Friday, October 16, 2015

22 UHeart Organizing: Office in an Armoire (With DIY Paper Drawer Dividers!)

How are you doing with your Dare to DIY With a New Supply challenge?  I am excited for the weekend so I can finally tackle a couple of small lingering projects using supplies I am not all that familiar with.  It is like blind dating a DIY project; so much excitement for the unknown!

Megan is here today to share how she recently used decorative paper to completely organize her office armoire.  Her project is an ideal example of DIY'ing with a basic supply to make a positively sweet impact to her days.  My initial draw to Megan was her use of color and her endless creativity.  Then, I found out that she moves frequently as a military family and provides an abundance of renter friendly ideas, so I became even more intrigued!  She is finding ways to make her house a home without painting her walls, but by working with furniture, fabrics and wallpapers to make a major, yet temporary, impact.  Did you know you could create focal walls in a rental?  You definitely can and Megan will show you how on her blog.

Today's project is one that anyone can do, living in a rental or not.  And it can be done on a tight budget with a little time and some simple cutting skills.  If you have never organized with decorative papers before, this is a great beginner project.  OK, enough gushing by me, here she is to share more about her newly organized office in an armoire.

Happy Fall, I Heart readers! This is Megan, from The Homes I Have Made, and I am so excited to be back sharing another organizing project with you all! Contributing here is such a huge honor for me, so I’ve been working hard on this latest project. I think you all will love it!

When we moved this past summer, our big, heavy office desk was damaged so I jumped at the opportunity to replace it with a more sleek and simple style. While I love the aesthetic of the new Parsons-style design, it doesn’t have any drawers or built-in options, leaving us without a place to neatly store all of our office supplies. To mitigate the situation, I went off in search of the perfect run-down piece to upcylce and turn into an office supply storage station.

While I didn’t find a battered old piece in need of new life, I did find the perfect dresser, already updated and painted for a ridiculously good price. While I love a good furniture-refinishing project any day, with this one already repaired and painted, I could quickly turn my attention to the inside!

To some, this Provincial highboy dresser might be perfect for socks and underwear; to me, the wide and shallow drawers were ideal for office supplies! There was sufficient drawer space to hold everything we needed to store (and more!), and I knew I could transform this empty vessel into the perfect office supply headquarters. Little did I know how easy, cheap, and fun it would be to do so!

Before I give you the full tour, I want to share a little bit about my thought process behind organizing this dresser and my DIY method for making the most of every single square inch! Like Jen, I’m a true sucker for acrylic organizers and pretty paper liners; and admittedly, that was my plan for these drawers at the beginning. But as I began to play around with various organizers I had on-hand, I became frustrated by how much wasted space I was left with (even in the best configurations) and how awkwardly a lot of my supplies fit within the trays themselves.

Sure, I could have splurged on expandable organizers or hunted around for the perfect-sized trays, but with just some pretty papers from my stash, scissors, and tape, I was able to make fully-custom and tailor-sized organizers that use every single bit of space within each drawer!

Not only do I love that I was able to truly maximize the amount I can store in each drawer, but each little tray/cubby was intentionally sized to hold specific supplies. No more cramming supplies into too-small slots… each and every item was given a perfectly-sized and dedicated home!

Because they are measured to fit snug within the drawer, these organizers are fairly sturdy. However, since they are made from cardstock, they aren’t the most durable things ever. This project is ideal for office supplies, craft notions and the like, but probably not the greatest for clothes, kid items, or toys. Still, if you can measure and cut, you can do this project. I’m still in awe at how great it worked!

  • Drawers (shallow desk, kitchen or dresser drawers are best)
  • Heavy cardstock (patterned or colored, silver foil paper shown is from Joanns)
  • Drawer liner, wallpaper, wrapping paper (optional, wallpaper shown from Walls Republic)
  • Scissors, rotary cutter/mat, ruler, and/or paper trimmer
  • Scoring tool
  • Strong adhesive or double-stick tape
  • Scotch tape
  • Tape measure

Tip: Before making and adding the paper organizers, paper the insides of the drawers.

The organizers will fully cover the bottom, so no need to waste paper there; but adding a pattern to the sides of shallow drawers is a fun way to add more color and pattern to this project!

I recently wallpapered my office (in a completely renter-friendly way!) using non-pasted wallpaper and liquid starch. It worked so well that it has become my favorite, totally temporary way to add wallpaper to anything! I simply cut down some wallpaper samples I had on hand to fit the sides of the drawers and attached them all with liquid starch. When I change my mind or this dresser needs to function in a different way in our next home, I can simply peel it off and start fresh!

With the insides of the drawers papered, I suggest doing a little planning before cutting and making your organizers. Sure, you can make one box at a time and build the organizer as you go, but since I wanted my organizers to fit specific items and still fill out the drawer perfectly, I saved myself some major headaches by planning out all the drawer layouts on paper first. Using digital graph paper and constantly checking the sizes of whatever I needed to store, I came up with the ideal layouts for each drawer, as well as the measurements for each and every box I needed to make!

Tip: Pre-planning also helps you figure out what size and how much paper you need, as well as what colors you want to use and where!

Here’s the best thing about this project: you can literally make an organizer any size and depth you wish. Your only restriction is paper size… so the bigger the paper you have, the bigger the organizers you can make. I chose to make all of my organizers 2” tall. I found that depth was deep enough to hold things well, but shallow enough to easily get small things out. As such, I added 4” (2” for each side) to every dimension I cut.

  • If you want your final box to measure 5" x 5", cut a 9" x 9" square
  • If you want your final box to measure 4" x 8", cut an 8" x 12" rectangle

Tip: To keep me from going batty as I made almost 40 of these in various sizes, I made and referenced a “Cut List” with the “Finished” measurement sizes and the “Cut” measurement sizes. Total lifesaver!

Once I had a plan, the boxes come together quickly and easily! Start by cutting your cardstock down to the right dimensions (with the added inches for the height). I found a rotary cutter works great for papers that don’t fit into a standard paper trimmer. Then using a scoring tool, score a fold line for each side of the box.

(1) Again, my boxes measure 2” tall, so I scored a line in 2” from each side.

(2) Next, trim along the score line at each corner, and make it into a slit by cutting again on diagonal.

(3) Fold each side up on the scored line. If you only have a pattern on one side of the paper, fold toward the pattern.

(4) Flip the paper over and add strong tape along the straight edge of each slit.

(5) Create a box by folding the corner flaps onto the adhesive tape. Before securing, ensure the edges of the paper are flush along the top of the box.

(6) You can secure the flaps to either the inside or outside of the box, depending on what you’re using them for. Since each box would butt up against another, I chose to put the flaps toward the outside, keeping a clean inside. To keep everything smooth, secure the flaps with extra scotch tape (7).

Now that you’ve figured out the process, turn on a Netflix series or great Pandora station and continue to cut, score, fold and tape to make boxes to match your planned design!

As you make them, add the boxes to your drawer and adjust sizing as necessary. If you cut pretty accurately, everything should slide into place just right!

Okay! Now that I’ve shown you just how I made my drawer dividers, let me show you how the whole dresser came together!

The top drawer was designed to hold all of our itty bitty and most-used office supplies. From various tacks, pens, cords, and paper clips, everything has a proper home!

The second drawer holds our extra filing folders, notebooks, page protectors and other full-page-sized items. Since the bottom surface of this drawer could be seen, I papered it all.

The bottom drawer has more organizers to hold envelopes in every size, various tapes, camera parts and more!

The two little drawers are perfect for holding our printable papers. Plain printer paper and photo paper on the right, specialty papers on the left.

One of the things I was most excited about this dresser was the size of the bottom drawer. I (finally!) have a concealed yet totally accessible place for my laptop, our scanner and laminator!

While I would prefer to have our printer concealed, having it up top is really the most convenient and practical solution for our household.

All in all, I could not be more thrilled with this unique storage solution for our office supplies! Not only do I love that the dresser has many functions (so it can be repurposed in our next house), but the size and amount of the drawers lend themselves just so perfectly to our office supplies. While I may have splurged a bit on an already-painted dresser, I was able to fully outfit the inside using only supplies I already had on hand. I guess this really is a great example of a high/low project!

Thanks so much to Jen for having me here today! I do hope you guys will pop over and say hi to me at The Homes I Have Made. In the coming days/weeks, I’ll be sharing more projects from this office space, as well as more renter-friendly and movable décor projects in our current home (that we’re only living in for a year)! See you next time!


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.


  1. Such an amazing idea, thank you so much. Definitely bookmarking this for a future date :)

    1. Amazing it is and bookmark it is ^^ You have a good name btw

  2. I love this! It's so beautiful! I wonder if you could use that corrugated plast stuff for more stability and cover it with the pretty papers? Love your liquid starch idea!

  3. I'm so glad you "introduced" me to Megan!! We've lived in 7 houses in 10 years. We aren't military, we just tend to get shafted a lot with our rentals being sold, owners returning from far off locations with no notice, having a neighbor repeatedly threaten us, roommate from hell etc. I'm excited to learn about her renter friendly ideas as we've just got the jackpot... A rental that the owners hate... We've painted, laid carpet, redone the bathroom (all at their expense)!!

  4. Jen, your super kind intros always give me the warm and fuzzies. Appreciate the love more than I can say! Thanks for giving me this opportunity to share with your readers!

  5. I would have never thought about using an armoire to store office supplies like this. Such a cool and space saving idea!

  6. This is a great idea! I can do this! The hardest part for me would be the layout of which supplies would go where...

  7. This is so beautiful and full of great ideas! While I don't think I can be quite as detailed as you, I can definitely grab your ideas and organize my office supplies in cute colorful containers. Maybe a project for this weekend!?

  8. Beautiful! I love how you made the boxes. Were they just paper or heavier like cardstock?

  9. Where do you get your washi tape? How much is it? Do you know of any cheap-ish brands?

  10. Wow!!! I really have to embrace organizing and tape! These dividers are beautiful!!
    Thank you for the motivation!! =)

    Melanie | Toots & Dill

  11. This looks great! The little boxes seem so easy to do and are so cute! I'm saving this! Thank you!!

  12. wow this is great when i once again get my craft room back, I'll be using this DIY for my desk drawers and my antique spool cabinet. :)

  13. Wow!! This is super cute and well thought, loved it

  14. Love it. Yet another inspiring example of how much bang you get for the extra mile buck.

  15. this makes the neat freak in me SO happy! Love the paper and colors you used!

  16. This is such a great storage solution! I'm already dreaming up ways to incorporate it into my office! Thanks!

    xx Miss Ali

  17. This is amazing! Thank you for sharing :)

  18. Love this! Can't wait to try it.

  19. Megan you are an inspiration! I just purchased an antique armoire, which i wanted to use for all my many craft and sewing supplies....this is perfect!!! Thank you so much for sharing!


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