taking a box from drab to fab.

I found this simple plywood hinged box at a garage sale this summer.

You might just see an ugly plywood box, but I see a blank canvas.

I knew that adding a little paint and some fun accents would dress this box up perfectly.

I started out by painting the box inside and out with a base coat of Fusion’s Algonquin.  The reason I did a base coat of Fusion paint was because I wanted to ultimately paint this with white milk paint.  If I painted over the bare wood with milk paint, the paint would absorb into the wood and be quite permanent, and not chippy at all.  That is definitely one of the great qualities of milk paint, but not necessarily what I wanted here.  Also, it would likely take quite a few coats to disguise that plywood texture since I’m using white.  I also like layering paint in this way because it adds a sense of age to the piece.

After the Algonquin was dry I added a little bit of Homestead House Salad Bowl Finish around the edges of the box to encourage chipping.  Since I’d recently been using both Homestead House’s Champlain and Sturbridge White milk paints and I had a little of each left over, I mixed them together for this box.  I painted two coats of the milk paint on the outside of the box only (I left the inside in Algonquin).

Once the paint was dry I sanded the box lightly all over which serves two purposes.  First it smooths out the milk paint surface.  You’d be amazed how much softer and smoother a milk painted surface feels with just a little light hand sanding with 220 grit sandpaper.  Second, it wore away the milk paint in the areas that had beeswax on them to reveal the base color.

Next I added the bottom portion of an IOD transfer.  This was left over after I used the upper portion on the foot board shelf I shared last month.

I love the bird on one side and the rat on the other side.  Did you notice them at first?

Once the transfer was rubbed on, I went over it ever so lightly with some 220 grit sandpaper.  The ladies at Iron Orchid Designs shared this tip with me for reducing the faint ‘halo’ that comes with the transfer.  After wiping it clean with a dry cloth, I used my new favorite top coat, Dead Flat Finishing Cream from the Real Milk Paint Co.  I applied that ever so quickly with a brush.  I feel like it also helps further diminish the look of that halo, mainly because it gives everything a consistent sheen.  In other words, the transfer is no longer shinier than the very flat milk paint.  They are both ‘dead flat’.

But wait, I’m not done yet!

I also added a really cool old door knob plate to the front of the box.

I have a stash of old hardware bits and pieces like this, so I went through it trying to find the perfect addition to the box.

Just so I wouldn’t see white box behind the openings in the door knob plate, I put an old Swedish bible book page behind it.  It’s a tiny detail that most people probably won’t even notice, but I will.

This box makes the perfect storage container for my old Jeanne d’Arc Living magazines.

This was such a fun project to work on.  Although there were a few steps, each one only took five or ten minutes.  I just worked on it a little bit each evening after work and by the end of the week it was done.

So the next time you see a plain and simple box, don’t pass it by.  Take it home and then take it from drab to fab!

14 thoughts on “taking a box from drab to fab.

  1. Simple projects are sometimes the most appealing. I especially like your affinity for detail in using the book page behind the door knob panel openings. Such a fun little surprise for the eye to find – it makes me smile! Look forward to trying Dead Flat on my next project.


  2. Clever! You are so creative. I would have passed by that one. Never thought about painting a coat of Fusion paint and then milk paint. I am always learning new ways to achieve a new paint look from you. Thank you.


    1. I love layering milk paint over Fusion paint. It works beautifully. If I’m not sure milk paint will adhere to the surface of something I’ll often paint an undercoat of Fusion first, then the milk paint. It totally solves the issue of un-wanted chipping. It also allows you to control the chipping by using the bees wax resist only where you want it. Give it a try Monica!


  3. I agree I would not have stopped for this piece. I love this project. Thanks for describing your steps to achieve the results you get. I did notice the bird immediately not the rat however.
    Those transfers really are remarkable
    you were able to totally transform this piece. Bible page behind door hardware fab.


  4. Yes, I probably wouldn’t give that box a chance! You made it into a really cute piece! I love the transfers you are using! So cute. Question… How do you get your Jeanne d’Arc Living magazines? I used to get mine on Etsy, but had to purchase them one at a time after release. I would love for them to come as a subscription like our magazines here in the US.


    1. Thanks Shelly! As for the magazines, aside from the one I bought in the airport in Copenhagen last May, I usually get them from Rose Mille in Stillwater. You can sign up for her auto ship program where she just mails the magazine out to you each month, sort of like a subscription. Or you can just order specific editions. Check that out here. Michelle at Rose Mille is just re-opening her brick and mortar shop this week as well. I’m hoping to stop in and stock up on some magazines!


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