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Let’s do this AA style: “Hello, my name is Camille and I’m addicted to buying old boxes.” (Well, and jewelry too but that’s another matter). Old boxes are a great decorative way to stash unattractive, everyday stuff in plain sight. For instance, I have a little cane-covered box filled with crafting essentials in my living room so if the crafting bug strikes while I’m watching TV, a project is within easy reach.

I particularly love old boxes with drawers so I couldn’t pass up this cutlery box (AKA silverware chest) at an estate sale recently for just 9 bucks. The box’s blond or maple finish was popular in the 50s and 60s so it’s safe to assume that it’s more than 50 years old. Personally, I’m not a big fan of mid-century blond finishes and this one was in particularly rough shape with lots of scratches, dings and a big water stain on the lid so refinishing it with a more traditional, darker stain was definitely on the menu. If the felt liner had been in better shape, I might have considered leaving it as-is but the fabric was dirty, picked and even worn through in places so I decided to re-line the box as well.

Here’s what I started with, it truly is massive, easily double the size of most dresser-top jewelry boxes:  Cutlery Box Before
And here is my new upcycled jewelry box, fully refinished and re-lined:
Silverware Chest That Has Been Turned Into a Jewelry Box
Truth be told, most of the furniture in my home has been refinished by yours truly so stripping then staining is standard operating procedure for me — but, if you’re a stripping newbie (tee hee!) don’t be intimidated by the necessary chemicals and steps. *But, always be sure to wear protective clothing, eye wear and chemical-resistant gloves — chemical wood stripper is caustic and will absolutely burn any unprotected skin. (Trust me, this is a lesson I learned the hard way.) Get more wood-stripping tips plus complete step-by-step instructions for this project >>

The process for stripping wood isn’t hard — just time consuming, especially if the piece of furniture you’re stripping has lots of carved details or many, many layers of paint. If that’s the case, I recommend you price out a few of the wood refinishers in your area, you can often just pay them to “dip” the piece for you — they literally dip the piece of furniture into a vat of high-power chemical stripper to remove the finish down to the bare wood — then you can choose to stain it yourself or allow them to apply the stain and polyurethane for you. Stripping Wooden Box Using Chemical Wood Stripper
Re-lining the box was a cake walk compared to stripping — just remove the existing felt liner, saving each compartment’s bottom panel and pitching the rest. Then recover the pieces you saved in the fabric of your choice (I used leftover upholstery-grade gold chenille) and replace in the finished box:
Upcycled Jewelry Box After
Tip: I decided to add another lined piece to the inside of the box’s lid for now but may someday replace it with a mirror.

And here’s a side-by-side comparison:
Cutlery Box Before and After
So, have I convinced you to take on your own jewelry box makeover project? They make great gifts, I even personalized mine by adding a monogrammed brass plaque to the lid. Get crafting with all my tips and complete step-by-step instructions>>
Adding a Monogrammed Brass Plaque to a Jewelry Chest

MORE ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING:
Adventures in Antiquing: How to Make a Short Headboard Look Taller
Adventures in Antiquing: Take a Virtual Tour of a Spring Antiques Fest
Adventures in Antiquing: Trending at High Point Furniture Market
Adventures in Antiquing: How to Restore an Old Wooden Bowl
Adventures in Antiquing: Clinch River Spring Antiques Fair
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 1
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 2
Adventures in Antiquing: (Easy!) Beachy Candle Makeover
Adventures in Antiquing: Repurposed Wooden Tray
Adventures in Antiquing: Crushing On Carrara Marble
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Toolbox Turned Magazine Caddy
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Clock Repurposed as a Frame
Adventures in Antiquing: Classical Busts
Adventures in Antiquing: Vintage Avon Bottle
Adventures in Antiquing: Salvaged Molding As Holiday Decor

4 Responses

  1. Beth R. says:

    It turned out so pretty!

  2. wow amazing transformation. I loved it !! :)

  3. gems says:

    The blog was absolutely fantastic! 

    loose sapphires

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H. Camille SmithCamille is a managing editor for HGTV.com, fine artist and antique furniture devotee. As a former interior designer and Nickelodeon animator, she has a real passion for balanced, beautiful interiors...

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