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 tutorial will help you get organized outdoors.

patio storage crate, outdoor storage container, patio
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Drop cloth
  • 1 Tape measure
  • 1 Iron


  • 1 Plastic outdoor storage chest
  • 1 Plastic primer spray
  • 1 Outdoor spray paint
  • 1 Kraft paper
  • 1 Outdoor fabric
  • 1 Iron-on adhesive
  • 1 Corrugated plastic
  • 1 1-inch hook-and-loop tape


  1. Prime and Paint

    First, give your old plastic chest new life with a fresh coat of paint. We chose two shades of blue, a lighter color for the siding and a darker hue for the trim and inside. Coat all surfaces of the storage chest with plastic primer. This will help the new paint stick to the chest. 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. 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. We recommend spray painting outdoors or in a well ventilated environment. Lay down a drop cloth or newspaper before starting to keep your floors clean.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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. The plastic will help by holding the shape of the divider, so items in your chest don't move around easily.

  5. 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. To get the placement right so the fastener strips line up, stick them together and place one end on the divider. Slide the divider in place, and stick the second side of the fastener strips to the chest wall.

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

  6. 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. This is a great place for sun screen, bug spray, or other handy items you might want to take with you throughout the yard. You can also prevent tangled jump ropes by looping cords around a magnetic hook.

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