Decorating Drawers

The raw box when I first brought it home, Boo claimed it immediately. Beside it is a wire frame I bought at the same time to display my jewellery.

I found these drawers several months ago at my favourite opshop. They were very simple, made with raw wood and some nails, it looked as though someone had just put them together and decided they didn’t like them. So of course I couldn’t resist snatching them up, excited by all my potential decorative ideas. I considered making them match my hanging shelves, or trying an aged, distressed feel with brown colouring and découpaged with old book pages, but in the end I settled on a suggestion from JJ, to paint the whole thing black and have bright colours inside each drawer. My first concern was sticking, the shelves and drawers all slid in and out of their slots with ease and I know from experience that a few layers of paint on all surfaces can add enough thickness to seriously effect how how things fit together. I’ve also found that using modge podge as a varnish can leave a sticky surface, as that’s what happened with my painted shelves; the surfaces aren’t sticky to the touch but the objects that live on the shelves long-term, my nail polish bottles for example, will get a little stuck to the surface. I initially intended to spray paint most of the black to avoid thick layers making the drawers difficult to slide, but we had several rainy days and I was eager to start my project.

JJ, ever tolerant of my creative messes, and I eating dinner while my first coat of gesso dries.

So I covered all of the raw wood in gesso and applied two layers of coloured paint to the inside of each drawer. Unfortunately the blue and red I used had been in my stash too long, I shouldn’t have used them, the colours applied thick, lumpy, too dark and somewhat translucent which left a streaky, spotty appearance even after several coats. The new colours I bought, although cheap, went on with perfect acrylic opacity and produced lovely, bright, solid colours. Knowing that they would just be my drawers, I shrugged and ignored the temptation to strip the blue and red drawers and re-do them with newer paints.

All done.

I then covered everything else with one coat of black paint, touching up a few sparse spots to avoid needing a second coat. I then drove to my local hardware store and spoke to a server in the paint section for advice. I explained that I needed a varnish or sealer to protect acrylic painted onto my small drawers and, because of the moving parts, it was really important that the items wouldn’t stick to each other; my assumption was to go for a matte finish as I imagine glossy to be stickier. The server insisted that glossy would be less likely the stick and handed me a small tin of wood varnish for indoor and outdoor use on doors and window frames. I covered my entire drawer set in two coats, following the directions, and left everything to dry for two days before trying to slot everything back into place. I immediate felt resistance when inserting the shelves and knew that the paint layers had altered the dimensions, but I pressed on, hoping the drawers may still have enough room to slide in and out. I managed to jam everything together, with quite a bit of force, and, feeling defeated, left them looking pretty. I checked on them the next day and knew immediately that, along with the tight fittings, the drawers were sticking to the shelves and outer unit. I was tempted to strip back the majority of the black and take to it with spray paint, but after attempting some online research on how to strip acrylic paint and varnish, I decided it’d be too much hassle. For now they’re being somewhat functional storing art supplies in my loungeroom, the drawers just stick strongly and can be difficult to open. On the bright side, they do look pretty.


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