DIY Shadow Box Frame: Master Bedroom Follow-up Part I

I have always said that if I did not design paper goods, I would be a carpenter. Sounds crazy I know, but I love building things and with a lot of self teaching over the years, have hand-crafted some great pieces that have been simply wonderful for storage and organization.

Most of my DIY endeavors are the result of me searching and scouring every store in town for something I just can’t find, and if by chance I do, it always has that lovely “NOT FOR SALE: DISPLAY ONLY” tag on it. So off I go. The shadow box in my master bedroom makeover was definitely one of those “frustrating shopping experiences turns DIY” projects.

Here are a few of my other favorite pieces that I made in a similar state of mind:

A wonderful table top organizer for office supplies and pretty things.

Shelves in my studio to display invitations and such.  My dear and talented friend Arden
of Arden Prucha Photography took this pic when shooting my home a few months ago. For plenty more visit Arden’s blog!

A lovely organizer for papers and envelopes. I need about 5 more of these.

My greatest, and most life changing, DIY project to date! A lovely wall unit filled with cubbies and
slide-out shelving to store everything from fabric to books.

So, for the first follow up to my master bedroom makeover, I have a DIY tutorial on how to build your own shadow box. I made mine quite large because I wanted to display our wishing tree tags however the same concept applies for any size that you might want to make. As well, while I used a table saw to cut the wood, you could also do this with a hack saw and a miter box (much safer and will cost you about $15 bucks at Lowes).

My favorite Wishing Tree piece of advice (far left): “1. Don’t go to bed angry. 2. Get a housekeeper.”

So if you would like to see more photos and read step by step instructions, including painting tips, click below!

Decorative molding for the frame
Wood for the base (needs to be about 1″ thick and at least 2″ wide. The length depends on what size shadow box you are making)
Paint (I used a combination of different colored spray paints)
Paint brush
Nail Gun OR hammer and nails
Foam board for the backing
Fabric (at least 1 yard)
Staple gun

This is the wood purchased from Lowe’s that I began with.

Here are the sheets of foam board I used for the backing. I choose foam board so that I could use straight pins to attach the wishing tree tags.

First I decided just how big I wanted to make my shadow box, which is about 5.5x5.5 feet. I then cut each piece to length and made the base for the frame using a nail gun. You can also use a good ol' fashioned hammer and nails.

A closer view...

I then cut each end of the decorative molding at a 45 degree angle. To make sure that your cuts are the right length, line up the molding to the base you just made and mark the longest edge for your cut.

Now for the really fun part...painting! I experimented with a number of different colors of spray paint that I have one hand: teal, light blue, and white. In consisent, even strokes paint each piece. Do this until you cover the natural color of the wood and pay close attention to the next photo with tips for creating dimension and depth in your painting job.

The Final Paint Finish: I continued to layer different mixtures of paint (adding in some grey) until I achieved the perfect color and contrast to compliment my bedroom.

The key to making your molding POP!: Begin with your base color- a darker shade. Then using a a lighter shade of the same color, or even white or gold, spray another layer and immediately take a paint brush and drag the wet paint down the raised portion of the wood. This way you have a nice contrast and highlight the carved detailing of the molding.

2 Steps in one here: 1st, using using your nail gun (or a hammer and nails), attach the decorative molding to the shadow box base. Try to line up your cuts as close as possible and if any visible gaps are present, it is nothing that a little caulk and paint can't fix. 2nd: Take your foam board and cut to size to fit into the shadow box as the backing. I used 3 sheets for mine and with a staple gun, adhered the pieces together to form one smooth, fluid sheet.

A closer view...Note: be sure to pop your backing into the frame prior to covering it in fabric to make sure it fits!!!

Next, cover your foam board backing in the decorative material of your choice! I used an ivory burlap for mine and again, used a staple gun to secure the fabric.

So now you are pretty much finished!  Pop your fabric covered backing into your handcrafted frame, decorate it with your most treasured findings and hang! Feel free to email me with further questions on how to make your own shadow box…I would love to help!

16 Responses to “DIY Shadow Box Frame: Master Bedroom Follow-up Part I”

  1. You amaze me! Literally. I support cha 😉

  2. You are so talented!! Keep up the good work. Look forward to some more DIY post.

  3. Came across your site through Laurie Anna’s. LOVE The Vintage Bedroom Makeover. This shadow box stood out to me. I love how you incorporated the wishing tags into the design. What a special keepsake from your wedding and a beautiful way to display it and treasure it always. Wonderful Job!

  4. Happiness is a room filled with all of this…

  5. […] is so great! My DIY shadow box frame has been featured on The Nest Magazine’s blog!  Created by the wedding experts at The Knot, […]

  6. This is a great tutorial! I love the burlap backdrop…would also like it in a neutral linen, or patterned fabric with pops of bright.

  7. Thank you Kristen! I totally agree….the shadow box would be incredible with a bold pattern or even a soft linen fabric. That just makes me want to make another one!

    jennifer claire

  8. Outstanding!!! Love the idea!

  9. Thank you so much Shelia!
    Jennifer Claire

  10. I just ran accross your blog through piterest and am in love with your style! Everything is gorgeous and your wedding was just beautiful! Thank you for sharing with us!
    Take care

  11. Hi Kristin,
    Thank you so so much! I am just thrilled you found my blog because now I know about yours! AMAZING! You have wonderful ideas and I’m feeling totally inspired to decorate and get organized now. I will definitely be checking back often to see what you do next. Please keep in touch!

    Jennifer Claire
    Memento Designs

  12. What a beautiful design! I enjoy your blog, keep up the good work.

  13. Thank you so very much Elaine! It makes me so happy to know you enjoy the blog. Slowly but steadily, I will be blogging more so please keep in touch!
    Jennifer Claire

  14. Where do you find molding like that? is there a place where it is cheaper?

  15. Did you attach the foam board to the wood frame somehow? I’m trying to make this tomorrow and am not understanding how that piece attaches if the frame is just an open back. Thanks!

  16. Hi Bethany,

    The frame I made is an open back. Because I was not attaching anything heavy to the foam (just paper tags), I was able to just pop in the foam backing and it stay in place. If you wanted to attach the foam, I would drill it into a wood backing or use brackets.
    Hope this helps and good luck!
    Jennifer CLaire

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