Old Drawer to Rustic Shelf

diy decorative shelf

To create our charming rustic shelf—perfect for a bedroom or bath—all you need is an hour, a discarded drawer from a vintage dresser, cabinet or desk and a little know-how.
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  • Small vintage dresser drawer
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Sawtooth picture hanger
  • Primer and paint brushes
  • Acrylic paints (burnt sienna and yellow ocher)
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Decorative paper, fabric or wallpaper
  • Scissors or precision knife
  • White craft glue
  • Dried or artificial branches, leaves and berries
  • Hot-glue gun with glue sticks

  • Pine cone topper
Start with a drawer that’s not too deep and has a bit of character. By this we mean an appealing finish or texture or interesting hardware you can incorporate into the design. Our find came from The Salvation Army; you also can turn up old drawers at flea markets, second-hand shops and yard sales—or, best of all, in your own attic.


step 1Lightly sand the interior to eliminate splinters or snags.
step 2Attach a sawtooth picture hanger (available in a craft or framing store) to back of drawer, according to package instructions.
step 3Prime the entire drawer, inside and out; then paint the sides and back in burnt sienna and the top and front in yellow ocher.
step 4Measure fabric or wallpaper to fit the drawer interior; cut to fit and with craft glue, adhere to inside of drawer.
step 5With the hot-glue gun, attach branches, leaves and dried berries, as shown.
step 6If desired, use hot-glue gun to attach pine cone topper.

Tips and Variations

We chose to paint this drawer—its finish was plain and not that appealing. You also can paint and then sand it slightly for a more distressed look. If your drawer is nicely stained, by all means skip the paint and let it stay as is. Ditto for interesting hardware: keeping an intriguing glass knob or unusual handle can be a clever reminder of your shelf’s origins.

Instead of fall branches and leaves, consider other themes: for example, decorate your drawer with a collection of seashells or add braid or other decorative trim to the edges. For a child’s room, consider drawer hardware/pulls in fun shapes such as flowers, trains and animals.
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recent comments
6/19/2011 , 
Barb  F.
You can make a collage with several different sizes & different colors. Great for large office or bathroom. Great to put pictures of family in to display also.
9/22/2010 , 
Brenda  C.
Great idea, I can imagine more than one on a wall. Some may be hung the other way, landscape or regular. Thanks
9/17/2010 , 
Cindy  G.
I actually have an old wooden drawer that I trash picked because I loved the look, but I didn't know what I was going to do with it. It haws been in my garage, and this is a perfect project for it! I can't wait to get started!
1/5/2010 , 
Betty  B.
I actually bought a shelf made out of a small dresser drawer at a craft store once and I love it. I never thought of using a drawer like this to make a display, it looks like a fun and easy project.
8/19/2009 , 
Carolyn  E.
This is so cute and easy to make. You could even paint, or use leftover wallpaper or gift wrap. It would look nice in any room as a little shelf. This would be somthing I would like to make.
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