barb blairbefore & after basics

before and after basics: fancy drawers

by Barb

Whenever I start a piece of furniture, I spend a good bit of time planning its design. I start with the exterior and work on paint colors and knobs, but the design is never complete until I have picked a paper to line the drawers. There is just something about opening up the drawer and seeing a beautiful paper staring back at you that makes everything good in the furniture world! Details are so important, and today on Before & After Basics, I will show you how to execute this very important part of furniture design. — Barb



1. Make sure that your drawer is nice and clean. Vacuum out the entire drawer and then spray down with wood cleaner and wipe. The wood cleaner has a really nice citrus smell and works like a charm!

2. Roll wallpaper across the top of the drawer to get a loose measurement and cut piece according to drawer size. This does not have to be exact because you are going to get it exact in a bit. I like to keep the straight edge of the wallpaper as my guide for the front of the drawer and then trim down the back and sides.

3. Press the wallpaper inside the drawer, lining your straight edge up with the front of the drawer and creasing the sides and back where you are going to cut.

4. Take your ruler and press tightly against the sides, but leave just enough room to slide your knife between the ruler and the side of the drawer. Make sure that your craft knife is super sharp and has a fresh blade. If not, it will leave you with a jagged paper mess and will really tick you off!

5. Once all of the sides are trimmed, cut four squares of double-sided mounting tape and place them in each of the four corners to hold your paper in place. If you would like to make your paper more permanent, you can use Mod Podge and apply the paper directly to the drawer.

Step back, take it all in and enjoy what a beautiful paper can do to a tired-out old drawer!

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

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  • What a beautiful idea. I love fixing up the little parts of pieces that people don’t often see. It’s kind of like a pretty little secret.

    So great sitting in on your panel at lavish! I admire so much of your work and I’m glad to have a face to go with your lovely pieces.

  • love this idea … so simple. Random question but do you think this idea would work on other surfaces? I have some horrible horrible book shelves (cheap & cheerful) that i really want to update. any suggestions?

  • When I do this I’m going to need all new clothes to go on top of the pretty paper. Can’t put “track pants” on top of fancy French paper.

  • I love this idea. The bottoms have fallen out of the drawers in my old dresser and I have been procrastinating about fixing them, well this idea motivates me knowing I can make them pretty in the process! Thank you!

  • Looks great. I have used photographers’ tape before and it works better than the thick double-sided mounting tape that might create rips in the paper from something heavy. Thank you.

  • I love the lined drawers in my piece of Knackage from Barb—she’s right, it does make a big difference to see that beautiful paper smiling up at you (that is, if paper can smile!) Thanks Barb!

  • I love this idea, and definitely want to use it for my kitchen drawers. One question, though, doesn’t the craft knife scratch up/cut into the drawers when you trim the paper? Is there a way to avoid that? Thanks : )

  • I did this just this week with John Derian wrapping paper and I mod podged the paper on top to make it more durable – it’s a more permanent application but it was for a night table drawer which gets a lot of use. I love lined drawers!

  • I was just saying to myself last night when I saw your wall paper post… I wonder if she will ever do a tutorial on lining drawers? How cool is that? :) Since I have been having issues getting wall paper I’ve used some wrapping paper and went to Archivers (scrapbooking store) and entertained the idea of using paper with repeating patterns to use as well. I think though that mod podge might work better on those with a top layer of poly to protect because it’s so thin. Would I be wrong in doing that?

  • I’ve done this to my drawers many times, and it makes such a difference! You can also do the inside of your closet to have a pretty pattern greet you each day when trying to find something to wear:)

  • Just what I needed to SEE and now DO with my completely freshly emptied hall coat closet shelf & my 2 totally empty bedroom closet shelves. GONE ugly plain unfinished wood shelves & HELLO fresh, bright, & clean wallpaper or heavy duty wrapping paper I choose to go with the fresh new coat of closet wall paint! I will be telling my home buyers and sellers about this look for their homes too!
    Really Like It!

  • I just bought some wrapping paper the other day so I could do this- it’s so nice to open a cabinet or a drawer and have it look pretty. :)

  • What a great idea to use wallpaper. I was recently on the search for shelf paper…got some scented stuff and lined some drawers but didn’t end up keeping it. This is great! Thanks!

  • Thx Barb! Any favorite suggestions for buying online wallpaper on the cheap for this project? ie- a place that perhaps sells remnants or something? Thx!

    • Hey you guys! So glad this was helpful for you all! The possibilities are endless for sure, and certainly not limited to just drawers! Have fun with this and get creative!

      Annie, Grace did a great wallpaper round up here: http://www.designspongeonline.com/2010/09/top-50-wallpaper-sources.html, and it has a plethora of amazing sites to choose from. Some of them may sell remnants but you may just want to buy a whole roll. Wallpaper comes in handy for so many projects!

      Susan, whenever using scrap book paper or wrapping paper I highly suggest using modge podge to adhere it and protect the top surface before applying poly. Wallpaper has a surface that you can wipe, but paper needs that surface added.

      NB, the craft knife will not scratch up the drawers if you are careful. Make sure you you a sharp blade for each cut, and the knife glides through the paper like butter :) You should not have to press hard into the wood to cut the paper crisp. It will look great in your kitchen drawers!

      Laura Evans, Absolutely! It can work on shelves, closets, bookcases….etc. The possibilities are endless!

      Krista, Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the panel! I love that you said “it’s like a pretty little secret!” ….exactly what I think! :)

  • I think I need more help with the modge podge stuff, never having used it. Do you apply modge podge to the clean drawer botton, then lay on the paper, then do a coat of poly? Or is the mod podge the top coat?

    • Phillylass, You do apply the modge podge to the clean surface. Make sure it is nice and smooth, and that you work all of the air bubbles out of your paper. Allow to dry for about an hour and then apply a coat of modge podge over the top of the paper as well. Once you have applied the modge podge on the top, and it has dried completely you can apply a coat of poly as well. Just make sure the paper is sealed with the modge podge before you apply anything else

  • Super! Thanks a million. This is my little weekend project
    and I’m so grateful to have step-by-step instructions.