicely as a palette organizer and would probably fit a few more than my napkin holders.
If you like copper this Design Ideas Bainbridge Desktop Organizer could hold both palettes and brushes at the ready for you.
Mirrored Vanity/Perfume Tray
Danielle Creations Rose Gold Mirror Tray ($30) This is brand new and not pictured because I received it as a gift this year, but it’s a gorgeous addition to the vanity and I love it!
Another option would be this pretty Michael Aram Wheat Oval Platter which was inspired by Coco Chanel.
If you want a white marble accent this Kassatex Arabesco Resin Tray would look great.
Cotton Round and Q-Tip Holder
This is another item that I saw in store and thought “ooh that would work great!”. This is the Ikea DROPPAR frosted jar with lid ($2.99) and I store cotton rounds and q-tips in it.
If you’re more into a white marble vibe this Kassatex Arabesco Resin Cotton Jar would be a beautiful addition to a vanity.
Magnified Lighted Mirror
I already had this Conair Reflections LED Lighted Collection Mirror ($29.99) and use it often on my vanity. It’s great for seeing up close and when I put fake lashes on I like to look down into a mirror to help me place them and this is what I use. I reviewed the much more expensive SimpleHuman 5x sensored vanity magnified mirror here.
The Danielle Creations Chrome Vanity Mirror ($48) is another super cute more blinged-out option.
Flowers & Candle
What vanity is complete without flowers and candles!? These fake peonies are both from TJ Maxx (HomeGoods is another excellent place to find gorgeous fake flowers). The candle is a Voluspa 2-wick candle in Laguna given to me by my friend Rachel.
If you want to upgrade to a super fancy beauty blogger candle, the Diptyque Baies Scented Candle is a classic.
I also LOVE this Capri Blue ‘Gilded Muse Collection’ candle in pink grapefruit/prosecco and the rose gold color is stunning!
I have also since added an essential oil diffuser like this one by Serene House and love to put in a citrus blend in the morning and a lavender in the evening to set the mood.
More Accessory Ideas for Vanities
Another accessory you could put on your vanity is a gorgeous frame like this Kendra Scott Gold Filigree Frame with a photo of yourself or your makeup idol in full glam.
I also love this Era Home Marbled Frame with a rose gold border.
I now have a small jewelry box where I keep my small, everyday pieces (earrings and rings because I hang necklaces) like this Waterford Crystal Heart Box. I like a clear container so I can see the jewelry and remember to put it on. I also like that this one closes so it won’t get dusty!
If you wanted to show off your makeup while keeping it organized at the same time, this Impressions Vanity Co. Acrylic Brush & Makeup Organizer will do just that!
This Impressions Vanity Diamond Collection 4-Drawer Acrylic Organizer may be the perfect fit for someone who has so much makeup they have filled all of their ALEX drawers, or so little that this is all the need on a regular table!
The CosmoCube Vanity Tray is a great option if you like to move in between your vanity and bathroom with your makeup.
If you are a super collector of makeup the CosmoCube Luxury Edition Makeup Organizer would be a fabulous way to show off what you’ve got.
If you like to keep tissues handy why not do it with this super chic Waterworks Studio ‘Luna’ White Marble Tissue Cover?
I have also added one of my most important accessories to my vanity- a CLOCK!! Because time seems to drift away as I’m beating my face at my vanity. This Waterford Lismore Diamond Clock would be a beautiful accessory to keep you on track.
The Ikea BARNVIKEN bathmat/rug was an impulse add on ($8.99) while shopping at Ikea that oddly enough is one of my favorite parts of sitting at my vanity. I originally just bought it to protect my bedroom carpet from makeup spills, but I love the soft fluffy feeling on my feet when I step on it. I know that’s creepy, but I needed to share because it honestly enhances the experience I swear. I really need to go back to Ikea and get at least 2 more for my bathroom because I love it.
Other Vanities I Considered Buying
The IKEA Malm Dressing table ($149) is nice because it’s all in one and already has the glass top to protect it from spills. The reason I decided against this one is because I wanted to make sure I had plenty of room for storage because I own a ton of makeup. If you do not and think you never will own a ton of makeup, this is a great more affordable option. There’s also more leg room so you can but a nice wide comfy chair in here. The other reason I didn’t get the Malm table is the length of the table is the same as my Ikea ALEX vanity, but the width is 16 1/8″ compared to my 23 5/8″ so I didn’t think this would leave me any room once my Vanity Girl Hollywood mirror was on top. If you have a mirror you want to mount on the wall this would be a great option.
The Ikea Hemnes Dressing Table ($299) has the one large drawer like the Malm dressing table above and a nice mirror, but again this wasn’t enough storage and I already had my big mirror first so I knew this one wasn’t for me.
The Z Gallerie Studio Mirrored Desk ($499) is super chic and fancy looking, but again I didn’t think it had enough storage and I was worried I’d chip the glass by accident.
The Pier1 Hayworth Vanity in Silver (currently on sale for $349.99) is another popular one, but again not enough storage for me and I was afraid I’d break it.
The Z Gallerie Jett Desk ($599) was too big for my space and looked like it would give me bruises all over my shins.
Stay tuned for my future post where I show you all the goodies inside of those Ikea ALEX vanity drawers!!
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