Upcycled drawers hanging on the wall as kitchen storage for cups and bowls

How to upcycle a set of vintage drawers into stylish floating shelves

Home » Home » Craft & DIY » How to upcycle a set of vintage drawers into stylish floating shelves

1 January 1970

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Create stylish shelving on a shoestring budget with the help of our clever upcycling guide. We’ll show you how to turn some old drawers into floating shelves.

Adding extra storage to your kitchen doesn’t need to be an expensive exercise. This clever DIY upcycling hack will add storage and style to your kitchen in no time. All you need is an old chest of drawers and this handy DIY guide and you’re good to go.

Find out how to turn an old chest of drawers into chic kitchen island here. Then use the drawers to create useful display shelving that doubles as a work of art.

Follow our step by step below and share your project with us on social!

What you need

  • Drawers from a vintage chest
  • Plywood for shelf (we recommend at least 18mm thick)
  • Screwdriver and/or spanner
  • Measuring tape, saw and drill
  • Resene EzyFill Quick Sander and sandpaper
  • Paintbrushes in various sizes
  • Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat
  • Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen waterborne enamel in Resene Milk White from the Karen Walker Paints collection
  • Resene Colorwood wood stain in Resene Deep Oak
  • Resene Aquaclear waterborne urethane varnish
  • Resene testpots in chosen colours, see below
  • Small screws for shelf and liquid glue suitable for timber
  • l Hooks for cups, and brackets to secure to the wall
Collection of Karen Walker paint test pots on a drop sheet

Resene test pot colours

  • Resene Clementine Orange
  • Resene Weathered Yellow
  • Resene Crisp Green
  • Resene Beryl Green
  • Resene Grain Brown
  • Resene Kina Brown
  • Resene Sandspit Brown


Handles and screws removed from vintage drawers

Step 1

Start by carefully removing all handles from the drawers.

Step 2

Measure the depth and width of the drawers and cut the plywood for the shelf so that it is a snug fit.

Vintage drawer being measured by yellow measuring tape

Step 3

Fill any gaps or holes in the drawers with Resene EzyFill Quick, then let it dry completely. Sand to expose the natural wood underneath the old paint, so that you have a smooth surface for your basecoat.

Old drawers being painted in white paint

Step 4

Apply Resene Quick Dry primer undercoat to the drawers. If it needs a second coat of primer, lightly sand first.

Inside view of old drawers being painted white with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen

Step 5

When the basecoat is completely dry, sand, and finish with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen. We used Resene Milk White.

Plank of plywood being stained with dark brown wood stain

Step 6

Make sure the surface of the wooden shelf you have cut is smooth – some sanding may be required. Stain the shelf with Resene Colorwood wood stain. We used Resene Deep Oak. Follow the stain instructions carefully. We found that applying the stain with a large brush then quickly wiping away excess stain with a cloth gave a good result.

Plank of stained wood being painted with Resene Aquaclear varnish

Step 7

When dry, finish with Resene Aquaclear varnish.

Hand painting wood with Resene Grain Brown test pot

Step 8

Paint the back of the drawer with a colour that will work as the background for your design. We used Resene Grain Brown from the Karen Walker Paints collection.

Hand sketching leaf shapes onto the inside of a drawer with a pencil

Step 9

Outline your design with pencil. We were inspired by abstract art we saw online.

One hand painting inside sketched shapes with the other hand holding a Resene testpot

Using Resene testpots, fill in with your chosen colours, letting each colour dry before moving onto the next one.

Hands placing a dark stained piece of wood inside a painted drawer

Step 10

Measure evenly on either side of the drawer and mark the position of the shelf so that it’s straight. Make sure there is enough space above the shelf to hold whatever will sit there.

Power drill about to drill a hole between two holes

Step 11

Mark points for screws to hold the shelf in place. We also recommend using liquid glue suitable for timber to make it extra secure. Drill holes and screw shelf in position.

Step 12

Use Resene EzyFill Quick to fill the screw holes, allow to dry and sand. Using a small brush, touch up the paint.

Hands screwing in a hook into the front of white drawers

Step 13

If desired, add hooks to one of the drawers to hang cups – as above.

Step 14

Choose brackets that will hold the weight of the drawers, including anything you will store in them. We used flush mount hangers. L-shaped brackets are recommended for extra support.

Upcycled drawers hanging on the wall as kitchen storage for cups and bowls

For more project ideas and inspiration visit your Resene ColorShop

This article is sponsored by Resene

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