Brace yourself. This post is a bit lengthy. But, I went step-by-step through the entire process (building and paint effects) of How to Make a Large Vintage Centerpiece Box. These can be made in any size...they're perfect for tables, mantels, shelves, upright pianos, and more.
So, I'll start by stating the obvious...this thing is huge, y'all. Huge. But, I purposely designed it that way. My dining table actually has two more leaves that we add for the holiday season to accommodate the whole ding dang family. So, my centerpiece box is enormous. I also have a fairly unusually wide table (at least for a rectangular one). So, making it this size works for me...but if you do decide to make this, be sure to make it according to the size you'll need. After the holidays, I'm thinking about moving it to the piano or the mantel for quick decor. I may load it up with books or other fun things...the possibilities are pretty endless with a box like this. I've already purchased a big load of tall mason jars to fill it with for Christmas...hoping to do red candles nestled in epsom salt in them (it's as close to "snow" as I get down here in Texas).
I've truly wanted one of these for forever. Super happy to have it in place now. Check out how my dad and I made it...and how I gave it a super shabby paint treatment below.
The wording on the box is a bit random. Well, sort of. I wanted some sort of produce saying...but not "grocery" (I already have one of those signs). I wanted it to seem like a real thing...like a real company that exists/existed. And my husband is interested (read: obsessed) with moving to Brooklyn in the next 10 years or so. We've visited NYC a bit and his obsession is relentless. So, I made this to tide him over. Moving to Brooklyn/having a box that says Brooklyn...it's the same.
My dad was in on this one (so you know it was done the right way...as opposed to the fast way, which is how I *sometimes* do things). It's gotten to where I call him and tell him my thoughts and he no longer asks the "why" anymore. Because I'm sure "I want to build a five foot long box that's only seven inches wide" sounded totally normal.
So, to begin...you'll need boards that will fit the length that you want to make your box. I used three 1"x6" boards. We measured them to be five feet in length and cut the ends off. The parts we cut off were used later (after being measured and cut again) as the short end pieces. We did all of our cuts with a miter saw to make it easier.
We wood-glued and then used a nail gun to attach the pieces together. The red arrows show where we put a long bead of glue...on the edge of the piece that will become one of the sides. We also used bar clamps to position these in place while we nailed them. You can grab a bar clamp here for less than $10. Once the piece is glued and clamped together, nail along that edge. While a nail gun is awesome for speed, a good ol' hammer and nails works great, too.
Then we repeated with the other side.
Our box seemed to lean in a bit, so we used a clamp in the reverse position to expand it while we attached the end piece. You can see the end piece sitting behind the clamp there...we just ran a bead of glue along the edge and nailed that end piece in place.
After the whole thing dried for a couple of days (okay...a month), I started on the paint treatment. This is a super aged look I wanted. I know it's not for everyone, but it's the look I was going for on this particular piece. I used a couple of different paints and treatments on this one...I hoard paint supplies, y'all.
I purposefully didn't sand it to start with...that comes later. I wanted it to be as rugged and authentic as possible.
I used a dark chalky finish paint as my base coat. You can grab this one here (it's the least expensive of any chalk paint I've found).
After one rough coat of chalk paint, I applied my lettering. I used my Silhouette on mine, but you definitely don't need it. I've found loads of precut vinyl lettering on Amazon that you can use for this. Click here for the 4" ones that would work great for this project.
Then I used one of my favorite paint aging tools...a wax puck. For years, I used an old taper candle for this. But, this wax puck truly works better...its texture is a lot more tacky and it adheres better to the base coat. Basically, wherever you rub this puck, the paint that is applied on top of it doesn't stick as well and can come off easily in the sanding process later...without necessarily disturbing the base coat. Essentially, this can give you a weathered layered paint look. As far as I know, Miss Mustard Seed is the only one that makes these. I get mine here.
For my top coat of paint, I used one of Miss Mustard Seed's new European colors of milk paint. I wanted to use milk paint because of how well it purposefully ages itself with the right tools/products applied to it. This is her Mora color. You can grab it here. I mix mine fairly thin since I'm doing a layered paint look. Also...another tip for milk paint: Use a blender bottle to mix it (the kind with the metal ball in it)...they're fairly inexpensive and I scored a few for free at a conference once.
I painted very roughly with the milk paint...I still wanted some of the dark chalk paint to show through. While it was fairly tacky, I went over it with Hemp Oil. I was using stain on top of this and was honestly just curious as to how it would all react with one another. When you're going for that super gritty, grungy look, it's almost anything goes.
A little nod to my high school music tastes... ;)
I peeled the letters while the paint was still slightly tacky.
Then the fun began. I sanded all over the thing...I honestly didn't use a pattern with sanding...the wax puck I used kind of shows where I applied it...the darker color showing through is because of that puck. If I hadn't applied it, I would need to sand a lot harder...but then risk the issue of having all of the paint removed.
I sanded a bit of the lettering off, too...just to make it authentic looking.
If you want to skip the really dirty look, then don't do this...but honestly, it's my fave! And yeah...I don't wear gloves when I stain. My hands look like man hands after some serious work, y'all...but it scrubs right off with a loofah. ;)
I use Minwax Stain in Dark Walnut and go over the whole piece with an old t-shirt. Then I use a clean (old) t-shirt and wipe off some of the stain...leaving it a bit darker in some areas and a bit lighter in others.
Dirty, old, and rugged.
You can definitely go lighter on the sanding and staining to get a less worn look.
Hilariously, I originally bought potted mums for this before we built it. In the month it took for me to paint it (sighhhh), it rained a lot here (weird...it's Texas, y'all). My mums grew so tall that when I put them in here, they were so tall that diners wouldn't be able to see each other. That's okay for introverts like me (kidding. kind of.), but other people actually enjoy conversing and all that, so I went with a bunch of glitter pumpkins from the HobLob on top of moss. It's all kinds of glitter-iffic up in here, y'all. And all of the extroverts can visit until the wee hours. And I can go hide in the kitchen and wash dishes (I try...I really do).
What'cha think? Is this a crazy project or what?
What would you put in a box like this?