Making waxed & painted vintage shelves from old drawers for Project Polka

How to make cute shelving out of vintage unused drawers

Using vintage, unused drawers as wall storage is a lovely way to create totally unique, personalised shelving which can also be adapted to suit the interior design scheme in a room. I’ve been working on Project Polka, named after the fabulous Harvey Maria spotted floor chosen for the newly designed and installed bathroom, since early December. It’s now almost complete, apart from some finishing touches like this very cute little display shelving. The four old drawers were dirty and needed a good sand down inside to bring up the grain before they were waxed to protect against any moisture in the bathroom. I painted the outsides in Graphite Annie Sloan chalk paint and different parts of the insides in the same Ocean’s Froth blue (Valspar at B&Q) as the wall panelling below to tie the scheme together. To fit them, simply drill and screw through the wood, countersinking the black screw heads. I then painted over on the blue backs but left the screw heads visible on the wooden backs as it looked quite in keeping.

These drawers were found at the marvellous Agapanthus in Stockport, but keep an eye out in your area at second hand shops, car boots, salvage yards and in even skips!

Vintage drawers to be used as shelvingWhen I first saw the house it was a homage to magnolia, with a bathroom bland, boring and badly laid out. I redesigned the space to move the doorway into the centre of the wall instead of at the side, so it faced opposite the old sink instead of the old WC, below. This allowed the new basin and WC to be moved onto the side wall (the wall with the loo roll holder on it) and gave room for a period style radiator to be the first thing visible on entering the room, rather than the loo being able to be seen as the client walked up the stairs – yuk! Moving the entrance in this stud wall was a simple, practical step which thus gave room for a bigger shower / bath, storage at the ‘head’ end of the bath, a proper radiator, larger basin and overall a much better layout.

How to do wood panelling in a bathroom

My client wanted a spacious, warm, luxury feel with Victorian style fittings and a vintage twist. She chose her sanitaryware from an online company called Victoria Plumb for the matching WC and basin, the ‘Elizabeth’ radiator linked to the toasty new central heating we’d installed and also a contemporary square shower bath with exposed thermostatic mixer shower above. I had our joiner create wooden panelling around the room and bath (with access panel for pipework) – do not forget to seal all the wood knots with knotting solution if you do this at home. I painted the panelling with primer / undercoat then with two coats of water based eggshell. Finally the gorgeous blue Cath Kidston polka dot flooring was laid to complete the look. This is a luxury vinyl tile which is funky but very practical and warm underfoot, plus is easier to lay than ceramic tiling in some situations and on some floors. Yes, we lifted the WC and basin up and tiled underneath for all you perfectionists!

Blue pastel painted panelling in period style bathroom

There are a couple of oak shelves to go up next to the basin and I’m helping with some bespoke shelving for the end of the bath, plus finding the perfect mirror, but it’s nearly there. I love the look of the spotty floor and the new drawer shelves, do you?

4 thoughts on “Making waxed & painted vintage shelves from old drawers for Project Polka

  1. This is such a great idea on how I can reuse my unused drawers that are hidden for a long time. And I adore the new look of the bathroom after your makeover. Not to mention the spotty floor!

  2. Great idea using old drawers to create storage shelves. The vintage look gives character and warmth to the overall design. Great job, well done.

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