How to Turn a Thrifted Box Into a Jewelry Case

Updated on February 14, 2018
purl3agony profile image

An eager DIYer and crafter, Donna enjoys sharing fun and creative tutorials with others so they can learn from her successes and mistakes.

Recycle an old box into a beautiful jewelry case
Recycle an old box into a beautiful jewelry case | Source

How to Upcycle an Interesting Box From the Thrift Store

I'd been looking in thrift stores for an old jewelry cabinet or armoire to upcycle into a new jewelry box. On the day I searched for one, however, I could only find this weird Christmas-themed box. Although I was a little disappointed, I decided to turn this old piece into a lovely jewelry chest. Using some paint, stencils, scrapbook paper, and vintage postcards, I gave this old box a new look and purpose.

My weird thrift store find
My weird thrift store find | Source

What to Look for in a Thrift Store Box

When I shopped for a box, I wanted a jewelry armoire like the one pictured below. These cases were popular in the 1970's and 80's, and you can usually find them now in thrift stores and at garage sales. Instead, I found this weird wooden box. However, it was intact, and the price was right at $2.99.

Here's what to look for when searching for a box:

  • Good Condition: The box shouldn't be missing any parts. Avoid pieces with deep scratches or broken parts unless you have the skills to repair it.
  • Fits Needs: These jewelry armoires usually have drawers for small items and a hanging area for necklaces. Make sure the design meets your needs for how you want to use your finished case.
  • Good Hardware: Check to see that the hardware is removable and replaceable if you don't like it. My box had little Christmas trees for drawer pulls. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get them off, but I decided to take a chance with it.

Sample Jewelry Chest or Armoire
Sample Jewelry Chest or Armoire | Source

What You'll Need

The materials for this project will vary depending on your box's condition and how you want to decorate the piece. Here is a general list:

  • Box: Boxes come in many styles, with features that could include glass doors, hinged tops, and multiple drawers. If you have a choice, choose a box with a lot of surfaces you can decorate to fit your taste.
  • Primer Paint: Again, the need for primer or the type of primer you use depends on your box, but you will want to create a fresh surface to decorate.
  • Paint: You'll need paint in the color(s) of your choice along with paintbrushes, sandpaper, and other painting supplies.
  • Decorating Materials: These include stencils, scrapbook paper, photos, postcards, and other materials of your choice.
  • New Hardware (optional): Hardware includes things like drawer pulls or knobs. This only applies if you decide to change or add hardware to your box.
  • Glue: You will need different types, depending on your box and design. I used Mod Podge and a glue stick.
  • Basic Supplies: These include pencils, a ruler, scissors, a screwdriver, and a hammer.

Preparing Your Box
Preparing Your Box | Source


1. Remove any hardware before priming and painting the box. I was able to use a chisel and hammer to remove the tree drawer pulls from my box. Hopefully, your hardware is easier to remove.

2. Use a coarse sandpaper to even out the box surface, especially where your hardware was. Follow this with a light sanding using a finer sandpaper. Wipe down your box to remove any dust or dirt.

3. When your box surface is smooth, use a primer to prepare the box for new paint. Be sure to tape off any hardware that you can't remove with painters tape. I used some latex primer (water-soluble) that was left over from another project. I had to apply a few coats to cover the old paint.


4. Paint your box with the paint and color(s) of your choice. I used a chalk paint I found at the craft store. It took a few coats of paint to cover the surface completely.

  • If your jewelry cabinet has glass doors, consider covering them with paint (or tissue paper) to give them a fresh look.


5. This step is optional: To give my box a slightly aged look, I applied a light wash of gray paint to the surface. I used a very wet wash of gray acrylic paint to each side, let the paint sit for a few seconds, and wiped some of the wash off with a paper towel.

Adding decoration to your jewelry box with stencils
Adding decoration to your jewelry box with stencils | Source

6. I wanted to give my box a romantic vintage look, so I used a small repeating stencil and some gold acrylic paint to add a design to the sides, top, and front of my box. Stencils are an easy way to add decoration and color to your box, particularly if it has doors or glass panels.

  • Stencils are available at most craft and home improvement stores. They come in a wide variety of designs and styles and are easy to use. For this jewelry case project, I would suggest using a smaller stencil that fits the size of your box.


7. To add to the vintage look, I glued two old postcards to the front of my drawers. I used Mod Podge to glue the postcards in place added extra stenciling down the sides. You could also use photographs or scrapbook paper to decorate your drawer fronts.

  • I was going to glue another postcard on the top of my box. However, I tend to pile odds and ends on the top of my boxes, so I just stenciled the surface.

8. I did not put any Mod Podge or sealant over my postcards or paper images. This would probably change the colors in the images, which is something I didn't want. If your box is going to be handled often, you may want to avoid putting paper on the drawers.


9. I found some smaller images of birds online and in magazines to make mini-postcards. My plan was to hang these small images on the doors and sides of my jewelry case to make it look like they were pinned in place. I glued each bird image to a coordinating piece of scrapbook paper to make a pretty border.

  • You can use any images for these smaller postcards that you want. There are a lot of vintage-looking stickers or scrapbook paper at craft stores you can buy.


10. (Optional) I used brads to make the pinheads for my mini-postcards. I used wire cutters to carefully cut off the legs so I could use just the round part.

  • You can find plastic gems or rhinestones at the craft store to glue on your box as decoration.

Replacing the knobs on an old jewelry case
Replacing the knobs on an old jewelry case | Source

11. To replace the box pulls, I bought unfinished wooden mushroom knobs. You can find different options in stores or online.

  • I painted my knobs with coordinating paint and gold trim. Then I carefully chose their placement to ensure they didn't interfere with the images on my postcards. I drilled the holes for my knobs from the inside of my drawers and screwed them in place.


12. I used more Mod Podge to attach my postcards to the doors and sides of my box. I placed my images so they looked like they were pinned to a bulletin board.


13. I glued my metal brads with super glue. I also attached some pin heads around my vintage postcards on the fronts of my drawers.


14. Don't forget to finish the inside of your box too! I glued some scrapbook paper on the inside of my drawers and to the backside of the doors. This gave all sides of the box a fresh look and completed my romantic jewelry box transformation.

There are a lot of ways to transform an old box into something beautiful to display in your home. I hope this tutorial gave you some ideas for a project of your own!

© 2018 Donna Herron


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Herron 

      20 months ago from USA

      Hi Nicole - Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    • kiddiecreations profile image

      Nicole K 

      20 months ago

      Great idea! Love it!!

    • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Herron 

      2 years ago from USA

      Thanks Nicole! I had fun making over this eyesore. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Kitty Fields 

      2 years ago from Summerland

      What a super cute idea! Love the creativity and finesse. Very shabby chic!

    • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Herron 

      2 years ago from USA

      Thanks, Rachel! This project was fun to do. So glad you like it. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

    • profile image

      Rachel Alba 

      2 years ago

      Hi Donna, How lovely you turned this older jewelry box into something special. You have a real knack.

      Blessings to you.

    • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Herron 

      2 years ago from USA

      Hi Heidi - Yes, this box was particularly odd and unattractive. Who knows what it was meant to be? But I enjoyed the challenge of transforming it. So glad you like the finished piece. Thanks so much for your comments. Happy Valentine's Day!

    • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Herron 

      2 years ago from USA

      Ha! I don't think I have the patience to tackle a bigger piece. I have a bare wood bureau that I've planned to paint and decorate for years. But I haven't found the energy to work on it yet. Maybe the chest will inspire me! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it!

    • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Herron 

      2 years ago from USA

      Hi Sally - Thanks so much! Replacing the knobs turned out to be the most difficult part of this project. The rest just took time and patience. So glad you like it! Thanks so much for your comments!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Glad you saved this box from the fate of ugly! :) So cute and timely for today. Happy Valentine's Day!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      2 years ago

      Wow - this is beautiful. At first I thought it was a full size piece of furniture. I'm impressed!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      2 years ago from Norfolk

      I love this project Donna. What a great outcome. The box turned out great. Lovely clear instructions and photos, well done!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)