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  • Writer's pictureKelsey

Repurposed and Upcycled Drawer Storage Unit with Padded Top |Easy DIY Project

Updated: Sep 23, 2019

Level: Easy

Time: 4 hours (but only because the paint needs to dry between coats. Otherwise it would be like, 30 minutes)

Materials: Paint and a paint brush. If you want to do a padded top, you'll also need fabric, quilt batting, and a staple gun.

Today we're upcycling an old, inherited set of drawers into a storage unit with a padded top I'm planning to use for my Etsy shop.

In my DIY for Everyone post I said the secret to successful DIY projects are imperfections. Here's secret #2: PAINT.

A coat of paint can transform any surface in a magical way. Look at any ugly kitchen cabinet or set of drawers next to some new pretty ones. More often than not, an old ugly dresser is the exact same as a new pretty dresser, it just has some better paint on it!

And this is great news for us, because painting things is probably the easiest and most dramatic thing we can do to give new life to old furniture.

When we moved into our house we inherited a ton of furniture from the previous owners. We lost most of it when our basement flooded but I was determined to keep this guy because I loved it so much. It may not have looked like much at the time, but these drawers are huge and I knew they'd be perfect for storing my Etsy materials in.

But let's be honest, this is an ugly piece of furniture. It's old, worn out, and dirty.

Sorry for the fuzzy picture! But you get the idea.

But it won't be for long. So let's get started!


The first thing I did was clean it off with some regular household cleaner and a rag. Nothing fancy, just to get all the dirt and dust off it. I took the drawers out then I very quickly sanded it down (I'm talking 2 minutes of light sanding). Don't be scared off by the sanding! You can skip that part if you want, it's not necessary, just helps the paint stick a bit.



I used some garbage bags and old towels to protect our beautiful new carpet (but yes I still painted on our brand new carpet. Bad idea? Probably).

The kind of paint you choose makes a huge difference in this step. If you want to use a regular type of wall paint you'll probably end up doing a whole bunch of coats. I went with Benjamin Moore Advance paint because we'd used it on our cabinets and A) I liked the color and B) I had leftovers so it was free. Free trumps everything else.

Another really great paint option is milk paint. I used this General Finishes milk paint to redo our bathroom cabinets at our old house and LOVED how it turned out. The best part is you don't have to sand or prime or anything with milk paint, no matter what kind of surface you're painting on. It's so thick it just stays on. It's amazing! I would've loved to use this but we were out and I had leftover Advance paint and, like I said before, free trumps everything!

After my first 2 coats it still looked pretty sparse, so I did about 2 more. I'm just telling you this so you know that, even if it doesn't look like you thought it would at first, keep going! Problem solve! Add more paint! Don't stop, try different things until it looks the way you want it to.


One of the reasons I was excited about this set of drawers was because it had a removable top I knew I could use as an ironing board. I need to use a heat press (basically a fancy iron) a lot for my Etsy shop but you have to have a surface that's safe to iron on (I've ruined many table tops with my heat press because I didn't have an ironing board. No more!).

I wanted the top to be slightly padded (like an ironing board), so I got some leftover quilt batting I'd used in some previous sewing projects. Batting is super cheap, you can get it at WalMart or Amazon or any craft store. You could also use some layers of fleece or a sweatshirt kind of material. Anything to make it slightly padded.

Pro Tip: Make sure you don't use any type of fabric or padding that could melt!

This is the original top. I thought about painting it but realized I was going to cover it with fabric, so I skipped that part.

I just laid my batting over the top so it covered the whole thing plus an inch or two off the sides.

Then I laid my fabric over the whole thing. I bought this fabric at WalMart for $5 a yard! Guys, WalMart has great stuff!


Flip the whole thing over (this part is slightly tricky) so you're looking at the bottom of it. So the fabric will be on the ground, facing the floor. Then the batting, then the table top. Then fold all the fabric around the edges, kind of like you're wrapping a present.

Like this.

Next up, staple guns!

If you've never used a staple gun, don't be intimidated! They're SO easy and really helpful to have around. You can get them for $10 or $20 on Amazon or at WalMart or Lowe's. I won't tell you how to load yours because they're all different, but if you aren't sure, just google "How to load {brand name} staple gun" and you'll find tons of helpful videos!

For this project I used a pretty light duty staple because I wanted to be sure they didn't pop out through the top of the table. I have no idea if staples come in actual sizes or not, but the ones I bought literally said "light duty" and they looked shorter than the other ones so I went with it. (Remember how I told you I don't know what I'm doing most of the time? I really don't. I just guess and figure it out later. This time I was lucky that the staples worked. That doesn't always happen!)

You want to make sure you have plenty of extra on the bottom to staple! All you need to do is pull the fabric kind of tight and staple it around the edges! The corners can be a bit tricky, I just tried to fold them over a bit and staple them down.

When I was stapling I pulled the fabric a bit too tight and it created some puffing and tufting that I didn't want. So maybe don't pull it as tight as I did.

You can trim the excess fabric and batting from the back of the top, but don't trim too much (like I did). I cut it too close to the staples and A) They started to pop out and B) the top hung over the drawers a bit and if you look underneath you can see the uneven fabric flaps. My suggestion would be to staple around all the edges, then staple again an inch or two in, THEN trim the excess fabric.

Make sure the paint is dry, put the top back on and you're done!

I can't even tell you how much I love this storage unit. I saw one similar to it at Ikea for $129 (but without the padded top). This one is bigger, more solid, and it only cost me $10 in fabric since I already had the paint and batting. It doesn't get much better than that!

This project's imperfections: The paint is kind of uneven on some of the sides and smudged on the front (I got impatient and tried to put the top on before it was dry). I trimmed the fabric too close to the staples. I pulled the fabric too tight and created tufting I didn't want. The bottom corners are old and some of them have broken wood pieces. I painted over them so you can't see them as well, but they're still there!

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Sep 23, 2019

It looks really nice! Great job!

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