12 Brilliant Ways to Reuse Cardboard Boxes

When you have a stack of cardboard boxes in the corner, recycling is one option, but before breaking down those boxes, check out these projects that repurpose cardboard into something useful, fun or beautiful.

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DIY Cardboard Box Logo Coasters

If you’ve got some cardboard six-pack holders in your box pile, pull them out and make some coasters! You’ll need a basic ceramic tile for each coaster, felt, Mod Podge sealer and finish, and spray lacquer. This is an easy, inexpensive project and the coasters make great gifts.

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toilet paper roll small cord storage
Family Handyman

Shoe Box Cord Holder

To keep small cords organized all you need is a shoe box and some toilet paper or paper towel rolls, try this handy hint: Fill a shoe box with as many empty toilet paper rolls that will fit vertically; then place a single small cord in each tube. This same setup could work for other small items, as well.

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cardboard castle
Babich Alexander/Shutterstock

DIY Cardboard Box Castle

When you have a big cardboard box from an appliance or piece of furniture, make sure a child gets to have fun with it! Those boxes can become playhouses, forts, castles and spaceships. For young children, provide help with cutting and assembly and make sure there are plenty of crayons, markers and/or chalk for decorating. Painting the cardboard may be the most fun part of this DIY cardboard box project. On the opposite end of the durability spectrum, this gorgeous DIY playhouse will last for decades.

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Shoe Rack

This innovative, flexible shoe rack uses repurposed cardboard boxes that have been cut, folded and held into triangle shapes with colorful tape. Attach as many as you need for a fun and stylish shoe storage solution. Cardboard boxes work great in a closet, but entryway shoe storage needs to fit in with the rest of your furniture.

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Scratching Pad for Your Feline

Cardboard is an excellent scratching material for cats, providing a texture they really love. Cut long strips from cardboard boxes and curl them into a circle, using glue to hold it all together. You can paint the outer edge or cover it with fabric. For extra cat love, sprinkle some catnip into the cardboard as you work! This is a great, inexpensive DIY cat toy. If you’re going to paint the cardboard boxes, be sure to use one that’s safe for cats.

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cardboard box sawhorses
Family Handyman

DIY Cardboard Box Sawhorses

Appliance boxes are fun for kids to play with, but they can also have a second life as collapsible sawhorses! Despite their light weight, they’ll hold heavy workpieces without wobbling. And they’ll fold flat and store in seconds when the job’s finished. Plus, you can cut them to a comfortable working height with a circular saw. Every appliance dealer we called had cartons to give away.

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cardboard box plastic bag dispenser

Dispenser Box

Here’s a way to use a cardboard box to organize all of those plastic bags from the grocery store. Straighten them out and stack them into an organized pile. Then place the pile in a small cardboard box. Cut a hole in the box so you can pull out one bag at a time as you need it.

This plastic bag dispenser would also be handy in the basement or wherever you keep your cat’s litter box or near your dog’s leash. Then you’ll have a stash of bags ready when it’s time to clean up after your pet.

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storing spray paint in a wine box

Spray Paint Can Holder

If you buy wine by the case or live near a liquor store, you have access to wine boxes. (Not to be confused with boxed wine!) Did you know that those wine boxes are great for storing spray paint? The interior dividers are sized just right for the narrow cans, and the colorful lids of the spray paint are easily visible when you look inside the box. Place the box of spray paint on a shelf or in a cabinet, and pull it out when it’s time to paint.

A wine box also works well for storing other spray products that pile up in your workshop, such as WD-40, silicone lubricant, etc.

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cardboard boxes play dj setup
Michelle D. Milliman/Shutterstock

Cardboard DJ

If you know a child who aspires to be the next hotter than hot DJ, all you need are some cardboard boxes and markers and you can create a setup for hours and hours of fun.

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cardboard heart shadow box
Anna Kubczak/Shutterstock

From the Heart

Heartfelt gifts don’t have to cost a fortune. Use cardboard from a clean box to create a shadow box and add mementos or little gifts for someone you love.

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cardboard furniture
KYNA STUDIO/Shutterstock

Cardboard Furniture

Look carefully and you’ll see that this is an armchair made of heavy corrugated cardboard. This is extreme cardboard repurposing but it shows how versatile cardboard is and that if properly designed, items made of cardboard can be quite sturdy.

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cardboard christmas presents
Lilly Trott/Shutterstock

Box Tree

No room for a Christmas tree? Allergic to trees? Maybe you should create a “tree” from cardboard boxes, pine cones and other found objects! This alternative Christmas tree stacks up against a wall, so it takes up very little room. Temporarily attach the objects to the wall with removable mounting strips.