I first saw the idea of using drawers from old brown furniture on the crafting programme that Kirsty Allsopp did a couple of years ago. I love her style of presenting and the drawer shelf project was featured in one of the programmes and was described on one of the Channel 4 blogs.
The idea is simple, effective and makes you think “Why didn’t I think of that?”.
Making my own upcycled drawer shelves
Since the programme I’ve saved a few images to Pinterest for inspiration. And then I realised I had the perfect raw materials for this quick and easy DIY shelves project.
I inherited my mum’s solid teak dressing table that was bought in the early 1960s and was very high quality. After 50 years the legs had failed and it was seriously wobbly. But this was the dressing table I remember all through my childhood and played dressing up and making up in its mirror. My mum used it everyday so even though it was legless I could not just put it on a skip.
The dressing table had four deep and fairly narrow drawers and one shallow, wider one. I decided to use the four deep drawers for my DIY drawer shelves.
DIY shelves tutorial
The other tutorials and blogs that I’ve seen, including Kirstie’s, involved sticking the paper to the bottom of the drawer with carpet glue. I didn’t want to do that as changing the paper would not be possible and I didn’t want to damage the base of the drawers. Instead I decided to cut a piece of sturdy but thin cardboard to at as a base and then cover that with the paper.
This looks great but its also practical. If I want to change my decor without replacing my drawer shelves, all I have to do is to cut more cardboard and cover with a different type of paper.
Step 1: make a cardboard base for each drawer
- Measure the exact width and depth of the inside of each drawer.
- Cut a piece of cardboard slightly smaller than that size: about 3 millimetres smaller all the way round so it fits but not too snugly. I used packing cardboard from some Ikea units, which was perfect.
Step 2: cover the cardboard with lovely paper
- It can be any paper you want but it should be thick enough not to be see-through and not too thick that you can’t easily cover the cardboard without it bunching up.
- Mine was a sheet of lovely wrapping paper from Paperchase.
- Cut the paper to be about 2.5 cm (1 inch) larger than the cardboard all the way round and trim off the corners as shown. You can use scissors or a craft knife and cutting mat.
- Use a strong glue such as Copydex or PVA or even a strong tape to fix down the first long side.
- Use a bone folder or the edge of a pair of scissors (the blunt, rounded edge) to crease at the first corner and then glue the adjoining short side.
- Continue all the way round until all four sides are done.
- If you have used glue, leave to dry. As you have not put any glue I the front of the he card, the card itself should not warp or bend but you can out it under a heavy book if you want. If you are using tape – you are good to go to the next step straight away.
Step 3: add your drawer base to the drawer
- Fit the covered board into the drawer, it should be a snug fit. Stand back and admire.
- I did my four upcycled drawer shelves in in different papers, screwed them to the wall and then added some things to display. The good thing about this arrangement is that I can put things in the drawer and on the shelf at the top of each one too.
- I also left the handles on – you can see them in the top two shelves peeping out of the bottom.