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. says

    So cute! Love what you’ve done with the dresser! It looks fabulous. We picked up an old stereo cabinet at a garage sale for $10 and we’re going to turn that into our changing table. I’ll send pictures when we’ve completed the transformation. Hopefully it’ll turn out as cute as your dresser!

    • says

      We don’t have the infrerno cotdinions you do here in the PNW. But we NEVER know what to wear. Ugh.BTW I highlighted you today on Fundraising Fridays. I used the beautiful photo of Haley from your site with it. Hope you don’t mind. (I usually ask about photos first, but since you had it up here, I figured it’d be OK I can take it down, though, so let me know.)

  2. says

    I just stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago and I had to tell you that I am in love with YHL. I look forward to every new blog post. I love all your inspiration and ideas on your website. Thank you for sharing all your wonderful ideas. I also love decorating, painting, discovering and creating new ways to interpret my home. Thank you for inspiring me and helping us all to realize that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have an incredible home!

  3. Leanne says

    I was desperate to immediately unload my overstuffed closet into my awesome “new” craigslist dresser, so I scoured the house and found doublesided tape and baking parchment paper. The parchment paper was the PERFECT width for my drawers.

    But I love the wrapping paper/modge podge idea…I smell a weekend project in my future! Thanks!

  4. claire says

    that looks great! your little bean is going to be so spoiled (having the most awesome room of all her friends)
    i’m trying to think of all of the drawers i can now line!

  5. Erica says

    Is there anything Mod Podge can’t do? I knew it was coming before I got to that part of the post, used to use the stuff all the time for art projects and can’t wait to pull it out and use it again!
    Can’t wait to see some full nursery pictures of all of the elements pulled together.

  6. Abby says

    Wow! That looks so good! I love the mix of old and new! But what I’m the most jealous of is how your trees have leaves already. That was the first thing I saw :) I’m stuck with winter for a little while longer. Lucky you!

    • says

      That’s hysterical! They’re totally the same model as our double dresser, only they’re the single versions! It’s such a small world.


  7. says

    I just finished a drawer liner project for our daughter’s nursery (due June 20th), but decided to go the double sided tape route. Once we found out we were having a girl, I wanted to add just a few pink details to our already finished green and tan room. So I bought a few rolls of wrapping paper from Paper Source and went to work. The paper was an amazing quality and added a perfect amount of pattern and pink-ness to the room. My husband was totally like “why are you doing that, no one will ever see it”. I had to laugh.

  8. Jennifer F says

    That is so stinkin cute…I love it for a little girls room! This is totally off topic…but I was flipping through the west elm catalog I got today, and noticed a bunch of those filing boxes (similar to the green ones you put in your basement). I think a great idea and question I’ve had is how to decorate book cases. I have an office with built in bookcases and we have tons of books, but I want it to look a little more stylish and less like a library. I think a look and learn would be great for this if you have ideas :-)

  9. Megan says

    I had no desire to bring a ton of furniture with me on my cross-state move in college. So I found an old dresser at the university swap ($2.00) and mod-podged the drawers with a collage of items from magazines.

    The best part was, the next tenant loved the dresser and I didn’t have to carry it back down 5 flights of stairs!

  10. Megan says

    I think what you did is really cute, and I always love all your projects. But I thought the purpose of drawer liners was to protect the drawer. It seems like what you did is pretty irreversible. If the liner ever gets dirty or you want remove the liners it seem like you will be stuck with a modge podgey, sticky drawer.

    • says

      If we ever wanted to switch things up we could just apply contact paper on top of them, add different paper with double stick tape or more Mod Podge or even use methods like cardboard covered in paper or fabric glued down over the original drawer lining project. We’re all about working with what we have and we’re sure we can make it work if we ever want to change things up in those drawers! In the meantime this method is bound to last for a while which is nice since we don’t have to worry about tearing the paper. Hope it helps!


  11. says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE everything you’ve done to that dresser, especially the two-tone paint scheme. Here’s an inside-drawer shot of my hand-me-down dresser turned dining-room-sideboard – I actually used left-over fabric from a few Ikea panels and couldn’t be happier! But now I’m thinking that adding contact paper for some extra durability. Again, your blog has me completely inspired!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *