diy project: brenna’s secret storage books

it seems i am always in need of extra storage space.  i have an abundance of art materials and supplies that just keeps growing. i am already storing boxes of paints, paintbrushes, paper, pens and scissors, and a multitude of glues behind a linen curtain beneath our built-in desk. it is a great storage place for the things i don’t necessarily use all of the time, but what about the things I use constantly, like my watercolors and rulers, exacto knives and bulldog clips? as much as i would like to, i can’t exactly leave them out on the dining room table within reach of my almost two-year old. the solution: sightly boxes to store my wares. since we have a lovely built-in bookcase, i thought it would be great to have a storage box disguised as a book, adding charm instead of just utility. so here it is, a bit of unexpected storage. secret storage books…not a secret anymore. -brenna (paper +ink)

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

– new or recycled clamshell style boxes
– heavy chipboard or tag board
– cardboard tube from a wrapping paper or paper towel roll
– scissors
– exacto knife
– hot glue
– white glue or mod podge
– decorative paper (for covering the outside and lining inside of box. you can also use maps, wallpaper, or any type of medium or thick weight paper)


1. use the white glue or mod podge to cover the edges of the box (where the pages of the book would be) with a decorative paper. i used a woven white striped paper, which makes a pretty convincing “pages” look on a brown box. regular school lined paper is cute too. i also lined the inside of the box with a pretty paper.

2. cut two rectangles of chipboard. the size of the rectangles should be 1/4” longer than the measurement from the “spine” or hinge to the opposite edge of box, and ½” longer than the measurement from top to bottom. these two rectangles will make the book cover.

3. cut the cardboard tube to length. this should be the same length as the second measurement above. cut the tube on one side all the way from top to bottom.

4. open up the cardboard tube and slip the cut sides over the spine/hinge side of the box creating a softly rounded spine. cut off excess if needed to make the soft dome. glue on with hot glue.

5. glue the “covers” on the box. apply hot glue close to the edges of the bottom of the box, put the chipboard rectangle in place with the spine edge flush with the back of the box, and the top and bottom edges hanging over equally. on the top of the box, repeat the hot glue process, making sure not to glue the opening closed.

6. cover the book completely with the decorative paper. use white glue or mod podge and work from one cover around the spine to the other cover. trim and fold in the edges neatly. for the spine, cut slits from the edge of the paper to the tube, and fold down gradually.

7. label if you would like, and fill the box with the things you would like to store. store in shelves or on table surface.

  1. Nickie Frye says:

    This is a great idea. Craft supply organization is the bane of my existence.

  2. colleen says:

    I love the word “sightly” to describe the books. Such a thoughtful word. And i love the idea! Just moved my studioette into my college-bound daughters now bedroomette. I’m going to do this for all my stuff!

  3. Stella says:

    How do you keep it closed when you prop it up like a book? And doesn’t it make a real mess when you do that?

    But definitely nice way to redecor boxes!

  4. Laura Melohn says:

    Love this idea! I have a whole stack of those boxes. Time to pretty them up!

  5. I may have to use this in our library :)

  6. Clare B says:

    Great idea. Looks much better than a stack of papers on the shelf too

  7. Kristina says:

    Love this. Way better than hiding my supplies from my kids in a box in the garage! Now I’ll have them readily accessible and stored in a much nicer way.

  8. Susan says:

    “How do you keep it closed when you prop it up like a book? And doesn’t it make a real mess when you do that?”

    My question precisely…doesn’t the stuff fall to the bottom? Can you address this issue?
    Super cute otherwise.

  9. shut up.

    so freakn’ brilliant. good-bye weekend plans, hello faux book making!

  10. lin says:

    @Stella and @Susan

    See the first picture under step one? That extra piece tucks into the box and keeps it closed.

    As far as keeping the contents from sinking to the bottom, you could probably create dividers in the box with strips of cardboard that should help keep everything in place when the “book” is standing up.

  11. Lissie says:

    So cute!

    As for the messiness issue, the “books” could also be stacked on their sides. Add a few real books to the stack and they become even more invisible. ;)

  12. Julee says:

    Wow…super super cute! I look forward to your post each month your ideas are fantastic! As for the messiness questions I think a small book-sized box would be far more organized than my large sized junk drawer :o) If you were storing small items like paper clips or tacks perhaps you could but them in their own individual containers otherwise scissors and paints mixed-up are not too hard to separate when needed.

  13. Rebeca says:

    Brilliant and beautiful!

  14. Barbara says:

    Waaay more fun and pretty than the pricey boxes at the decor stores. Your “secret” is safe with me *wink wink*

  15. Myah Bailey says:

    That’s so cool. What a wonderful idea!

  16. This falls under the category brilliant-and-wish-I-though-of-it.

  17. Stiney says:

    What kind of paper do you use? Is this designer contact paper? I’m trying to figure out what keeps it from ripping/getting scratched off

  18. Mimi says:

    Will definitely try this at home. Love the San Fransisco map inside the box.

  19. this is such a great diy! i always have boxes of my jewelry findings lying around – it would be really nice to make the boxes look like pretty books! i better hup-to tonight! thanks for the great idea brenna!

    warmest regards,
    caitlin of wanderlustings xx

  20. Very Merry says:

    Excellent idea… I think I’m going to use this idea to hold my collections of magazines, photographs, etc…

  21. genevieve says:

    Secret or not this is a wonderful project! Thank you!

  22. Rachel M. says:

    This is so cute, and I’ve got to thank you for coming up with a way to save those lovely hard-back books from days gone by. This is much better (and more functional) than gutting one of those!

  23. ArtsyGirl says:

    Aha! Great minds do think alike. My desk in my “mini loft” living room is my “office & creative space”. So I use metal cookie tins, boxes and baskets of all sizes & shapes. I have them on my entertainment center & in various corners, on top of & under things. But since they are so pretty , no one would suspect they are holding all my crafting “stuff”! Plus everything is separated by color, so I dont have to search & search!

  24. Jess says:

    Shut the front door! I’m jumping in my car right now to go get supplies to make a bunch of those right now! I’m even going to make 1 or 2 for my handsome husband’s night table. Too Fab!

  25. claire says:

    I love this! Thank you!

  26. Amanda says:

    I lovv it !

  27. Wow, this is my new project! I have to try it. Very good idea.

  28. Meg says:

    I can’t wait to make these! What a great idea! But where can you buy the cardboard clamshell boxes?

    Thank you!!

  29. Wonderful idea! Not only does it solve storage problems, but they are beautiful to look at on a shelf! bravo!

  30. tammyk says:

    Oh, LOVE!!!
    This would be great on a dresser top for holding the things that are emptied out of pockets each evening…
    Or as a charger-cord holder…
    Or to keep coasters out of sight when not in use…
    I’m just going to have to try this!

  31. Rebekah says:

    These look fantastic!! I LOVE them! :)
    What lovely ideas you have here… I could get lost for hours!

  32. Vivi says:

    Brilliant idea and looks quite easy to do!!!

  33. Yvette says:

    great idea! thanks for the tutorial! i’ve linked to this from the tutorial page on my blog.


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