Clever Hacks to Upgrade a Storage Chest

Ban backyard clutter for good with these stash-and-stow ideas for a basic storage chest. Our how-to will help you get organized in no time.

patio storage crate, outdoor storage container, patio

Get all your outdoor gear organized in one central space by updating a store-bought container. Spray paint a plastic storage chest a cheery hue to add a pop of color to your yard. Inside the chest, vertical dividers group like items, such as cushions and sports equipment, to avoid messy pileups. These simple ideas make it much easier to get (and stay) organized outdoors. We'll walk you through the basics, plus offer tips to customize your chest to fit your family's needs.

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What You Need

  • Plastic outdoor storage chest
  • Drop cloth
  • Plastic primer spray (We used Rust-Oleum Specialty Plastic Primer Spray)
  • Outdoor spray paint (We used Valspar Outdoor Spray Paint in Koi Pond and Peacock Blue)
  • Kraft paper
  • Outdoor fabric 
  • Tape measure
  • Iron-on adhesive
  • Iron
  • Corrugated plastic sized to fit
  • 1-inch hook-and-loop tape (We used Velcro Sticky Back Tape)

Step 1: Prime and Paint

Coat all surfaces of the storage chest with plastic primer. Let dry for two hours. Paint the slats on the exterior and interior of the box in desired color. Let dry for two hours, then add a second coat. 

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Step 2: Apply Coordinating Color

Once paint is dry, cover the slats with kraft paper and apply two coats of spray paint to the box's frame in your coordinating color, allowing paint to dry for two hours after each coat. 

Step 3: Create Dividers

To create dividers, measure the interior width of the box as well as the depth from the bottom of the box to the box's lip. Measure and cut fabric to size, adding 1/2 inch to each side. Cut two panels for each divider. (If your box doesn't have vertical supports, add 1 1/2 inches to the width measurement so the divider will reach and adhere to the box slats.

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Step 4: Cut and Place Adhesive

Cut three strips of iron-on adhesive—two the length of the fabric panels' shortest sides and one the length of the longest sides. Fold raw edges under and press to create folded-finish edges. Stack the two pieces of fabric with wrong sides together and place the adhesive strips between the pieces of fabric, along the edges of their corresponding sides. Iron the fabric to activate the adhesive. 

Step 5: Stiffen the Divider

Stiffen the divider by inserting a piece of corrugated plastic into the divider's open side. Then cut a strip of adhesive to size for the remaining opening and iron it closed. 

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Step 6: Add Fasteners

patio, velcro, storage

Adhere hook-and-loop fastener strips to the vertical sides of the fabric divider. Stick the other side of the strips to the support pieces or slats of the box to keep the divider in place.

Editor's Tip: Hook-and-loop strips allow for quick removal of dividers for cleaning and rearranging.

Step 7: Add Extra Storage

patio storage, storage, DIY

Stow small items with  grab-and-go ease by slipping a basket's handle onto magnetic hooks stuck to the chest's rim, above. Prevent tangled jump ropes by looping cords around a magnetic hook.

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