18 New Uses for Old Shoeboxes

Whether or not you have a slight shoe obsession, it seems that everyone has an abundance of old shoeboxes taking up space in the closet. Put those sturdy cardboard containers to good use with these 18 ideas for recycling shoeboxes into fun and functional objects for your home.

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Display Decorations


DIY shoebox shelves are a great way to recycle your cardboard while also adding attractive art to your walls. The best part of this project is that it’s completely customizable. You can paint the inside and outside of the box in contrasting colors or choose one striking shade for consistency. You can even glue the lid inside the larger box to create a shelf within a shelf. When you’re done, hang up your shoebox shelves to display lightweight items like succulents and tchotchkes with pride.

Related: 10 Insanely Creative Shelves You Can DIY

Spruce Up Walls


Instead of recycling your shoebox lids, indulge your inner crafter by creating these decorative, personalized pieces of wall art. First, gather some patterned paper or clippings from old magazines. Apply a thin coat of decoupage medium to the lid, lay the paper on top to cover the lid, let it dry, and then apply a top coat of decoupage medium to seal the entire piece.

Related: 10 Ways to Fill a Blank Wall for Under $20

A Night at the Theater


This shoebox puppet theater is perfect for an impromptu rainy day performance. Cut a rectangle from the bottom of the box to create a frame, and then cut a series of three or four slots along one of the long sides of the box to accommodate the wooden skewers that will hold your paper puppets. Cut a smaller rectangle of cardboard with slots matching those on the top of the box; this will go inside the box to serve as a platform to hold the bottom of the skewers. Glue a small bead to the bottom of each skewer, then feed the skewers through both sets of slots, making sure that they slide smoothly from side to side. After that, the personalization and decoration is up to you!

Related: 8 New Things You Can Do with Old Board Games

Corral Cords


Cord chaos has become a common affliction in most households. Help organize your electronic devices with this DIY charging station. First, measure and cut holes to weave your cords through, and then secure a metal label holder to each slot to give the station a polished look. Cut a hole at the back of the shoebox and place a power strip inside. Plug in each accessory, and then pull the cords through the holes for a streamlined solution that cuts down on countertop clutter.

Related: Plug into 10 Clever Ways of Corralling Cords

Project Fine Films


Impress your friends with a DIY projector made from a shoebox. Trace a hole in the shape of a magnifying glass on one of the short ends of the box. Once the hole is cut, secure the lens of the magnifying glass into place with tape. Position your phone inside, but remember to change your phone settings so you can flip the screen—the picture from your projector will be upside down. Put the lid on the box, dim the lights, grab some popcorn, and enjoy.

Related: 12 House Functions You Didn’t Know You Could Control from Your Phone

Serve as Storage


Who says you need to buy fancy storage boxes? These custom creations made from old shoeboxes do just as well—for half the cost. Gather a roll of your favorite paper or fabric, and then attach it to the boxes with Mod Podge. Take and print a picture of what you plan to store inside, and then glue it to the front so you’ll never again have to waste time searching for that blue scarf with the yellow flowers.

Related: 9 Closet Storage Tips from a Professional Organizer

Organize Papers

instructables.com via MyWampie

If you’ve been searching for an easy and free way to organize receipts or coupons, look no further! You can use an old shoebox to craft a file folder that will keep important papers close by. After printing and folding paper according to this template, glue cut-to-size cardboard pieces from the box to serve as sturdy coverings. Keep your file folder handy on your countertop or stashed in a drawer so everything’s neat and accessible.  

Related: Order in the House: 10 Smart DIY Filing Solutions

Wrangle Ribbons


Rolls of ribbon can quickly take over any crafting space, but you can get them in order with this simple organizer that takes just minutes to make. First, find the midpoint on both short sides of the box, then use a pen to trace lines down and around the end of a dowel. Cut at the marks to create slits, slide your ribbons onto the dowel, and place the dowel into the cutouts. Glue buttons onto both ends of the dowel to ensure that it doesn’t slip off, and add a strip or two of fabric to the lid for a fashionable finishing touch.

Related: Easy Storage Ideas for Every Room in the House

Divide Drawers

flickr.com via Naiyaru

Drawer dividers help keep dressers organized, but store-bought products can get pricey. Avoid the spending by using smaller shoeboxes to help segregate athletic socks from knee-highs, and larger ones to keep T-shirts and sweaters neatly stacked and separated. You’ll love how this fix makes busy mornings so much easier. 

Related: 10 Surprisingly Smart Solutions for Junk Drawers

Organize Your Desk


If your desk is beyond cluttered, organize it with a few tin cans, a shoebox, and some creativity. Decorate the outside of the box with washi tape, or paint it to suit your style, and then set cans inside to prevent pens, pencils, and other tools from freely rolling about.

Related: 8 Organizers for the Little Stuff You Always Lose

Store Off-Season Accessories


A change in season often means a change in wardrobe, but what do you do with your unneeded clothes? Shoeboxes offer a great solution for storing not only shoes, but also other seasonal essentials like scarves, mittens, and hats. After sorting your items, attach DIY labels or cover the boxes in chalkboard paint and write the contents on the box so you can easily identify what’s stashed inside.

Related: 10 “Zero Dollar” Storage Hacks

Entertain for Hours


Help kids’ imaginations soar—and make cleanup a breeze—with these fun little homes that are perfect for both playtime and storage. With a couple of shoeboxes, paint, and markers you and your kids can spend a rainy afternoon upcycling your spares into these adorable projects that will bring smiles to little ones’ faces for years to come.

Related: Control Kids’ Clutter with 7 Creative DIYs

Perk Up Plants


Why spend a lot of money on planters when you can rifle through your recycling bin for shoeboxes? Use them the same way you’d use conventional containers: Fill the boxes with soil, line with a plastic bag, make holes for drainage, and then plant a few of your favorites! 

Related: 10 Inspired DIY Planters to Dress Up Your Garden

Keep Cats Off the Couch

youtube.com via Pudge theCat

Cats instinctively scratch to sharpen their claws, but sometimes they choose inappropriate objects to claw at—like your couch, for instance. Using cardboard from old boxes, cut enough strips to fill a large shoebox lid when they’re turned on their side. Glue them onto the inside of the lid to make a scratching zone that’s every cat’s dream.

Related: 10 Over-the-Top Ways to Pamper Your Pet

Store and Stand


With their durability and the multitude of sizes available, shoeboxes are ideal for being adorned and arranged to form a fun and functional bedside table. First, coat each box with chalkboard paint, then fill them with shoes, seasonal accessories, or other items that need to be stored. Use chalk to draw a freehand picture of whatever’s inside, and stack the boxes for a charming finish. 

Related: 8 Nightstands You Don’t Need to Buy

Highlight Memories


The structured sides of a shoebox lid make it the perfect base for a DIY shadow box or picture frame. With a simple coat of paint, some adhesive, and a few favorite photos, you can stylishly highlight a family vacation or memorable event. Mix and match sizes and vary paint colors to add interest to your curated creations.

Related: 10 Artful Uses for Old Frames

Label Baskets and Bins


Think outside the shoebox with these chalkboard labels made from recycled cardboard. With a box cutter, cut out oversize labels in a range of sizes, then punch a hole near the top of each label so you can thread through twine or ribbon. Then, paint the entire label with chalkboard paint. Once they’re dry, use them as labels by writing the contents in chalk pen and attaching to bins or baskets with twine.

Related: 10 DIY Labels for Better Home Organization

Hold Bathroom Extras


A shoebox can be decked out to create a custom storage container for any room in your house. This decorative version for the bathroom can be made using jute rope and lining fabric: Wrap the rope around the box and secure it using your trusty hot-glue gun. Set the fabric lining inside to lend the project a polished look.

Related: Survive a Small Bath with 10 Space-Saving Organizers