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How to Give an “Old World” Look to a Plain Box

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Disclosure: I was compensated for doing this post with product.  However, all the opinions stated here are my own. I only use products I love and would recommend to my viewers.
Today I thought I’d just pop in and share a quick project with you all.  You see I am always experimenting with my paint supplies and coming up with new to me ideas and projects. 

This box was in my possession for many years.  I used it to store beloved photos and cards.  But when I was packing  for the big move, I decided to give it as a gift. But not in that horrible condition.

You’ll have to forgive me for the lack of photos but I was in such a hurry to finish the project and do the packing. As you may have guessed this project was done in Greece before the move. You can see that I was in such a rush I started painting it before I had a photo.

And so today I am sharing how to give an “old world” look to a plain box.  And maybe even finish packing!  😉

painting a wood box with chalky type paint, How to Give an

What I Used:

  • A wooden box
  • DecoArt Americana Chalky Type Paint I used a mixture of Everlasting and Treasure
  • DecoArt Americana Cream Wax in Deep Brown
  • A sponge
  • ​Mod Podge
  • Pages from a book

The How To:​​

I painted the whole box, with two full coats and a bit of spot painting here and there with the chalky type paint.  I just used up whatever I had on hand.  In this case it was a mixture of Everlasting white and a turquoise color. 

The inside was painted the same color except for the top inside which was done in Everlasting white. 

light turquoise color on the box, How to Give an
The next step was to add a protective finish.  Here I added DecoArt’s Americana Cream Wax in Deep Brown.  Now normally you are supposed to add the clear wax first, to avoid staining the color below.  But I had a vision, and I was going with it. 

I didn’t care if it stained the color below!  The more stain the better I say.   I wanted the box to have a real “old world” look to it.  A vintage look and this brown wax was going to make that happen. You’ll see why I wanted this in a bit. 

I just cut a bit of a sponge because I didn’t have any fancy sponge brushes – remember I was in the middle of packing – and dipped it into the wax and then just dragged it across the box. In some places I went over it more and others less.  I did this till I got the desired effect I wanted.

A piece of a sponge with brown wax, How to Give an
Originally the plan was to try a process of paper print transfer onto wood. And you know how that usually goes around here.  These plans go out the window because with my luck, the printer was not working.  And I was afraid to try it with regular paper.  The ink on copy paper is on the surface whereas a regular print from a book might not be. What if I messed up? 

I really didn’t want to destroy the box.  After all it had become a family heirloom of sorts. So I did the safe thing and decoupaged these images you see below. 

Decoupaging book pages onto box, How to Give an
A few coats of Mod Podge later and it was done. You can see below that the boat was cut from two pages so I tried to piece it together as best I could.

It was easy to do this time (unlike some other disasters with Mod Podge) since it was basically large thick paper. I applied the Mod Podge to the paper and pressed it onto the box.  Once that had dried I added two coats on top to seal the paper in.  It also seals in the wax, which is a sealant so that is kind of redundant.  But you want to get the same finish all over the top.  

The top of the box with decoupage and brown wax, How to Give an
And the inside is where all the magic happens.  I ended up giving this as a gift to a young boy.  And since I was going with that old world feel, I added appropriate images to compliment the look. 
the inside of the box with a map and a page from a children's book, How to Give an
The top is a really old map of Greece.  I think it was found in an old geography school book.  The border really stands out against the white. 
Inside top of box with decoupaged old map, How to Give an
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​This bottom image is from a reading book for kids.  It is also old, maybe from the 60’s. Now that is really making me feel old too.  The boy’s overalls look great with the light turquoise of the paint. 
Bottom of box with decoupaged page from children's book, How to Give an
Below you can really see the details of the brown wax and how it has aged the box giving it that desired “old world” feel that I was after.

This brown wax was a new to me product and I really enjoyed using it to get this effect.  You know me, this is my idea of doing something risky!  But I will definitely tackle that other idea with the paper transfer at some point in the future, now that I have a printer which actually works. 
close up of brown wax on painted box. How to Give an
I hope you have learned something new today on how to give an “old world” look to a plain box.  I try to use new products and experiment with them.  After all there is no fun in doing the same thing over and over again.  Not when there are so many products out there. 

This made a great gift for a young guy!  Do you like to decorate boxes and give them as gifts for storage?

Using chalky type paint and Brown cream wax to create an old world look for a plain wooden box. It is decoupaged and up-cycled with book pages and an old map How to Give an
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Amber Harrop

Monday 13th of November 2017

Love your old world box Mary - love the colour

Michelle Leslie

Thursday 2nd of November 2017

That's such a sweet and thoughtful gift Mary and you've made it perfect for the little boy to treasure it as much as what you have. Love the pictures you added


Thursday 2nd of November 2017

Thank you Michelle. Between packing and making projects it was such a whirlwind.


Thursday 2nd of November 2017

Oh this is ADORABLE! I LOVE the image you chose for the top - what a great gift for a little boy this is. Your whole process is simple and gives this such a great vintage look!


Thursday 2nd of November 2017

This little fella lives near the sea so it was only fitting that the image should have boats.


Thursday 2nd of November 2017

I adore this little box and the look you gave it Mary. The front picture is so sweet but so are the other ones, the map really cool! It looks like an old box ready to collect treasures! A perfect gift for a little treasure hunter!


Thursday 2nd of November 2017

I really wanted an old style look and when I found those pictures I knew they were perfect for the box.


Thursday 2nd of November 2017

That is the cutest little wooden box. Love the artwork you used.


Tuesday 7th of November 2017

Thanks Sharon, a little Mother Goose is good for all kids.

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