Five Dollar Decor - Cardboard

Today, I'd like to talk about cardboard.

Mr. Scrimp and I have an entire closet that is filled from top to bottom with cardboard boxes from moving. We can't bring ourselves to throw them away (I have packrat tendencies). After all, the cardboard is perfectly good, and if we don't use it for a project, we'll need it again eventually anyway.

Well, I think it's time to break into the closet, because I've put together a list of some really great ways to use cardboard in your home.

Most of these involve a fair amount of DIY effort from you, but if you're like me, cardboard is going to cost you nothing because you have already accumulated so darn much of it. So it's a fair trade-off, I think.

1. Cardboard Rug

Yeah, that's right. I can incorporate rugs into any five dollar decor theme. Take inspiration from Dutch artist Wendy Plomp, who creates rugs and wall hangings using recycled cardboard boxes. This one pulls double duty, because it works equally well on the wall or on the floor. All it takes is some paint and stencils, and you, too, can have a beautiful, detailed rug that matches your decor perfectly.

Well... a rug facsimile, at least.

2. Cardboard Fireplace

While we're making cardboard facsimiles of things, why not add a fireplace to your apartment or home? Mr. Scrimp and I have a real fireplace, but it's been blocked up forever, so ultimately it does us no more good than a cardboard version would. Paint this white, or get really creative and cover it with painted bricks or stone-pattern contact paper. You can buy them starting around $25, or you can get out one of those big boxes that you broke down but couldn't throw away, cut it up, and attach it to your wall for free.

Alternatively, if you're artistic and don't feel like doing all the work to create a three-dimensional one, why not simply make a flat, faux fireplace with a little paint like the one over at renovate + decorate?


3.  Faux Furniture

Remember that electrical tape headboard I showed you last week? Well, if you didn't like that, how about making one out of cardboard? This design by blogger Nikki at Whimsy Love was just a quick attempt to cozy up an airbed and a corner of a room for a friend who was coming to visit, but I think it would make wonderful permanent decor for a child's room, for instance. 

The great thing about cardboard is that you have total freedom. Want something basic and cartoony? Great! Want something fancy and painted? Also great! Either way, the most you can lose is a couple of boxes that were cluttering up your closet anyway.

4. Three-Dimensional Wall Art

This project has been making the rounds on craft blogs and is actually the thing that inspired me to do a cardboard-themed post this week. All you need to do is cut up paper towel and toilet tissue rolls, arrange them, and attach them to the wall.

From the Eco Kids Craft blog series at Growing Up Creative, which is full of fun projects I want to try. (You can also find a similar method used to decorate a lamp at Madison Avenue Baby Craft & Decorate)

5. Actual Furniture

Of all the things out there on the Internet about cardboard, the most frequent result I got from searching was DIY cardboard furniture. This ran the gamut from stools that are obviously brown cardboard, to desks made from priority mail boxes, to fantastic children's furniture that looks store bought.

But, to me, the piece de resistance was this project from Instructables, furniture that doesn't look like cardboard at all. There were several variations that could be done, all of which were beautiful in different ways. This is definitely labor intensive, but the result is so, so worth it, especially when you think about the cost of buying a piece of furniture like that.

Are you ready to see it?

6. Cardboard Shoji Screen

I'm adding a bonus item this week because I just couldn't narrow the list of cool things down to five. I love shoji screens, and have wanted one for years, but they're so expensive! Well, with a little cardboard, paint, and paper or fabric, I can finally live that particular dream--and so can you.

You can find the DIY instructions here.

If you found all of this inspirational, be sure to look around for more projects like this online. They are out there to be found, as are many pre-fabricated cardboard items available for sale that you could probably imitate at home with ease.

Happy crafting, everyone, and happy weekend!


  1. It also makes a fabulous weed barrier/mulch in the garden. I place it in my beds and cover it with a layer of free city mulch.

  2. Maybe you can take the boxes to a Uhaul facility as they have a "Take a Box, Leave a Box" bin in each of their locations. This program was designed for Uhaul customers to get boxes for free, but also return them for others so that they could be reused. Kind of Cool.

  3. This makes me so sad that I allowed my crazy neighbor to burn all my cardboard along with his. I also feel like anything I tried to make would look like something a four year old constructed. However, I am definitely marking this page because I will be moving again and I will have a lot of cardboard again and I always want weird furniture.

  4. I love the 3D wall art and the cardboard headboard is actually pretty cute. Thanks for sharing some uses for that pile of boxes in my basement!



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