diy wednesdays: cardboard shadow box

our love of knickknacks, thingamajigs and ephemera is outweighed only by our hatred of clutter. which means whenever we pick up yet another objet we’d better find a spot for it. we fashioned this mini shadow box out of a simple cardboard gift box to house a little assemblage whose contents can be changed on a whim depending on what treasures we happen to find lying about. click here for the full project instructions or just click “read more” below.

have fun!
derek & lauren

here’s what you’ll need:
-gift box with lid
-x-acto blade
cork tile
-double-sided tape

1. draw a decorative border onto the top of your box and carefully cut out with your x-acto blade.


2. trace the bottom of the box onto a cork tile and cut out with scissors.


3. cover the cork piece with a scrap of fabric, securing on the back with double-sided tape.
4. if your box is deep, you may also wish to line the inside with fabric, which you can also secure with double-sided tape.
5. puncture a small hole in the back of box with your x-acto blade.
6. insert fabric-covered cork piece into box bottom and assemble box.
7. fill with goodies and hang on a small nail through the hole in back!

  1. Tara says:

    I love the color scheme on the example. Unique shadow boxes are hard to come by. I never considered making my own, till now!

  2. lucky says:

    this is such a cute idea! just like you i love strange cute little things but hate clutter – so i totally get this :) do all shadowboxes usually have cork in them – or is that u just being brilliant?

  3. Jennifer says:

    What a great idea! I feel the same way that items have to be displayed nicely otherwise it’s just clutter laying around. Yet I love going thrifting. This project will help.

  4. Lauren says:

    hi! the cork is optional- just in case you want to mount things to the back with pins.

  5. Laura says:

    This is a brilliant idea. I contain little assemblages in a variety of ways – but ooo I simply love a new method! Thanks.

  6. I never thought of doing this either but it’s SUCH a great idea! I see a vintage-sewing-themed shadow box in my near future…

  7. This would be neat to do with a shoe box. I have some great heels that came in a shoe box with an interesting pattern on the box, so to make something with it would be great! I think i found just the project!

  8. Love this! So easy and cute. Will definitely be making a shadowbox soon!

  9. Linn says:

    I’m so glad you shared this…I actually picked up a few shadowboxes on clearance and had no idea what to do with them. Thank you!

  10. mary says:

    Hello :)
    I have a very difficult time purchasing anything, even for $1, a buck, if I do not know what I am going to do with it. this means where will it go and enhance our, or at least my life :)
    This drives my daughter crazy!!!
    So: I very much like your display box idea! A place for all cute little treasures.
    With Kindness,

  11. Elizabeth says:

    this is great!

  12. andrea says:

    i love this! gave it a shot today since i’m redecorating my room and unearthing so many nicknacks in the process!

  13. meli says:

    well so easy, i think im making one for the hallway this friday…

  14. Elizabeth says:

    This is awesome! I love shadow boxes, but the price in the stores is cost prohibitive. This will be a great way to save a little green- financially and environmentally.


  15. Kim Buchheit says:

    what a great idea! thanks for sharing.

    [grace, i just opened my etsy store this week. please stop by when you have some time; i’d love to hear what you think! thanks :)]

  16. amy says:

    i’m afraid my poor xacto skills will preclude me from the decorative border :(

  17. Jaime Kae says:

    Oh, I love a shadow box! Clever, clever, clever!

  18. I LOVE this, you two are the best!

  19. This is genius. It combines reusing stuff already lying around and turns it into a neat display! You’ve got me thinking now, maybe I’ll do a silhouette in the background and display my vintage kid’s toys!
    Thanks for the tutorial and inspiration.

  20. Silvia says:

    I can’t wait to try this. So awesome.

  21. Allison says:

    This is the DIY bridesmaid gift idea that I have been looking for. I can personalize them for each amazing woman. Thank you so much!

  22. Jen says:

    You know, you could also avoid the need for dusting by reusing the flat back of plastic packaging as a window… hmmm…

    1. Loretta says:

      Acetate sheet will work as a protective ‘glass frame’

  23. Annet says:

    It`s so wonderful!!!!!! Thanks for the idea!!!!

  24. meggiecat says:

    Love this. Thank you.

  25. amygdalus says:

    This is absolutely brilliant and gives me great ideas for displays! Thank you!

  26. MRS.N.B.COUTINHO says:

    Lovely idea.
    But how can i make shelves or partitions in d shoebox??


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.