DIYdiy projects

DIY Project: Abstract Art Storage Boxes

by Grace Bonney

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

Suggested For You


Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.