DIY: Turn drawers into shelves

Interiors and upcycling company Hector & Bailey shows just how easy it is to transform an ordinary old drawer into a striking wall-mounted box shelf


  • Drawers from an old chest; search second-hand shops. Lookout for ones which have unusual locks and handles – they make great decorative features.
  • Sandpaper, sugar soap, wood filler, wood primer, paint, linseed oil, beeswax-based furniture polish, wallpaper offcuts, wallpaper glue/paste and D-rings.


  1. Sand the drawers thoroughly, clean with sugar soap and fill any holes with wood filler. You might want to leave some of the flaws to give the drawer some character and add a sense of history.
  2. Select the areas you’re going to paint. The edges and inside are good spots for a pop of colour. Choose colours which complement the wallpaper you have chosen for the inside lining. Prime the wood with a water-based wood primer and allow to dry. Next, apply the paint with a foam roller for a smooth finish. Two to three coats will ensure good coverage and a solid block of colour.
  3. Treat any exposed areas which were not painted with boiled linseed oil to feed the wood and to bring out the natural colour and grain.
  4. Wax the drawer with beeswax-based furniture polish, avoiding the area where you’ll stick the wallpaper.


  1. Measure the area to be covered by the wallpaper and create a template to ensure you cut it accurately.
  2. Cut the wallpaper to the template size and stick it to the inside of the drawer using wallpaper glue or paste.
  3. Attach D-rings to the back of the drawer to make hanging your new box shelf a breeze.


  1. To be eco-friendly, use only water-based paints.
  2. If you don’t have wallpaper offcuts, use fabric to line your drawer.
  3. The fabric can be stuck to the back of the drawer using strong craft glue or double-sided tape, but ensure that the glue won’t stain your chosen material (check the packaging).
  4. Another idea is to make a pinboard. For this, cover a piece of cork or high-density foam in your choice of fabric and stick this to the back of the drawer.