DIY Home Decor Storage and Organizing Ways With Wood

Make a Wood Storage Crate

Make a Wood Storage Crate

by Carolyn Hasenfratz Winkelmann

Wood crate decorated with stencil designs

This project was inspired by a card box my husband Tom and I made for our nautical-themed wedding reception last summer. I made a lot of stuff for the wedding and I was literally working until the last minute at the church figuring out how to attach my homemade veil to my head! I finished my jewelry the day before! Two or three nights before the wedding I had set aside time to assemble this card box. I had already cut the pieces out but needed to nail it together and decorate it. I came down with what I thought was a terrible cold and I asked Tom to assemble the box for me. He came through and did a great job! I recovered quickly from whatever I had (if I actually really had anything other than stress) and was feeling fine the next day so I did the decoration in a hurry.

Card box we made for our wedding last summer with decoupage decoration

I painted the above crate-style card box with a wash of brown paint to “antique” after applying decoupage decoration. For the following storage crate project I’m going to experiment with applying a light colored paint wash on unsanded wood to be sanded, assembled and then decorated with stencils.

*Six pieces of lath wood (1 1/2″) cut to 12″ long
*Two pieces of 1/2″ thick wood cut to 4 1/4″ x 3 1/2″
*Tiny nails
*Paint rags
*Wood glue
*Acrylic paint
*Painters tape or masking tape

*Paint water container and small paint mixing container
*Tiny drill bit
Small sponges (or *large sponges cut up)
*Assorted stencils (available at Schnarr’s Webster)

*indicates items available at Schnarr’s

If you want a more refined look you can substitute lattice strips for lath wood, they are similar in size and thickness with a smoother surface and fewer irregularities.

Cut pieces of wood ready to paint, sand and assemble


1. Paint your wood pieces with a wash of white acrylic paint. A wash is paint with water added to thin it out and make it semi-translucent.

2. After paint is dry, sand the rough spots with all-purpose sandpaper and sand the edges to bring out a little more of the natural wood color. The effect of sanding the edges is subtle but adds a lot of visual interest.

Wood slats taped down to work surface

3. Take three of the 12″ slats at a time and tape them down onto your work surface. Normally for stenciling projects I use painters tape or masking tape, but I was out of both so in the pictures you will see me using duct tape and drafting tape as substitutes.

4. Tape stencils in place on your work surface over the wood. Choose a light to medium color of paint and dab the paint through the stencil openings with a sponge.

5. Lift the stencils and let the paint dry. I rearranged my wood pieces on the work surface to see what they would look like if I turned every other piece around 180 degrees so that the stencil designs would be scrambled. I liked the effect!

6. Set the two end blocks on your work surface and position two side slats across them. Add a dab of wood glue at each point where the wood will connect for extra strength.

7. Drill two pilot holes at the end of each wood strip with the tiny drill bit. Hammer in nails and repeat until both wood strips are nailed securely to the end blocks. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for the other side, then for the bottom.

I only stenciled one side of these wood strips, so for the bottom of the crate I ended up turning them over so you could see the design if you looked down into the box. You could stencil both sides or have the design facing down while the box is in use if you prefer.

8. Next I stenciled onto each end of the crate. I set the crate on end on a chair to bring it to a more convenient work height. Tape the stencil down and if necessary, mask out the parts of the template you don’t want to use with tape. It’s easy to accidentally sponge into areas you didn’t intend.

Here is what one of the ends looks like after the final stencil. You can really change the look of the crate depending on what stencils and colors you choose to use. You can also make crates in different sizes to fit different needs. They make great baskets for gift giving too. Have fun!


Additional Resources

If you want some more home decor inspiration here are some additional resources:

Spring 2019 Mood Board – yes spring 2019 is done by now but a lot of these looks have been around for several years and should be good for inspiration for awhile yet. There is a lot of raw wood, tin, burlap and looks that you could easily recreate with hardware store items.

Summer 2019 Mood Board – wood, tin, twine, rope, seaglass, oh yeah!

DIY Home Decor Upcycling

Kitchen Backsplash Project Part I – Introduction

Kitchen Backsplash Project Part I – Introduction

When I wrote in my previous article Decor Idea Book that my home decor would take years to complete, I was not exaggerating. I’ve been interested in tiles and mosaics since I was a teenager, but the real impetus for beginning to decorate my condominium home with tile was a visit in 2009 to Henry Chapman Mercer’s Fonthill Castle in Pennsylvania. Among other things, Mercer was a tilemaker in the Arts and Crafts era and his historic home is decorated with outstanding examples of the tilemaker’s art, both from his own designs and tiles he collected on his travels.

What brought me to the vicinity of Fonthill was a buisness trip to Philadelphia. I arranged with my employer to arrive a day early so I could visit Fonthill Castle. The morning after my visit, I sketched tile design ideas in the hotel restaurant while waiting to meet my boss for breakfast. Later on I gave some thought to how I would turn these designs into tiles. Mercer favored plaster press molds, but since I had a small company on the side for which I designed rubber stamps, I decided to turn my designs into stamps and use them to impress the clay tiles. See my tutorial Mosaic Table Table Top With Textured Clay Tiles to learn my technique for making tiles from rubber stamps. In 2015 while on the way back from a trip to the Northeast I was in the vicinity of Fonthill again, so I stopped in the tileworks shop to buy some tiles made from Mercer’s original molds.

One of my favorite places to vacation is the Southwest, and for awhile I was taking so many trips to that area on Route 66 that I was in Santa Fe for at least a day or two almost every summer. Although I’ve been interested in art and crafts ever since I can remember, my first visit to Santa Fe while on a family vacation at the age of 16 was a life-changing experience. It was so different, so exotic and so saturated with the arts that I decided then and there that art was to be my area of study in college and I did eventually graduate with a Fine Art degree.

Over the years I’ve been to Santa Fe enough times to have a favorite restaurant – Cafe Pasqual’s – and a favorite motel – El Rey Inn. In September of 2009 I was on a trip with my family on the way to Arizona and we stayed at El Rey. It was Mom’s first time there and she was enthralled with the grounds. Since tile work and plans for my own home were on my mind, we wandered the exquisite grounds together and took lots of photos, with tiles prominent in my photos for future inspiration. On this trip my brother and I also introduced my parents to our favorite suite at El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM, the Ronald Reagan suite, with extensive tile work in the bathroom. Everyone should experience these historic properties at least once in a lifetime – you won’t be sorry!

Since Southwest decor and good food seem to go together, I decided the proper place in my home for Santa Fe inspired tile work is in my kitchen. Over the next 2-3 years I made a lot of tiles for this project.

Handmade ceramic tiles I made for my kitchen backsplash,.

I’ve been augmenting my growing store of tiles with recycled tiles that I picked up at Leftover’s Etc., a teacher’s resource recycling center where you can get donated leftover art and craft supplies for a very reasonable price. Since the stock varies depending on what is donated, collecting tiles suitable for a specific project can take quite a while, so it suited me to acquire these periodically while I slowly accumulated a stock of handmade tiles. You might ask, why not just buy the tiles you need and get it over with? There are beautiful tiles available commercially – one could make a lovely kitchen with these. However, while I’m sure I could design a very nice backsplash out of commercial tiles, my preference for my own home is to express my love of ceramics by putting more of myself into the project. Another thing that makes this project more personal and special is that in addition to my collection of salvaged tiles purchased from Leftover’s Etc., over the years I had accumulated tiles from sources significant to me – I added in some that I recycled from an old farmhouse down the street from where I grew up that was demolished when I was in college, and some that I dug up from the construction debris-filled soil while working on my current garden. Whenever I work in my kitchen I’ll get pleasure from thinking about how I made or acquired the tiles in front of me.

The next major step forward in my kitchen backsplash project occurred in the fall of 2012. I had just returned from a vacation/sabbatical which included a one-week workshop at Arcosanti, an experimental community in Arizona that teaches concepts in architecture, sustainability, re-use of materials and many other topics of interest to me. Visitors to Missouri Botanical Garden will have seen some bronze bells made at Arcosanti. There is a ceramics studio on the site and many areas of the community are decorated with wonderful tile work.

Tile work at Arcosanti including a sample kitchen backsplash.

To see more of my Arcosanti Photos, check out my online albums:

2012 Trip Week 2

2012 Trip Week 3

I went to Arcosanti to be inspired, and wow was I ever! Upon my return I was fired up to work on the backsplash due to what I had seen and I was satisfied that I finally had enough tiles to begin. Look for Part II of this series to see how I incorporated all these creative influences!

Read more:
Kitchen Backsplash Project Part II – Beginning Work on the Walls
Kitchen Backsplash Project Part III – Filling in the Tile “Murals”