Upgrade a Jewelry Box with Wallpaper in under an Hour

MAY 3, 2016 updated Dec 20, 2021

Our jewels help us tell the story of who we are. Right down to our heritage, history, birthday, sense of style, even our marital status. Don’t they deserve to be stored in style? Author and furniture-upcycling expert Barb Blair of Knack Studios stops by to share one of the most beautiful projects we’ve seen in a while, not to mention a very clever use of our our wallpaper!  Grab the Mod Podge and an X-Acto knife, and get ready to upgrade that tired old jewelry box of yours! 

A close up of gold bracelets in a white jewelry box with teal on the inside cover
A close up of one of the bottom row drawers of the jewelry box. A black-and-white jellyfish design is on the front and silver and leather jewelry is spilling out of the drawer.

Materials:

  • Mod Podge- glossy and/or matte formula (preference)
  • Paint
  • Craft Knife
  • Scissors
  • Plastic Squeegee
  • Spoonflower wallpaper or gift wrap
  • Small Craft Paint Brushes
  • Sanding Sponge (fine/medium)
  • Blue Shop Towels

Step 1

Be sure to sand and clean each of your boxes to make sure they are ready to apply paint and paper. Tape off any areas that you do not want to get paint on.

Three small jewelry boxes are on a white table, one painted light pink, one painted white, one painted gray. Three small paint sponges, one with pink paint on it, one with gray paint, one with white paint lay in front of the jewelry boxes.
Close up of three small paint sponges, one with pink paint on it, one with gray paint, one with white paint.

Step 2

Paint the jewelry box completely. I used two coats of paint for mine, and I made sure to paint the backs and underneath parts as well.

You don’t have to paint the parts that you are going to paper over, but I did just to give an even porous surface for the paper application. Take the time to paint neatly and intentionally so that you will love your finished piece even more!

A roll of gray-and-white wallpaper and roll of mostly white wallpaper with a bright purple design at the bottom lay on a white table next to a bottle of Mod Podge.
A rectangle of white wallpaper with a bright purple sculptural design lays on a white table next to a paintbrush, scissors and open container of Mod Podge.

Step 3

When both coats of paint are dry, begin applying paper to the areas that you want papered. I had three different levels of difficulty here with the tiny drawer fronts, the removable panel, and the top inset. Each has its own set of challenges, but the application is the same. So whatever design you choose just have a sharp craft knife, Mod Podge, clean hands, and a squeegee ready to go!

A piece of wallpaper with blue-and-white butterfly wings on a white background is being cut to the same size of a white jewelry box.
Design featured here is Flight in Color by Artemisisolde

Step 4

Placement is KEY. So, plan out the design and composition of how you want your paper design to look on the piece. Once you are sure of exactly where you want the placement, trim the paper to size. (leave a tiny bit of excess, you can trim it later)

Coat both the surface and the back of the paper with a thin, even coating of matte Mod Podge and apply your paper to the surface. Work from one side to the other and gently smooth out air bubbles with your hands as you go.

A piece of wallpaper with blue-and-white butterfly wings on a white background cut to the same size of a white jewelry box, which it lays on top of it. Next to it is an open can of Mod Podge. and an x-acto knife.
A small gray jewelry box has the top and small front drawers covered in black-and-white jellyfish wallpaper. Extra jellyfish wallpaper, scissors and an x-acto knife sit around the jewelry box.

Step 6

When the paper has been applied smoothly by hand, use the plastic squeegee and gently smooth over the entire surface to ensure that the paper is adhered well and that any and all air bubbles are long gone! This step may cause any excess Mod Podge to seep out, so just wipe it with a clean shop towel.

Three small jewelry boxes sit around a bottles of Mod Podge and paint brushes.

Step 7

Wait for the paper to dry completely and then apply a coat of Mod Podge to the top surface of the paper. This seals the paper and makes sure that it is adhered really well. Do not worry if bubbles appear at this step! This is just the paper reacting to being wet again and the bubbles will disappear as it dries back down.

A small drawer with black-and-white jellyfish wallpaper on the front sits next to a sanding block.

Step 8

When the paper is completely dry, go ahead and trim or sand off any excess paper. For the small drawer fronts I sanded off the edges, but for the insets I used a craft knife to trim off the excess. At this time, do any distressing to the piece as well. I distressed the little chest of drawers, but left the other two pieces without any distressing. Distressing is a personal decision and is totally up to you!

Step 9

Vacuum off any sanding dust and make sure that your boxes are clean and dust free. Apply the finish of your choice to the entire surface. I chose a water based spray finish, but you can use wax, stain, or brush on poly as well. There is no wrong choice, just use what is easiest for you to apply and what you have on hand! Once your boxes are finished and dry, fill them with all of your favorite treasures and display them on your surface of choice. I always say that half the battle of organization is having a place for everything. This project answers that with not only providing storage, but the satisfaction of creating something fun and beautiful at the same time.

Enjoy!

A gray jewelry box with black-and-white jellyfish wallpaper on the front drawers sits next to a smaller white jewelry box with a teal interior and gold bracelets spilling out of it.

For more projects from the brilliant mind of Barb Blair, check out the board she created for us on Pinterest


About Our Guest Author 

Barb Blair

Barb Blair is a mother, wife, artist, published author and founder of Knack Studios.

What started as a kitchen cabinet makeover, slowly and organically grew into the full blown furniture design business that Knack is today. Barb has created a name for herself through her furniture makeovers with designs that are original, fresh, playful, and full of character.

Barb Blair’s furniture pieces, and a curated selection of gift and home items, can be purchased at the Knack retail shop located in Greenville, SC.

Be sure to check out Barb’s latest book Furniture Makes the Room!

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