Affordable Storage Solution: Covering a Cardboard Box to Make a Treasure Chest

I will show you how to make a nice storage chest from a regular cardboard box. The box shown here is an economy size carton of baby wipes, of which we buy a lot because they are great for cleaning dogs and upholstery. If you shop economy or family-size, you should have a good supply of nice large boxes to convert into chests. These chests can be stacked and displayed all over your house, storing essentials or rarely used items conveniently out of sight. Fantastical treasure chests would be great for children’s rooms to encourage stowing away one’s treasures (a.k.a. putting toys away).

The Box

  1. Leave the top of the box open to start.
  2. Draw a line around three sides of the box at the level you want the box to open.
  3. Using a box knife, or other old knife, carefully cut the lid on three sides.
  4. You can now flatten the top, which skews like a parallelogram.
  5. On the fourth side, score only halfway through the cardboard to make a hinge.
  6. Tape the top of the box shut and you have your chest with a flip top.

Covering the box
Either fabric or paper (gift including wrapping paper) is suitable for this. I usually use white glue, but you may prefer wallpaper paste or decoupage medium as being more durable. It is easiest to cover a chest in several pieces. Have a little extra covering to wrap around the lip of the chest for a nicer finish. I used a navy twill which had to be withdrawn from my costuming business because of imperfections. A lighter or floral print material would give the box a completely different air. if you so desire, you may apply one or two coats of clear varnish to protect the box.

Trim (optional)
The edges of your chest can be trimmed with fancy paper, lace, fabric strips, fringe, ric-rac, other sewing trims, or things found around your house. For sewing and upholstery trims, hot glue is the easiest method of application. The same trim can be used to make matching handles on either the top or sides of the chest.

Closure (optional)
This chest will stay closed on its own so closures are optional or purely decorative unless you intend to carry your chest by a handle at the top. Closures can be as simple as two pieces of ribbon or cord to tie together or around a button. Clasps and buckles can often be salvaged from an old purses and bags. The button and loop on my navy blue chest are non-functional.

Lining (optional)
If you want your chest to be really fancy, or intend it as a gift, it can be lined with additional paper or fabric. The lining can be simply glued on like the outside covering, but who wouldn’t want a chest padded with a little polyester fill and lined with satin?


By using boxes, fabric and paper you already have around the house, you can create attractive storage boxes for little or no cost. If you don’t have enough of one type of fabric to cover a large box, you can piece together various scraps to make a collage. As for paper, use any paper you already have in the house – leftover gift wrap that’s just sitting around taking up space, construction paper, etc.

Compare with commercial storage box prices:

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