Skip to main content

How to Make Matching File Storage Boxes

I've always loved creativity. In art and craftwork, I can embroider, knit, crochet, make clothes and earrings, paint, draw, and decorate.

Home Made Storage Files to Suit Your Décor

Home Made Storage Files to Suit Your Décor

It's Easy to Make a Set of Matching File Storage Boxes!

Declutter your home and sort out your papers and magazines by creating more storage space using file storage boxes. Sometimes, I used to look at my mish-mash collection of old files and piles of papers that has gathered over many years and thought it looked like a hideous mess.

I could have just bought a matching set of file boxes to organize, but I couldn't find any designs that I particularly liked in the shops. I could see that it would be quite easy to cover my own files using wallpaper or gift wrap to create a custom set.

Equipment for covering files - boxes, glue, pencil, paintbrush, scissors

Equipment for covering files - boxes, glue, pencil, paintbrush, scissors

What You'll Need

  • Large cardboard cereal boxes.
  • Decorative paper or paper you can decorate yourself. Wallpaper works best because it is slightly thicker than other paper and helps to strengthen the box. Gift wrap also works, and plain paper can be decorated with pictures or used to make a collage.
  • Craft glue or wallpaper paste. I'd recommend Mod Podge, as it's an excellent all-purpose craft glue which not only sticks but also gives a protective transparent sheen when you paint it over a surface.
  • ½″ or 1″ paintbrush.
  • Pencil.

Step 1: Check the Dimensions

First, check that the cereal boxes are the right height and width to hold A4 size papers, magazines, or whatever else you intend to put in the completed files. I've made mine in two or three different sizes, and find that a size which fits Size A4 paper is the most useful. Make sure to check that the boxes are strong enough and aren't damaged.

Step 2: Strengthen the Box

The box needs to be strong enough to hold the contents. Carefully cut the top off the box, and, if it is suitably smooth, put the cut piece of cardboard inside the box, at the bottom, to strengthen and stiffen the base. Otherwise, cut a separate piece of cardboard the same size as the base of the box, and put that inside the box to cover the base.

Boxes and templates for covering files.

Boxes and templates for covering files.

Step 3: Make the Template

Decide what shape you want your files. Usually, they are high at the back and curve down to a lower level at the front.

On the top edge of the wide side of the box, carefully draw out the shape you want. Cut around the shape as neatly as possible, cutting it off at the front edge of the box. This will be your template. Then place the template on the other wide side of the box, so that you can draw around it, thus making sure that both the wide sides of the box will be cut to exactly the same shape.

Cut the front narrow edge of the box straight across. You will then have a container shaped like a file box.

Box wrapped with wallpaper.

Box wrapped with wallpaper.

Step 4: Cover the Box

Wrap the paper you have chosen around the box and cut it so there is a small overlap ( ½″ - 1″ on the sides and 1″ - 1½″ at the base). If your paper isn't big enough to go all the way round, you can use two pieces, but make sure you cut sufficient to have an overlap on both pieces.

Using the paintbrush, paste (glue) the back of the paper. Then wrap it around the box, a small area at a time, smoothing it as you go. Make sure that the edge of the paper around the top end of the box is exactly level with the highest edge of the box (the back edge). On the side edge, one edge should overlap around the side edge by ½ inch or 1 inch, and then, when the paper is wrapped around the box, the second edge should just cover the side edge without overlapping. Doing this will ensure that the paper is on straight and there are no gaps of cereal box showing through.

Covering file and cutting a "V"

Covering file and cutting a "V"


  • Do any smoothing and straightening of the decorative paper at this stage, while the glue is still wet. You will then have a covered box, with a bit of paper sticking out at the bottom, which then needs to be fitted over the base of the box.
  • Cut out a "V" shape at the corners. You will then be able to turn down the bottom edge and glue it neatly to the base. If you wish, you can then cut a piece of paper the same shape as the base of the box and glue it to the base to conceal the uneven bits of paper.

    However, when the files are in use, this bit doesn't show, so it is aesthetical rather than essential to cover the base.

Covered and uncovered storage files

Covered and uncovered storage files

Step 5: Complete Your Set

Cover the remaining files, using the same template to shape the top edges of the cereal boxes. You might like to make a couple of large ones for your magazines, several A4-size ones for correspondence, and one or two slightly smaller files for notebooks, notes, and bits and bobs. That's what worked well for me.

The end product.

The end product.

What About Files of Different Sizes?

As well as the A4 size files, you might like to cover one or two smaller cereal boxes to carry loose letters, notes, bills, take-out menus and so forth. Maybe have a box file of papers "To be Filed," and another for things which are outstanding—a "To Do" file. You can create a matching desk set or even a letter rack. Have fun!

A few box options include:

  • Files.
  • Boxes.
  • CD containers.
  • Pencil and pen boxes.
Here are some more covered boxes made by me.

Here are some more covered boxes made by me.


A YouTube Video to Show You How to Cover Boxes

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Leave Your Comments Here

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on July 02, 2020:

Great idea for during lockdown. Lots of people decluttering and this provides a good craft project for tidying away.

M L Morgan on August 08, 2015:

Clicked through the FB Hubpage group. Useful article, I homeschool, so will definitely be using this. Thanks for sharing!

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on August 02, 2015:

I tried covering closed cardboard boxes with fabric and liked the results. Since I have such a big fabric stash, I might try that on file boxes too.

Lorelei Cohen on August 02, 2015:

I love this tutorial. I am very big on recycling and these file boxes are adorable. Simple, practical, and unique. Thank you!

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on March 23, 2014:

@savenlives: That sounds nice - make sure it fits in with the décor of the room where you intend to keep the files

savenlives on March 22, 2014:

Great idea!! I'm pinning this for future reference! I would use some pretty beach themed paper I think...thanks for this great ideas!!

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on February 17, 2014:

@Virginia Allain: You could always ask friends or neighbours for their spare boxes

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on February 17, 2014:

Marvelous idea. Unfortunately we don't eat cereal so don't have any boxes like that. Very well explained.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on July 01, 2013:

@RadaFrancis LM: I'm awful - can't bear to throw anything away, so I recycle everything I can!

RadaFrancis LM on June 30, 2013:

Very cool idea.. way to recycle :)

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on August 04, 2012:

@eskecime: But it can get a bit obsessive - I now have file boxes all over the place (matching, of course)

eskecime on August 03, 2012:

Really nice lens.

Now I know what to do with my cereal boxes!

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on August 02, 2012:

Excellent lens! Squid Angel Blessed! :)

RoadMonkey on August 02, 2012:

I have loads of papers and many files and more papers and magazines waiting to be filed. Every so often I have a clear out. Your file boxes were very useful looking. I might just try making one, instead of buying another!

Lisa-Marie Kavanagh from Lincolnshire on August 01, 2012:

These are some really good ideas :) going to save some cerial boxes now :)