How to Recycle Shoeboxes Into Decorative Storage

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Old shoeboxes are excellent storage solutions, if only they didn't look so much like old shoeboxes. This is where your creativity and imagination kick in. Decorating shoeboxes so that they become attractive and eye-catching storage boxes is a fun project that every member of the family can enjoy. Here are some simple tricks for reusing and recycling shoeboxes into decorative storage.

Things You'll Need

  • Old shoeboxes
  • Wrapping options
  • Glue or adhesive tape
  • Paint, markers, crayons
  • Paste-on décor items
  • Scissors
  • Kitchen clips
  • Decide on a theme, for example: a phase in life (newborn, toddler, memories), activity (sports, vacation, entertainment) or art style (floral, oriental, contemporary). Then gather your materials and decorate one or more shoeboxes.

  • Use plain old gift wrapping paper. Just wrap the bottom part as well as the lid by taping ordinary gift wrapping paper. Choose occasion-specific paper designs for storing holiday-related items; for example, Easter-themed wrappers for boxes that will keep plastic Easter eggs or Easter decorations and accessories. Choose neutral paper designs for non-holiday-related storage.

  • Use adhesive shelving paper (also called contact paper). Visit your neighborhood home improvement store for a wide assortment of prints. Because adhesive shelving paper is already pre-glued, covering and decorating a shoebox is simple and easy.

  • Use wallpaper. Again, a wide range of designs, colors and textures are available. Some wallpaper options are pre-glued. Use white glue to affix regular wallpaper to the shoebox. Wallpaper borders work well in covering and decorating small shoeboxes. Try cutting out wallpaper designs and gluing them into a collage for a creative effect.

  • Use fabric. Decorate shoeboxes with recycled old sheets, shirts, dresses and linens. Working on one panel at a time, spread a thin layer of white glue and position the fabric as desired. Use small kitchen clips to help keep the fabric in place while drying.

  • Use newspaper and magazine cutouts. Decorating with newspaper and magazine cutouts is derived from the paper mache' and decoupage art forms. Use this style in converting your old shoeboxes into bold and contemporary artistic statements.

  • Use images and prints. Print out your favorite images and glue them onto the shoebox as accents and focal points, turning an old cardboard box into a special container of treasures.

  • Use paint, permanent markers or crayons. Wrap the shoebox with plain craft paper or newsprint paper and draw your favorite colors and designs.

  • Use your creativity and imagination. Incorporate ribbons, beads, feathers, yarn, dried botanicals, lace, glitter, foil, seeds, shells, buttons, trinkets, tokens and whatever else you feel like adding to make the box really special.

  • Add labels for easy identification of contents. Consider using adhesive photo corners so that you can easily and quickly change labels as necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • Standard white glue is sufficient in decorating shoeboxes, but for ease of application try spray-on glue, especially when decorating with fabric. Hot glue works well when adding bulky decorative items like buttons, trinkets or tokens.
  • For a polished and finished look, cover the insides of the box (and lid) with paper, felt or fabric.
  • Consider using the same decorations on several shoeboxes of different sizes for a cascading effect.

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  • Photo Credit Photos by Ruby Bayan
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