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How To Make Upcycled Drawers into a Handy Wall Unit

I love it when I have one of my little EUREKA moments. I had one the other day with these upcycled drawers.

I’d been looking for extra storage in my bathroom and hadn’t liked anything I’d seen in the shops. Also, I didn’t want to spend much money. There are things I’d rather spend my money on, and bathroom storage isn’t on the list!

The EUREKA moment came when I realized I could make my shelving unit by upcycling an old drawer. And I had just the drawer for the job. I’d rescued it from a skip (dumpster) because I loved its pretty blue drawer pull.

Old drawer before

Using Upcycled Drawers to Make Sweet Bathroom Storage

The drawer had been sitting in the bike shed for six months, getting in my husband’s way. Therefore, he was a happy bunny when I finally got around to recycling the old drawer.

I’m super chuffed with how my upcycled drawer storage turned out. I think it looks lovely in the upstairs bathroom. I also got to keep that sweet blue drawer pull that made me rescue it from the skip (dumpster) in the first place.

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What you need to make an upcycled drawers wall unit

  • An old drawer – I think this project would work just as well with an old crate.
  • A scrap piece of wood for a shelf.
scrap piece of wood

Tools used

  • Electrical sander – You can sand by hand if you have patience.
  • Hand saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Paint and glue brushes
  • Drill for mounting it to the wall.

How to turn a drawer into a wall shelf

Preparing the wood

Step 1. I loved the look of the drawer and wanted to keep the chippy-painted front and the lovely blue handle as it was. I gave the drawer a good clean inside and out with hot soapy water.

Step 2: When the drawer is dry, sand the unpainted wood sides inside and out. There is no need to sand the drawer’s base, as this will be decoupaged.

Old drawer upcycle sanding s

Step 3: To give the newly sanded wood of the draw a more antique look, use dark wood wax. Cover the wood with the wax using a lint-free cloth or wax brush. Then wipe off any excess wax and buff the wood with a cloth.

waxing the wood upcyced drawers

Step 4: Next, use a clear furniture wax this time. Polish and buff the painted front of the drawer and handle.

Decoupaging the Drawer Back

Step 5: The cupboard was specifically for my bathroom; I wanted to give it a nautical/water feel. That is why I decided to decoupage the back of the drawer with some gorgeous vintage Whale gift wrap.

Also, the blue of the whale paper went well with the blue drawer pull.

Whale gift wrap paper for drawer decoupage

Step 6: The chances the gift wrap sheet will fit the drawer back exactly are remote. Look at the pattern on your paper and decide how you will cut it to fit the back.

Ensure that the piece you end up with has the exact dimensions as the drawer base.

Step 7: Cover the drawer base and the back of your paper in a thin layer of Mod Podge. I use a big brush for this. Leave the glue for a minute to dry slightly but ensure it’s still tacky. Then stick the paper to the base.

Use a cloth, wallpaper roller or credit card to squeeze out any air bubbles gently. Gently coax the air bubbles out to the edges so they can escape.

Decoupage drawer base

Step 8: Once the mod podge is dry, use a big brush to cover the front of your paper with a layer of mod podge. This will appear white, but don’t worry; it will dry clear.

The layer of mod podge acts like a varnish and will protect the decoupage.

mod podge varnish layer

Making A Shelf For The Upcycled Drawers

Step 9: I made a little shelf to finish the upcycled drawers. Cut a piece of scrap wood to fit snuggly inside the drawer.

Step 10: Sand and paint the wooden shelf with chalk paint. Don’t forget to seal the paint with clear furniture wax once it has dried.

painting wooden shelf

Step 11: To fit the shelf, use the little picture eyelets to hold it. The eyelets will screw very easily into the wood sides. You will need two on each side of the shelf to hold it up.

fitting shelf for cupboard
Upcycled drawers to make some unique and quirky furniture for your walls.  You can decoupage paper on the back to suit your room.  This one was for a bathroom hence the Whales.

All that’s left is to hang the bathroom upcycled shelf unit on the wall. I used metal brackets screwed into the back of the upcycled drawers and then screwed into the walls.

Or you could drill two large screws straight into the wall through the back of the drawer shelf unit.

Using upcycled drawers to make a really handy but sweet wall cabinet for a bathroom.
DIY Bathroom wall cabinet made from a recycled old drawer.

I am so pleased with how this upcycled drawer has turned out. It looks fabulous in our upstairs bathroom and gives a rather dull bathroom a bit of character.

I will look for more drawers in skips (dumpsters) to make more of these handy little shelf units for other places in my home. Cavallini makes so many gorgeous decorative papers. I used some of their insect paper with my chalk paint unique cupboard upcycle.

Since making this upcycled drawer shelf unit for my loft bathroom, I’ve also made a DIY medicine cabinet for the family bathroom. I upcycled an old wine box for this bathroom storage and decoupaged a vintage anatomical poster inside.

How to easily turn upcycled drawers into a handy sweet bathroom wall cabinet.

Decoupage is a great way to make a piece of furniture upcycle unique. As well as using vintage images for decoupage, I also love to use vintage maps for crafts.

I have transformed IKEA tables with decoupaged maps and made an excellent world map desk for my office.

Old drawers aren’t the only things you can upcycle to make unique extra storage for your home. I have used wine crates to make a handy nightstand and DIY ottoman storage. You can even upcycle bed slats into wall shelves.

I’ve even made a handy wooden key holder from a scrap skirting board (baseboard).

I’ve even made extra kitchen storage from a repurposed chair back and a vintage suitcase side table.

Upcycle drawers storage

These repurposed drawers featured under D in the alphabet of upcycles.

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Wednesday 17th of October 2018

What a great beachy vibe on this shelf. It turned out beautiful. Maria

Claire Armstrong

Thursday 18th of October 2018

Thank you, Maria it is very handy.

Cheryl Parks

Saturday 15th of September 2018

I am from THE #UPCYCLESHARIN50K group, I love all the crafty diy projects your all do very talented. Thank you for sharing.

Claire Armstrong

Saturday 15th of September 2018

Thank you so much for popping over to the blog.


Wednesday 16th of May 2018

This is so beautiful! Makes a perfect shelf.

Claire Armstrong

Thursday 17th of May 2018

Thank you, it does look good in my bathroom and is really handy.