20+ Creative Ways to Organize with Cardboard All Over the Home
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
- 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:
- A good craft knife and/or strong scissors
- A long acrylic ruler
- Clear packing tape, stapler, hot glue gun, masking tape, and/or duck tape
- Contact paper, peel-and-stick wallpaper or vinyl – for covering ugly brown surfaces
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!
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
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
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
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
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
Wallpaper-Covered Storage Boxes
Ugly Decorative Boxes Transformed with Vinyl
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!
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!
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!
How to Make Interlocking Box Dividers with a Cricut
Cardboard dividers don’t have to be limited to boxes or drawers either; you can make functional dividers as well!
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
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!
How to Make Faux Basket Fronts with Cardboard
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
Add Color to Cabinets with a Patterned Toe-Kick
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!
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 Bobbins for Ribbon, Cording, Twine, and More
Inexpensive Solutions for Packing Up Holiday Decor
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.
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
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!