Using old wood boxes and drawers for storage is a great way to use vintage pieces in a practical way. I’ll show you some of the ways I use vintage wood boxes in our own home, and provide more suggestions for how you can incorporate wood boxes as storage solutions.
Why I Love Using Old Wood Boxes for Storage
Unless you live an ultra minimalist lifestyle, we all have storage needs in our home. Those storage needs differ based on our interests and belongings, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Why not find storage solutions that are as unique as you are?
I love using wood boxes and drawers for storage because of the visual interest they bring to a room. And by incorporating vintage pieces in useful and practical ways, they become more than just clutter in your space. It’s also great for the environment to find new purposes for these vintage items.
Why wood? In general, I love old wooden pieces, whether they be furniture or smaller items. In my opinion, wood is one of the best materials for showing vintage charm. The dents and scratches wood acquires with use brings so much character and warmth, and shows the longevity of a piece over a period of time. And while you can find a rickety box that needs some TLC, most wood boxes are strong and durable.
Perhaps best of all – you can find so many kinds of wood pieces, ranging in size and finishes. You’re sure to find something that works for you, and if not – you can change it! Choose a stain or painted finish that suits your decorating style, and further decide how rustic or refined you want the pieces to be.
Read on for some of our favourite wood storage boxes, and tips.
Old Wood Boxes and Drawers in Our Home
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Let’s explore five of my favourite vintage wood boxes and drawers that we use in our home, and what we actually store in them.
Vintage Green Hardware Drawers
I picked up a pair of these vintage green hardware cabinet drawers from one of my favourite shops, Tin Barn Market, a few summers ago. I loved the bright green paint and all the original labels still attached.
Even on the sides, someone has labelled some hardware sizes and prices in pencil and marker. These drawers are so much more interesting than a similarly sized container from a big box store. I even love the old tape and staple holding on the one front label.
I like to keep the drawers stacked, one on top of the other on the bookshelf beside my sewing table. In one, I store all my circular and double pointed knitting needles and crochet hooks. In the other, I keep items for quilting such as a pouch of curved safety pins and masking and painters tape for pinning my quilt sandwiches. These items are easy to access, and the drawers provide a great pop of colour in my craft room.
Old Wood Kraft Cheese Box
This box is an old wood cheese box from Kraft Canada, located in Outremont, Quebec, that I believe I found at an antique shop in a small town. It comes from a time when cheese blocks came in boxes. (I wonder if I would more or less cheese if it still came that way?) I had a particular plan in mind for a cheese box, and I had to search for quite a long time until I found one that I liked in the right size.
This might not be the most stylish thing to post about, but I’d rather be real. And the real situation is that we have a roll of dog waste bags by our door at all times. I strongly dislike having the cardboard box they come in on display, so I searched out a more interesting alternative, like this cheese box. The length of the roll fits perfectly in the box, and a full roll of 300 fits after the first handful have been removed.
In the future, we plan to build some board and batten and shelves in our small entryway (maybe when lumber is cheaper again!). The cheese box will live on a purpose-built ledge so it will be right where we need it.
Old Wood Recipe Box
I found this vintage wood recipe box at a local thrift store for $2. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful colour of the wood and the finger joints that bring so much interest to the piece. At first, I couldn’t think of a use for it and I almost didn’t purchase it because I don’t keep recipes on loose recipe cards. But then I had a great idea.
Lately, I have been learning to oil paint after watching Miss Mustard Seed’s free painting classes. She makes a lot of small paintings, and since I only have a small space to paint in, that suited me as well. Many of my paintings are 4×6″, either on gessoed index cards, mixed media paper, or canvas paper that I’ve trimmed to size. I can keep little canvases that are ready to paint on in the recipe box, in addition to finished paintings that aren’t on display. It’s so perfect, and it feels like a little box of treasures!
To read more about how I learned to paint in a small space on a budget, check out this post about setting up a Small Space Home Art Studio.
Carved Wooden Chest
Speaking of boxes of treasures, we also have this vintage chest that we found at an outdoor flea market many years ago. I love the colour of the wood, the cute feet on the chest, and most of all the carvings. It’s rustic, and not all the pieces fit together super well anymore, but I find it so interesting.
At first, we didn’t have a use for this chest. But after we got married, we stored all sorts of memorabilia in it – things like my planner and notebooks, cards from guests, and our wedding photos and videos. (Don’t worry – all the really important things are backed up in a few safe places!) It’s fun to go digging through and reminisce on occasion.
Old Dog Crate
We found this crate at the Old House Revival Company on a trip to Winnipeg. I’m really not sure how old it is and whether it meets the true criteria of being vintage. I think when we bought it, I managed to find a clue that it may have been used as a promotional display crate for dog food in the 1980s. However, I haven’t been able to verify that again now, or find out anything else about it. Regardless of how new or old it is, I love the graphic red, cream and black art with the dancing dog.
This crate has become a handy toy box for Oliver’s toys. He loves anything plush and with floppy appendages. What you see here is only a small selection of the overflowing mound of toys that are usually in there. But it’s helpful that he can sometimes pull out one that he wants.
Other Ideas for Using Old Wood Boxes
The possibilities are really endless for storing things in vintage wood boxes and drawers. When you see a great piece at a thrift store or antique shop, use your imagination to see if you can come up with an idea to give it new life and purpose in your home. Here are just some of the other ideas I have for practical storage from old wood boxes and drawers:
- Use vintage egg, food or drink crates to store things such as books, toys, games, or records. Make sure if kids are using them especially, that any paint is lead free. And make sure that there are no sharp slivers, nails or screws sticking out.
- Old wood tool boxes with handles can be used as a dining table centrepiece, or in the kitchen to hold mason jars of cutlery or flowers. They could be useful in the pantry to hold small packets, or for holding supplies in a craft room. I’d love to find one that can hold my oil paints.
- Wooden chests and trunks can make great storage for games, out of season clothing, blankets or keepsakes. Some are even big enough to use as a coffee table.
- Small drawers are great storage for smaller items such as make-up and craft supplies. Or put them in a pantry for holding small items. I’ve seen a lot of drawers repurposed from vintage sewing machine tables and the drawer fronts are very beautifully carved.
- Repurpose shallow dresser drawers with small castors underneath and roll them under beds, couches or cabinets. Leave the knob or handle on as a way to pull out the drawer for access.
- Though slightly less about storage and more for decorative function, drawers can also be turned on their sides and hung on the wall to create shelves. Divided printer drawers are also great on a wall to display tiny items. Or turn them flat as part of a table top and cover them with acrylic or plexiglass.
Old Wood Boxes in Your Own Home
I want to hear from you. Do you have any vintage wooden boxes in your own home? Do you have storage issues that could be helped with some vintage wood storage solutions? What would you store in vintage wooden boxes or drawers? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,