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

The EUREKA moment came when I realized that I could make my own 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 it’s 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 the past 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 drawers storage turned out. I think it looks really sweet in the upstairs bathroom. I also got to keep that lovely 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, however, I think that this project would work just as well with an old crate.
  • Scrap piece of wood for a shelf.
scrap piece of wood

Tools used

  • Electrical sander – You can of course sand by hand if you have the 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

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

2. When the drawer is dry, sand the unpainted wood sides, inside and out. No need to sand the base of the drawer as this will be decoupaged.

Old drawer upcycle sanding s

3. Next, 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

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

Decoupaging the Drawer Back

5. As 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 cupboard with some gorgeous vintage Whale gift wrap.

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

Whale gift wrap paper for drawer decoupage

6. The chances that 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.

Make sure that the piece you end up with is exactly the same dimensions as the drawer base.

7. Next, 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 make sure it’s still tacky. Then stick the paper to the base.

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

Decoupage drawer base

8. Then, once the mod podge is dry, using a big brush cover the front of your paper with a layer of mod podge. This will appear white, but don’t worry as 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

9. Finally, to finish off these upcycled drawers, I made a little shelf. To do this simply cut a piece of scrap wood to snuggly fit the inside width of the drawer.

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

10. Then, to fit the shelf use the little picture eyelets to hold it in place. The eyelets will screw very easily into the wood sides. You will need 2 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 is left to do is to hang the bathroom upcycled shelf unit on the wall. I simply used metal brackets that were screwed into the back of the upcycled drawers and then screwed into the walls.

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

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 now actually gives what was a rather boring bathroom a bit of character.

I will be on the lookout 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 different gorgeous decorative papers I used some of their insect paper with my chalk paint unique cupboard upcycle.

Since making this upcycled drawers shelf unit for my loft bathroom, I’ve made a DIY bathroom cabinet for the family bathroom too. For this bathroom storage, I upcycled an old wine box and decoupaged a vintage anatomical poster on the 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 even made a cool 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. I’ve even made a handy wooden key holder out of just a piece of 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.