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Create mini-storage in your home with cardboard tubes

Updated on September 11, 2014

Repurpose cardboard tubes to create mini storage solutions in your home

Because I live in a tiny apartment, it's important for me to make the most of every inch of space - even every centimeter.

I was always reluctant to throw away the cardboard cylinders from toilet paper and paper towels but I didn't know what to do with them, and they seem too useful to go into the recycling.

People who are excellent at crafts - which I'm not - have some marvelous ideas for using these but I wouldn't know one end of a glue gun from the other.

So I was delighted when I realized that I could use them to make instant storage for small items anywhere in my home.

Since I'm so bad at crafts, this needs no special equipment - in fact, no equipment at all. You don't even need to use a pair of scissors.

If you have colored paper, or leftover gift wrap, these can make your storage much more attractive than mine. I just used 8½" x 14" ordinary printer paper that we happen to have to make the cardboard less noticeable. If crafts are your thing, you could also decorate them with paints. These are quick and easy to create and solved quite a few storage problems in my tiny home.

All you need


How simple - and cheap - is this? All you need is a bunch of leftover tubes and some printer paper. No glue, no Scotch tape, nothing but the above.

Here's what to do

  • Fold the paper in half to create a crease.
  • Tear each sheet of paper along the crease. If you want to be neat and tidy, you can use scissors, of course!
  • Place one of the tubes on the paper. There should be an overlap of a couple of inches on either side.
  • Roll the tube in the paper. You can add a little tape to hold it in place of you wish but it's not necessary.
  • Tuck the overlapping paper at each end into the tube.

Magic Cover Adhesive Vinyl Paper, Multi-functional Shelf Liner for Lining Drawers and Shelves, Waterproof and Durable, 18" x 9', Solid Red
Magic Cover Adhesive Vinyl Paper, Multi-functional Shelf Liner for Lining Drawers and Shelves, Waterproof and Durable, 18" x 9', Solid Red
If you are good with your hands, it's a great idea to use contact paper to cover your cardboard. Another advantage is that it will help to give the tubes a little more strength and will be easy to wipe clean. This is great if you are going to use your mini storage in the kitchen. If you use this, remember that you'll also need a craft knife to tidy up the ends.
Click thumbnail to view full-size

In the bedroom


In our bedroom I have a basket containing my t-shirts. It always irritated me that the basket didn't fully into the shelf; there was about an inch or so at the side. The answer was to use my new storage to contain underwear. This speeds up getting dressed in the morning. This would be ideal in children's rooms for small toys, socks and small garments. If I have to pack a bag in a hurry, I simply grab the tubes and throw them into a suitcase.

In the closet


Another wasted area is the couple of inches above the rail and below the shelf in the clothes closet. Storage tubes can be attached there too. Oh, and note that I use the ring pulls from soda cans to create additional hanging space. In a tiny apartment, I need all the help I can get when it comes to smarter storage solutions.

For leads and wires


I don't know about you but we had a box of electric wires and computer leads that will 'come in handy one day'. (At least, that's what he says when he tells me that I shouldn't throw them away). That's all well and good but they can get into the most horrendous tangle. It's as if they have a life of their own and get together in the middle of the night when no-one's watching. Keeping them in their own cardboard tubes keeps them apart and tangle-free. You can even go one further and label them saying which lead is for which computer.



Necklaces can be equally annoying and get themselves tangled together in no time. I use the tubes to keep them in their own separate compartment.

In the kitchen


The centers from paper towel rolls are the perfect size to fit inside kitchen wall cabinets. This cupboard is immediately to the left of by stove. I am left-handed so I keep utensils in them that I'm likely to grab when I'm cooking. They include the small pepper mill, a small balloon whisk, a sharp knife, a teaspoon for tasting sauces and so on. This saves me having to rummage in a drawer. Note that essentials for me include a corkscrew and a wine-stopper!

VELCRO Brand - Industrial Strength | Indoor & Outdoor Use | Superior Holding Power on Smooth Surfaces | Size 4ft x 2in | Tape, Black - Pack of 1, (Model: 90593)
VELCRO Brand - Industrial Strength | Indoor & Outdoor Use | Superior Holding Power on Smooth Surfaces | Size 4ft x 2in | Tape, Black - Pack of 1, (Model: 90593)
Look again at the image above. When I use the plates and bowls that are on the left, the storage tubes stay in place. Why? Because I have used small Velcro strips attach them to the wall of the cupboard.

Mini first aid kit


Like most people, we have a first aid kit and because of shortage of space it lives in on a high shelf that isn't easily accessible. I find that if a Band Aid is needed, it's invariably for some small cut, scrape or burn that's been caused in the kitchen or in the garden. This cupboard is right opposite the back kitchen door. I keep a few Band Aids, some antiseptic wipes, a latex glove and other items where they can be easily grabbed. The booklet you see is the first aid book.

Used in containers


I use these to separate items within other containers. Here you can see how I have one for spoons and one for forks. There are many other things you could use these for - pens and pencils, cosmetic brushes, knitting needles ... anything that needs to be split up by type.

In the bathroom


I have several of these in a stack inside the bathroom cabinet. As you can see, they are perfect for holding items that I need every day such as lipstick, mascara, concealer and small tubes of lotions.

Further reading

If you too live in a small space or want storage ideas for your home, RV or boat these books offer fabulous information and ideas. I particularly recommend the Apartment Therapy book from the wonderful website of the same name.

Apartment Therapy's Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces
Apartment Therapy's Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces
My absolute favourite resource for small space living.

One day I'll become organized and use colored and patterned gift wrap instead of white paper. I'll be choosing from my favorites - these.

Amscan Classic Stripe Jumbo Gift Wrap, 16' x 30", Royal Blue
Amscan Classic Stripe Jumbo Gift Wrap, 16' x 30", Royal Blue
Plenty of other colours available. Stripes are so very elegant.

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