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Toy Boxes: Decorate Your Own

Updated on October 17, 2011

how to make a toy box

If you have kids, you have toys, and if you have toys, toy boxes are needed! I have eight grandchildren, ranging in ages from sixteen months to eight years, and they have a lot of toys. When they have them all strung out over the floor, it looks like a toy store that has been hit by a tornado. I’ll admit, I’m largely to blame for the massive amount of toys the kids have acquired, but isn’t that what grandmothers are for? About the only way to get any semblance of order to their rooms or to the playrooms is with storage boxes, toy boxes, or toy chests.

Toy boxes don’t have to be unsightly. In fact, they can be very attractive and be made to compliment any décor. Consider toy boxes pieces of furniture for the kid’s room or for the playroom. I’ve decorated several toy boxes over the years, and the projects turned out great! I also had fun and got to use my creativity.

What to use as toy boxes

If you’re handy with woodworking, you can build your own wooden toy box or toy chest. If you don’t want to go to that much trouble, think outside the box (no pun intended). You can browse thrift shops and yard sales for boxes that could function nicely as toy boxes. Old wooden trunks work well, but don’t overlook metal trunks. One of the cutest toy boxes I ever created was made from an old metal trunk. The toy chest was for my middle daughter’s room. I let her pick out her own wallpaper and wallpaper border, and she chose striped wallpaper and a lime green border with pink pigs. Her bed was an old spool bed that I had painted white. I sanded the trunk and applied several coats of white enamel spray paint. When the paint was completely dry, I painted the panels of the trunk the same lime green as the paper border. I traced the pigs onto manila folders and made stencils. I then stenciled the pigs onto the green panels of the old trunk with pink acrylic paint. The results were awesome!

When I was a kid, my mom, who was an artist, made me a really cute toy box out of my dad’s old wooden army foot locker. My bedroom had a pink floral theme with an antique white background. She painted the trunk antique white and adorned it with hand-painted flowers in shades of pink. She replaced the old handle on the locker with an attractive new handle.

How to decorate toy boxes

If you can’t find an old trunk, chest, or box to use, or if you prefer new toy boxes, buy an unfinished one and design it to match the room’s décor. You can get really creative with this! You can stain the box a wood tone to match the bed and dresser, or you can paint it a color. Once it’s painted, you can apply any kind of design you like: sailboats, flowers, butterflies, dinosaurs, horses, cowboys, frogs – whatever. You can find tons of stencils at craft shops and online. One popular theme for little boys is camouflage. I warn you, however, that this isn’t as easy as it sounds. I strongly suggest practicing your camouflaging technique on some cardboard first.

Another popular theme is zebra, and this is pretty easy. As a shortcut, you can buy a trunk that’s already white. If it has a gloss finish or a sealer, you’ll need to sand that down first. If you can find a white wooden box with a matte finish, it’ll be an easier project. Use a small paint brush or a black paint pen to make zebra stripes. Before you get started, look at some photographs of zebras. Don’t make the stripes perfectly straight or too uniform. I’ve done some zebra projects for my youngest granddaughter’s zebra themed bedroom, and they weren’t difficult, but they did take a little practice. Below are pics of some of the things I made for her room. A zebra toy box is next!

Practice making zebra stripes first, before applying them to toy boxes and other decor.
Practice making zebra stripes first, before applying them to toy boxes and other decor.
I used a fine-tipped acrylic paint pen for these zebra stripes.
I used a fine-tipped acrylic paint pen for these zebra stripes.
Add acrylic rhinestones to toy boxes, toy chests, and other kids' décor with E6000 glue.
Add acrylic rhinestones to toy boxes, toy chests, and other kids' décor with E6000 glue.
Notice the zebra receptacle cover. My son-in-law did this with an acrylic paint pen.
Notice the zebra receptacle cover. My son-in-law did this with an acrylic paint pen.

Once you’ve painted the toy box and added the painted embellishments, let them dry completely. When dry, spray the painted designs with a polyurethane sealer. This will help protect the designs and keep the paint from chipping.

If you have a little diva or princess, you might want to consider adding some rhinestones to her toy box. These can be found in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes at any craft shop or hobby store. From my experience, E6000 glue works great for this! You can even use small stones to make the the child’s name or initials on toy boxes to really personalize them.


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    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Great ideas. Flag up!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Great idea and well detailed hub.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Cardisa! I'm blesses to have 3 little princesses! lol

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, Tam! That sounds cool. I'm surprised more people don't decorate toy boxes themselves. It's really not difficult to do so in a way to make the toy chests attractive and to match or compliment their surroundings.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      I wish I had a little princes to do this project for. I could do it myself and yours look to beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • TamCor profile image

      Tammy Cornett 

      7 years ago from Ohio

      What wonderful ideas! Personalizing toy boxes is such a great thing for kids, they just love that. :)

      My dad built a wooden toy box for my kids, cut out the letters ABC, and glued them onto the front, then painted the toy box in primary colors. They used it for years and years.

      Now my grandsons have it in their room--their dad re-painted it in John Deere green and yellow, since it had gotten a bit weathered through the years, lol, and now it has a whole new generation of kids enjoying it!

      I really enjoyed this hub, thanks a lot! :)


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