DIY Makeup Drawer Dividers


As some of you may know already, I've been in the process of getting my vanity slash desk slash bedside table set up. Now, the vanity isn't finished yet, there's quite a lot to be done, but I finally finished my main drawer. I wanted to divide my makeup into sections in the drawer and looked into many options, such as cutlery trays, desk drawer dividers, DIY balsa dividers and so on, but they didn't suit my restraints.

1. They had to be cheap
2. They had to have compartments big enough for the makeup
3. Be white or transparent
4. Completely take up the entire drawer without any space wastage

A lot of commercial drawer dividers were either too small or too big for the space, and they often cost more than I was comfortable spending. I considered balsa dividers but couldn't be bothered painting the wood white, let alone use stronger glues and tools to cut and construct the pieces. Then I saw a pin on Pinterest for foam core dividers that was perfect. It had the potential to fit all the parameters that I had set for this project, and I wouldn't have to paint a thing!

I've seen a few foam core divider tutorials, but the ones I saw were not quite what I had in mind. For example. One tutorial involved glueing strips of the foam core to a sheet of one the size of the drawer. It wasn't what I was looking for as the reduction in the height of the drawer meant my lipsticks wouldn't be able to stand up in the drawer. Another tutorial didn't have the pieces slotting into each other, but rather, they were glued to each other. Another one slotted into each other but did not have a frame, so it was easy to damage or displace the dividers. I decided to make a frame, and slot the dividers into it so they wouldn't budge. As I was working on the design for it, I realised that a lot of budget-savvy bloggers would love this tutorial.

It took me the better part of a day to make this from scratch because I didn't want to make mistakes. There were many occasions in which I went "Shit! They don't match up!" and then realising that all I had to do was turn the piece around and all was fine and dandy.

This project only cost me $6 for the foam core. I already had everything else on hand so I was pretty happy with a very tiny dent to the wallet.

Several sheets of paper
Blu-tack/Ezy Tack
A long ruler (I used a short one and a long one because the shorter one was easier to work with)
A2 sheet of foam core (I only needed one sheet for the drawer and still had about a third left over by the end)
Sharp scalpel or box cutter
Cutting mat
Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
Sticky tape

1. Accurately measure the interior of the drawer and get the length, width and height. This determines the size of the frame you will need, the height you want/need for the dividers. I went with 5cm as the height for the divider.
2. On a sheet of paper, write down the measurements for the drawer, and draw a box on the paper with the measurements scaled down. For example, my drawer, length by width, was 362mm by 617mm, and I divided that by three for the mockup.
3. Determine the sizes you want for each compartment for the drawer. Write all of this down. I measured my brushes and eye/lip liners, and I stacked/grouped together my powders and other products so I could get a general idea of how much space each section required.  

4. On the other sheets of paper, draw and cut out each compartment and label them with the measurements and product, such as 'lipsticks' and 'powders'. Using blu-tack, arrange the sections onto the drawer itself, being sure to leave a margin of 5mm between each compartment and from the walls of the drawer. The 5mm is the thickness of the foam core so you want to make sure to take it into account with everything you decide for the drawer.

5. Adjust measurements where required, if you find that they don't arrange as nicely as you would like or make the best use of the space you have available. My drawer doesn't go as far as I'd like, so about 15cm of the depth was overshadowed by the surface of the desk. I decided to split the depth of the drawer in half(ish - one half is wider than the other) for this reason, so that stick-like items like brushes were in the back, while everything else was in the front. Whatever section that needed to be reduced in height, I increased in width by estimating the area that I would need.

6. Draw the compartments into the box that you initially drew to get an idea of where everything would go. Put in the measurements and add an extra 10mm to each one, except for the frame. It's important to add an extra 10mm to the measurements as they would be the tabs that slide into the slots, and the only exception to this step is the frame. The pieces for the frame should be exactly the dimensions for the drawer.

7. Using a very light hand, start measuring out each strip on the foam core using the ruler. Double-, triple-, and quadruple-check every single measurement. Measure out everything before you start taking your knife to the board. Make sure that the height of each strip is consistent, and label each strip on one end with their position - back, front, top vertical, so on, and so forth.

8. I'm going to tell you to double-check that your measurements are correct, and then start cutting the boards. I advise you to cut straight towards yourself, not at an angle, your feet firmly planted on the ground so that there isn't any leaning towards one side. These tips help to ensure you don't slip the knife or ruler and make a mistake. When cutting the foam core, first score the top layer of the foam and then go over it again to cut through to the bottom. This helps to achieve a clean line without crumbling or breaking the foam. Don't forget to use your cutting mat or similar while cutting the foam core.

9. A general rule of thumb that I stuck to for this project was to have the slots on the bottom edge of the strip for all of the vertical strips, while all of the horizontal ones had the slots on the top edge of the strip. This is so that the horizontal pieces are the foundation for the vertical pieces to fit into place. The cutouts are to be half as high as the height of the strips, and in this case, that was 2.5cm/25mm, and 5mm wide for the width of the foam core. I said earlier that you needed to add an extra 10mm for each strip and this is because the extra bit provides the end tabs that slides into the slots. This applies to all of the strips except for the frame.

Go from end to end, so measure 5mm, then the width for your compartment, another 5mm, and repeat until you have the compartments you need. After you're done with drawing on the slots and tabs, line up the pieces to make sure they all match up. It might help to write on the boards which side is the base.

10. After you've marked out where all of your slots and tabs will be, and they all align correctly, you may begin to cut them out. I suggest that you double-check every few times that they're all in the right places. After cutting them out, you can align them again. As you can see, all of the slots are on the same edge of each strip.

11. Put the pieces together inside the drawer to see how they fit, and they should fit perfectly if you've done the measurements correctly. If it is all good, erase all of the pencil markings as your hot glue gun heats up. When the gun is ready, start constructing the frame. Put glue on the end of one piece and slot it onto the perpendicular piece, and repeat as for the other sides. When the framework is done, do the main dividers next. In my case, that is the long vertical divider on the left and the middle horizontal divider. It gets quite messy trying to apply glue into each slot, so it's easier and cleaner to apply glue to the exposed edge that comes in contact with the other dividers and then push/slide it right in. This applies to the other dividers too.

12. Finally, this step is entirely optional, but if you want to avoid getting papercuts, this is the way to go. You can use washi/decorative tape instead of clear ones, but I went for the clear ones for a streamlined look and I couldn't be bothered looking for washi tape. I think this additional step also helps to strengthen the joints and prevent it from falling apart easily from roughage. All you just need to do is apply tape along the exposed edge of the board and cut a little bit of the tape where it meets another board. You basically snip it where I've drawn purple lines. This is to help you fold down the tape without creasing or awkward corners.

 From this.... to this!

That's all there is to the drawer dividers. You can go right ahead and put it in your drawer. Happy dividing!


  1. Wow, this is a great idea, yours turned out great! I'm not sure I'd have the patience for all the measuring, but what a fantastic, budget friendly idea! XO -Kim

    1. It is quite time consuming but the results are so worth it <3 I was half expecting myself to not bother finishing it at all, haha.

  2. Love this idea and it's great for a rainy day DIY! My Makeup is all kept on top of my dresser. I'd love to clear a drawer and put it in there... but for now it's going to have to sit in the open LOL.

    Love this thrifty & creative idea.
    Lindsey Elyse | lindseyginge

    1. It was a great DIY for a rainy day, especially when it's super useful! My makeup used to sit on top of the dresser in a tool box but since I decided to have my own vanity, I wanted them to go in the drawer. And luckily, they all fit. Well, except the eyeshadow palettes, I wanted them to go on the vanity in a gold basket.

  3. This is so genius! I am definitely going to try this!

    xx, The Makeup Feed

    1. It's a pretty nifty thing to have in the drawer. Makes life soooo much easier! <3 Send me pictures when you do it!