Need a gift idea for the man in your life? Learn how to make this custom storage box ideal for housing military ranks, watches, cuff links, and jewelry.

This post contains affiliate links. The affiliate links are provided for your convenience to recommended products and to help support the Navy Home. For more information, please see my disclosures here.

My husband, Chris, was on his first deployment when I made this military rank box for him. I wanted to make something special as a gift for when he got home and had come up with the idea several months before he even deployed. However, I chose to play it safe and wait until he was away to work on it so he wouldn’t accidentally find it!

After commissioning, he had been talking about needing to get some sort of box to store his ranks in. His solution, or at least the temporary one, was a plastic CD box… total guy move right there. I knew that wasn’t going to work because I wanted his ranks to have a special place for two different reasons. Not only will the contents of this box signify the time he spent serving our country, but it will also house the ranks my mother passed down to him from one of our fallen, LTJG Cole Patrick O’Neil. You can read more about why these ranks play an integral part in our story, Tragedy Turned to Treasure, in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Families.

He was ecstatic when I gave it to him and I somehow managed to not spoil the surprise the entire time he was deployed. This rustic rank box was honestly the most exciting gift for me to give to my husband; it was sentimental for both being handmade for him by his wife and for what resides inside.

Not only would this be the perfect gift for military ranks, it is also great for a men’s watch and jewelry box! This really was a fun project! Continue below for the tutorial!


  • Unfinished Wood Jewelry Box w/ Glass Top
  • Box Knife + Sandpaper (if removing some dividers)
  • Painters Tape (if laser etching glass)
  • Wood Stain (<< Highly recommend this one in Special Walnut! *See instructions below for more info.)
  • Staining Rag
  • Gloves + Mask
  • Black Peel & Stick Craft Felt
  • Polyester Fiber Fill
  • 1/4 Yard of Fabric
  • Ruler
  • Needle + Thread
  • Sewing Machine (optional)
  • Glass Engraver (optional)


If you plan to get the glass engraved, begin with this step first and remove the lid from the box. I was in college studying architecture when I made this project for my husband; therefore, I had access to a laser cutter within the architecture wood shop to laser etch the glass for me. Some architecture colleges allow non-students access to the laser cutter for a fee in addition to completing a safety test.

If you have a very steady hand or want a handwritten look, you could try a handheld diamond-tipped engraver, but be sure to practice on a scrap piece of glass first! Otherwise, you could go to a glass engraving shop and have them professionally engrave the lid.

NOTE: If a laser is being used to etch the glass, cover the wooden edges of the lid with painter’s tape. The tape prevents the wood from getting any burn marks.

UPDATE: If you are not sure how to go about getting the glass engraved, feel free to send me a message or comment below and I would be more than happy to help! A friend of mine actually has a laser cutter and may be able to help us out!


Before applying the stain, remove any wood dividers in the box that might be in the way for what it is meant to store. For example, I removed one divider on the right side of the box to create a larger space for Chris’s shoulder boards to fit in. You may want to do the same if watches are going to be stored in the box.

Be very careful when removing any of the dividers – you don’t want to break the ones you want to keep! Use a box knife to gradually wedge down between the pieces. I admit this is when my dad stepped in to help. I needed some pure manpower because the dividers in my box had been, what I believe to be were, industrially adhered together!

Once the pieces are detached, use the box knife to shave down any glue or wood residue to get a flat surface. Sand the area if necessary to achieve a smooth finished surface.


Select your color of stain and remove any hardware from the box and lid. At the time, I had used Minwax Special Walnut, but would now highly recommend using this ECOS Paints Special Walnut. This wood stain is specifically meant for crafting projects such as this and is non-toxic, zero VOC, and no odor! All of which is a huge bonus for me considering I would always get migraines after working with conventional paints and stains.

Use your staining rag to apply the stain to the exterior and interior of the box. Apply additional coats until you reach the desired color and allow for adequate drying time between each coat.

I decided against applying polyurethane since the box will not come in contact with anything that would require it to be sealed. Also, I loved the unsealed look that the special walnut stain gave the wood; the color has a dry and slightly weathered vintage look.

Again, the Craft Stain by ECOS would have been ideal for this project because it incorporates a top coat resin that gives a subtle sheen and eliminates the need for a top coat altogether.

NOTE: Read all the directions on each product before use. Remember to stir the stain before use, do not shake. Always wear a mask and gloves when applying stain or polyurethane along with working in a well-ventilated space. A well-ventilated space creates a cleaner workspace to breathe in and faster drying time.


Use a ruler to measure the interior surfaces you want to cover with felt while taking into account the thickness of the felt. Cut out the felt pieces, remove the paper backing, and adhere the felt inside the spaces. The peel and stick felt makes this quick and easy!


Add 1” to both the length and width measurements of each space to get the dimensions for your cushions. This 1” addition accounts for ¼” seam around and ½” extra material both ways to make your cushions fluffy.

Cut two pieces of fabric for each cushion and lay them face-to-face. Hand stitch or use a sewing machine to sew your ¼” seam around. I did not have my sewing machine at this point and chose to hand stitch the cushions.

Leave a 1” opening and pull the fabric through the opening to turn the fabric correct side out. Fill the cushion with polyester fill to the desired thickness and complete your seam across the opening.

Place the cushions in their cozy spaces and reattach the hardware onto the box and lid.

You’re done! Whether you made this for a service member to store his ranks or a husband to store his watches and cuff links, you now have a handmade gift any man is sure to love!

We would love to see your completed project! Tag @TheNavyHome or #TheNavyHome on social media to share your project with us!

Thanks for following along! Happy Crafting!

Filed under: BEDROOM, BEDROOM, BEDROOM + BATHROOM, FAMILY + OFFICE, OFFICETagged with: , , , , , ,


We are in the season of life where us and friends are adding precious additions to our families, which means lots of baby related patterns and products! Our newest and current collection – baby burp cloths!

In an attempt to free up some space in my craft closet, I am now offering handmade items for sale! The best part is with every purchase you are helping to unite military families and aid our wounded warriors! You can learn more about our mission to give back here.

Due to the nature of how this adventure began, I may not have enough fabric to make multiple sets so quantities are very limited. I must say it has been a very fun and great way to start reducing my massive stockpile of fabric! More new styles are coming very soon!

A little about our burp cloths…

  • Designed to quickly and easily fold to double up for even the messiest of spitter-uppers!
    • Or leave unfolded for extra coverage around your shoulder and neck.
  • Large enough to use as a changing mat if you left yours at home – which will inevitably happen!
  • Compact enough to easily fit into any mom’s overflowing diaper bag!
  • Use for infant feeding and burping, drool/spit up mat during tummy time, cleaning up messes, impromptu changing mat, mini blanket for added warmth, etc.
  • Made of 100% cotton and will get more absorbent with each wash.
  • Attention to detail in the construction and craftsmanship of this product.
    • I never sell anything I would not want for myself or as a gift for someone else.
  • A portion of all profits will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project and United Through Reading!

NOTE: As with any baby product or accessory, never leave a baby unattended with a burp cloth and always use adult supervision. Not intended as a blanket for sleep or sleep use of any kind.

Our newest products…

Prefold cloth diapers were used as inserts in the burp clothes below. Prefold cloth diapers are an excellent and easy way to add absorbency to the burp cloths and influenced the three section design. In addition, these burp cloths are made of 100% cotton top layer and soft flannel bottom layer. Check them out below!


Being true to our name, we are launching our burp cloth collection with these sweet Navy inspired burp cloths!


Pink and white, teepees and antlers! These precious burp cloths are perfect for the adventurous baby girl!

Thanks for following along! Have a great day!



Display the story of your family in the heart of your home. Learn how to decorate on a budget and start conversations with the pieces placed on your fireplace mantel.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosures here.

UPDATE: We are currently working on designing the fireplace in our new home before the holiday season begins, but thought I would do a throwback to our previous fireplace in base housing!

After weeks of trying to decide how to tackle this mantel, I had finally come up with a solution and in love with how it turned out! We were renting housing on base at the time and therefore could not do any permanent design work – mantel decor only. Originally, the mantel was none other than where the television resided along with the cable box and, of course, the Xbox. I know what you’re thinking – that sure is a statement piece when you walk into our home, isn’t it?

We decided to change up the layout of our furniture, which meant we were able to relocate the TV and free up the fireplace mantel for a more welcoming entryway. The problem was I had no idea what to do next. College apartments are not known for housing cozy fireplaces and now that we had a house with a fireplace, I wasn’t sure what in the world I was supposed to do with it.

At this particular time in our lives, we did not have the excess funds to go out and purchase an abundance of new decor. Instead, I chose to focus on selecting items we already had and arrange them in a way to illustrate the story of us. To do this, we used secondhand items from family, gifts from friends, one souvenir, a couple of DIY projects, and a few inexpensive items we found on sale.

I wanted our mantel to be decorative and inviting, but to tell a story at the same time. By the way, the mantel in our base housing was massive! We are talking at least a foot deep so we had lots of room to work with on this one. There were several items I wanted to be placed on the mantel, but the challenge was which pieces and how to arrange them.

In order for the mantel to illustrate our story, I chose to include a few different pieces of conversation starters. The first and most prominent piece would probably be the chainsaw carved bear – isn’t he just too cute?! No hand tools were used in the making of this bear; he was carved entirely by chainsaw! Our chainsaw bear came from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee where lots of fun memories were made and one of our favorite vacation spots.

Next, I selected some decorative books to be placed beside our chainsaw bear. The maroon books not only represented our university and Aggie pride, but the color complimented our bear nicely by playing off of the red tones of the cedar. Below are the books displayed:

As you can see, the mantel is home to a couple different projects of mine, one of which is the preserved rose (updated post coming soon!). This particular project is dear to my heart being that it displays the first rose my husband presented to me. Placing this flower on the fireplace mantel was a must because it serves as a sweet reminder of the beginning of our life together.

Floral arrangements are always a nice and recommended addition to any mantel. I had this mason jar vase that was a gift from my mom and decided to use it for our arrangement. Instead of purchasing new floral, I opened the my craft closet to find some dried floral that was left over from another project of mine.

I decided on a cotton arrangement with brown dried wheat accents. I love dried floral because it creates a natural, neutral, and rustic look. All I had to do was trim down the stems of the wheat and arrange as desired!

TIP: Use the excess stem pieces as filler in the bottom of the vase to help keep your arrangement in place.

Another great option would be to use faux or live greenery. Greenery gives a natural pop of color and brings the peaceful look of nature indoors.

Lastly, a cherished photo is the perfect addition to complete your story. The other DIY project here, and one of my favorites, is the window picture frame (updated post coming soon!). I am beyond thankful for the photographers who captured this photo of us while we were dancing at our close friends’ wedding! We had no idea they snapped this photo until the bride shared it with us later, but I am so happy they did, as it is one of my absolute favorite pictures of us. A picture really does say a thousand words, and this one says everything.

Happy decorating!

Filed under: FAMILY, FAMILY + OFFICETagged with: , ,


After having to step away from The Navy Home to become first-time parents, face various moves in addition to another deployment, resign from the Navy life, adjust to civilian life, and purchase our first home… we are so happy to be back and with a new look! We had so much going on in our lives that we were simply trying to keep up with what day it was. Through it all we have learned so much, have countless blessings to be thankful for, and now have our first home to make our own!

We are settling into our new home and are very excited to share with you all that we have going on here at The Navy Home! As you can imagine, we have LOTS of projects underway and on the drawing boards now that we have our home. According to my husband, I have filled my quota for the year on using the words “project” and “build” when it comes to our house, but he continues to be a trooper! We love that through our projects we are not only improving our homes aesthetics, but the functionality and monetary value as well!

In addition, we are adding some new content to The Navy Home – baby content! As some of you may know, I was pregnant with our first baby when The Navy Home was launched. Little did I know just how time consuming becoming a parent would be! Not to mention, I spent way too much time researching and reading reviews for each product that went on our baby registry. In my defense, I wanted to make sure every product purchased was carefully selected in hopes of minimizing the number of items potentially being replaced later. As a result, we now have loads of content to share with you! That’s right, we are sharing all of our favorite baby items we have used personally and absolutely love!

Stay tuned for more exciting home projects, organization ideas, baby products, as well as natural products for your home and family! Join us on this new adventure while we open our door, tell of our experiences, and share our home with you! Home is where you are anchored, it is where life happens, and we have much to talk about! 🙂


Curious to know what has been going on in our new home? Check out our first new homeowner projects below.


It’s official! We closed on our first home and our household goods have been delivered (minus one box that got lost in our cross-country move – not too shabby). Time for our first project as new homeowners! …


Want to know a great way to instantly become friends with your neighbors? The answer is quite simple – build some trellises. In no time, your neighbors will be saying “I knew I liked those neighbors” …

Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful day!