In the last few years I've built up a pretty nice shoe and accessory collection, making it a point to invest in some statement pieces and purchasing others when I come across a great sale. Now into my thirties (yikes!), in addition to investing in more grown up pieces, I've also decided that it's time for a more grown up way to store them. And what better solution than a jewel box that can not only store but also showcase them! I was lucky to be gifted an old cupboard with glass doors that is about 50"h x 40"w x 13"d - the perfect size. The cupboard on it's own was looking drab (see before picture after the jump). However, a simple paint job and wallpapering on the inside with a rich jewel toned print, transformed the piece from shabby to chic. My last step was to purchase glass shelves cut to size. I figured glass would be the best option, it's virtually invisible and will not detract from the objects or the wallpaper. The glass company I used is Bear Glass, they're in the city, but also ship nationally and have reasonable prices. They will cut to whatever specification you have and if you're looking for mirror have a great range of options. My shelves were 1/4" thick and I asked for eased edges - so that they're not sharp.
Since the shelving unit is a little below eye level I wanted to create a vignette of personal items on the top. I hung a candid picture from our wedding day on the wall as a back drop along with a bust for hats or jewelry. As well as framed images of my grandmother and my dog Rita. In the boxes I am storing miscellaneous soft accessories and scarves. On the shelves, I mixed and matched bags with shoes to add a little extra interest. At some point I may place the bags back in dust bags but I think since they're behind glass, dust should not be too much of an issue. Also, I have the unit next to window but there are curtains and blinds that I can pull to prevent sun damage.
If you'd like to have a similar custom display unit, its most definitely possible. It's not the cheapest of the cheap, DIY project but definitely a statement piece. If you have the time and the resources to comb flea markets or antique stores, you can start there by looking for a cabinet of similar proportions. If you do not or would like to save time, the unfinished furniture store should be your first stop - the Millstores always have inexpensive unfinished bookcases or armoires. Next, you can purchase wallpaper from Design Your Wall or Decorators Best's - my cabinet only took one standard 11 yard roll to cover, the wallpaper I used is by Cole & Son, it's a Fornasetti design called Malachite in green. Lastly, a paint color of your choice for the outside.
Wallpapering is surprisingly easier than I was expecting. The most important step is understanding the repeat. Each pattern has a set repeat that is measured horizontally and vertically. You need to figure out what that pattern is. Each piece you set on your object will determine when you have to make your next cut. Otherwise, applying paper is quite easy. It involves wallpaper paste, a roller or brush, and a table or surface to use to apply the paste. Other supplies needed are razor blades, a straight edge and measuring tape, a sponge and a spatula of some sorts to help smooth the paper onto the wall. If you're going to try it out for yourself there's a pretty good tutorial on this website [here]. A good place to start also, is with small things like a tray - which is the first thing I did when I tried wallpapering for the first time [see above].
For a reference I wanted to show before and during pictures - the before is such an awful shot (I have to remind myself next time that it is a good investment to have a good before image.)
Now that I've finished this project, I'm dying to work on the next. It's such a good feeling when you accomplish a project all on your own. So empowering! And I hope, inspiring for you. Thanks for reading.