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DIY Desk Organizer from Recycled Materials

Use old cereal boxes and toilet paper rolls to create a unique DIY desk organizer! This craft organizer is perfect if you’re on a budget.

Scroll down to the bottom of the post to see a video of how to make a recycled desk organizer of your very own. You’ll also get two bonus projects in the video: a drawer organizer and a magazine holder!

Make a Desk Organizer

I’ve been saving some cereal boxes and toilet paper/paper towel rolls for awhile. I’m not just some weird hoarder – I had a purpose. A decoupage idea with Mod Podge, if you will.

My goal was to recycle these items in a Mod Podge project. I thought, if everyone else can use these items for crafts, I can too. So I challenged myself! It’s kind of fun to do that sometimes to see what you come up with.

Make a Craft Organizer

Based on what I had in my stash, I created this DIY desk organizer, aka the perfect recycled craft. I just used what was on hand so I didn’t even spend one dollar for this. You and your kids should try it for back to school!

I won’t say it’s totally free because you might have to buy some supplies . . . but you should challenge yourself to see how cheaply you can make it by rooting through the recycling bin.

Before we jump into this wood craft, I want to share some things about this desk organizer you should keep in mind while you’re making it. I hope these help!

Paper for Your Desk Organizer

I used a few large pieces of scrapbook paper to make my desk organizer. You can use nearly any paper for this project, but you should keep a few things in mind.

You’ll want the paper to be thick enough so that you don’t see the labels from the boxes through the paper. Therefore papers like tissue paper, wrapping paper, and napkins might be too thin.

There is a way around that though. You can always paint the boxes with a white acrylic paint or primer after cutting them into the desired sizes so that the labels don’t show through. It’s an added step to paint, but it will make your craft organizer look so much better when it’s finished.

Wood plaques

Plaques to Buy

The fun thing about this craft organizer is that you can use any size or style of wood plaque to make it! The wood plaque that I chose was an 11″ x 14″ oval that I purchased from Michaels.

I encourage you to try this in a different shape if you want to. I think even the natural wood slice would look cool for this DIY desk organizer – and you could leave it natural if you so choose.

Formula to Use

I used Mod Podge Satin for this project, but you could use Gloss, Matte, or Hard Coat. You can even add glitter here and there with a little Sparkle or Extreme Glitter Mod Podge. Give the craft organizer several coats of whatever decoupage formula you choose so that it is durable.

You want the toilet paper rolls in particular to stand up to constant putting things in and pulling things out – so I’d say use at least three coats of the formula you select.

Are you ready to make this project at home? Here’s how I made my craft organizer using Mod Podge!

Gather These Supplies

Cut the Boxes and Tubes

Wood plaque, cereal box, and paper towel and toilet paper rolls

Here are my supplies. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to turn this pile o’ stuff into a desk organizer, but hey, it was a challenge. Right?

Cutting and matching the bottom of a cereal box

I had no idea how to measure the cereal box for my bins, I’m going to be honest with you. So I just cut 1/4th of the box off of the bottom and then proceeded to cut the rest of the boxes in that same manner. I knew I would have a front row and a back row, so I made the “back row” of boxes taller than the front row.

Finished bin made from cereal boxes

So here is a finished bin. I also made two smaller compartments by cutting the larger compartments down and taping them on the outside. Don’t worry – you’ll cover over that tape with Mod Podge and paper.

Cereal box pieces and toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls sitting on the top of a wood plaque

I’m completely exhausted at this point. But I have a structure for my desk organizer! If you like, trim the TP/paper towel tubes to different heights to add interest.

Paint the Plaque

Painting a plaque with pink acrylic craft paint

I needed to take a break from cutting cereal boxes, so I painted my plaque. Choose colors that coordinate with your paper; paint the whole plaque and then let dry.

Painting the ends of cereal boxes with white acrylic paint

Now this is an optional step . . . but I used some white paint on the edges of my cereal boxes and tubes.

Sometimes my paper doesn’t match EXACTLY and I didn’t want the brown of the tubes or the colors of the box to show (since they didn’t match). If you are particular, you might want to do this. If not, don’t worry about it.

Measure and Cut the Paper

Tracing toilet paper rolls on paper

Now that everything is painted and ready, time to trace. Take a pencil or pen and trace each compartment on your scrapbook paper.

Keep in mind that for the larger compartments (i.e., the cereal boxes), you might need to trace and cut multiple pieces of paper to completely cover them.

Measuring and cutting paper with an X-Acto knife

Cut everything out using a craft knife and mat or scissors.

Decoupage the Paper

Painting Mod Podge on paper

Add Mod Podge to the backs of all of the papers . . .

Painting Mod Podge on a cereal box to fold down the paper

And then proceed to decoupage your compartments with paper and Mod Podge. Hold everything down until it sticks, smooth, and let dry 15 – 20 minutes. Then give it a top coat.

Adding Mod Podge to a painted wood plaque

Don’t forget to Mod Podge your plaque as well, just to seal.

Trim the Edges in Ribbon

Adding ribbon trim to craft organizer compartments

Add ribbon to the top edge of each compartment with the craft glue. I did it on the edges of the toilet paper/paper towel rolls as well.

Glue the Tubes and Boxes Down

Add glue to the edges of the toilet paper rolls

Glue each compartment down to the plaque using craft glue. You’ll see white around the edges, but it will dry clear.

DIY desk organizer

What do you think – are you up for making a DIY desk organizer of your own? Let me know in the comments! There’s also a printable how-to card here:

Yield: 1 organizer

DIY Desk Organizer

DIY desk organizer

Make a desk organizer using recycled materials, and customize it any way you like using this tutorial.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $10


  • Cereal boxes
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Wood plaque
  • Mod Podge Satin
  • Acrylic paint - colors of your choice
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Ribbon in coordinating colors
  • Craft glue
  • Tape


  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Paintbrush
  • Pen or pencil
  • Ruler


  1. Cut up the boxes and paper rolls to create the compartments for your organizer.
  2. Make the smaller compartments by cutting the larger compartments down and taping them on the outside. The tape will be covered by paper.
  3. Trim the paper tubes to different heights to add interest.
  4. Paint the plaque using the colors of your choice and let dry.
  5. Use a pencil or pen to trace each compartment on your scrapbook paper. For the larger compartments you might need to cut multiple sheets of paper to completely cover them.
  6. Cut everything out using the scissors.
  7. Add Mod Podge to the backs of all of the papers - then proceed to decoupage your compartments with paper and Mod Podge.
  8. Hold everything down until it sticks, smooth, and let dry 15 – 20 minutes. Then give all compartments a top coat, including the plaque.
  9. Add ribbon to the top edge of each compartment using craft glue.
  10. Glue each compartment down to the plaque using craft glue. It will dry clear.
  11. Let dry 24 hours before using.

Recommended Products

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Did You Make This Project?

Please leave a rating or share a photo on Pinterest!

If you want to check out more recycled crafts, here are other posts that might interest you!


Wednesday 26th of February 2014

This is wonderful! Thinking of decorating with masking tape as it comes in so many colors and no muss no fuss. Thanks for sharing!!!!

Sinea Pies

Sunday 2nd of February 2014

I love this! Would you stop by my blog this week and share it on Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop? Everyone will love this and it's the right color for Valentine's Day too!!! Blessings, Sinea Ducks ‘n a Row


Monday 25th of November 2013

Great project! I'm actually going to make one to organize my makeup and brushes. Great directions too! Thank you!

Jameela Banu

Thursday 12th of September 2013

Such a pleasant sight! love your project :x


Saturday 29th of June 2013

I am making one now but am just waiting on some toilet paper rolls. I had to do some patchwork with the cardboard because I ran out of actual boxes so I was taping and gluing small pieces of cardboard together. This is a great tutorial and it's pretty simple to follow too, Thanks Amy, your design is helping me de-clutter my desk

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