Upcycle an old chest of drawers

Create a beautiful planter from a plain chest of drawers

How to upcycle an old chest of drawers

With summer here at last, we wanted to make a beautiful floral display that could work indoors or out, with distressed vintage-style prints and bright pops of colour.


Step 1

Painting an old chest of drawers
© Lizzie Orme

Begin by painting the exterior of the unit. We coloured it all over with three coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Provence, leaving to dry thoroughly in between each coat. You can choose to paint the inside of the drawers too, or leave them plain if you prefer. Remove the knobs from each drawer.

Step 2

Wallpapering an old chest of drawers
© Lizzie Orme

Cut the wallpaper to cover each drawer front. Cut a 70cm length of each wallpaper (chest of drawers depending) and lay them flat, plain side facing upwards. Place one of the drawers on top of each, front side down, and draw around it. Use scissors to cut out the rectangles and then stick one to the front of each drawer, using wallpaper paste.

Step 3

Sanding down upcycled furniture
© Lizzie Orme

Leave the wallpaper to dry thoroughly. Once you’re sure it has set, use an electric sander to distress the front of each drawer, paying particular attention to the points that would see natural wear, such as the edges. Run the sander over the entire surface of the drawer front a few times to ensure an even finish throughout.

Step 4

Varnishing upcycled drawers
© Lizzie Orme

Apply several coats of exterior varnish to the front of each drawer, this will protect the wallpaper from general wear and tear and give it some resilience against the weather. Leave to dry thoroughly in between each coat – this could take a while as oil-based varnish does not set as quickly as water-based.

Step 5

Working from the inside out, use a sharp pencil or screwdriver to gently poke a hole through the wallpaper on the front of each drawer at the holes where the drawer knobs will be fitted. Screw them into place, using the hardware provided.

Step 6

Take a scoop of Annie Sloan Dark Wax on a clean cloth and carefully work it into the paintwork, working it into the grain of the wood to darken the finish slightly and bring out the texture beneath.

Step 7

Pot your plants, and place them in the drawers. You can choose to use just one drawer, two, or all three – just ensure your plants will fit within your chosen configuration. Add a layer of waterproof membrane inside each drawer to protect the wood, then add your plants.

Step 8

As an optional extra, you can screw small wooden furniture feet to the base of the bottom drawer to allow it to carry weight.