Saturday, October 22, 2016

14 UHeart Organizing: Line Your Drawers Like a Pro!

Lining drawers has endless benefits. Aside from the instant joy you will feel each time you open a drawer, liners also protect the drawers from spills and damage caused by daily wear and tear. I have shared quite a few examples of lined drawers and cabinets over the years, and I am always asked for tips on how to get them just right, or even just some advice for easing the process a bit. Of course I went through a bit of a trial and error period (I learned the hard way to never use spray adhesive and gift wrap on a drawer), and today my friend Megan is stopping by to share all of her tips for lining drawers like a pro. I follow a very similar process as Megan, and I am thrilled she put this together for us because her tips are spot on (so your drawers can be spotless).

Hello again, iHeart Readers! I am so excited to be back sharing another organization-themed project with you all today. This time, I’m sharing my tried-and-true, stress-free method of lining drawers to make them a little extra personal, pretty, and most of all, durable!

Like Jen, I am a huge fan of patterned papers inside all of our drawers. Sure, this color - and pattern -loving gal enjoys the pop of pretty when I quickly open them to grab something out. But more so, as a perpetual renter, lining drawers with paper has become one of my easiest and most reliable rental “tools.” Not only do the fun patterns allow me to express our personal style in an otherwise bland home, but the wipeable paper keeps our daily wear-and-tear on a rental to a minimum. When it’s time to move out, peeling out the paper is much quicker and easier than cleaning and wiping out every single drawer!

Anyone who has wrestled with sticky contact paper, dealt with unsightly bubbles, worked with awkward drawer sizes, and mis-measured cuts over and over, also knows that lining drawers can be somewhat of an exasperating experience. For a long time, it was a chore I hated to do despite loving the results. Well... after lining almost every single drawer and shelf in our seven different homes over the years, I’ve gotten it down to a (quick and easy!) science... and it’s now something I look forward to rather than dread. Let me share my secrets with you!


First, I’ve found that gathering the right supplies and doing some basic prep ultimately makes the drawer lining process a bit easier and smoother.

Tip 1: Whenever I line drawers, I forgo the scissors and pull out a self-healing mat, 24” cutting ruler, and rotary cutter. A flexible measuring tape is a must for getting the most precise measurements, and a notebook and pencil are handy when you have lots of drawers with lots of different measurements to keep track of!

Tip 2: Whenever possible, take the drawers out. Sometimes this isn’t possible or practical; but it sure does make getting precise measurements AND putting the the paper in square so much easier.

Tip 3: Before going anywhere near drawers with sticky paper, take a few seconds to quickly wipe out any sticky residue and vacuum out any dust or loose particles. Contact paper really sticks best when the drawers surfaces are as clean as possible!


Tip 4: Before cutting paper for the drawers, take the time to get precise measurements of both the width and depth of each one using a flexible tape measure (which allows you to get into tight corners a bit easier).

Tip 5: If you have a lot of drawers (in a bathroom, kitchen, or handmade piece of furniture for example), don’t assume they are all the exact same dimensions. Measure each drawer individually and keep track of the various measurements on a piece of paper. Mapping out the dimensions is especially helpful if you plan to use different papers in each drawer or if you are trying to figure out how to make the paper you have fit best!

I am often guilty of trying to make a single roll of a great pattern fit across all my drawers in a space. Sometimes paper can be rotated and cut in various directions to make the most of the width of the paper as well as the length. However, this doesn’t always work.

Tip 6: Be sure to pay attention to the pattern of the paper when trying to figure out how best to cut out your required dimensions. Some patterns (like the bottom two chevron patterns) look best when installed horizontally; while others (like the blue trellis pattern) can be installed either horizontally or vertically. Spend some time analyzing both the pattern and dimensions of your paper and the dimensions of the drawer before starting to cut!

I mentioned above I that prefer to use a cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter when trimming drawer liners down to size. First, I find that because contact paper often comes on tight rolls, it can be pretty tricky to deal with (because it likes to keep curling up). Second, I buy a lot of my contact paper from clearance stores and have discovered that the ruler grid on the back of the paper is not always entirely accurate.

Tip 7: Forgo both the scissors and the printed grid on the back of contact paper. Use a rotary cutter set to both keep unruly paper in order and ensure precise measurements.


Most often, contact paper is used to line drawers. It’s easily wipeable, and its adhesive backing is easily removable, making it ideal for renters and those of us who change our minds frequently! #guilty However, gone are the days of plain and boring contact papers. You can now find drawer liners in almost every color, style, pattern, texture, and price point you want!

Tip 8: Don’t limit yourself to using only contact paper in your drawers. Almost anything (as you will see later on!) can be used if it can be cut to the right size. Keep your eyes out in clearance sections of craft and home stores, as well as clearance stores (like Marshalls and Ross) for bargain prices on great patterns. Even peel-and-stick wallpaper, when found on clearance, can make for fun and budget-friendly drawer liners!

One of the most exasperating parts of lining drawers with adhesive papers is the actual installation process. Once you peel the paper backing off, it seems like all hell can break loose. If you’re not careful, you can easily end up with large bubbles, a caddywhompus installation, or having to cut it all over again because the paper sticks to itself. #beentheredonethat Here’s how to prevent all of the above!

Start by tearing away just 1-2” of the paper backing off your trimmed down liner paper to reveal the sticky surface.

Next, peel up the torn edge away from the sticky surface just a bit to help get the paper started.

With the paper backing still on a majority of your paper, place the exposed sticky edge into your drawer, taking care to align in on the long edge, as well as the top and bottom.

Next, smooth out the remaining paper (still with the paper backing attached) to ensure 1) it will fit properly across the bottom of the drawer, and 2) the paper is sitting in the drawer nice and straight.

Tip 9: With only a few inches of sticky paper exposed, it is very easy to peel off the paper from the drawer and re-adjust the placement as necessary. If the paper doesn’t start lined up, it will only get worse as you peel the paper back off the rest of the paper and lay it in the drawer. Take the time to re-adjust now and get the alignment just right!

With the alignment correct, it’s time to peel away the rest of the paper backing and smooth any bubbles as you go. Lift the paper up and find the torn edge that you’ve already pulled away from the sticky paper a bit. As you slowly pull the paper backing straight out to the side (below right), smooth the paper down onto the drawer surface with your other hand (below left). Smooth any bubbles as you find them.

Tip 10: Try not to pull the paper backing all the way off and then smooth the paper down. With the paper fully removed and all the sticky area exposed, it becomes much harder to go back and deal with bubbles. Work slowly, and only pull more paper backing away as you smooth the paper down into the drawer!

If measured and aligned right, your paper should fit perfectly into the bottom of your drawer the very first time, without having re-position, re-smooth, or re-cut!

Tip 11: In the event you didn’t get your measurements or alignment quite right, run a sharp craft knife along the very edges of the drawer. Contact paper usually cuts easily, leaving you with a clean and perfect edge in the end!


Like Jen, I don’t limit myself to using just adhesive-backed papers to line drawers. Wallpaper, wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, and more are all fair game! In fact, last year I shared a tutorial right here on IHeart on how I used liquid starch and regular wallpaper to line our office cabinet drawers! But what if you want to use these non-wipeable papers in a moist environment such as kitchens, baths, or laundry rooms? Using clear contact paper (below right) on top of decorative papers is the perfect solution!

Tip 12: Many wallpaper companies will provide wallpaper samples for FREE, and they are often large enough to fit inside standard drawers. Next time you’re sourcing wallpaper for another project, hang on to the samples to outfit drawers too!

Just like with the adhesive-backed paper, use a cutting set to trim the paper down to size. When using non-stick paper (that will get a clear contact paper covering), I reduce my measurements by ½” in each direction. Like before, pay attention to dimensions versus pattern when determining how best to cut out the paper.

I find it easiest to first secure the non-stick paper to the drawer using strong double-stick tape. Anything you have on hand can work here!

Next, use the exact same method as described above (tear away 1-2” of the paper backing off of sticky clear contact paper, align sticky edge with the edge of the drawer, pull away slowly with one hand as you smooth with the other) to apply clear contact paper to the top of non-sticky paper. Notice that the smaller patterned paper leaves room for the clear sticky paper to attach to the drawer, keeping everything smooth and in place!

With just a little bit of time and effort, you can give the insides of your drawers some major style and personality! Whether it’s peel-and-stick or some other fun paper you discover, don’t hesitate to have a little fun and do something unexpected!


Patterned paper is especially fun in drawers where you use clear drawer organizers.

Tip 13: When you move frequently from home-to-home (or even find yourself re-arranging drawers), it can be frustrating when organizers don’t fit quite right. But you don’t need to run out and find new ones! To keep organizers from sliding around each and every time you open the drawers, secure them in place with thick double-sided tape like this one! When butted up against each other, you will have a perfectly customized drawer organizer using items you already had on hand!

Have you ever gotten through most of a drawer lining project only to discover you’re a few inches short and you just don’t have enough paper to finish? #beentheretoo To save yourself from buying a whole new roll for the last few inches, get creative with the paper you have left. As mentioned above, try and rotate the paper to see if you can get the dimensions you need.

Tip 14: Or, line the base of the organizers instead of the drawer/cabinet itself!

Instead of lining the full drawer and cabinets in our bathroom (which would have required a lot more paper), I chose to line the bases of my acrylic caddies with the paper I had left. This gave me the splash of pattern I was craving without causing me to invest in more paper!

Lining drawers with pretty papers was always a chore. I knew it was helpful in our rental lifestyle, but it was a task I never particularly looked forward to. After years of wrestling sticky papers into our drawers (and wasting lots of pretty paper along the way!), I’ve finally come up with a way that gets the paper in cleanly without cursing and sweating along the way! I’ve you’ve ever found yourself discouraged by the process of lining drawers with paper, I hope these tips and tricks help make the task a little smoother!

Our bathroom isn’t the only thing that has seen the addition of some pretty papers lately! Our kitchen drawers also just received an organization overhaul, and we sure are loving the positive impact it’s having on our day-to-day life! Finally, if your kitchen needs an organizational overhaul before the holiday cooking, baking, and hosting season gets into full swing, I invite you to sign up for my FREE kitchen organization course! I’m providing you with all the tips, tricks, motivation and printables you need to conquer the clutter in your kitchen. You can learn more and sign up here!


Hello!  I am Megan, an exercise and nutrition professional turned stay-at-home mom and DIY blogger. I am married to a U.S. Marine and currently reside in Eastern North Carolina, my 5th home in 9 years! My focus is renter-friendly, movable décor and organizational projects that are high on style and function yet low on complexity and budget. Armed with creativity, ingenuity, a can-do attitude, and a strong Type A personality, I have become a pro at making each and every temporary living space an organized, functional, and well-styled home for my family! You can get all of my DIY, organizational and crafting ideas on my blog The Homes I Have Made.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

20 Laundry Room Update: Lowering Hookups & Installing a Counter

We made some jumbo sized progress in our laundry room this past week and I am ridiculously excited about the changes.

But before I dive in, let's chat about laundry rooms for a moment. How do you feel about them being a combo of function and fabulous? I know there tends to be a lot of debate on this subject, as the task of laundry is a little mundane and tedious and how pretty does a laundry room really need to be? On the flip side of the coin, some families (mine included) spend ridiculous amounts of time on laundry every week, making the space almost as busy as the kitchen!

I personally think a laundry room should be fabulous as long as it is functioning big first. We have a large laundry room, and for that I am extremely grateful. I know the size alone is a blessing, and the fact that we are able to utilize the space for much more than just laundry is a bonus. I can use it for sorting/folding clothes, as a cleaning supply hub, storing our extra linens and beach gear, sewing, organizing my painting supplies, etc... This room works so hard for our family, and I really want to give it a little lovin'.

With that, this project has been on my wish list since we purchased our front loading washer and dryer over ten years ago! I loved the washer and dryer instantly, but didn't love that all of our connections for water and power were at a level above the pair of machines. It caused instant visual clutter and I would find myself putting more clutter in front of the hookups to hide their unsightliness. I wish I would have known just how easy it was for us to move these items lower so we would have done it long ago!

The clutter was one thing, but the primary reason we wanted to lower the hookups was to add a solid surface folding counter above the washer/dryer. We had been trying to use a smaller counter behind us, but that counter sort of became a catch-all space and wasn't really ideal for spreading out and folding large loads. A deep, large surface would be a huge improvement to the functionality of the room.

Our utility sink was beyond its prime so that was the first to go. Eventually we will have a small snack bar in the adjoining den, and we will need a place to wash a few dishes. And of course, hand washing specific clothing and project supplies will happen in this room as well. So we made plans to add a 36" cabinet paired with a large, deep sink.

The wall behind the sink was typically dirty and challenging to scrub clean, so we will finally be installing a backsplash tile. I am also thinking of doing both an open shelf and a cabinet above. The counter for the washer and dryer is so deep, that really any of the upper storage will be for items less frequently used. And because our laundry room can feel a bit dark, we are planning to add a sconce for some additional lighting.

But let's take a step back and take a peek at a before...

To begin with the planned update, the first step was to find a base cabinet and take a bazillion measurements. The cabinet allowed us to have just enough room for our washer and dryer and 2-3" of built-in counter support around each machine. I liked that there wouldn't be any gaps or wasted space, and that the supports in the center would ensure the large sized counter wouldn't sag or bow down the road.

Speaking of counters, there was a lot of back and forth on the type of counter to install. Because we are now obsessed with our Cambria kitchen counters, quartz would have been my first choice. But as much as we use the laundry room, it just seemed a little bit much... especially when cost started factoring in. I will splurge on counters in a kitchen, even a bathroom, but I was OK sticking with a less expensive option in our laundry room. We plan to add two wood shelving pieces to the room so I ultimately opted for a laminate counter for the sink/washer/dryer setup. We brought our overall dimensions to Home Depot and put in a custom order for two pieces of countertop in Formica Neo Cloud finish. To select the depth, we figured how much room we would need for the hookups in the back, as well as where we wanted the face of the washer and dryer to show. Our washer has a pull out drawer for pouring in detergent/bleach/softener, so we opened that to be sure the drawer would be accessible to its fullest while still tucked under the counter. We ultimately landed at a counter that was 30" deep (and 24" deep for the base cabinet).

Another laundry room blessing is that we have full access to our electrical, gas, venting and water supply on the back side of our laundry room wall (inside of our utility room). Bryan knows just enough to feel confident in handling the movement of these items on his own, especially because we have family members who specialize in the electrical and plumbing industries on call. After he measured and determined the new location for the hookups, he shut off our water and power supply, cut the plumbing and used his multipurpose oscillating tool to cut the new box shapes from the sheetrock.

We removed a bit of length from the PVC pipe below the hookup box, and also moved it to the side a bit. It is important if elbowing these pipes, not to use a 90 degree piece or air pockets can form and create a back-up (so we used two 60 degree pieces). We had to add PEX tubing for the water line to the hookups, and the fool-proof way to do this quick and easily was with our Shark Bite pals. Although these little buggers are a bit pricey, they are SO worth it due to their ease of use.

They just snap on to the cut tubing, and create a watertight connection to the new length of tubing (allowing us to extend the overall length and lower the hookup box).

With the boxes now lowered, we were able to patch the walls on the laundry room side.

Once the walls were coated, sanded and dry, I gave them a couple coats of white paint/primer. I am not fully committed to the design of the remainder of the room, so I just splashed the white up for now.

OK, time to install the cabinets and counters. Starting in the far corner of the room, we shimmed and installed the sink base cabinet first.

From there, we added a ledger board for the counter, using a stud finder to be sure it was being reinforced along the remainder of the wall.

For the support walls of the washer and dryer, we combined two pieces of smooth 3/4" plywood together to create a 1 1/2" thick support. The wood was cut to the correct height and depth with our circular saw, combined together with construction grade glue and screws and then sanded... Then it was affixed to the base cabinet with more screws and shims to ensure levelness.

We repeated this step for the center piece, and used the multi-purpose tool to cut out a notch to insert the support into the ledger board. We reinforced with heavy duty L-shaped brackets on both sides at the top, and again into the studs at the floor.

And one more time on the far end, screwing into the wall studs.

You will see above that we pre-drilled some pocket holes into this piece prior to screwing it into the wall. These holes were added to all of the support pieces give us a way to screw up into the counter top. This is also why this Kregg Jig continues to be one of our favorite tools. Insert heart eye emoji here.

You will also see in the piece against the wall that we were initially going to finish the faces of these boards with an iron on edge tape. This would have worked just fine, but we ultimately liked the look of adding a full piece of trim board to the faces instead. More on that in a minute.

Above you can see the washer/dryer cubbies taking shape, and prepped for the counter install. I didn't get a photo of this, as I was standing on the top of the counter pushing down, while Bryan was under the counter attaching it through the pre-drilled pocket holes.

You know when you grab for your level and then hold your breath? Well, we let out the biggest sigh of relief! Everything ended up level in all directions. #cheers!

With everything installed, we used glue and our brad nailer to affix 1x2" boards to the two ends and a 1x3" board to the center.

This really finished off the faces of the supports and bridged any small gaps within the washer/dryer cavity and the machines.

With everything installed, I got to work with caulk and wood filler to clean up all of the nail and screw holes in the entire piece. Lots of sanding later, it was time to tape and paint!

Again, for now I went with white; two coats of Behr Marquee Ultra Pure White in satin applied with both a brush and smooth roller. I have some ideas for this space that need refining, so although everything is going white right now, color is coming!

It is worth mentioning that we still have work to do on the sink base cabinet and counter. We plan to reinforce the counter with extra support to hold the weight of the new sink and reduce any bowing, fix the doors (they are a little wonky) and add a decorative toe kick. But for now, we are celebrating the install of the washer and dryer and the fact that we have been using it with zero leaks!

And a final view of the depth and height difference. I had a hard time finding any detailed photos or tutorials for this project, so I wanted to be sure to share ours with as many words and photos as I could muster up.

This is the beginning of something fun; a true blank slate for tile and wallpaper! I absolutely can't wait! The counter is a simple enough pattern that it should remain versatile for many years, and the large surface area is already my new laundry bff. And no need to send out a search party for me when I go missing over the next few days, I will be right here catching up on all of the laundry that piled up while working on this project.

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