In a perfect home decor world, all of your closets, bookshelves, kitchen cabinets and even dressers, would all come with custom sized storage boxes and bins that match their measurements. Life as we know, is nothing like this and you wind up wondering who is plotting against you.
First of all, let me just say that I had absolutely no intention of making storage boxes for our front closet for that reason. After my husband James had made these cubby holes/shelves for it, I had planned on buying some storage boxes to store the mess that you see on them in the photo below.
I mean how hard could it be to find storage boxes that fit the shelves below?
Apparently, very hard.
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? And that piece of furniture from IKEA that they used, was the exact measurement that fit for 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.
Shelves without storage boxes – Here’s the Solution!
The cubby holes (shelves) were no exception.
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.
How to Make Custom Sized Storage Boxes
I went over various pros and cons of materials to make the storage boxes.
- Nothing 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.
Elmer’s Craft Foam boards. They’re in every single Dollarama and Dollar Tree around and will run you $1.25 a board.
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. Because they’re custom sized, you need cut out the template sides in the sizes that you’ll need for your spaces.
ITEMS YOU NEED TO MAKE YOUR CUSTOM STORAGE BOXES
- Foam Boards.
- X-acto knife and a safe surface to cut them on (I did mine over carpet – don’t do that).
- White duct tape.
- Fabric or materials of your choice as decor. I used drop cloth.
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.
NOTE: By the way, this tutorial should also be a huge lesson in how not to take photos for a tutorial. For starters, 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 colored drop cloth to that mix and except a good result.
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.
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.
Voila! Your very own custom sized storage boxes.
These cost me $5 in foam boards and $1.25 in white duct tape. It would have been even cheaper if I bought a bigger bulk roll of 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.
At the time, I went with drop cloth. I used my template pieces to cut out a swiss cross pattern from the drop cloth for each box.
Then used spray adhesive to glue the fabric to the boxes. I used Aleene’s Tacky Spray.
For the handles I re-used handles from an old worn down tote bag that were faux leather and used Binding Screws (otherwise known as Chicago Screws) to attach the straps to the boxes.
If you’re not familiar with Binding Screws, they’re basically a flat edged screw, that is inserted into a hollowed out part, that you screw together. So unlike rivets that you have to hammer together, these can be manually twisted together.
Which is important because you don’t want to damage your foam boards attaching any handle to them and using a hammer, will absolutely do that.
I’ve used them before on an Upcycled Leather Lantern I made:
This is what they are called in Home Depot – Chicago Screws.
And this is what they’re called at Lowe’s – Binding Posts.
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. You can also buy then online in bulk on Amazon.
For these I used binding screws that were 3/8″.
And now I had myself some nice storage boxes. THAT FIT!! Finally.
And now our tiny closet, in our tiny entryway, that I complain about all the time, is starting to look a little nicer. They’re very sturdy and yet lightweight so I am very happy with how they turned out.
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.
It’s been almost 7 years since I made these boxes. Yes I just wrote 7 years but this tutorial is still helping out people everywhere, which is amazing!
And can you believe I still have the boxes? Shockingly, they’re still clean. So that paragraph you just read about them getting dirty, did not transpire. I am leaving it up just because it’s funny to me.
We’ve moved homes and I am using them in our current front closet. Where they match the measurements of the old closet shelf size. The irony of that doesn’t escape me.
That wallpaper is not mine and was left behind by the previous owners. It’s about as kitschy as you can get but hey, at least this closet has a door.
I hope this tutorial helps you with all of your hard to fit storage spaces in your home!