Think outside the box

Up-cycled wooden box

Right now most of us are quarantining at home during this world pandemic. We are all finding different ways to spend our time and create happiness in this unknown and confusing situation. For me, I’ve found that I have more time to do cooking and crafting. I took this opportunity to go through all my supplies and find items I can do without having to go shopping for additional materials. It’s like a built in forcing function to tidy up. :) This is just one of those crafts I did while spending my time at home!

I am a saver (of memories). I love reminiscing through old photographs, memorabilia or passed down objects. The process of looking through old grade school or college memories takes me back to that place. :) Most of us understand the positives for saving these special memories…and we all know the negatives too. The best-seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, is just one book on how to free your life of stuff. Another good one is, Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure by Maxwell Ryan. So in the spirit of freeing my life of stuff, I am trying to up-cycle some of my old stuff instead of buying more.

One of these objects is a wooden box I made for my senior project while I was at the University of Washington studying graphic design. I can’t exactly remember the senior project assignment…but I know that everyone was pretty much free to do whatever they wanted. The tradition for senior design students is to display the final projects in the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. The process was a lot of work culminating in a lecture and two gallery parties. It was quite a lot of work at the end of Spring quarter, right before graduating, which meant SERIOUS senior-itis.

So my senior project consisted of a hand-created (and designed) book that was housed in a wooden box that I made. I was so proud of this project that I have been toting it around over the years. Fast-forward to 2016…I pulled it out of my closet and laughed out loud (literally). I appreciated the effort, but holy crap…it was ugly. How did I even pass that class??!! I mentally thanked UW for my schooling and then threw the book in the trash. :) I did however keep the box cause it was a blank canvas for something cool, and I love containers. You could do this with most any wooden box from a craft store.


  • Natural wooden box
  • Acrylic paint in color(s) of your choice
  • Paint brush (I used a stencil brush)
  • Disposable plastic container (for paint)
  • Optional Supplies: Printed stencil, Ruler, x-acto knife, repositionable spray mount, and 2 small cabinet handles


Step 1: Create your design. I have been thinking about how I wanted to up-cycle this cherished memory, and I finally came up with painting a pattern on it to compliment my Pia Wallen cross blanket.

Note: You can hand paint the box, or create a simple stencil using paper and an x-acto knife. For this design, the stencil should be pretty easy to cut out.

I created three small crosses in Illustrator, printed them out onto an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper, and cut them out using a ruler and x-acto knife.

Step 2: Paint the box. I adhered the stencil to the top of the wooden box with some light spray mount. This way it doesn’t move around while I stencil.

Holding the paintbrush straight up and down, tap with medium to medium-hard pressure while painting within the stencil. This will help prevent bleeding underneath the stencil and create a cleaner more solid color.

Step 3: Screw on the handles on the sides of the box. It took me awhile to find the perfect handles, but I found these on Etsy and am super happy with how they turned out.

All done! It now can hold new treasures and memories!

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