Thinking Outside The Box

Updated: May 6, 2021

Instead of tossing out those old drawers that are laying around taking up space, maybe they can be put to better use. Here is how to upcycle old dresser drawers into fancy planter boxes for your garden area or yard.


My back porch area has a patch of earth that grass doesn't seem to want to grow and I was thinking it would be ideal for a plant box with some flowers. Plant boxes are a little too pricey for me or maybe I'm just too tight to spend much on a box I could make myself. Anyway, they are not hard to make but I remembered I had acquired a couple of old dresser drawers that would be the perfect solution to my dilemma.


Dresser drawers? Outdoors?


"Yes, please"



Isn't Pinterest wonderful? That's where I found the idea then I just kind of expanded on it. This is a super easy project that is limited only by your imagination. Basically, all you really need is some drawers, a drill, and some sealant. If you wanna get fancy, then you'll need suitable art supplies to accomplish whatever you have in mind. You may want decorative stones, mosaic glass, or any number of options. Go wild with it! In my case, a wood burner, paints, and a brush were all I needed.


Let's Do The Thing


First things first, I cleaned them up a bit. I didn't go crazy wearing myself out. They are going outside after all. Basically, they just needed a simple wipe down and elbow grease on the areas I wanted to work on. I didn't use any chemical cleaners or soap, just plain old water. Before I started on the artwork, it would need some drainage holes.



I fetched my drill. I can't remember the exact size of the drill bit but it is the one I use most often for most standard screw holes. I drilled several holes and also down the seam in the middle. They don't need to be in any particular order or alignment.


Let's Have Some Fun!


Now it's time to get those creative juices flowing and decide how you want to decorate your drawers. Since I planned on using mine for flowers I wanted something colorful that would attract pollinators to my boxes. I always start by considering the project at hand before deciding on how to proceed.


Work smarter, not harder. That's my theory. My line of thinking was (1) I didn't want to spend a lot of time on this, I wanted it done as quickly as feasible (2) I only want to draw the images once and I will need 2 versions (4 total) for both opposing sides and they need to be uniform in size (3) This is something that will go outside at ground level (not on the wall at eye level). So, I am not interested in creating a museum piece. Van Gough is not required, maybe something more Andy Warhol style.


I don't take credit for the design itself, I found a couple that was suitable. What I did was take a couple of sheets of paper and drew them free-hand with a pencil. Then I scanned them into my computer and printed them out to the size I would need. I am doing both sides of both drawers so I flipped the image in the computer and printed them off again. Now I have reverse images of my drawings, identical in size.



Ok, now we need to get these onto the drawers. I don't like to draw directly onto wood, it's bumpy, scratchy, and difficult to correct mistakes. This is why I printed my drawings, and also because I wanted them to be uniform in size. Carbon paper is your friend. Just tape in on the area you want the image (carbon side down) and lay your drawing on top and trace over it. I use a red pen so I can see the parts I have completed better. Peel off the carbon paper and WaaLaa! We are ready teddy.


Let's Do A Little Outlining


Normally, I like using my Dremel for projects like this. It's a good way to preserve an image you have painted. Being outdoors, sometimes paint doesn't hold up as well as you'd like. With the drawers, I can always place them on the porch during the winter months though so they won't have to suffer the full brunt of it. In this case, I opted to put my wood burner to use. There are a lot of great ones out there. I happen to be a big Burnmaster fan. I love this machine, it is awesomeness! *Safety tip - always have proper ventilation when wood-burning and wear a mask if you are burning on a surface that may have a coating on it. By the way, you shouldn't burn on a surface that has a coating on it. In my case, I wasn't sure, so I took my chances with a mask as protection. Just in case.


I went low and slow until I had all four images completely outlined. By that I mean, I had the setting on low, in the 2-3 range and I went at a slow, steady pace.



Let's Throw On Some Paint


I used outdoor acrylic paints by Arteza. I've used it on several projects and it does very well. Especially if you seal it really well. Some of the drawer areas didn't hold certain colors well such as pink and purple. So I changed it up when I did the opposite sides. I am sure now that the drawers may have some kind of coating on them and that is why.


I'm really happy with how they turned out! I wasn't too nitpicky with it, reminding myself that I was making something birds would likely poop on, it doesn't need to be picture perfect. After they had a chance to dry for a while, I coated the entire drawers, inside and out, with polyurethane and let them dry again.


Find A Good Spot


"These will be perfect for my African Daisies"


I placed them where I wanted them. The cool thing about using drawers is you can stack them straight or cockeyed. You can even lay them flat if you want. Once I placed them, I added a bed liner and some dirt. I transplanted some African Daisies and some Snap Dragons.

Check Out The Slideshow!

Still On A Box Kick


I also found an old grape crate and decided to plant some cat grass for my kitty. The color is light blueish and has a rustic look. I like it so I am not going to re-paint it. This will go on the porch so I decided to cut some vinyl decals and modge-podge it for some added protection. Check out the Paw Patch! It's barely been a week and it has already started to grow! Cat grass is actually wheatgrass. Cats like to lay in it and chew on it. It doesn't have the same effect as catnip but it is good for their digestion. Hopefully, it will be a nice space for him to lay in the cool of the day and he won't feel the urge to lay in my flower pots.



I hope you enjoyed this project. Thanks for reading and have a blessed day!

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