Old cardboard boxes aren’t only good for recycling. Instead, why not try upcycling them into something new? These inventive cardboard crafts will give you heaps of ideas of ways to use your old cardboard.
Go green and save money with these cardboard crafts. Make an upcycle project with basic supplies you already have… like cardboard!
Ways to repurpose cardboard boxes
If your recycling box is overflowing with cardboard boxes, you might be itching to find something else to do with them. If you’re anything like me, you probably find it hard to throw away something that might be useful for crafting!
Luckily, there’s always a way to take something old and make it new. Just like with old drop cloths, empty tin cans, and excess holiday gift bags, there are heaps of ways you can reuse your old cardboard boxes to produce something new.
Creative cardboard crafts
There are various ways to upcycle old cardboard boxes. You might want to keep the box for storage, and just make it look more beautiful. Or, you could repurpose the box into something completely different. Either way, there’s sure to be an idea here to inspire you!
1. Cover old boxes in fabric
There are some boxes that it would be a shame to cut up. You know the ones – those thick, super sturdy cardboard boxes that are just so useful for storing any number of things. This is just the type of box that is great to keep for storage.
But, you might need to beautify a box a little if you want to have it on display in your home! Here’s a really simple idea for upcycling cardboard boxes into practical, yet attractive, storage solutions. Just cover them in a pretty fabric, and use some twine to add interest. Voila! Beautiful storage in minutes.
2. Make a monogram with faux flowers
Alternatively, if your box is a little more flimsy, you might not be averse to cutting it up. Even slightly tatty scraps of cardboard will make a great base for this flowered monogram from Home Made Lovely.
Just cut a shape out of cardboard (your first initial, or any other shape you want), and use it as a mount for faux flowers. It looks beautiful in an ornate frame. It’s such a simple idea, but looks so effective!
3. Make a fake deer head to hang on your wall
If you love eye-catching wall decor, this is the cardboard craft for you! Just cut shapes out of some thick cardboard to create this incredible DIY deer head from Dream A Little Bigger. There’s a free pattern on the website, so you don’t even need any artistic ability for this one.
I love how this version has been spray painted gold and decorated with flowers – talk about a statement piece! But of course, you can decorate your deer head in any way you like.
4. Transform your cardboard into faux metal letters
Did you know how easy it is to make cardboard look like metal?! You just need some spray paint and turmeric powder – yes, really! – to give this incredible galvanized steel effect.
Grillo Designs used this technique to create these amazing galvanized metal letters to hang in her home. Would you ever believe they’re made from old cardboard boxes?!
5. Use wrapping paper to decorate old boxes
If creating faux galvanized steel seems a little complicated for you, these simple wrapped cardboard storage boxes from Lovely Etc. might be more your thing. Transform an old diaper box into a useful storage box using just some old wrapping paper and metal label holders.
If you have enough wrapping paper, you can use the same design to cover several boxes, as well as other items in your home. Nobody will guess that your home aesthetic is built around some old wrapping paper!
6. Build an incredible cardboard dollhouse
If you have some time on your hands, why not get stuck in to making this incredible cardboard dollhouse from Crafts By Courtney!
It’s definitely a labor of love, and will take longer than most of the other projects in this collection, but wow. What an end result! This dollhouse is truly stunning.
Inside your dollhouse, you can either use any doll furniture you already have, or even make cardboard furniture too!
7. Add belts to create handles
To create a real statement piece, try adding handles to your covered cardboard boxes by using old belts! These belted totes from Brit + Co are versatile storage solutions that look really stunning.
Just cover a sturdy old cardboard box in fabric, and decorate with metal brads. Then add a handle made from an old leather belt.
These tote bags are perfect for storing balls of yarn, blankets, toys, magazines, or anything else that needs a new home.
8. Peel-and-stick paper is perfect for covering old boxes
If you can get your hands on some decorative peel-and-stick paper, it’s perfect for breathing new life into an old box. Again, you can cover all sorts of things in a room with the same paper, to give a cohesive theme to the room.
I love this upcycled cardboard box from Our House Now A Home, which also has a stunning teal inside. Just this subtle splash of color gives the box such a fun personality.
9. Create a light-up shoebox theatre
If you have kids, they will love this shoebox theatre from Handmade Charlotte. It’s a wonderful way to tell stories with the little stick puppets. Older children could even get involved with making it, as it’s pretty straightforward.
Once you’ve created the basic box shape of the theatre, you can use it to tell stories with all sorts of characters. This version shows Antarctic animals, but you could also make farm animals, safari animals, or any other theme.
10. Make a DIY cardboard easel
Here’s another cardboard craft that kids will love! These cardboard easels from Artbar will make painting even more fun for your kids – or for yourself! Having your very own easel is such a nice novelty.
Plus, these cardboard easels can be used again and again, as they can simply be folded up to store. These are such a quick cardboard craft to quickly make use of all those big cardboard boxes in your recycling bin.
11. Cardboard makes great photo frames!
Squares of cardboard makes brilliant photo frames – like these decorated cardboard photo frames from Let’s Do Something Crafty.
There are all sorts of ways to upcycle a simple square of cardboard into a beautiful frame. Wrapping the sides in colorful yarn is an easy option, which kids could join in with too. You can also simply paint the frames (with added glitter, of course).
I love the idea of making a whole set of these little frames, to display your family photos in a fun way.
12. Use strips of wood to make upcycled cardboard boxes more sturdy
If you’ll be using your upcycled cardboard box to store anything heavy, you might find the cardboard isn’t quite strong enough. A simple way to make your box more sturdy is to add strips of wood at the corners, like in these cardboard storage boxes from Ohoh Deco.
This is one of those cardboard crafts that nobody will believe was homemade – it’s so effective!
13. Make a DIY postcard
Everyone loves receiving letters and postcards (let’s be honest, any mail that doesn’t come from the bank is a welcome change!). But there’s no reason you can only send shop-bought postcards.
Try making your own DIY postcards, like these from One Good Thing. Just cut a rectangle of cardboard from any old box, and decorate it however you like. Add the address and a stamp, along with your message, and it’s ready to send!
14. Upcycled Cardboard Hearts
Make some creative and eco-friendly Valentine’s Day decor with these charming upcycled cardboard hearts embellished with yarn, scrap cloth, and sheet music.
If you enjoyed these Cardboard Crafts, you can find more crafty inspiration in my Upcycling Archive.
-Happy Crafting (and upcycling)!