Memory box

Living in a condo means trying to keep your stuff down to a minimum. But after living here for over 10 years I have accumulated a lot. And my addiction to craft supplies, shoes and handbags doesn’t help the situation a bit! This year I am trying to downsize and organize a bit more. Plus every time I watch an episode of Hoarders I immediately want to throw some stuff out. This DIY is my attempt to hold onto some of the memories, but purge the actual physical items.

According to Apartment Therapy’s Cure you should ask yourselves three questions before holding onto something. If any answer to these questions is “no” then get rid of it.

  1. Do I use it?
  2. Do I love it?
  3. Does my apartment need it?

We tend to think the object holds the memories…but it really doesn’t. The memories are in our mind. A good idea to retain the memory is to take a photo of it and then purge it.

So I gathered up a bunch of boxes of old memories and went through each item one by one. Some items belonged to me, and some to family members. Most of the items hadn’t been looked at or used in over 5 years so why am I holding onto them? There were a few things though that still remained important to me so I decided to hang onto them. For the items I was wishy-washy on I set them aside and photographed them. After all of the purging, I was left with just a small amount of items to keep stash away in my memory box for safe keeping.

Here is an easy DIY for a memory box that can hold your special objects for years to come…and not take over your closet at the same time!

Memory box


  • Wood box (I used this 9 x 12 box from Michaels)
  • Martha Stewart white wood stain
  • Wide paint brush
  • Craft glue
  • Printed lid template (PDF)
  • 4 felt pads (I used clear self adhesive rubber feet but they proved difficult)
  • Drawer label hardware and nails (I used reproduction porcelain numbers)

Memory Box Materials


Step 1:

Go through your boxes of memories and determine which items you want to save, purge and photograph, and which ones you can just toss out. For the items you want to purge (yet photograph) set them up on a nice backdrop and photograph. I used a piece of white seamless paper to keep it clean and crisp.

Note: You’ll just have to take my word for it that I did this step. The process was a few weeks long and my place was a major disaster. I didn’t really want to document this for it was a little scary!

Step 2:

Download the lid template. If you have Illustrator you can open it up in that program and place your photos into the file. When you are done, print out your template.

Tip: Since box sizes will differ, I suggest measuring the inside of your box lid and setting up that size page in your preferred software program. You can follow the grid-like template I created, or go full bleed. Even better would going more free-form with your layout. You could even take paper memories (like cards, ticket stubs, photos, etc.) and make a collage. Be creative!!

Step 3:

Put a small amount of the white wood stain in a bowl and paint your box with the grain on the top and sides. Set aside to dry.

Memory box paint

Step 4:

Once your box is dry, you can open it up and apply a small amount of glue to the inside lid. Use your paint brush to spread it out evenly and lightly. Adding too much glue may make your paper warp, so go easy on it.

Memory box glue

Step 5:

Place your printed out template into the top of the lid and smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles. Let dry.

Memory box glue lid

Step 6:

Flip your box over and  adhere (or glue) your 4 felt pads to each corner of the box. I used clear self adhesive rubber feet and something went terribly wrong with them. I ended up hot gluing them to the bottom. I would suggest felt next time around.

Memory box feet

Step 7:

I wanted to display my memory boxes on my shelf, so I wanted a way to visually organize them. I found these reproduction porcelain numbers at Retrofit Home in Seattle that I thought would be perfect.

Another option is getting some drawer label hardware for the outsides. You can nail them, or hot glue them onto the outside of the boxes to keep them in order. I decided to nail mine, so I picked up some small 3/4″ nails. They were a little difficult to nail on, but with some practice (and one broken edge) I figured out to get them on alright.

Memory Box stacked

Step 8:

Now you are ready to fill er up! I filled mine with childhood memories, travel memories, and old cassette tapes. Yes…I was a fan of Stevie B and New Kids on the Block. It was the 80’s! Who doesn’t love a good boy band? You can proceed with the jokes now.

Every time you open it up you will be reminded of all your amazing memories and that life is good!

Memory box