Fancy Up Your Sterlite Drawers

A while ago I saw the most ingenious idea on Pinterest: use scrapbook paper to fancy up clear Sterlite drawers. I have several sets of Sterlite drawers in my classroom and I got a head start on my summer bucket list by lining ALL of them. Like so many of you, my love of bright colors has merged with a polka dot romance and I just HAD to incorporate brightly-colored polka dots in my fancy Sterlite drawers.

I walked into the scrapbooking section of many crafting stores before I finally found the perfect paper for my classroom. Hobby Lobby carries a fabulous set of scrapbook paper featuring many designs in a bright color scheme, and it includes polka-dot paper! This particular set of paper features 3 sheets of each design shown in the borders of the pack and I truly cannot say enough good things. All of the colors (except brown) match my classroom design perfectly.

I did a little research and the online store for Hobby Lobby shows a product with the same SKU # (159319) as my scrapbook paper set, but the cover looks a bit different and it has one review online complaining about the color selection.  I truly hope that the cover is the only thing that has changed, because the papers in my packet are lovely.

Here’s a close-up photo of the Sterlite drawer makeover. I featured polka dot paper in the drawer front with coordinating stripes (also from the paper set) lining the sides of the sides and upper front portion of each drawer.

 

Directions: (you’ll need a lot of time and scotch tape)

I started with the polka-dot paper. A piece was placed in the front of the drawer and I used a pencil to trace along the edge. It took some trimming and re-sizing until I got it just right. Then, I had a template to trace and use for the remaining drawers. Once those pieces were taped into place (I taped mine down all the way around the paper on the inside of the drawer), I cut pieces for the sides and added those with plenty of scotch tape. (The sides are simple because they are flat). Finally, paper was added to the upper handle area of each drawer. These pieces were a hassle because the drawers have a curve in this area and it was very difficult to get the paper trimmed to the proper size so they could lie flat and happily against the curve. It took lots of tracing, trimming, and refitting before I got exactly the size I wanted. Similar to my first piece of correctly-sized polka dot paper, I used the first piece of striped paper for the handle that I was able to successfully create as a tracing template for the others before it was taped down.

Yes, the project was a bit tedious, but my type-A personality secretly relished every moment of the process. And as you can see, the end-result is fabulous! I have three more sets of Sterlite drawers under my computer table and they look great as well. Check back in the fall to see the rest of my polka-dot storage drawers as well as updated classroom photos!

A follow-up to this original post has been published. The update answers many questions about how well Mod Podge would work for the project and also provides info for making templates easily. If you intend to Fancy Up some drawers of your own, you will want to check it out.


Since this was one of my all-time favorite and most popular posts, it’s a perfect opportunity to link up with Throwback Thursday at the First Grade Parade! Come join the fun as we revisit our blogging oldies but goodies!

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Maria Gavin

Maria is a former kindergarten and first grade teacher, with 13 years of teaching experience. Her love and passion for all things early childhood is now fulfilled as a mom to two amazing kids. She loves sharing practical and creative tips and ideas that are perfect for young learners – in the classroom or at home!

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88 Responses

  1. They turned out so stinkin cute!! I want to do this.. but my classroom is all packed up! I must remember this for the fall! I am also a bright color/polka dot junkie.

    1. Robynn, I just had to mention that you’re the only person I’ve seen besides my sister who spells her name with 2 n’s 🙂

  2. I love the way they turned out! Just wondering, would it be better to make the first correctly cut piece (template) out of something other than the scrapbook paper? I imagine that I’ll waste a lot of paper trying to get it right! Would hate to waste the good paper!

  3. I was just looking at these type of drawers at Target yesterday. I wanted them….but, decided to hold out for something more decorative! Today, I found your CREATIVE design work and will now head back to Target to get these! Thanks for the AWESOME idea! Love this!

  4. That is FANTASTIC!!! My life this summer is going to be spent organizing like a crazy person so this will be a great way to spice things up. Thank you so much for sharing such detailed directions. I am your newest follower and am looking forward to getting more great ideas from you.
    Stacy

    simpsonsuperstars

  5. Super cute! I am so making this during the summer!! I also love your pink chair in the pic–where did ya get that? I need a new one for next year. Thanks!

    1. I love the pink chair too. I picked it up last summer at Big Lots. They didn’t have any in stock during the school year but I hope they get something similar again this year during the the back-to-school/college dorm season! Best of luck in your search!

      Maria

  6. If you only used tape, won’t the eventually paper rip over time as you are getting things in and out of the drawer? I believe the original pin I saw on this used modpodge or something to seal the paper and glue it to the inside of the drawers.

    1. There is a risk involved with just using tape, but I used a LOT of tape, I don’t dig around in any of the drawers very often, and I rarely put wear and tear on any of my things.

      Modpodge might work really great. I’ve just never modpodged a plastic surface before and wasn’t sure how well it would seal, so I stuck with the devil I know. I would love to know how it would work with Modpodge, though!

  7. Found your blog from Hadar!!! Love this and how bright and colorful it is!!! And I ADORE your hot pink chair!!! I was going to ask where you got it from, but then I saw someone else already beat me to it!! I will be keeping my eyes out for it this summer! I am following your blog now!

    Molly
    Lessons with Laughter

  8. Would anyone be willing to post the templates online for us? I think this is an AWESOME idea, and I’d like to use it for my classroom as well. However, if someone has already made templates and they work, then we could save more trees by just using the templates instead of all of us trying to make our own.

    Thanks!
    Julie

  9. I did this with laminated construction paper. Worked great!! The scrapbook paper is cuter though 🙂

  10. That looks awesome!!! I have to agree with Julie. Templates would be a great help. I have a hard time cutting a straight line. lol

  11. What a great idea, thanks for sharing. I just bought 10 individual 12×12 boxes to store my paper. Instead of making labels for each color, I think I’ll try this idea with each color representing the color of paper inside the box.

  12. So Cute!!! I bet a Xyron would work great to hold the paper to the drawers. I had thought that it might rip easily with just tape too and modpodge seemed iffy to me also. Going to try this too!

  13. I was taught years ago to use wax paper for your template. You run your fingernail around the edge and can make a perfect template. Also very inexpensive and readily available at the supermarket.

  14. Hi Maria! I absolutely love this idea and am in the process of making my very own for my classroom where my students will turn in their assignemtns. Each drawer will signify a period and each drawer will have a different color. I was curious if you put paper on the bottom of the drawer or just the sides? Thanks again for the womderful idea!
    April

  15. I have started doing this to ALL of my strilite drawers and since I dont have a teachers desk I have quite a few. I wanted to know if you’ve ever done any of the HUGE drawers the ones that are about 22 inches long? What’s the best way to do these? Should I just tape 2 pieces of paper together on the inside or what? Thanks so much for all your wonderful ideas!!!

    1. Beth, I have decorated all of my Sterlite bins as well (4 different sets of drawers!). One set is the long drawers. I used the same method, but (as you figured) I had to tape 2 pieces of paper together before I traced the template onto the joined sheet. This was also done in polka dots so I lined up the pages to get the dots just right before I taped, traced, and cut.

    2. Thanks so much! I am a blogger newbie but have started just a little…mostly to just journal my excitement for the things my husband could care less about. If you’d like to see the drawers I’ve done they are posted on my blog at http://www.prekwonderland.blogspot.com Thanks for all your wonderful ideas!!!!Enjoy the last of your summer.

  16. I love this…..I actually have been contemplating painting mine bright colors. I realized how expensive that could be. Love this idea better

  17. Hi Maria! I love this idea and I love that scrapbook paper. I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up the same pack you have. Quick question… were all the colors in your pack as bright and vibrant as it shows on the cover or were some colors (like red) very dark and dull looking? I’m trying to figure out if I got a bad pack with some colors faded or if that is just how some colors look. I don’t want to drive back just to find out that this is how it is supposed to be. Does that make sense? lol

    1. Hi Megan! I wrote that blog post a few years ago and I suspect that Hobby Lobby changed their product in that time. I had a few dull colors in the pack but the papers I used to line my Sterilite bins are the same as what you see in the photos. Most likely, their pack now uses the colors that you received in yours.

  18. I love this idea!! I can’t wait to do this to all my drawers… My only question is this: Does the tape along the the top and bottom edges interfere with the drawer openings/closing smoothly?

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Hi, I'm Maria.

I’m a former kindergarten teacher turned work-from-home mom. I still love sharing ideas and resources to make teaching easier, so you can focus on what really matters in the classroom. When I’m not working on the blog, you’ll find me chasing kids around the house with a cold cup of coffee in my hand (some things never change even once you’re out of the classroom!)

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