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How To Update Brass Drawer Pulls With Paper Napkins

How to makeover old brass drawer pulls to fun and colorful pulls using paper napkins and epoxy. 

You may remember that last week I was in the midst of a painting marathon.  One of the hand-me-down items that I transformed for my daughter last week was a dresser. It was in good shape, but she wanted it to be fresh and modern. I will post how I painted it in an upcoming post.

Now I want to show you the real star of the makeover – the brass drawer pull transformation.  The old brass hardware worked perfectly, but just was not the style my daughter wanted.

Drawer Pull makeover

They were originally classic brass Chippendale style pulls.

Before Furniture transformations chest of drawers

My daughter wanted something unique and different.  I thought about just buying new pulls, but that would have been too costly.  On a trip down Michaels clearance aisle I came upon these napkins and got an idea.

Two packs of paper napkins to be repurposed to cover drawer pulls

I have been wanting to try out the acrylic resin product, EnviroTex Lite and figured since the napkins would have to be totally protected if they were to successfully cover the pulls – napkin covered drawer pulls would be the perfect small project to try it out on.

They came out better than I imagined.

Before and After Furniture Transformations AFTER dresser painted turquoise.

Furniture brass drawer pull makeover

 

How to Make Over Brass Drawer Pulls with Paper Napkins

supplies needed:

  • Drawer pulls
  • Napkins or gift wrap
  • EnviroTex Lite Pour-On High Gloss Finish – sold at craft stores. It comes in many different size bottles. To cover the 14 pulls, I used less than 8 ounces of the product
  • Spray adhesive
  • Scissors
  • Toothpicks
  • Wood or foam blocks
  • Optional; White spray paint

Figuring out how to cover the pulls took some trial and error, but I found these steps were the best way.

Dresser-brass drawer-pulls--before makeover

1.  Clean and line up pulls to spray paint.  Wedge a toothpick into one side of the handle so it stays up while you spray paint.  I laid mine on a piece of dollar store foam board so I could spray them outside and then easily bring them inside to dry.

Note: since the napkins are very thin I decided to paint the pulls first as you could see the brass color through the napkins when the napkins were applied.  Painting the pulls white removes the brass color cast as well as coordinates the color of the handle with the napkin.  If you are using more opaque paper and like the brass handles  – there is no need to paint the pulls first.

Painted Brass drawer pulls getting spray painted

2. Let dry and then spray another light coat to make sure you have all sides of the handle covered.  Let dry.

How to transform a drawer pull with a napkin. Pull is laying face down on back side of napkin.

3. Lay the pull on the back of the paper napkin. Make sure the napkin design is centered on the drawer pull. If your napkin is two-ply remove the back piece so the napkin is only one thickness.

How to cut the napkin to cover drawer pulls.

4.  Cut two lines in the napkin.  The width between the two ball joints that hold the handle was the width I used.

Furniture drawer pulls getting covered in a purple and white paper napkin.

5. The cuts should fall along the inside of each ball joint.  It does not have to be perfect.  Lay the cut napkin over the pull to make sure you have a good fit and the design is centered.

Scotch Supper 77 spray glue can and paper napkin

6. Remove the napkin and lay it upside down on a drop cloth or work surface and spray the back very, very, lightly with spray adhesive. Let it dry so it is not super tacky.  If you try to apply it to the pull right away – it is too hard to center without the napkin sticking to the pull in the wrong position.  Wait about 10 minutes and then attach the napkin.  Less glue and a little bit of tackiness is all that is needed.

How to update a brass drawer pull using paper napkins. Photo shows how to wrap the pull.

7. Gently use your fingers to smooth the napkin over the front of the drawer pull, lining up the center and cuts around the handle. It is OK to cut the napkin to fit around the ball joints and overlap the napkin slightly to cover.

8.  Cut slits into the excess napkin that surrounds the pull to make tabs that will fold over to the back of the pull.   The cuts will stop right against the edge of the pull.

How to update a brass drawer knob using glue and paper napkins.

9.  Fold over the tabs to the back of the pull and use your fingers to smooth. The tackiness from the spray glue will help it stick.   If there an area  is overlapping – try to smooth it out so that the back will still be flush when mounted on furniture.

Purple and white patterned Napkin-covered-drawer-pull

10.  Turn the pull over and smooth the front again with your fingers. If there are any areas that are not covered just cut a small piece of the napkin and apply glue to the back and lay it right over top of the napkin.  Most imperfections will be lessened once you cover it with the EnviroTex Lite.

napkin-covered-drawer pull makeover showing finished pulls with turquoise and white printed napkins.

Once all the pulls are covered  – it is time to apply the EnviroTex Lite.

EnviroTex Lite product in box and bottle

Cabinet knob makeovers - how to allow them to dry using toothpicks to hold up the pull.

-Each pull needs to be placed on a block so the EnviroTex Lite can run off it.  I used foam, but some of it stuck to the back when the resin was dry and I needed sand paper to remove it. It was not hard to remove, but one extra step.  Use little blocks of wood or wax/plastic wrap covered foam blocks so the pulls can easily be removed from the blocks when they are dry.  ( Lyn – a reader left a comment saying that sugar cubes make perfect blocks to place the handles on – Thanks Lyn for that great tip)

-Place a toothpick into one or both of the ball joints so the handle will stay up. Make sure the toothpicks are angled up and not touching the sides of the pulls.

Important Note:  When applying the EnviroTex Lite around the two ball joints that hold the handle – do it sparingly!   Just add a thin layer so the area will look shiny– do not make it thick or it will go into the handle attachment and keep the handle from moving when it dries as well as fill in the screw hole on the back.  I made this mistake on the first few I did.  To keep the pull functioning –apply the resin thicker in the middle of the pull as it is self leveling and just make sure the area around the joint gets just a little bit to look shiny.

Since you have to work quickly with EnviroTex Lite, I don’t have any photos of the process.  Basically you mix equal parts of the resin and hardener and mix it well – like you would cake batter –scraping the sides of the mixing container as you mix for 2 minutes. Then you pour it over the surface of the drawer pull. I started in the center of a pull and worked out to each side.  It is amazing to watch the resin self level. If bubbles arise  – gently exhale on them and they go away – like magic.

I made small amounts and then mixed more as I needed it.   Once I had all the pulls covered I let them dry overnight. Place them in a quiet room and cover them with a big box to protect them while they dry.   In the morning the resin was hard and shiny.  It states in the directions that the resin should cure for a few days before using.

Follow the EnviroTex directions to the letter.   It is not hard to use – READ and familiarize yourself with the process before jumping right in to ensure you have success.    I had no problems and was thrilled at how easy it was to use once I understood the need to mix it well.

Paper Napkin and epoxy makeover of a traditional brass drawer pulls to one of pattern and color.

 

Drawer knob makeover ideas pin that says before and after and Plain to fabulous drawer pulls

 

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90 Comments

  1. Hi, I know this was posted so long ago and I was wondering if you need to use a material that is light and flexible like napkins or fabric. I have scrapbook paper that I would love to use because it fits the decor I’m using perfectly.

    1. Hi Olivia –

      Good question. If you want to use scrapbook paper, I would soak the paper in a tray filled with water first. Once the paper is saturated it will be more pliable. If it is card stock weight, after soaking you can carefully peel the back from the front of the paper to make the paper thinner and more pliable.

      Let it dry a little and then use to cover the hardware.

      Without wetting the paper first, it won’t wrap around the details and shape of the hardware.

  2. This is so unique! What a creative idea to use napkins and resin. I was searching for how to properly spray paint kitchen hardware when I found this. I wont use it in the kitchen BUT…
    I have an old dresser with the same hardware that I painted, sanded, stenciled then white washed with a silver paint. The drawer pulls got a coating of black paint and the silver wash to blend it in. It still doesn’t look great, but I didn’t know what else to do other than replace them. The unit is in my sewing room. I have some heavy tissue that’s more like napkins with sewing motions printed on them. That would be perfect to fit with the room use and being black and white will match the dresser paint.
    Thanks so much!

    1. BTW to clean the hardware I use a jewelry tumbler with steel shot, water and 2 drops of dish soap. If you have access to one, or know someone who does this makes things super quick! It takes about 30mins for a handful of pieces to get super clean and removes any type of sealer that’s on the hardware. Then I do a dry run with sand, for about 10mins, to scratch up the surface to avoid sanding. This way I know for sure everything got well scratched up. A cheap rock tumbler would work as well. If you flip lots of furniture it might be worth getting one.

  3. I am trying to make this work, but my pulls are a little different, so I guess we’ll see once the resin is set. Btw, if the resin does get into one of the screw holes, is it done for? Will I still be able to force a screw in there? I don’t have any extra!!! Thanks for your great idea!

    1. Hi Susan –

      If resin does get into the screw holes, you can dig it out with the tip of an awl. Do you have one? It is a pointy tip tool that looks like a screwdriver. You can use that to clean out resin overflow. I would put the tip of the awl into the hole and use a hammer to chisel the resin out. This way your screw is not damaged.

  4. You, my dear, are a GENIUS!!!! I have been googling my brain silly trying to come up with an idea I like, in order to update the antique bails on the desk I’m refacing. And I LOVE this. What a fun and pretty look!!!! Oh I’m using it :) Thanks so much for posting this! You are so creative! :)

  5. Wow, absolutely gorgeous!! I also was going to paint my drawer pulls that I absolutely hated (gold similar to yours).. I started to research painting and saw this… Love it, can’t wait to try this!! Thanks!! What do you think about the previous comment with the ketchup bottle to pour the envirotex making it a little easier to pour on ?

    1. Thanks Lee – As far as using the ketchsup bottle – Envirotex needs to be mixed in a flat bottom container. If you could mix it in the bottle first and get is stirred well, then put the cap on, it may work just fine. If you have to transfer it, you may lose some in the process. It is thick and sticky and you don’t want too many air bubbles. Squeezing it out of a bottle, may cause more air bubbles when applying. To get rid of them, use a toothpick to pop them right after applying so surface will be smooth.

  6. I just wanted to thank you for such a great idea and instructions! I painted an old dresser for my toddler’s room and was searching for cute new drawer pulls. Finding something I liked that was reasonably priced was pretty difficult. I am so glad I found your blog because I now have adorable drawer pulls and I’m so proud of them. This was my first project like this and now I’m excited to try other DIY projects! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

    1. Hi Heather – Any brand and or finish of white spray paint should work just fine. Flat would be the best so the napkins adhere well – no glossy finish. I like Rustoleum paints, but generic brands will be fine. Just shake the can well.

  7. What did you mix the enviro tex in? Does it have to be glass and is it something you will have to throw away once your done?

    1. You can use glass or plastic as long as the container has straight sides so you can stir the mixture well. I used plastic cups that I bought at the the dollar store. I threw them away when I was done.

  8. What a great idea. I have done something similar to a dresser turning some dichroic glass cabochons into decorative knobs. Just takes some creative thinking to turn something that’s “so-so,” into something that shouts ,”WOW!” love your idea and will definitely try it!

  9. Hi Dianne,

    Would this product be durable enough to use with kids? The tops of my drawers are plastic with a depression scooped out in the middle to open the drawers…so no handles. I would love to have a contrast from the rest of the dresser.

    Thanks,
    Rachel

  10. Hi, I know this was posted so long ago and I was wondering if you need to use a material that is light and flexible like napkins or fabric. I have scrapbook paper that I would love to use because it fits the decor I’m using perfectly. I’m having trouble finding fabric or other flexible materials that match. If I can use paper, how should I do so? Thanks for posting this. The pulls look amazing.
    Courtney ~

    1. Hi Courtney – you can use paper, it will just be a bit stiffer when you wrap it around the back. If you wet it first, it may be easier to form around your pulls. If you do wet it, let it dry on the pulls before applying the resin. IF it is thick cardstock – maybe you could soak it in water first and see if you can carefully separate it to make it thinner and more pliable.

  11. Can you HELP me?! I know this article is from months ago, but if anyone sees this, how do you first remove the pulls from the drawers?! My drawers don’t have screws visible on the inside — how were they attached in the first place? I think the drawer inside is particle-board not wood, so is there a different attachment? I tried popping the pull off the front with a screwdriver, crowbar style, but it just bent the metal and snapped a corner off! Yikes! Help me?

    1. Hi Lisa – Without seeing the piece, I can only take a guess at what may be holing the pulls in. The pulls could be set into the front of the drawers with glue which would make them hard to remove. Or -Sometimes there is a layer of wood right behind the drawer front. My bathroom cabinet drawers had this. I had to pry the backing off the drawer front to see the screws. Since you said the piece is made with particle board, they are probably glued in.

  12. OMG! I have this tall boy’s wife! Same handles, same, legs, etc. I got the bureau from a garage sale when I got my first apartment half a lifetime ago. Someone had been there first and was going to return for the whole set except for my dresser which the seller had attempted to French country DYI. The bureau refinished nicely (painstaking process), but I’ve lamented not getting to that sale earlier ever since. I would have had a whole set of quality furniture like they just don’t make anymore. You mentioned Upstate NY, did your furniture come for “Downstate”? Nice work! New to Pinterest where I found your site; love to DYI – K from LI.

  13. What a fantastic job, Diane! I’ll try to do something similar as soon as possible. Congratulations on your incredible talent to create beautiful things.

  14. Toothpicks! You’re brilliant! I have these very handles, oddly enough, and want to repaint them to put back on a refinished dresser. I had no idea how to keep the handles up while they dried until now.

    Thanks :)

  15. I am redoing a dresser for my daughter and was wondering what kind of pulls to buy – don’t have to now!! These are great – thanks for sharing! Love it!

  16. I’m not a fan of the original brass pull style but I really really really like your makeover to the point I’m going to be on the lookout for brass pulls!

  17. I think this is my FAVORITE post ever!! Thank you so much, I love it. Drawer pulls are so expensive & I could never find what I wanted. Now I can make them.

    1. Thanks Corrine – Drawer pulls are expensive that is why I had to come up with a decorative solution. Buying one is OK, but when you need 14 or more the cost adds up quickly.

  18. D, you are freaking brilliant. I love this project. Best thing I have seen online in months. Really. AND…I have just the dresser to try this out on!!!

    You’re a delight. Thanks for sharing this with my readers on Show & Tell at SNAP!

    xoxo, Tauni

    1. Hi Tauni – Thanks so much for leaving me such a wonderful comment. Coming from you – the SNAP creator, plus all that you see and do in the creative world -it means a lot! XO

  19. I can’t wait to see more of you using this product! I might have to buy it when visiting New York in September, since I don’t think we have it here in Finland -it really looks great! Thank you!

  20. Those ‘new’ drawer pulls are so creative! I bet there are a ton of things you could apply the same technique to and create more unique decorative accessories. I hadn’t heard of EnviroTex before, but it sounds awesome to work with and helped you create a really pro finished product.

  21. My daughter has made three “bottle cap” tables using the EnviroTex Lite. She has taken old tables and transformed them farily inexpensively. We’ve made good use of coupons to save on the EnviroTex! And if bottle caps aren’t to one’s liking, just about anything else could be used (shells, tiles, etc.) to transform the table top!

  22. I have a dresser I plan to paint with similar pulls. I wasn’t sure what to do with them until now! I love the blue and white ones. I am pinning this for sure!

  23. Diane,
    I have used a similar product in scrapbooking! I bought those plastic ketchup bottles, cut the tip at a slant and use those to apply this type product. Gives total control where it goes and can save more too. These are totally beautiful..will be doing these to my desk soon!

  24. They look ceramic in the photo! The applications of Enviro-Tex I’ve been seeing are so interesting, but your originality always stops me in my tracks.

  25. These are so awesome! What a great use of materials. I am a new subscriber! I can’t wait to catch up on old posts and see what you have next!

  26. Awesome project. You have the patience of a saint to cover those handles, I know my limitations and I would end up throwing them out the window. I love Enviro Tex Lite, I used it many years ago to make pins out of postage stamps when the breast cancer stamp first came out. A good stand to keep the items up off the surface so the Enviro Tex can drip off is sugar cubes, cheap and it doesn’t stick. Also since it takes quite awhile to dry it’s a good idea to cover your project with a box to keep the dust out and it’s imperative if you have a cat. LOL.

  27. Beautiful. Too funny…Today, I just spray painted pulls just like that. Doing another of my girls’ rooms. Painted a similar dresser white and the pulls are black (yawn! now that I see your tutorial. haha). But, I am doing a typography graphic on the top so it should be pretty when it’s done. Just had to chuckle when I saw this. Please keep the great ideas coming. Thanks!!

  28. Oh my goodness, I LOVE THESE pulls!!! They are amazing beyond belief. I have used napkins in the past to decorate baskets. You had to separate the backing off the napkin and adhere it to the willow basket with mod podge, but what you’ve done with the pulls is in another league by itself! Another amazing job Diane.

  29. Very good job, you explained it well through the text and well through pictures. We all love DIY and when the instructions are as clear as yours more people will opt to try and follow it! Great post!

  30. Diane the bureau is absolutely gorgeous.
    I love everything about it.
    The workmanship is supurp,
    The attention to detail,
    Your tutorials are clear, and well thought out,
    The fact that you are so in sink with what your daughters’ style is so wonderful,
    I am sure your girls feel so lucky and special to have such a creative mom .
    Bye for now
    Love m

  31. Those turned out BEAUTIFULLY!!! I am pinning, and I KNOW this is one product I can & will turn to! Thanks for a great tutorial on how to do this!
    Glad the move went well and you were able to enjoy some quality time with your Daughter!

  32. The pulls are awesome! Does the resin make items waterproof? I was trying to think of how to cover an object last night that would possibly come into contact with liquids and would need to be washed.

    1. Hi Jen – you can wipe the resin clean with wet rag, but I do not think you can submerge the resin in water. The water may end up getting under the resin and ruin the seal between the object and the resin.

  33. I am so glad a came across your blog. I love it and thank-you very much for your tutorials.

  34. Love your idea for updating the drawer pulls! I always wondered if there was a way to “age” or faux age the look of the brass pulls without painting them? Do you know of a trick?

  35. Diane once again you dazzle me with your brilliance! What a great idea. Thanks for sharing this, Pam

  36. That is awesome! I had never heard of that resin before, but it is some cool stuff. All the things you can do with it! Although I never would have thought of drawer pulls.. that is brilliant, and they came out awesome. Pinning this so I won’t forget!

  37. Very creative and it looks amazing! If you were to describe that to me without a picture by picture shot of each step, I couldn’t have imagined it. Your brain is incredible!

  38. Brilliant!!
    I am definitely looking for this product, I can think of lots of uses—now that you told me about it, lol.

  39. Girl you must have the patience of a saint and talent out the gazoo. I was with you til you had to cut/place/affix/smooth the napkin to the pull. Sure(nervous giggling).
    I have those same napkins from Michaels. I covered a jar with one of them, had a heck of a time evening out the napkin. Think it could be said I’m all thumbs, not the most patient person attempting projects like that. Think about as far as I’ll get will be spray painting some pulls I have to put on a tray.

  40. What a creative idea! I love that this makes it possible to reuse existing fixtures yet do something more than just spray paint them. I can’t wait to try this!

  41. Beautiful Diane!! I love your projects…they’re always so colorful. Eye candy for sure!

    Jane
    Finding Fabulous

  42. I stumbled across your blog looking at something on Pinterest. I have to say what a find…Love your blog. Thanks for sharing all these fabulous tips that you come across. Gives me the courage to refinish a few things…
    Mary

  43. This is such a great idea. I love how they turned out. Great graphic pattern and color and great tutorial. Thanks!

  44. Wow – what a great idea to update a piece of furniture! I had similar pulls on a dining room set and when I switched out the hardware lines from the original ones were visible. This is a great alternative to buying new hardware…..they came out so pretty too!

  45. Very cool and modern. Definitely will try this, thanks for the directions and the what not to do and what to do. Very helpful! Beautifully done!

  46. You continue to amaze me . . . the pulls look wonderful. Great idea! And much, much less “out go” on the budget!