How to....

How to upcycle a blanket box

How to upcycle a blanket box or toy box into a seat, foot rest and coffee table.
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I’ve always liked to craft and with the explosion of Facebook ‘shops’, Etsy and the like, I’ve had more inspiration and ideas than ever before. Despite all this though, I never had the time to do any of these things, I was far too busy living life.

I’ve recently joined a group on Facebook for ‘Crafty Fibromites’. I was intrigued that it existed! It seems that there are quite a few of us who maybe don’t get to lead the life we want to or used to and so spend more time at home and want to do more than watch tv.

My ‘thing’ is anything really. Except knitting. Never knitting. When I first got ill during my pregnancy, I was on bed rest and so it was the perfect time to make a baby blanket. My mum, who is a genius knitter and sits talking, watching tv and knitting, all at the same time without dropping a stitch and who has created most of my sons winter wardrobe, tried to teach for for about, oh I don’t know, the 10th time in my life?

I’ve not got much to say other than I was starting with 50 stitches to practice, next time I counted I had 54, then 60 and I think I once added a good 20 stitches in about 6 rows. I knitted, unravelled, knitted, unraveled and then gave up. I did however have a shockingly painful blister on the tip of my pointing finger due to pushing the needle back through too tight stitches (or whatever you call them!).

I love to sew either by hand or machine and have made it as far as baby dribble bandana bibs, owl doorstop/cushion things (12 of them as Christmas gifts) and a couple of bags. Oh and a mini pair of oven gloves for Bear’s play kitchen! I’m going to get more adventurous ‘when I have more time’. Hmmmmn. Not sure when that will be with a boisterous toddler, but hey, I wouldn’t miss playing with him for the world.

I also like making little wooden sign/bunting gifts which I think have been received well!

So. My latest project was my late Grandads tool box. I’ve been using it for years to store bedding, towels and latterly, handbags (you can never have too many) but recently I brought it downstairs as when having a change around to accommodate my sons ever increasing amount of toys, I needed a coffee table. It’s the perfect shape and size, handy to keep my sewing material stash in and a great colour, it just didn’t have a finished top/lid. So after a little consult to the friendly internet, I found that you can actually buy a whole host of different foams for different uses and that they will cut it to your exact measurements! How cool! I thought that it would be like material and by the metre and then imagined myself with a bread knife, attempting to cut it down to size and failing miserably!

I’ve made a video tutorial but have also written down what I did, step by step, below. I hope you enjoy!


Off I went. As you can see, it was a simple top…

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But not a bad looking chest! Thanks Grandad John Meachen! Xxx

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So I covered it in as much of my sons PVA glue as I could squeeze out of the bottle. I had no idea if it would work at all but I gave it a go and……

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Low and behold, the foam stuck to the top like…ahem…glue!

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I then turned it upside down, on too of my oilcloth. I left a generous border for turning over, stapling and trimming and then cut the cloth to size. Eeeek. This was it! No going back now….

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Out came the staple gun and much fun was had whilst I attacked the poor thing and made sure that it was fitted nice and snug.

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That was the biggest step. Until it came to folding the corners and cutting out the excess material so that they weren’t bulky and that the lid would actually close! It took one or two attempts and then was actually ok. Thank goodness!

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To begin with, it looked a little baggy and I wasn’t so pleased but after a little time to let the foam expand back (I had been applying quite some weight and pressure whilst stapling) it fitted a little better.
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I used what I think is a pretty oilcloth from Cath Kidston and the colours and birds for well with my living room colour scheme.
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Those tricky corners…

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and then I used some upholstering studs that I found on eBay to jazz it up. I think I got 100 for about £3/$5.

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Although I really didn’t mind the original colour of the box, especially as it ‘went’ ok with other furniture in my house and the brown on the oil cloth, I am always trying to inject some light into my little old cottage with low ceilings and dark beams and decided to lighten the box with some Annie Sloan chalk paint. I love this paint. A tin costs about £19 which isn’t cheap, however, as you’ll see soon, a tin goes a long way. Another thing that I like about this brand is that they only sell through smaller independent shops which when you live in a small market town like I do, is really important. I try to support local shops as much as possible. You’ll not be able to find it in large chain DIY shops like B&Q but if you click here, the link will take you to their website where all stockists are listed. The paint is so easy to use- other than wiping your project down and making sure that it’s clean, you don’t need to prepare the surface at all. Open the can of paint, stir and paint. It’s quite thick but covers well. On this project, I had to use two coats which I left to try overnight between each one. I chose to use ‘Paris Grey’.

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I said that I was at the final stage, but I wasn’t! The final stage is to apply Annie Sloan soft wax to all the painted sides and then buff off. That’s it! Job done!

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When you apply the wax, the paint will darken slightly but after drying and buffing, it will lighten again although will probably be a little darker than before the wax is applied.

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I am so so pleased with it. It houses my messy stash of material, is sturdy enough to rest a glass of wine on (almost essential) or host a tea party

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and is a great seat and perfect foot rest for a night in front of the fire.

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I hope that you have found this ‘How to upcycle’ helpful. Please let me know if you decide to do anything similar.

(I was not asked to review the paint, nor was I sent a sample to try- I just really like it!)
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24 Comments

  1. love this Hannah, you’re really very crafty! I was okay at knitting I just never liked it and I could never start and finish the pieces. Could you skip the wax step or do you need it to set the paint?

    1. Thank you Sarah. I’ve never really had the chance to practice all these techniques but I’m I’m really enjoying trying things out. I believe you do need to use the wax, yes Sarah, for the reason you describe. Without the wax, the paint can be wiped off and made into more of a wash. The wax helps to make a smooth finish and sets it. From my experience it needs to be reapplied every now and then just to keep the painted piece in good condition. You can also choose a darker wax if the wood has a lot of texture and use it as another way of creating effect.

    1. Thank you Donna, I really appreciate your comments! I was in too minds as to whether to paint it but I’m glad I did x

  2. Loved this Hannah, your old chest looks great, completely transformed! I love painted furniture but unfortunately hubby doesn’t. Maybe one day I might get round him x

    1. Thank you Michelle. Isn’t it funny how tastes change? I was the same, I hated anything that wasn’t wood but I love the chalk paint effect! I hope your husband comes round one day x

  3. I love it! I actually love to knit, but it’s just a matter of making time for it. I love that you found a group on facebook that is so awesome! Fibro crafters are great!

    1. Thank you Jessica, that’s kind of you to say. I think it helps to focus the brain when the pain gets bad or distract from not being able to do so much. It certainly makes me feel accomplished x

    1. Thank you Olivia Jade, that’s really kind of you to say. I’m not sure it’s of a high enough standard that someone would want to buy it but it works for us!

  4. This looks gorgeous Hannah well done you. I love the oil cloth so pretty. I of course know what a clever lady you are being a proud owner of one of the mentioned owls

    1. Awe, thanks Becky! That owl is know where near good enough (I’ll keep practising and make an updated version!)

    1. Thank you Zena! You could definitely do it- it really wasn’t hard at all. I think it looks better than the amount of effort needed to make it

    1. Ha ha ha Alice! That’s very kind of you! It is really easy though, just slap it on!

    1. Thank you! I get some good comments about it when people come into my home which is lovely

  5. Love this. I’m about to do my own project but the lid of the box I have is hinged, do you think something like this would work on a hinged box?

  6. I’ve been looking for advice like this to make and cover the lid on my blanket box so thanks very much so off I go.

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