Nursery Progress: Lining Our Drawers With Paper & Mod Podge

On Tuesday we shared how we refinished a Craigslist dresser for the nursery, taking it from this…

… to this:

So now we’re back with all the dirty drawer lining details as promised. This project actually only set us back around $1.30 because we already had everything on hand that we needed except for two foam craft brushes which we picked up at Michael’s for around sixty-five cents a pop. Our other already-owned project materials were Mod Podge and six sheets of wrapping paper (given to us by friends who founded this awesome local paper shop called Ink + Paper). And just for fun we selected three different patterns to use inside of our six 50+ year old drawers to give them a totally fresh look and a nice clean texture (as opposed to the raw wood that they came with).

We were lucky that the drawers were pretty clean (nothing a wipe down with a moist rag couldn’t remedy) and there wasn’t any musty smell or sticky stain to be found. But if you’re dealing with a slightly grosser old drawer scenario (like mustiness and odor that slaps you in the face every time you open a drawer) we’ve heard that wiping them down with mineral spirits and letting them sit out in the sun or air out in the garage for a bit might do the trick. Murphy’s Oil Soap is also said to be one of the best ways to thoroughly clean wood drawers that are past their prime to rid them of any stains or smells. And as extra credit you can place bowl of fresh ground coffee inside of each drawer to absorb any lingering odor afterwards (we’ve also heard that bowls of untreated charcoal briquettes work the same way). Gotta love a cheap and natural solution like that.

Anyway, here are four of our potential patterns that we laid out over the lip of our crib to evaluate as a group. We actually opted to use the three boldest ones twice (since we had six drawers to line) so each drawer would have a punchy little surprise inside. This meant that we had to eliminate one pattern so after a bit of deliberation we settled on two drawers with the orange bubble pattern, two with the green birdie design and two with the bright blue flowered paper. We figure that they’ll never all be open at the same time so it’ll hardly be overwhelming and we liked the idea of Baby P pulling open each drawer when she’s older to see something fun and graphic while she’s grabbing a pair of socks or putting away her crayons.

So after selecting our six sheets of wrapping paper (in three different patterns) it was time to cut each of our six sheets down to the size of the drawers (luckily they were all the same size so we cut one out and just used it as a template to quickly snip out the other five. Then we just had to decide how to adhere our “drawer liners.” Initially we debated using some simple double stick tape to hold the paper down around the edges, which probably would have worked just fine. But after a bit of thought we realized that we wanted something a little more heavy duty (that could take a bit of a beating for the next 15+ years and still look pretty good).

So that’s when we settled on Mod Podge. We recently used it to create “vintage” sign art for our bathroom, so we know how well it holds up to moisture and general wear & tear (thanks to the protective coating that you can apply right on top of any sort of paper to make it a lot more durable than it was before). The first step was not to Mod Podge over the paper though, it was to apply a thin and even coat of the stuff to the bottom of the drawer so that our pre-sized pieces of gift wrap could be securely adhered.

We always go for the “matte” kind of Mod Podge because we’ve found that it cures up more solidly and never feels tacky or sticky after it fully dries (usually within a few hours) so that should help keep the drawers from feeling grippy and tacky even in the warmer months. So after we slicked that onto the bottom of the dresser it was as easy as sticking down our already-cut-to-size gift wrap rectangle and pressing it along the center and out towards all of the corners to eliminate any bubbles or wrinkling. Note: we did not apply Mod Podge to the back of the paper, only to the bottom of the drawer.

I then worked my way around each of the other drawers, applying the Mod Podge to the base of the drawer and sticking down each pre-cut rectangle of gift wrap. Oh and the reason I didn’t go right to applying a layer of Mod Podge over the first wrapping paper swatch after it was stuck down was because I wanted to give it ample drying time before moistening the front of the paper and possibly causing bubbles or wrinkles. In fact, I gave all of the drawers about four hours to fully dry before applying that top coat of Mod Podge over the paper for added protection.

I was sure to apply the top coat evenly and thinly (not too gloppily so as to avoid wrinkles and bubbles). And after letting them dry overnight, we were left with durable and cheerful lined drawers that should last for the long haul (while providing a little dose of happy every time they’re opened). Oh and we love that Mod Podge is 100% water based and non-toxic so it’s not going to stink up our baby clothes or pollute the nursery like some other more chemical-ish sealers might. Good times.

So there you have our under-two-dollar drawer lining adventure. We’d definitely suggest looking around your house for anything from decorative scrapbooking paper and gift wrap (even tissue paper) to swatches of wallpaper or even flash cards or playing cards to create your very own custom drawer liners on the cheap. Mod Podge + pretty much anything that’s flat = interesting drawers that make you smile every time you slip them open. And you could even line drawers with old swatches of fabric, we would just use dots of fabric glue or even glue gun dabs on the back of each piece to hold them down as opposed to Mod Podge.

What about you guys? Have you lined any drawers with something that you already had around the house? Or even hit up Target or the dollar store for festive paper with just that purpose in mind? We’d love to know if you’ve added some unexpected personality to the inside of a dresser or cabinet so spill the drawer lining beans.

Psst- Wanna see our nursery progress from the very beginning? Here’s our painting post, our big shopping spree, our crib hunting rundown, our curtain-making tutorial, our fun little chair search, our mirror-painting extravaganza, this DIY faux sheepskin project, and our big dresser makeover. Fun, fun, fun.


  1. stacey says

    Great idea! Just a warning about the charcoal briquettes to soak up a musty smell—-make sure the briquettes are “untreated” i.e. not the stuff most people use in their grills. The regular old briquettes are treated with lighter fluid and are a fire hazard.

  2. says

    *Running out to buy Mod Podge and cool paper*

    Gotta tell ya, this dresser re-do has been one of my favorite projects you guys have done, fo sho.

  3. Amy says

    wow, these look awesome. i’m planning on doing the same thing this summer! i’m giving my dressors a complete makeover. :)

  4. Sally says

    As you let the mod podge on the bottom of the drawer dry, does the paper liner not adhere to the drawer at all? Or does the mod podge applied to the top of the paper soak through somehow? In other words, are the drawer liners removable?

    It looks magnificent by the way. :)

    • says

      Hey Sally,

      Mod Podge is a more heavy duty solution that will bond the paper to the base of the drawer (so it’s tear resistant and durable but also not easily removable like contact paper). If you’re looking for a method that’s easier to switch out, using double stick tape or actual contact paper is a much less permanent solution. Hope it helps!


  5. says

    I love the dresser make-over! We did the same thing in our nursery last year, and now our little Stella is 9 months old. It goes by so quickly! We used 2 different rolls of wrapping paper and just laid them in the drawers. So far we haven’t had an slippage, and we’ll probably swap out the nursery themed paper as she gets older. Your little one is going to have a great nursery!!

  6. Traci says

    I bought about 10 rolls at Target the day after Christmas. Used plain silver to line the back of a TV cabinet because the doors broke. I also bought a pretty print that I am going to use as a modern matte to some sepia photographs I’m framing in 11×17 frames. Also, just wanted to say that I just bought my first house in December and have been mining your blog since to find inspiration for my own transformation. You guys rock. -Traci

  7. Amy V says

    Sherry and John–
    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I have two solid oak dressers (my hubby’s childhood furniture) that are in great shape but the light stain and heavy pulls are not necessarily the “look” I want. So, I planned on sanding them down and giving them a coat of paint and new handles to transform their look. However, I’ve been putting the project off because I have been left puzzled with what to do for the inside of the drawers. (After a couple of googles searches I realized that there wasn’t such a thing as “cool” contact paper.)

    What to my wonderful surprise was this post that was waiting for me in my google reader! :)

    Bring on the modge podge and fun paper! Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Claire says

    My grandma always lined all of her cupboards with wallpaper. She didn’t attach them in anyway, but whenever they got dirty or spills she could just replace them. I still do that and my drawers and cupboards look great! Love it!

  9. says

    Hi Sherry & John,
    Thanks for putting our gift wrap to such good use! Your dresser turned out beautifully. Best of luck with the bean.

    Stephanie at Ink & Paper

    • says

      Your welcome Stephanie! Thanks so much for the gorgeous paper. We couldn’t wait to do something great with it (and we were too selfish to use it up on a bunch of random birthday gifts) so we hatched a plan to keep it all for ourselves by using it to line those drawers!


  10. Stephanie B! says

    I LOVE your idea for dressor liners! I want to do that too to our new craigslist items, but i had no idea what to use as adhesive! Does the top layer look glossy or no?? Just wondering!

    • says

      It’s a bit more glossy looking than regular old paper, but we used matte Mod Podge so it’s not super shiny or anything. Hope it helps!


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