12 Cute Ways to Upcycle Shoeboxes


I wear shoes. You wear shoes. And you know what all these shoes come in? That's right, say it with me: shoeboxes. As it turns out, they can a do lot more than just house footwear. Check out of a few of these smart ideas, and feel free to share your own genius upcycling projects in the comments! (Related: 18 Awesome, Practically Free Upcycled Craft Projects)

1. Charging Station

This DIY recharge station will blow your mind. First, cut sections out of an old shoebox to thread your USB and other charging cables through. You'll connect these guys to a power board you'll place inside. Then spiff it up with paint and bookplates for a more finished look.

2. Wall Shelving

To add instant storage place to any room, try creating these shoebox wall shelves. Just take the bottom of the shoebox, coat it in spray paint, and use patterned paper or other accents to decorate. Of course, you can't put heavy stuff in these shelves, but they'd work great for office supplies, small personal care items, and trinkets.

3. Play Guitar

Kids will love this shoebox guitar. You'll need your box, a paper towel tube, some rubber bands, some funky paper, and basic crafting tools. After you cut a space to thread in the tube fingerboard, carve out a sound hole, you'll add the rubber band strings, and personalize it. The finished product is adorable.

4. Ultra Organizer

Or try making this shoebox organizer to keep on your desk. To get started, cut the lid off the box and save it for later. Draw a triangle on each side of the box and then cut it out. Fold everything over and use tape to secure the sides. From there, you'll make a few more cuts and attachments before covering the whole thing with pretty fabric and filling with whatever you need to organize.

5. Projector

When I first saw this project, I blurted out: "No way!" You can make a DIY projector out of a shoebox (and your smartphone) for just one dollar. All you need to do is cut a hole in the box that's big enough to accommodate a magnifying glass. Make a quick stand for your phone using a paperclip. To display your images, rotate your phone's screen, fool with focusing, and turn your brightness option all the way up.

6. Blackboard Art

Here's a project that's all about those lids. You can easily make portable blackboard art using just a couple tools to help. First, paint your shoebox lids with chalkboard paint. After it dries, draw lists, signs, art, poems, quotes, or whatever else comes to mind. I've used chalkboard paint many times, and I love how it comes in all sorts of different colors now.

7. Mini Foosball

Keep this mini foosball table in your office or give it to your kids. This project is super easy. Clip wooden laundry pins to small dowels. Use a hole punch to make holes all along the side of your shoebox. Give everything a coat of paint or cover it with cool paper. Then play until your wrists get tired.

8. Cord Organizer

Here's another take on a shoebox organizer. This project is going to help you wrangle all those rogue cords strewn about your house. Gather up a bunch of toilet paper rolls, tape them together, and place them in the box. Place once cord in each roll. Make it pretty or keep it purely utilitarian. I might just have to try this one — my phone charger recently fell prey to my cats.

9. Shoebox

Stay with me here. This project to make a windowed shoebox is written for an IKEA box. But you can easily apply the same idea to your leftover shoeboxes. Cut a rectangle in the side of the box using an X-Acto knife. Then use double-sided tape to fill that space with a sheet of PET plastic. Decorate the box however you like. Use it to store shoes, craft supplies, toys, and other small items.

10. Play Oven

I have a preschooler at home who would play with this shoebox oven for hours. You'll cut some slots in your box to accommodate a door for the pan to fit inside. Then use excess cardboard to make a pizza peel. And if you don't have a play pizza, create one out of felt with an assortment of toppings.

11. Jute Bin

Skip the storage aisle at the store and make this cute storage bin out of a box and jute. The project is written for a tissue box, but the idea is the same. Take the base of your shoebox and use glue to adhere the jute around it. Then use some canvas fabric to finish it off with a clean look. You can use it to store towels or anything else in plain sight. The cost of this project might only be a couple dollars versus the $10 or more you'd spend for something similar at the store.

12. School House

We'll end here with yet another crazy shoebox toy. Check out this school house! Cut windows out of your box using an X-Acto knife, finish off raw edges with duct tape, and take some time to make a few accessories (blackboard, posters, etc.). By the way, Lego people make perfect pupils.

What do you do with your old shoeboxes?

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