Storage Containers

Thinking Outside the 'Box'

When it comes to utilizing storage containers, it’s best to “become as a little child”.   Have you ever noticed that children often find unintended uses for things? Tools become toys, toys become weapons, and simple cardboard boxes become castles. Nothing limits their active imaginations.  

Follow this example and let go of your preconceived notions for what a thing is or how a thing is meant to be used and look instead for the possibilities.

Often when we think of storage containers we think of boxes, but there are many functional and attractive non-box storage options available. Some, such as baskets or bins, are designed to be used for storage. Others, such as those listed below, may be designed for another purpose but they can still make very practical, attractive storage containers.

Fill out the form at the bottom of this page to submit your own unique and creative storage container ideas!

"Outside the Box" Storage Containers

Flower Pots

Wondering what you can store in a flower pot? All sorts of things! Flower pots make eclectic, rustic storage containers. You will, of course, want to carefully sanitize any used flower pots before you utilize them for indoor storage. In the case of the kitchen or bathroom, you should only use clean, new flower pots.

  • In the office or craft room – Use flower pots to organize various art or office supplies such as scissors, pens & pencils, or rulers.
  • In the kitchen or dining room – Use flower pots as silverware caddies. They would be especially fun to use when hosting a barbecue or picnic.
  • In the bathroom – Use flower pots to store cotton balls, cotton swabs, toothbrushes (with bristles facing up), etc. Use a flower pot saucer as a soap dish. Fill pots with bath beads or bath salts and insert a small metal scoop to simulate the look of a hand shovel for a fun garden themed bathroom.

Flower pots are easy to personalize to fit any decor using paint. {Source}

Cake Stands

A pretty cake stand can turn ordinary objects into display-worthy treasures. They come in so many shapes, sizes, and materials – everything from metal to glass to ceramics. You’re sure to find one that coordinates with your décor (assuming you don’t already have one stashed away in a cupboard). Stack two or three cake stands on top of each other for a fun and functional tiered effect.

  • In the bedroom – Use a cake stand or stands to display jewelry such as earrings, bracelets, or beaded necklaces. They can also be used to display nail polishes or hair accessories.
  • In the bathroom – Set an array of finger bowls or china tea cups on top of a cake stand and fill them with bath salts, bath beads, decorative soaps, seashells, or other decorative items. You can also use a cake stand as a platform for lotions or perfumes.
  • In the office – Top a cake stand with decorative tea cups or finger bowls filled with office supplies such as paper clips, rubber bands, post-it notes, stamps, etc.

This example demonstrates the power of a simple cake plate to transform the ordinary into something special. The artful display of hand soap and dish towels elevate an ordinary everyday task like washing your hands by adding a touch of sophistication to the kitchen sink area. {source}

Tiered Baskets & Trays

Tiered baskets and trays make versatile and charming storage containers. Whether wicker, wire, plastic, or wood they add character to any space, and they’re uses are endless.

  • In the bathroom - Use a tiered basket to store rolled wash cloths, decorative soaps, cosmetics, nail care supplies, hair accessories, bath supplies, etc.
  • In the craft room – Fill the various layers of a tiered basket with rubber stamps and ink pads, decorative punches and scissors, ribbon, bows, tags, or sewing notions.
  • In the kitchen – Use a 3-tiered basket to create a drink station on your kitchen counter. Place mugs in the bottom (largest) tier, assorted flavored teas or coffee in small tins in the middle tier, and sweetener in the top tier.

Here is a lovely example of the form and function that can be achieved by using a tiered basket to decoratively display simple necessities. {source}

DIY Tiered Organizer

Make your own tiered tray using a dinner plate, a salad or soup plate, a candlestick, and super glue.  

It's quick, easy, inexpensive and versatile.  What's more, you can custom design it to your taste and decor.  Use items you already have on hand or look for inexpensive pieces at a discount store.  

Use your custom made organizer to store cosmetics, nail polish, jewelry, office supplies or anything else that suits you!

Decorative or Wooden Bowls

If you’ve got a pretty, interesting, or unique bowl collecting dust on a shelf somewhere pull it down and put it to use as a decorative storage container.

  • In the entry – Use a decorative bowl to corral keys, sunglasses, wallets, ID badges, loose change, and whatever else you carry back and forth with you on a daily basis.
  • In the bathroom – What better way to display decorative soaps than in a decorative bowl?  Pretty bowls also make great containers for hair accessories, cosmetics, and more.
  • In the office – Use attractive finger bowls or ice cream bowls to hold small, loose office supplies.  

Anne from Circus Berry transformed this thrift store find specifically for storing keys, phone, loose change, etc. 

Flatware Caddies

The beauty of a caddy is its portability. Use them to store anything you want to easily tote from place to place within the room or within the house.  They come in a huge variety of styles and are perfectly suited for upright storage. 

  • In the living room – Use a flatware caddy to corral remote controls. Keep the caddy within easy reach of the sofa so everyone always knows where it is and can easily return those ever-elusive remotes to their rightful place.
  • In the bathroom – Use a caddy to keep hair brushes and combs within easy reach on the countertop.
  • In the office or craft room – Use a flatware caddy to organize pens, pencils, markers, rulers, paint brushes, and so forth.

A flatware caddy like this one works well for storing remote controls, eye glasses, and puzzle books. {source}

Glass Jars

Glass jars make just about anything looked classy from pasta and beans to buttons and beads.  They come in so many shapes and sizes (and even colors). Some come with and some without lids. The fact that they are clear makes them great for storing small, colorful items.

  • In the bathroom – Use glass jars as storage containers for soaps, cotton swabs, cotton balls, bath salts, bath beads, or make up brushes.
  • In the pantry – Use glass jars to store dry goods such as sugar, flour, corn meal, oats, etc.
  • In the craft room – Use glass jars to store buttons, bobbins, ribbon, spools of thread, stickers, markers, and more.

I love these petite canning jars transformed into spice jars.  The chalkboard paint on the lids makes changing the label a cinch.  {source}

Muffin Tins

Muffin tins, with their uniform cups, are great for organizing small items in drawers.

  • In the office – Use a muffin tin to organize your desk drawer. Fill the cups with paper clips, binder clips, rubber bands, erasers, post-it notes, white out, and other small items.
  • In the bathroom – Use a muffin tin as a storage container for loose hair accessories such as bobby pins, pony tail holders, claw clips, snap clips, head bands, and barrettes. You could also use a muffin tin to sort nail polish by color or to organize cosmetics.

Muffin tins make great drawer organizers for sorting everything from nails to beads to paperclips. {source}

Ice Cube Trays

Like muffin tins, ice cube trays, with their individual compartments, are perfect for keeping track of small items in drawers.

  • In the bedroom – Use ice cube trays to sort earrings – one pair per compartment.
  • In the craft room – Use an ice cube tray to organize beads or buttons according to color or type.

Ice cube trays are the perfect size for segregating individual rings or pairs of earrings in a dresser drawer. {source}

Metal Lunch Boxes

Metal lunch boxes are a fun collectors’ item and a great way to show off your style and interests. If you’ve got one (or several), consider giving it/them double duty. In addition to adding character to your décor, they can serve as functional storage containers.

  • In the kitchen – Use metal lunch boxes to house specialty baking items such as cake or cookie decorating supplies. Their portability (they do have a handle, after all) makes them ideal for such a use.
  • In the office – Use a metal lunch box to contain old letters, stationery supplies, or CDs.
  • In the kids’ room – Use metal lunch boxes to store small toys. This is a particularly fun idea if your lunch box is themed. For instance, a Spider Man fan would surely love to store his Spider Man toys in a Spider Man lunch box. The handle makes them easy to tote around. The theme makes it easy to find what you’re looking for, and the lid keeps various parts and accessories neatly contained.
  • Another nice option for a kid’s room is to give your child a metal lunch box to use as a miniature treasure chest to contain all the little keepsakes children tend to collect.

I'm in love with this vintage metal lunchbox. Think of all the cool stuff you could store in there! {source}

Vintage Suitcases

Who doesn't love the look of a vintage suitcase? As with lunch boxes, they’re made to hold things, so put them to good use!

  • In the bedroom – Use a vintage suitcase to store out-of-season clothing or extra blankets or pillows.
  • In the bathroom – Use a vintage suitcase as a pop up drawer for towels.
  • In the living room – Use as a storage container for keeping board games out of the way but accessible. You can also stash comfy throws for snuggling under on a cold night.
  • Note: Suitcases don't have to be vintage to serve as extra storage containers. I just prefer the look of a vintage suitcase to a modern one when it comes to displayable storage. Less aesthetic suitcases (provided they're thin enough) could be used to store extra blankets or out of season clothing under a bed, for instance.

I love the idea of using a vintage suitcase to store gift wrap supplies. It's compact and portable. It can fit under a bed or be left out on display. {source}

Galvanized Pails

These little gems can be rustic or playful depending on the finish, and they come in a vast array of sizes from miniature to trough-size.

  • In the bathroom – Use miniature pails to hold soaps, bath salts, cotton swabs, and so forth. Use a large tin for rolled towels and smaller versions for hand towels and wash cloths. Another option is to designate one pail per person; each individual can then use his or her pail to house personal toiletries.
  • In the office – As a space saver, hang small pails from hooks draped over a towel rod attached to the wall near the desk. Fill the pails with pens, pencils, markers, and other supplies.
  • In the kids’ room – Hang hooks on the wall at appropriate heights and suspend pails from the hooks. Fill the pails with plush toys, or sets such as Duplos or Tinker Toys. Be sure to keep the size and weight of the filled pails in mind when planning your storage; you want your child to be able to lift it to put it away. J

Store hats, gloves, and scarves in individual pails for easy access. {source}

Shoe Bags

With their many pockets, shoe bags make excellent storage containers for a variety of items throughout the house.

  • In the bathroom – Use a shoe bag to store hair accessories, nail care supplies, cosmetics, lotions, gels, and so forth. In a shared bathroom pockets can be evenly divided among users and color coded to help everyone keep things straight.
  • In the kitchen – Does anyone ever have enough drawer space? Fill the pockets of a shoe bag with spices and seasoning mixes. Or use it to sort kitchen utensils.
  • In the kids’ room – Shoe bags make great homes for Barbie, all her friends and relations, and their wardrobes. This is true for any small doll or set of action figures. They are also good for sorting toy cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other wheeled vehicles.
  • In the garage – Use a canvas shoe bag to house hand tools, seed packets, row markers, and other gardening doodads.

Store everything from charging cords and camera batteries to masking tape and furniture pads in the pockets of a shoe bag hung on the inside of a closet door.

Dish Drainers

The slots of a dish drainer make it perfect for sorting things upright. The only limitations are dimensions and configuration (ex. open-ended vs. enclosed).

  • In the kitchen – An open ended dish drainer can be used to keep cookie sheets, cooling racks, cutting boards, muffin tins, and serving trays upright in the cupboard.
  • In the office – Use a square dish drainer to hold file folders or notebooks. The silverware tray can house pens and pencils.
  • In the kids’ room – Use a dish drainer to display picture books.

Use a dish drainer to organize important papers. {source}


Almost everything you buy comes in a container of some sort. The more ways you can find to put those containers to good use, the better. Save money and the environment by reusing food and other containers throughout your home as free storage containers.

An empty oatmeal can becomes a pencil cup.  I like the combination Dutch girl and Arabic writing on this can.  :)

I hope this list of non-box storage suggestions will inspire you to explore the endless possibilities for alternative storage containers. Look around your house for new and interesting ways to “think outside the box”. Re-purposing non-traditional items as storage containers can save you money and add character to your home.

Have A Great Storage Container Idea?

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Include up to 4 pictures if you like to show how you made your storage container or how you use it.

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