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Cigar Box Surprise

With the recent completion of our media wall and the addition of our new 3.1 surround system (soon to be 5.1, if I can convince the lady of it’s necessity), we were left with a common dilemma: Where do you keep all of those pesky remotes so they’re within reach but out of sight? Kim is slightly obsessive in her hatred of multiple remotes cluttering the coffee table, so I had to come up with a solution before she made me disconnect all of my new electronic toys and start from square one.

In the future, I’d love to sync all of our remotes into one handy unit like the Logitech Harmony, but a couple hundred dollars for a remote control just isn’t in the cards right now. A free cigar box and a $4 can of spray paint, however, is totally doable.

Okay, let’s back up. A customer of mine is a great liquor store with a walk-in cigar humidor, so I asked my buddy Paul if he had any cigar boxes laying around. He pointed toward a few knee-high piles and let me grab whatever I wanted! While many of you may not be on a first name basis with a cigar store employee, politely asking for cast-offs at a tobacco shop is easy enough. If you’re too bashful to beg for handouts, keep your eyes peeled at flea markets and vintage stores. They’re a dime a dozen, and I picked this guy.

While it’s great as is, the honey colored wood just isn’t our thing, and we were aiming for something a bit more polished. Kim started by peeling off all of the labels, then followed that up with a light sanding using 220 grit paper we had on hand.

As with most painting projects, the majority of the time was spent on the prep work. Kim spent the better part of a half hour blue-taping the inside edges, hinges, and trim. And speaking of hinges, those guys were tricky! Sure, we could have bought new hardware, but we decided to try and tape what we could. On a whim, we smeared any exposed metal with Vaseline, thinking it would make our paint resistant to stick, making for a quick clean up. Rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip helped to clean up any messy excess (to make sure any leftover goo was really gone). We weren’t sure if it would work, but figured it was worth a try.

Once it was ready for paint, I hit the box with a quick dusting of primer to keep our color in place – we chose Rustoleum’s Navy Blue in gloss. Two coats would’ve done the trick, but I went spray crazy with four light layers.

And holy smokes, it turns out the Vaseline trick saved us a bunch of scraping duties after all! Once all the tape was removed, it only took another 15 minutes to score and scrape the blue overspray with a thin knife. We’re definitely putting that tip in the ol’ brain archives. Check it out:

Start to finish, this project cost all of $4 and took about an hour (and a half or so) of segmented work broken up over an afternoon. Another nice perk of this storage solution is the amazing cedar scent you catch while reaching for a remote. And the original inside label is a fun, colorful surprise, too.

My geeky wife (love ya!) must’ve been on a styling kick after all the media chaos, because I surely didn’t choose to have tulips in my manly remote post. But I have to admit it looks – I’ll say it – pretty on the coffee table. Much better than a gaggle of mismatched controllers anyway.

Now it’s your turn to spill the beans, folks. How do you store all of those chunky, button clad hunks of plastic around your house? This solution seems simple enough and works perfectly for us, but we’re curious how the hidden-remote-battles hash out around your home, yeah?

  • Amanda @ Our Humble A{Bowe}d - April 13, 2011 - 8:27 AM

    We have a wooden tray, and IF my husband ever put them back in, we would know where to find them… :) So, we still haven’t found a way to store our remotes. Perhaps I’ll search out a cigar box. Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten - April 13, 2011 - 8:50 AM

    Nice! We’re rocking a tray currently too. I’d love to switch to something with a lid, but I don’t think a cigar box is deep enough for our most used remote: the PS3 controller. :) I’m sure I can find something that will work though…

    P.S. 5.1 is an absolute necessity!! :DReplyCancel

  • Kim - April 13, 2011 - 8:53 AM

    Hey Kirsten, it definitely fits a PS3 controller – that’s what we have in ours! In addition, we have a remote for our receiver and the television.ReplyCancel

  • jodi - April 13, 2011 - 9:04 AM

    oooh! this looks great! might have to try this myself. our remotes are just chilling on the coffee table.ReplyCancel

  • Loren - April 13, 2011 - 9:12 AM

    This is a great idea! And so simple! We have an Ikea tray where the remotes are supposed to live, but they rarely end up there. And it doesn’t exactly hide them from view.ReplyCancel

  • Cait @ Hernando House - April 13, 2011 - 9:52 AM

    We have a box we got from HomeGoods to hold our remotes (you can see it in the background here), but my parents use a cigar box for theirs.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 13, 2011 - 9:58 AM

      Ooh, love that box, Cait! Love HomeGoods, too!ReplyCancel

  • Holly - April 13, 2011 - 10:19 AM

    We have a little rectangular wicker basket that lives in the drawer of our side table. I wouldn’t mind having it out, but the puppy gets into EVERYTHING and I’m sick of chasing him outside in my jammies to fetch the remote. Love the cigar box idea–we have a few floating around and they might be a better option. Thanks for sharing, and the tulips do look pretty :)ReplyCancel

  • Jordan @ The White Bungalow - April 13, 2011 - 10:36 AM

    Good call on the vaseline trick! I’m getting ready to paint an antique drafting table & will have try that on the hardware!ReplyCancel

  • aleksandra - April 13, 2011 - 11:09 AM

    this is ultra cute! i have been trying to figure out what to do with some cigar boxes we have . . .
    also, i saw you guys over on apartment therapy. congrats!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ DesignBuildLove.co - April 13, 2011 - 12:25 PM

    I totally know what you mean!!! I hate remotes in sight, and I don’t even know why. BUT, we have 4 of them for our one main family room TV! Ridiculous. I’ve found a few different ways to hide mine, but I love your cigar box. Very cute and inventive! Not to mention that the color is gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Scott - April 13, 2011 - 3:21 PM

    Kirsten-

    Thanks for the vote for 5.1! I think I’m slowly wearing Kim down…

    Regarding the PS3 controller, I don’t thing it would quite fit inside this box. Kim was referring to the Blu-Ray remote, which gets the most use (when she’s around!)ReplyCancel

  • RocketGirl - April 13, 2011 - 5:05 PM

    Lovely! But I must tell you: we got the Logitech Harmony for Christmas (the $80 version) and if we’d known then what we know now, we would’ve bought it a year ago. It’s fanfreakingtabulous.ReplyCancel

  • RocketGirl - April 13, 2011 - 5:06 PM
  • ann - April 13, 2011 - 7:22 PM

    Oh come on, Scott – what would life be like without Dad having all those remotes on the counter, or on the treadmill, etc.? -MomReplyCancel

  • Kalli - April 15, 2011 - 3:58 PM

    Love cigar boxes- I use them around my bedroom to hold jewelry and art supplies. Don’t know if I could have parted with the exterior labels though, I just have a thing for packaging. The hinges and clasp must have been a pain to cover, but it shows off their pretty shape now against the blue. Nice styling Kim!ReplyCancel

  • Lynn Stevens - April 15, 2011 - 5:23 PM

    That looks lovely and smart. I use a cigar box (in the raw) for keys. For remotes I have a beautiful wooden box (looks Japanese, but is not)by Randy Cook (sample of his/her work here).

    Tip: Both in cigar box and art box, I placed (no glue) a piece of felt in the bottom so keys and remotes don’t clang and mar the wood.

    Also, can’t remember what it was but I recall seeing another project where cigar boxes were painted, and they removed the hardware first and then reinstalled.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - April 15, 2011 - 5:29 PM

    Those Randy Cook boxes are gorgeous! Great idea for keys, too.

    Yeah, we tried to take the hardware off, but we risked ruining the hardware itself. It’s definitely something to keep in mind for next time (or just buy new hardware!).ReplyCancel

  • Jodi from new jersey - March 4, 2012 - 6:08 AM

    What a fun idea! I, too, have a strange attraction to cigar boxes. Maybe it’s the cool labels and those fun clasps.I save them , then end up getting rid of them.I will try this project. Right now our remotes are in a cute basket. When in doubt, use a basket! Thanks.ReplyCancel

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