One of my favorite things to do is line the drawers of my pieces with paper. I like leaving that little surprise and knowing that the inside is pretty, too. After all, storage should be beautiful as well as functional, right? 

With a few dollars and some simple steps it’s cheap and easy to add this detail. These are the steps I follow with lining a drawer with paper…

The supplies: craft glue, water, brush, and a jar with a lid for making/storing your glue mixture…

…a drawer…

…and the paper of your choice. I used the pages from a 1930’s Farmer’s Wife Magazine which I got at a garage sale for $1. I like the mellow tan of the paper. It coordinated nicely with the paint I was planning to use for the dresser. I also liked the combination of the print, the type/font, the graphics, and the black and white photos. And I loved the content of the magazine how it focused on farm life and women on the farm. To be a farm wife in the 1930’s you needed grit and determination.

Step 1: Mixing the glue mixture. I find straight craft glue too thick for spreading and sealing with a brush so I thin it with water. Glob a whole bunch into your mixing container and add water by small amounts until it’s thin enough to spread with a brush. Vague, I know. It’s better to start a little thicker and add water if you find it’s just not spreading smoothly. I used the handle of an old brush to stir. You could use a pre-made decoupage medium like Mod Podge, but I find that thinned-out craft glue works just as well for paper and it’s cheaper. I save the Mod Podge to use when I’m working with fabric (more on that later).

Step 2: Dry fit the paper. I take the time to make a dry fit of the paper inside the drawer itself. You could just start gluing, but I want to be sure I have enough paper to finish the job so I like to plan it out a bit.

With each piece of paper I place it in the location I think it will fit, then crease it along the edges that I need to trim and tear it. No scissors here, baby. Just tear and go. I use small pieces and large. They end up vertical and horizontal and I don’t mind tearing in the middle of a column or graphic.

This is what the entire drawer looks like dry fit. Notice there is a little spot that isn’t covered. That’s ok. I’ll get that as I’m gluing. 

Step 3: Move the paper out and to the side to expose the base of the drawer. This doesn’t need to be an exact representation of the dry fit, but enough to give you an idea of where things go.

Step 4: Coat the base of your drawer with the glue mixture. This is where you’ll discover if the mixture is too thick or thin. Add additional glue or water to suit your taste. I do small sections at a time–maybe a quarter of the drawer.

Step 5: begin laying the paper. I like to start in a corner. You’ll notice I got glue up on the sides of the drawer. This won’t matter because I planned to cover the sides too. If you’ll only be covering the base, you might be mindful of this. The glue could darken the sides after it dries and look messy.

Step 6: Smooth the paper. I use the brush to smooth my paper and make sure it is flat and has full contact with the entire base. When you do this you ensure that the overlapping edges of the next piece will be glued down. You are also adding a top coat.

Step 7: Choose your next piece of paper, place it and smooth it down with the brush. Repeat until the entire drawer is covered. For any little spots that may have been left uncovered, just tear a bit of paper and glue it in its spot. I don’t generally have problems with bubbles or wrinkles when working with smaller pieces like I do. Large sheets can be trickier. If you get a bubble or wrinkle you can gently lift the piece and re-position it.

Final Step: brush a final coat of glue over everything. Be sure nothing was missed. If you desire, you can let it all dry and add a final coat. The final product, when completely dry, should be smooth and not tacky. You’ll be able to give it a light wiping down with a damp cloth, if needed.

I don’t always cover the sides of the drawer. It just depends on the drawer and if I like the look of it when I open it. This one needed the insides and outsides and back. 

Follow these instructions when lining with paper. I use a slightly different method when using fabric which I’ll share another time.


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