Decor DIY / Crafts MAIN

How to Make Custom Sized Storage Boxes

First of all, let me just say that I had absolutely no intention of making boxes for our front closet.

After James had made these cubby holes/shelves for it, I had planned on buying some bins or boxes to store the mess that you see on them in the photo below.

red door

Well that didn’t happen.

See, for almost a year (because that photo is from last summer) I searched everywhere I could and still could not find boxes and bins that fit the measurements of those cubby holes.

You know how when you go to a blog and they do some kick ass IKEA hack and turn bookcases into built in’s or a bench under a window because that piece of furniture was the exact measurement that fit in that exact space in their home? Well our home is like the opposite of that.

Doesn’t matter where, there is always some room or area that is 3/4″ too long or 1.5″ too short, for any pre-store bought item to fit into it.  It’s one of the top reasons we do so many custom DIY projects. We just can’t find the items in the stores. Trust me, I would like to find some of them in the stores.

The cubby holes were no exception just due to the distance between the inside wall to the door frame.

So for almost a year I searched and we lived with that epic mess of mittens falling down, hats toppling over each other and grocery bags squished in. Finally I admitted defeat and said I needed to sort out a way to make some because I could not stand looking at the mess anymore.

Now, I didn’t want anything heavy that could fall on my kids feet, so wood was out of the question. I didn’t want all fabric ones as they can get floppy and lose their shape over time. I needed a lightweight material that could still maintain a box shape and look a little cleaner.

Enter these.

Elmer’s Craft Foam boards. They’re in every single Dollarama and Dollar Tree around and will run you $1.25 a board.

Elmer's foam craft sheets - northstory.ca

These foam boards measure 20″ W x 30″ H.

I was making boxes that were an irritating 10″ W x 11.5″ D x 10.5″ H. Or something like that.

First, I measured out my template pieces and then using an X-acto knife and a ruler, I cut out the foam pieces over a cutting board.

By the way, this tutorial should also be a huge lesson in how not to take photos for a tutorial. First don’t pick a day where it’s raining and insanely dark outside. Second don’t try to take photos of white boards on cream carpet, then add cream coloured drop cloth to that mix and except a good result.

I apologize. I was in one of those I need to get these made moods. There is so much beige and cream in this post I can’t even handle it.

Step 1 - measure and cut out your foam boards - northstory.ca

Step 2 - your cut out foam board pieces - northstory.ca

Once my pieces were all cut out, I then used white duct tape, and taped the pieces together.

I made 5 boxes and kept one as a template to have.

Step 3 - use duct tape, tape your foam pieces together - northstory.ca

Step 4 - making custom sized storage boxes using craft foam boards- northstory.ca

Step 5 - your custom sized storage boxes made from foam boards that are now ready to be decorated - northstory.ca

Voila! Your very own custom sized storage boxes. These cost me $5 in foam boards and $1.25 in white duct tape.

Now how you decorate yours, is up to you. Washi tape, yarn, fabric, twine, cord, stickers, felt, glitter, wood veneer, pom poms, flowers, paper…whatever floats your boat.

I went with drop cloth. I used my template pieces to cut out a swiss cross pattern from the drop cloth for each box.

Step 6 - measuring out fabric to go over my storage boxes - northstory.ca

Then used spray adhesive to glue the fabric to the boxes. I used Aleene’s Tacky Spray.

Gluing the fabric to the storage boxes - northstory.ca

Step 7 - use spray glue to to glue fabric to the storage boxes - northstory.ca

For the handles I re-used handles from an old worn down tote bag that were faux leather and went to get some more binding screws to attach the straps to the boxes.

And now I had myself some nice storage boxes.

Custom Sized Storage Bins - Boxes - northstory.ca

For the record, as I’ve read some questions about what the hell binding posts are. This is what they are called in Home Depot – Chicago Screws.

Chicago Screws at Home Depot - northstory.ca

And this is what they’re called at Lowe’s  – Binding Posts.

Binding Posts at Lowe's - northstory.ca

I just used them in my leather lantern project. Why they’re called two different names, I have no idea. But they’re the same thing. And you can get them in whatever depth that you need for your project. And you can also buy then online in bulk.

For these I used binding posts that were  3/8″.

And now our tiny closet in our tiny entryway that  I complain about all the time, is starting to look a little nicer. They’ve very sturdy and yet lightweight so I am very happy with how they turned out.

Custom Sized Storage Boxes made from foam boards and drop cloth - northstory.ca

But I’ll be honest, if I was to do it all again, I probably would have made them with a darker fabric. Because I am pretty sure as nice and clean as they look now, in a years time and another Canadian winter, I am going to be hunting down grey felt.

Good thing I made an extra template.

DIY Custom Sized Storage Boxes from foam boards - northstory

how-to-make-custom-sized-storage-boxes-from-foam-boards

40 Comments

  • Reply
    Moe a.k.a.@biggirlblue
    June 17, 2014 at 1:00 am

    Ok, these are amazing. What closet couldn’t use some of these. This is probably a stupid question but what is “drop cloth”? Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 17, 2014 at 8:17 am

      Drop cloth is a giant piece of fabric that you use over your surface area to help prevent paint from dripping on your floor, furniture etc. You can get them at any major home improvement store. Just for this I’ll go find a photo of the one I used for this and put it in the tutorial. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Inspire Me Heather
    June 17, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Your storage boxes look great Alex! Perfectfor making your own size to fit wherever. I think they would look good in grey felt too!!

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 17, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      I was initially going to make them in grey felt but never ordered it on time. I’ve got tons more of these in diff areas I have to get done so maybe for future ones.

  • Reply
    Lynne Knowlton
    June 17, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Before the fabric goes on … They would make great light boxes for photographs too !! Right ? Right 🙂

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      Totally great idea for a light box. The key is to find pieces of foam board that don’t have a wavy line pattern to them or else they’ll show up like waves in the background of your pics.

  • Reply
    Jan
    June 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Perfect timing! I just read a post about organizing my fabric stash and I can build these boxes to just fit the shelves I have for the fabric.
    The only thing I would add is a label. Either a hang tag tied to the handle, or I think there are little chalkboard tags with adhesive on the back—or they could be glued— to the front and then changed as the contents change.
    Love this. So glad you had this problem to solve. Excellent solution.

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Great to hear! Foam is so easy to trim and cut so they’re very customizable for all those annoying spaces that you can find boxes that fit. Definitely a label for anything you need organized!

  • Reply
    Midsommarflicka
    June 17, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Oh, I love how they look! Such a nice style!

    Love, Midsommarflicka

  • Reply
    Tania
    June 17, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Oho! Now these look sharp!

    I love storage boxes/ bins/ baskets and am always on the lookout for cool diy versions. How sturdy would you say these are? I want to make toy boxes to go under our bookshelves, but I wonder whether they would be able to withstand a 9-month old who likes to prop herself up on everything she sees… eh, probably not. But for something out of her reach… genius!!

  • Reply
    Andrea@personallyandrea
    June 18, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Way to make great use of your closet space Alex. Closets are my Achilles heel…grrrr!

  • Reply
    Victoria • Restoring our Victorian
    June 18, 2014 at 8:55 am

    So smart! I have a project I have been wanting to try with drop cloths… (Which maybe I will get around to in the next five years,) have you tried washing them? I see some people have done the have wondered how it turned out?

    • Reply
      Katherine M
      February 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      We wash the drop clothes I covered the patio furniture with (to keep the new cushions from getting yucky from blowing pollen) and they turned out perfectly clean and fresh. Just had to re-drape them (and tuck and tie) them back onto the patio furniture and they looked (and felt) as good as new.

  • Reply
    Jo-Anna@APrettyLife
    June 18, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    These are SO great! I’ve never thought to make my own…SO much better!!

  • Reply
    fynesdesigns
    June 18, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    These look awesome Alex! Great project. Looove the leather handles!

  • Reply
    Lauren @ The Thinking Closet
    June 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I think you might be giving IKEA a run for their money with these. Who would’ve guessed that you could create such chic home storage with foam board?! (Clearly, you did!)

  • Reply
    Margaret
    June 21, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Um… seriously. A-MAZ-ING!!!

  • Reply
    penny g
    June 22, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    how about scotch guarding them? you can buy the scotch guard in a spray can in walmart…

  • Reply
    Jan
    June 22, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Love it and it is fantastic… been out shopping and couldn’t find any to fit or they were tooooo expensive!!
    Thanks for saving my pocket-book!!

  • Reply
    Shanice
    June 23, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Such a fantastic idea! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays 😀 Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

  • Reply
    thelearnerobserver
    June 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    You are a DIY genius and I love your brains! Also, thanks a MILLION for the info on what binding screws are called at the hardware stores! Life saver!

  • Reply
    Yasmina
    August 7, 2014 at 11:19 am

    I really need to try this out!
    So clever !!

  • Reply
    Frenchy
    August 15, 2014 at 6:06 am

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your idea (did I mention I love it?!) I will steal it, without any remorse or shame, because that is EXACTLY what I was looking for, for my own ‘tardis’ cupboard where my family and I store everything and which has driven me crazy over the years. I have found the solution thanks to you. 🙂

  • Reply
    Denise McWhorter
    August 28, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Hoping to get with my daughter-in-law to make some of these. I need someone to help me along. lol But she is such a craft person and she loves to stay busy! Thanks for your blog of ideas! Keep them coming. They are inspirational.

  • Reply
    Desiree
    September 18, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    This is perfect and will save me so much money! Thank you! Love love this!

  • Reply
    Candy
    March 1, 2015 at 9:36 am

    I think you did a great job and I am off to make these.

  • Reply
    Jaisri Parthasarathy
    April 6, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Hi. Love the box idea. Just want to know how they have held up? Are they strong enough to withstand the constant pulling and pushing?

    Thanks, Jai

    • Reply
      Alex
      April 9, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      Apologies on the late reply Jai. They’ve held up great! Even I am surprised given that we use them every single day (they’re stuffed with scarves, hats and mittens). I don’t even use the handles as much as I just pull the top of the box and even that hasn’t rattled them. I will say that if I ever re-do them, I will use a darker fabric just because cream and white don’t tend to stay very um, unclean over a long period of time. But in terms of daily use they’re great!

  • Reply
    Whizzy
    August 26, 2015 at 1:23 am

    Hallelujah!! I’ve been wanting to figure out how to utilize one of those shoe cubbies that have something like 30 cubicles that are long but narrow & short to serve as a storage system for my smaller sewing/quilting supplies and notions as well as fat quarters but haven’t been able to find anything in stores that would even remotely fit in the individual shoe cubby holes. I was thinking of making fabric storage boxes but didn’t want to really go to the effort of figuring out seams, etc. I want something really fast that I can knock out quick & this fits the bill perfectly. Now I can buy the shoe cubbies & know that I can have boxes to put in each hole/cube for storage. I’ll try and post pictures of my DIY project and make sure to give you credit!

  • Reply
    Jessica Deziel
    September 16, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Very impressive, I am so excited. I have not been able to find those perfect boxes that don’t cost a lot of money. I think I am making my own now. Thank you for the idea!

  • Reply
    Judy McClelland
    December 26, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Very nice. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    Caroline Knox
    January 10, 2016 at 10:32 am

    There are awesome! How think is the board?

    • Reply
      Alex
      January 11, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      The board is exactly 4mm. Which you wouldn’t think is strong but I have these boxes now in our new home and they’re still in the same shape as they were when I made them. Believe me no one is more surprised than me that they’ve lasted this long as I truly made them for use in that space (the old closet) only. But they’re holding up great. No shape change at all.

  • Reply
    Jessica
    June 11, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Oh My Gosh! This is a life saver! My dad wanted to get rid of an old wood shelf and my dad said he would turn it into whatever I needed, I gave him the measurements for the standard cube storage size so I could go to any store and buy cute baskets, well he decided they needed to be bigger..16×11…there’s no baskets that are crazy tall like this haha I will have to make my own. Thank you so much for this awesome tutorial!

  • Reply
    Kim Santillo
    September 1, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    I want to thank you for these instructions!!! I have a 3 cubby shelf that have odd shaped cubbies. I have been searching for the perfect DIY, and now I found it!!!! I can’t wait to make them.

  • Reply
    Shelia P Kreick
    November 21, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    This is the best tute! I don’t usually take the time to comment but you did a great job! I have seen MANY other foam board ideas and thought “no way” and I’m an all around crafter and woodworker. The duct tape idea is perfect for strength and I use drop cloth for many projects. I will definitely be doing this… I’m consumed with the possibilities!! Thank you so much for the inspiration and tutorial!!

    • Reply
      Alex
      November 27, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      You’re most welcome! They’re still in use at our new home and look as good as new. Believe me when I say, no one more surprised than me.

  • Reply
    Bharti
    November 28, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Hey thanks for the post.I found your post very useful to me in such a messy mind and time of mine.I just organised my cabinet with cardboard boxes and removed all hangers as i have small space. Your Styrofoam box organisers are simple and mess-free and more durable than cardboard boxes.😊👍

    • Reply
      Alex
      November 28, 2016 at 9:03 am

      I found that too. I’ve made boxes before with cardboard but depending on the thickness of the box, paper can not hold up over time as well as bend. Styrofoam is definitely sturdier. We still use these after all this time.

  • Reply
    Lisa
    April 1, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Thank you for posting this! I have been looking for storage bins for my kids drawers, everything seems to get mashed together, never thought of making my own! Great budget idea!

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