Have you ever unboxed something and thought to yourself, “Wow, this is a really nice box…what can I do with it?” Yep…most of us have! And even if it’s not a pretty, glossy box, you’ve probably come across sturdy shipping boxes and cardboard inserts that seem too usable to toss in the recycle bin. As much as I love investing in pretty baskets and acrylic caddies, I equally love using what I have on hand to make organizers for our home…and scrap cardboard is my go-to starting point almost every time. Today I’m sharing over 20 creative ways to make DIY cardboard organizers for your home that are not only free but look and work amazing too!

What You Need to Make DIY Cardboard Organizers

The most wonderful thing about cardboard (besides how sturdy and abundant it is) is that it can be easily cut, folded, and taped into just about anything (just ask any kid with an imagination!) But the success of all easy DIY cardboard organizers greatly depends on the condition of the cardboard itself. So when embarking on any of the projects I outline today, make sure you start with clean, sturdy cardboard (or boxes) in order for them to look nice and hold up over time.

Here are some of the things I’ve used to make the projects in this post:

  • Large boxes from Amazon or other online retailers
  • Product boxes (e.g., phones, planners, socks, etc)
  • Shoe boxes
  • Cardboard inserts from packaging or envelopes
  • Old/used science fair boards
  • Chipboard
  • Foam core board

Additionally, you may need some tools/supplies in order to make your projects look as good as they work! Here are the supplies I often reach for when making my own DIY cardboard organizers:

Organizing with Cardboard Boxes

Thanks to Amazon and the volume of online shopping many of us do, the availability of sturdy cardboard boxes has never been greater. Here are a bunch of ways to use them instead of toss them!

Decluttering

Getting ready to declutter a room? Grab some boxes from your recycling bin and use them as you sort. Not only will they keep piles distinct and separate, but you can then tape them right up and drop them off a the donation center!

Keep versus Toss: How to Decide

Cardboard boxes being used for decluttering

Coordinating Drawer Organizers

Super sturdy cardboard boxes that are used to package phones, electronics, and some fashion items can be easily made into a set of matching drawer organizers. Both box bottoms and tops can be used, and inexpensive contact paper can give them all the same look!

Junk Drawer Organizers from Cardboard Boxes

Cardboard boxes used as drawer dividers

Trays

Large, flat decorative boxes (that you can usually find around the holidays) are great for creating  shallow trays of necessities that can sit on a work surface, dresser, counter, or inside a shallow drawer.

DIY Desk Organizer from a Cardboard Box

Box dividers for drawer holding office supplies

Deep Drawer Organizers

Deeper boxes are great for dividing up large drawers to hold items such as socks, tights, and other small clothing. You often won’t need to do anything to these boxes at all…just place a bunch side-by-side to create compartments!

How I Organized My Dresser Drawers

Organized drawer with divider made from scrap cardboard

Custom Decorative Storage Boxes

Boxes don’t have to start pretty in order to look great. Anything (including cereal boxes!) can be cut and re-taped together to hold a variety of thing; and decorative papers can transform any blah box into a chic home decor accessory!

DIY Book Organizers from Cereal Boxes

Cardboard boxes used to organize books

Wallpaper-Covered Storage Boxes

Decorative cardboard boxes Decorative cardboard boxes

Ugly Decorative Boxes Transformed with Vinyl

Decorative Memory Boxes

Organizing with Cardboard Sheets

Cardboard doesn’t have to be in the form of a box to be useful…in fact, I can usually find more uses for sturdy cardboard sheets than anything else!

Straight Dividers

I am constantly dividing up boxes, baskets and trays with basic cardboard rectangles. Simply trim cardboard down to the box’s dimensions, stack a few layers together if necessary for sturdiness, and then wrap in pretty paper to make distinct compartments where there are none!

Art Caddy from a Toolbox

Divider made from scrap cardboard

Basket Dividers

Basket divider made from scrap cardboard

DIY Box Dividers

Box divider made from scrap cardboard

Interlocking Dividers

All the above dividers are simple rectangles cut to size; but you can take this concept one step further and create interlocking versions too. This style not only creates more compartments in a given space, but also enhances the overall stability of the cardboard system!

DIY Interlocking Drawer Dividers

Drawer divider made from scrap cardboard

Super Sturdy DIY Drawer Dividers

Drawer divider made from scrap cardboard

How to Make Interlocking Box Dividers with a Cricut

Box divider made from scrap cardboard

Cardboard dividers don’t have to be limited to boxes or drawers either; you can make functional dividers as well!

File Dividers with Cardboard

Cardboard dividers for greeting cards

Hanging Closet Dividers

Cardboard divider hanging in closet

Basket Fronts

One of my all-time favorite uses for long stretches of sturdy cardboard is to cover up the fronts of wire baskets so you can’t see the mess inside. This (free) trick does wonders to reduce visual clutter in any space!

How I Organize My Clothes in Drawers

Faux cardboard fronts in wire baskets Faux cardboard fronts in wire baskets

Using cardboard for basket fronts is also a really easy way to give them fresh look. In the image below, the same wire baskets have white fronts (instead of blue) for an entirely different appearance!

Organized Nursery Closet

Red, white, and blue nursery closet

How to Make Faux Basket Fronts with Cardboard

Navy blue baskets with cardboard labels on playroom shelves

Surface Coverings

Long stretches of sturdy cardboard can also be used to cover surfaces. Whether you want to cover up something ugly/damaged or simply add color or pattern where there is none, there’s no easier (or cheaper!) way to do it than with sheets of cardboard!

How to Add Pattern to the Back of a Pantry

Cardboard covered in wrapping paper behind pantry shelves

Add Color to Cabinets with a Patterned Toe-Kick

Decorate toe-kick under white counter

Add Stability to Wire Shelving

Wire shelving is great because it’s inexpensive and utilitarian, but it can be frustrating when items fall through the wide cracks. I love using long cardboard sheets on the shelves to create flat, stable surfaces for smaller items!

DIY Recycling Station

White cardboard sheets covering wire shelf

Holders

Scrap cardboard is by far one of my favorite supplies for creating “holders” for a variety of items around the house. Since it can be cut into any size and shape and is usually thick and sturdy, cardboard is great for wrapping things around in order to give them form and stability!

Mini Fabric Bolts with Cardboard Sheets

Cardboard sheet for wrapping fabric

Basket holding wrapped fabric bolts

Cardboard Bobbins for Ribbon, Cording, Twine, and More

Cardboard ribbon bobbins on white table

Cardboard bobbin for cord

Inexpensive Solutions for Packing Up Holiday Decor

Christmas lights wrapped around cardboard

Organizing with Cardboard Tubes

Another cardboard product you might find useful in your organizing endeavors is paper towel/toilet paper tubes. These too can be cut down to a variety of sizes, glued/stapled together or used individually, and covered in paint or paper to camouflage their ugly brown origins.

Cord Organizers

Cardboard rolls holding electrical cords

I personally love using cardboard tubes to corral and organize long cords, but I’ve also seen them used as:

  • Sock holders
  • Neck tie holders
  • Curling iron holders
  • Cups for pens and pencils
  • Jewelry holder

Making Tags & Labels with Cardboard

Finally, I’d be remiss not to point out that cardboard can be used to create rustic- or industrial-style tags and labels. Basic shapes can be made with a sharp craft knife, while more intricate designs are best made with an e-cutter like a Cricut. I love making labels from chipboard and adding vinyl words and other embellishments to create a stylish contrast!

How to Cut Chipboard with a Cricut Maker

Cardboard tag on a blue basket

Phew! Did you realize there were so many fun, creative, and functional ways to use scrap cardboard around the home?!? It really is so versatile; and when you cover it up with tapes, vinyls, or pretty papers, it can be oh-so-chic too! The next time you open a shipping box or new product and just can’t bring yourself to throw the cardboard away, I hope you’ll re-visit this post of DIY cardboard organizers to come up with a perfect way to recycling it into something useful for your home!

See You Soon!
Megan