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. Jen Z. says

    love it. what a cute idea. I would love to do that with some drawers in my house. Fun.

    question, could you use wrapping paper like this to put around those magazine holders and then mod podge over to keep it from peeling off the box? Sorry to go off topic, but I have been looking for pretty magazine holders and I just figure if I buy cheap ones at Ikea that are cardboard, I could just cover them with some sort of pretty paper. Good idea or bad idea? Thanks.

  2. says

    I love, love, love the paper you used for the liners. It’s gorgeous and fun. I recently wrote a blog post where I talked about lining our kitchen drawers with wrapping paper. I just used plain old tape to adhere the paper to the drawer because that’s what I had on hand. I don’t expect it to last forever, so when it gets ripped, I’ll have fun picking new paper — maybe I’ll check out Ink + Paper!

    Actually, the blog post where I write about using wrapping paper to line drawers is more about how to fix wood drawers that stick. Our kitchen drawers are original to our 1950s house and they were sticking quite badly. Every time we opened the drawers, little wood shavings would fall into the cabinets beneath the drawers. A quick fix that might be helpful to you in case your 1950s dresser drawers start to stick: I rubbed paraffin wax on the drawers and now they slide beautifully.

  3. Shari says

    When I was pregnant with my two boys, I used the cute tissue paper that came from shower gifts to line their drawers. Everytime I opened the drawer, I remembered how generous people can be. Now that they are older, I’ve taken the baby tissue out, cut out squares of it and put in their baby books.

    You have done another wonderful job and the baby is going to have a beautiful nursery!

  4. Abby says

    So cute! I love it. I recently bought and refinished an old craigslist dresser and I lined the drawers with scented drawer liners I bought at World Market. They are so adorable! And I’m loving how my t-shirts smell like lavender when I pull them out. :)

  5. says

    This is such a cute and fabulous project! I would go in there and open the drawers all the time just to peek at the charm that was just created! So fun and fresh!

    You guys rock!

  6. says

    What a great idea to use the mod podge to secure the paper. I always get frustrated when the liners shift around and eventually tear. Also a good tip about the matte mod podge, I covered a chair with paper and the glossy stuff never really dried…even after 12 years.

    I’ve been thinking about wall papering the inside of the built-in bookcase in my office-someday-a-nursery. I love the way your different patterns look. Perhaps I’ll give that a try sometime soon.

  7. Nicole says

    I lined my baby’s dresser drawers with wrapping paper from the baby shower. I carefully unwrapped each gift (my guests were dying at how long it took me to open the gifts!) and then wrapped it around the already existing drawer liners and secured it with tape. I didn’t want it to be too permanent because the dresser is on loan from my mother in law. So, changing the lining and the hardware was all we were able to do to spruce it up. It turned out cute, though, and was a very cheap project – it cost nothing! Now I always wrap baby gifts instead of putting them in bags, incase the new mother-to-be wants to do the same!

    • says

      It probably would, but you can also pick up wallpaper paste at a home improvement store (it’s really not that pricey at all) just to be sure that it’ll be “compatible.” Hope it helps!


  8. says

    I have an old dresser that could use some serious lining and I never even thought of using fun papers! thanks so much for the tip!

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