A Few Simple Ways to Upcycle Shipping Boxes

Boxes come in and out of our lives at random, but it seems safe to say that there is always a steady supply of them.  If the food processor isn’t needing to be replaced you’ve got diaper boxes in and out every couple of weeks.  Or maybe you buy supplements from Amazon, or use the Amazon pantry.  Odds are that most of the boxes coming in and out of your house are shipping boxes.


Nowadays, people are really into a little thing called “upcycling”, which is where you take something that is not glamorous and you make it more glamorous.  (My dad would have probably called this something else, but it would be far too crude to put in a blog post.)  So instead of tossing out those shipping boxes, or throwing them on the burn pile, here are a few simple way you can upcycle them and use them for something different:

  • Perhaps the most surprising idea for me was making window valances out of cardboard. They looked surprisingly charming! (If you are a window valance type of person). Wrap them in a heavy quilted fabric, dressed up with some shiny brads, and you would never be able to guess the humble beginnings.
  • The most obvious way to upcycle boxes is to turn them into better-looking boxes, of course. Use wrapping paper, vellum paper, ribbon, or quirky ducttape to wrap around the box until it has been completely disguised.  Glue beautiful fabrics to the inside and outside, using cord to disguise the corners.  If that exceeds your expertise, wrap them in some rope.  The results are shocking.
  • One of my favorite ideas is a homework caddy. Take a cereal box, a noodle box, and a granola bar box and tape them all together.  Cut off the tops in staggered heights, and then in the last box, the shortest and fattest one, put toilet paper rolls to use for holding pens, markers, and scissors.  Use colorful duct tape or glue a pretty ribbon around it and you could swear it came from Target.
  • Last but not least, it is a growing practice to make actual furniture out of cardboard. From headboards to nightstands to side tables, from lamp shades to the window valances I listed above, you could probably furnish an entire bedroom from shipping boxes.  Although I would recommend that you stick to conventional mattresses, for everybody’s sake…