DIYdiy projects

diy project: recycled cardboard organizer

by Brenna

After tossing all the holiday wrapping and boxes and looking sadly at my overflowing recycle bin, I am not embarrassed to admit that I dumpster dove in my own trash. I had this idea to create a much more affordable version of Vitra’s Uten.Silo organizer using the boxes that had served their purpose and been so close to facing their fate in the recycling bin. Not so fast.

My wall-mounted organizer sits above one of my worktables, keeping the tools I use most close at hand. The custom-sized and shaped boxes can be covered in any colored or patterned paper, or a mixture of the two. You can also configure the boxes in any arrangement, large or small. Best of all, it is potentially costless and clears up some much-needed space in the recycle bin and on the desktop. Enjoy! — Brenna of Paper & Ink

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Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • recycled boxes
  • paper to cover boxes
  • white glue or ModPodge
  • paintbrush
  • scissors or X-Acto knife
  • ruler
  • marker or pencil
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • scrap piece of wood or heavy cardboard
  • tiny nails


1. Measure up the sides of the box, and mark with your pen the size that you want.

2. Cut the box to size leaving only four sides remaining. The four sides are as follows: 1. the bottom, 2. the right side, 3. the left side, and 4. the front.

3. Similar to wrapping a gift, cover each box in paper. First cut a piece of paper with plenty of extra paper on each side. Then paint ModPodge on the front panel of the box and set it on the paper, with the top opening of the box lining up along the edge of the paper. Smooth to adhere well. Brush the sides of the box with the ModPodge and wrap the paper around to cover.

4. To cover the bottom of the box, trim the ends of the paper covering the sides and cut parallel to the bottom of the box, creating a square flap to cover. Brush with glue and fold the flap up to cover the bottom. Trim the extra paper flush with the box.

5. To help adhere the boxes to the backing, leave at least a half-inch flap of paper on each of the sides to glue to the backing.

6. Repeat this process, covering all the boxes you will need for your organizer. Keep in mind that you can use the corners of the boxes for interesting triangular-shaped pockets.

7. Cover the piece of scrap wood or heavy cardboard with paper. Brush the entire surface with glue or ModPodge and smooth the paper on. Fold the edges behind and glue. This will be the base of the organizer on which you’ll mount the boxes.

8. Arrange the boxes on the backing.

9. Using the hot glue, squeeze a small line on the edge of the box that will sit against the backing. If the edge of the box is very thin, put the line of hot glue just inside the edge and let gravity help pull the hot glue to the backing.

10. Adhere all of the boxes to the backing with hot glue.

11. Use the white glue or ModPodge to adhere the paper flaps on the sides to the backing.

12. Mount the organizer on your wall with a couple small nails through the front and organize your stuff!

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