Salvaged drawers = DIY modular bookcase

Drawers made into a bookcase, photo

I picked up these drawers on Freecycle. They were salvaged from the kitchen of a 1940s house that was demolished. My original plan was to put the drawers on wheels and use them as under-bed storage. Turns out, no two drawers are the same height, which would look janky. So I tried stacking them vertically instead (anchoring them to the wall, of course). You could also hang these drawers  on the wall as individual shadowboxes. (This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, I may earn a small commission. You can read my full disclosure here.)

Salvaged drawers, before photo

How to make a modular bookcase out of salvaged drawers

  • primer

  • 2 coordinating paint colors

  • decorative or wrapping paper. The paper I used is from Paper Source

  • découpage glue. I used Mod Podge

  • drywall screws

  • drop cloth

  • scissors or craft knife, straight edge, and cutting mat

  • tape measure or yardstick
  • drill

  • sand paper

  • vacuum or tack cloth

Drawers painted with primer, photo

1. Fill the drawer-pull holes with wood filler. Let dry. Sand the rough edges and vacuum off the dust, then paint one coat of primer.

Outsides painted mint color, photo

2. Paint the outer sides one color. I used Ralph Lauren Aged Mint (IB25).

Insides of drawers painted a darker color, photo

3. When dry, paint the inner sides the other color. I used Infinity Edge of Wedgewood (no longer available). To achieve a clean edge where the two paint colors meet, pull your paintbrush toward the edge. No taping necessary. Let the paint dry for several hours.

Cutting the decorative paper, photo

4. Measure and cut the decorative paper to fit in the bottom of each drawer.

Insert the paper in the drawers, photo

5. Insert the paper to make sure it fits. Trim as necessary.

6. Paint a layer of glue onto the wood, then place the paper on top. I found it easier if I poured a thin line of glue onto the surface, then spread it with my paintbrush. Flatten the paper with a brayer or your hands. Smooth out the air bubbles before the glue sets. Let dry.

7. Then spread another layer of glue over the top of the paper. Wipe off excess glue on the sides before it dries. Let dry.

8. Affix each drawer to the wall with a drywall screw. Pre-drill into studs or use a drywall anchor or molly bolt.

Crafty Nest salvaged drawers modular bookcase Pinterest image

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Country Living's salvaged drawer bookcase, photo

Country Living magazine made their own version of my salvaged drawer modular bookcase. You can read my press page for all the details.

Gostlt Penguin Display's modular bookcase, photo

Wait, those look exactly like my drawers. That’s because they are mine! Ghostly Penguin Display posted this photo on her Flickr page to show how she used my drawers after I sold them to her. So cute!