DIY Project: Abstract Art Storage Boxes

Painted Origami Storage Boxes b
After we moved into a new house in September, I did a shockingly speedy job of getting everything together and organized — with one daunting exception. We have accumulated quite the collection of books over the years that currently resides in moving boxes in my bedroom. This month, we’re having some built-in shelves put in, and even though styling a bookshelf to look pretty but remain functional is definitely one of my weaknesses, I’m going to give it a shot. To this end, I’ve been on the look-out for attractive storage boxes to sprinkle throughout for storing photographs and odds and ends. Storage boxes get expensive, but with this DIY, I was able to create a set of custom nesting boxes that are going to look great on my shelves using little more than wrapping paper, craft paint, and elementary-school origami skills. Admittedly, they aren’t going to hideaway a set of dumbbells, but they make for great lightweight storage – and the price isn’t too bad, either. –Mandy Pellegrin

Click through for the full project steps after the jump…

Craft Paint
Wide Paint Brush


1. Paint large abstract patterns onto your paper using craft paint and wide paint brush. Don’t overthink it. Just make messy brush stroke patterns — whether it be crosses, stripes, or just random strokes. You’ll want to cover at least around 20″ x 20″ of paper with each pattern to a box top. Use any kind of paper you like, but know that the thickness of the paper will obviously affect the sturdiness of the box. I used the backside of wrapping paper for my box tops and kraft paper for my box bottoms, which means that my box tops are a little more delicate than my box bottoms.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 1
Painted Origami Storage Boxes 2

2. Cut the paper to squares. Each box requires two squares of paper. My largest box was made using 29″ x 29″ squares. The medium 26″ and the smallest 23″. Their finished sizes are about 10″, 9″, and 8″ respectively. Varying the size of the box will also impact its sturdiness. Smaller boxes are sturdier. Larger ones less so.

3. Now the origami. I am using regular paper in these shots to fit them into frame, but the technique is the same regardless of the paper size. Begin by lightly drawing a straight line from each corner on the back-side of your paper. This technique strays from traditional origami just to eliminate any visible fold lines.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 3

4. Fold one corner into the center point where your lines meet. Use a bone folder or the edge of pen to get crisp fold lines.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 4

5. Fold again so that the folded edge from the previous step lines up with the line in the center.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 5

6. Unfold and repeat with all four corners to create a grid of fold lines.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 6

7. Locate the fold lines that I have identified with a marker here, and carefully cut them.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 7

8. On one of the sides with cut flaps, fold the corner into the center.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 8

9. Fold the angled flaps in and tape into place.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 9

10. Fold up as shown to start to make a box.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 10

11. Repeat with the other side with cut flaps.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 11

12. Fold one remaining corner over and into the center around the flaps from steps 10 and 11.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 12

13. Repeat on the other side. Secure on the inside with tape if you like. This is half of one box. Create two for a complete box. Add a piece of cut cardboard to the bottom for additional stability.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes 13a
Painted Origami Storage Boxes 13b

14. Now repeat to create more boxes.

Painted Origami Storage Boxes a
Painted Origami Storage Boxes c

  1. You make it look so easy! Love the way you painted them.

  2. Anita says:

    Even your scissors are pretty!! Love this idea.

  3. Alina Isaev says:

    I’m a big fan. Would totally need to try this out :)

  4. Jenny says:

    Very cool! I am going to make some of these for my craft room!

  5. Lucy Brown says:

    Repeat on the other side. Secure on the inside with tape if you like. This is half of one box. Create two for a complete box. Add a piece of cut cardboard to the bottom for additional stability.

  6. Kerry says:

    Eek! So cute. What a lovely and simple idea.

  7. Shelley says:

    Really cute! I need to make some of those boxes to organize my supplies.

  8. mlise says:

    These are beautiful! Thanks, mlise

  9. Vera says:

    Very easy, very useful! Thank you!

  10. Alanna says:

    We just moved as well, and have some funny open storage spaces in our new home. I’ve been looking around for pretty storage boxes and have been having an incredibly difficult time! I love this idea to create unique, matching storage solutions that suit our style. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Cameron says:

    That’s a really interesting form of DIY storage right there! Although I don’t know if the paper will be robust when you get up to the bigger sizes… Guess I could go hunting for some cardboard in my house in Sydney and give it a go…

  12. MonBanez says:

    is it possible to do this on smaller boxes?


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