Friday, June 14, 2013

Instant Vintage Look

I love Industrial Chic design, perhaps because I live in a 19th century house filled with vintage beauties.
But sometimes, we need an extra vintage touch and all the objects around us are contemporary. Here's how you can turn a plain wood box into a mystery secret treasure box:

The box you start with can be made from any kind of wood, I used cheap balsa boxes from the craft store.
One thing though - the wood has to be raw (not finished with lacquer)

You also need some acrylic colors, but if you don't have acrylic colors, you can use watercolor or gouache, tempera, whatever, but in the end you'll have to varnish it with a matte lacquer. Good acrylic colors are permanent and they don't smudge in contact with moisture while the other types do.

So, let's get started:
1. first, mix black and brown acrylic colors in a jar. Set aside a little part of the mixture into the lid of the jar or  somewhere. Add water to the jar so that it becomes liquid and semi transparent.

 2. Paint the box, no rules, just paint it inside and out. Any brush will do. Don't worry if the color seems too dark, it will lighten up when dry, and plus, we're going to  partially sand it.

3. Let the box dry, then sand it all over, insisting on the edges.

4. Make a stencil of your choice out of a plastic or cardboard sheet. I've cut some random letters and numbers. It has to be quite rigid not to wrinkle when you brush on top of it, yet thin enough to cut it easily and to be able to work with the brush on it. Mine looks like that, dirty with black and white, as I already used it a couple of times before.

5. Moist the brush into the concentrated color left in the lid of the jar and then dry it a bit, we need an intense yet pretty dry color.
Hold the stencil in place with one hand and brush it with the paintbrush, lightly in the middle, more in the corners to be sure the corners will be visible, as they define the shape.


Ta-da, that's all!


  1. Cool! More tutorials!
    Think I'll be opening a vintage box-shop on Etsy soon :-)

  2. Haha Heyme, go ahead, I'll buy them :)

  3. Very cool, Anca! Now I'll want to make distressed looking boxes! Grrrrrrrrrrr.... :P

    1. :) And then every house will become filled with distressed boxes, the world will be a better place :p

  4. OK. The stupid Google called me Mela and I hated it :-/ Had to delete the comment and it took me a while to figure out how I can be me again, but finally here is the comment:

    Love both the idea of aging boxes and the tutorial itself! Great job, I'm waiting for more!

    1. Haha Jagna :) Your true identity was revealed :p
      I'm very glad you like it :)
      Yep, I have plenty tricks on my sleeve waiting to be revealed :D

  5. Fantastic! I'm waiting for more too :)

  6. Very clever, it looks authentic in the first picture!

  7. Great tutorial! You should blog more often. :)

  8. shabby chic to the max! and yes please blog more :)

  9. Thank you, you're all so sweet!
    I'm gonna try other colors too, a dark green-black may look nice...dusty purple...
    *need more boxes, need more boxes*

  10. Wonderful idea! I'll totally try it, thanks for sharing!!! xoxo

  11. I love this tutorial. It's great! ^^ I featured it on my facebookpage so more people can see it.