Organizing Ideas: Colorful Magazine Files + Free Labels

by Diane Henkler on 01/07/2013

I have been organizing over the weekend while I was waiting for paint to dry on a few projects that I have been working on.  The biggest one – the wood file cabinet for my studioffice that I showed you last week.   I am almost finished it.  It still has a few more tweaks to go and then I will post about it.  Today I thought I would show you some of the organizing ideas I have used for the shelves above the cabinet.

Organiaing Ideas The Container Store Magazine File Knock-off tutorial

Lots of organized and labeled storage!  I got my inspiration from the colorful magazine files The Container Store sells. I love all the juicy colors, but didn’t want to spend $9.99 a piece for them when I knew I could make something similar for about $3 a piece.

Organizing Ideas How to make your own Container-Store-Magazine-File

I used some of my stash of favorite gift wrap to cover cardboard file boxes I bought at the office supply store.  IKEA also sells them – 2 per pack.  I know they are called Magazine Files, but I store more than magazines in them. They are the perfect way to store lots of items neatly while keeping them easily accessible.

OrganizingIdeas Book-Shelf-Organization with DIY Labels

I am loving all the colors against the white wood – just my style –…la.


I also found pretty and colorful new file folders at Walmart – 3 for $1.00.  I will use them in a portable clear file I store on these shelves.

CarolinaPad pretty file folders

I could not decide which pattern I liked best so I bought all three.  Aren’t they yummy?


They are from When I got home from Walmart – I went online to check out their website – lots of pretty stuff to help you organize your life and more.

Home Office Storage Idea

If you have been reading my blog for awhile then you know I collect square and rectangular baskets.  Here is one way I use them: to neatly organize and stack the different types of paper we use in the computer printer.  Since they are stacked, they take up less room and can be moved easily to get to the paper you need.

Since half the battle of getting organized is being able to stay organized, I am a big believer in labeling everything.   Now everyone in my family knows which basket to find the paper they need. No more “Mom-min” anymore with – “Mom, Where is the printer paper”.

I attached the labels with large jewelry making jump rings, but a piece of wire or ribbon would work just as well.


How To Cover a Cardboard Magazine File with Gift Wrap





Supplies Needed:

Cardboard Magazine File – I found mine at Office Max. They are called Bankers Boxes and are extra wide.
Spray glue
Acetate sheets  – Acetate is used to protect the labels. I save box top packaging that is made of clear acetate. – Boxed cards, Christmas ornaments come with it.  Don’t throw it out – save it.  If you don’t have any -you can buy acetate sheets at a copy shop for a few cents a sheet
Optional:  craft knife and ruler if you need to cut the height of the file holder to fit your shelf height.

.pdf of Free Printable Labels

Download here:  Labels with Names or Blank Labels


Free Printable Magazine File Labels { inmyownstyle-com}

How-to-cover-a-magazine-file box

Optional:  I needed to cut the file boxes to fit the height of my shelf. I used a straight edge and a craft knife to cut away a half inch from the top edge.


1. Carefully open the box as shown so that it is flat. Once you cover it with gift wrap you will glue it together again.


2. Lay file box flat and cut gift wrap slightly larger than the box.

Giftwrap-covered-magazine-file tutorial

3.  Lay gift wrap right-side face down. Spray glue on outer side of file box, let it get tacky and lay it on wrong side of gift wrap. If there is a pattern on the gift wrap, make sure it is straight.   Cut excess gift wrap into tabs, spray glue around edge of box, let get tacky and then fold the tabbed gift wrap over to secure.  Note: If gift wrap is thin – don’t use spray glue on the back of it as it may bleed through – just spray it on the box.


4. Once you have the box covered, use a line of hot glue (as shown on tab above) to glue it together again.

Home Office Organizing Ideas

5. Fold opposite side on top of hot glue.  It will go right back into place.  Place something heavy on top of it until the hot glue cools.

Container-Store-Knock-Off-Magazine File Box

6. Fold box following instructions on the bottom tabs.

How to Make The Labels

Free-Printable-Magazine-File Labels

1. Print out .pdf of labels on cardstock.  If you want to use fonts on your computer for your labels, open the pdf in a program where you can write over them. I know you can do this in Photoshop Elements. If not, use a pen and write directly on them.  I used the font Engravers MT. Place a piece of acetate over it and then cut around the border of the label so the acetate and the label are the same size.


2. Use a hole punch to make two holes in the label.


3. Mark on the box with a pencil where the brass fasteners will go. I held the label up and make a mark on the box with the pencil point into each hole on the label.  I removed the label and used the tip of the pencil to make the hole a tad bit bigger.


4.  Attach to the box with brass fasteners. Spread the tips out inside the box to secure.


There are many ways to attach labels to things  – brass fasteners, glue dots, jump rings, wire, and ribbon are a few that I have used.

Containter-Store-Magazine-File Knock-offs

I have posted about a few different types of free printable labels in the past -You can find and download them in this post - How to Make Wipe-Off Labels

Giftwrap Covered Magazine File Tutorial


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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lyn January 7, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I love this idea! Great money saver and still pretty and practical. Thank you for the printable labels.


2 Debbie January 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Very neat!


3 Chrissy Farnan January 7, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Love these!! So clever.


4 Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions January 7, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Love these, Diane! The colors are so bright and cheery looking. Those magazine files are on my list of things to get when I finally get myself to Ikea.


5 Diane Henkler January 7, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Hi Kathy – I love the storage the files provide – they keep anything that fits into them out of site, easy accessible and in pretty order. :) Enjoy your trip to IKEA. I am sure you will end up walking out with a few more goodies. Hard to pass up all the stuff they have right near the check-out lines.


6 Jenna, SAS Interiors January 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Great ideas and the labels are awesome, Diane! I’m jealous of that gorgeous paper you have – where I’d you get them. I’ll have to look for those files at Walmart. Love the designs. xo Jenna


7 Diane Henkler January 7, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Hi Jenna – I am always on the look out for decorative paper and never spend more than $ 3 or $4 a roll. I find it a Marhall’s, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Target, and Walmart.


8 Kerry@homecrush January 7, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Love these, and love your paper storage baskets too! I’m going on a hunt for those file folders and some baskets for my new office tomorrow!


9 Aisha Johnson January 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I love your magazine files. They are really cute! How much would you estimate you saved by making your own?


10 Diane Henkler January 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Thanks Aisha – I made 6. If I bought them they would have cost me $60, plus tax. I made 6 for under $20. Each box costs around $2.50. The gift wrap and the spray glue costs very little as you don’t need much. I didn’t have to go out and buy any gift wrap. IF you did, figure it would cost a few dollars more.


11 Athena at Minerva's Garden January 8, 2013 at 3:21 am

I love all your great organizing ideas in this post, Diane! I like the square and rectangular baskets too, and have used a few for organizing items on our new bookshelf in the dining room. I also really like the labels–I’ll have to use them in my office area! Also want to let you know that I got the cute trio of autumn cookie cutters from the dairy today–they are great, and thank you so much for the nice giveaway!


12 Diane Henkler January 9, 2013 at 10:16 am

Thanks Athena – thanks for telling me the you received the cookie cutters. I hope you get to make and enjoy many cookies with them for your family and friends.


13 Pam Clark January 8, 2013 at 5:21 am

I had to get all 3 file folder patterns at Walmart when I saw them too! I’m 3rd grade teacher, so I use lots of them and am a sucker for pretty, colorful additions to my stash!


14 Diane Henkler January 9, 2013 at 10:14 am

Hi Pam – when I saw the display I got excited and thought, “how am I ever going to be able to choose a pattern”, then I saw the price and brought them all home. I am a sucker for all things office or school supply related. Pretty pens, papers, tablets, note cards…I love them and have to restrain myself sometimes, but in this case – $1 for 3 really pretty file folders was quite a deal that I could not pass by.


15 Vanessa January 8, 2013 at 9:26 am

Hi, Diane

I just love you! You are always thinking about all the small details that goes in every project. You are a woman after my own heart. LOL, Thank you so much for sharing this project and for the labels. Plan on using these lovelies for my reorganization of my office as well.

You Rock!


16 Diane Henkler January 9, 2013 at 10:06 am

Thanks Vanessa – I love the details, they are the easiest way to take something basic and make it your own. It feels good to clean out, purge, and set things up in a new way for the new year – enjoy the process of reorganizing your office.


17 Beth January 8, 2013 at 9:39 am

LOVE! Thanks so much for sharing your ideas! I absolutely love your website….


18 Diane Henkler January 9, 2013 at 9:58 am

Thanks so much Beth XO


19 Patricia in Denver January 8, 2013 at 11:32 am

I did the same thing for the magazine files, but I used large cereal boxes instead of buying them. I simply cut them to size and they work fine. Thanks for the labels!


20 Diane Henkler January 9, 2013 at 9:57 am

Hi Patricia – great idea to use cereal boxes, plus it is always good to recycle and repurpose – Love that! Will have to try making a few. Thanks for sharing.


21 Serena @ Thrift Diving January 8, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Great job, Diane! They look yummy, indeed!

Thrift Diving


22 Diane Henkler January 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

Hi Serena – Thanks. I do love to see colors all mixed together. They are so appealing and eye catching – just like a goodies in a bakery window. I want them all. :)


23 Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tips January 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm

You really do the best tutorials. And have the perfect combination of projects that deliver great results, are practical, but do-able and thrifty. I really appreciate that. Thanks for the incentive to gussy up my own office space. I have cut down cardboard wine boxes to use as magazine holders, and used wallpaper to cover just the part that shows — totally tacky, and I’m tired of it!


24 Diane Henkler January 9, 2013 at 9:52 am

Hey Barbara – I get tired of things, too. Sometimes too quickly :) I love to change things around, especially this time of year. New and different is always fun. Wine boxes are made of nice sturdy cardboard so I think you are pretty smart to use them. Maybe just cover them with some new paper to refresh and update the look.


25 Rose January 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm



26 Katharine from Kat's Almost Purrfect World January 9, 2013 at 12:00 am

I’ve been thinking of doing this to my plain IKEA folders. Using the hot glue when putting it together is a good idea. I have this pretty wrapping paper I’ve been saving and wanted a special project for it. I wish the dollar tree still carried it. It has a soft blue background with tea cups all over it. I used wrapping paper for the back of my book shelves. I got a white damask like paper from Papyrus (I love to look at that store). Thanks for sharing another project. P.S. Is your hole puncher smaller than the standard size?


27 Diane Henkler January 9, 2013 at 9:42 am

Hi Katharine – Yes, the punch is smaller -it is 1/8″. The standard size is 1/4″. You can buy it at any craft or office supply store. They even sell them on Amazon. I use it more than my standard punch.


28 Leanne: A Little Bit Fabulous January 9, 2013 at 6:21 am

Oh I absolutely LOVE this – so cute and a great way to brighten up an office area! FABULOUS!! xx


29 Yvonne @ StoneGable January 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Diane, your organizing is not only very functional… but very very pretty! Thanks for all the great tips and hints and the file cover DYI! Those labels are wonderful!!!
Please stop over at StoneGable and share your great ideas at TUTORIALS TIPS AND TIDBITS, going on now!!! WOW!


30 Victoria January 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm

These are all great! Thanks for the printables and for showing off the great patterns available. You’ve inspired me to try projects like this again!


31 Michelle Hilton January 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Wonderful article, I look forward to all your posts because they are always filled with great ideas. I never thought about saving the acetate from packaging. I moved recently, organizing is my New’s Years resolution, great article to get started with. Hoping you might have some kitchen/pantry organizing tips to pass along. Thank-you for the tags template, so helpful. I saved it as a photo & used Picmonkey (quick & easy) to make my tags. They have lot’s of fun fonts & colors.


32 Donna M January 11, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I am in love with this shelf. I can pour through websites all day just looking at pretty boxes.
What do you have in between your wicker baskets to keep them from sinking into one another?


33 Diane Henkler January 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Hi Donna – The paper inside each basket holds them up. When it get low and I don’t have any new paper to refill – I add some pieces of cardboard in the basket until I get more paper.


34 Lura January 16, 2013 at 10:42 am

wow! Thanks for solving my problem this morning. I’ve been needing some filing boxes like these but didn’t want to spend so much on them! These are great.



35 Lauren from MomHomeGuide January 16, 2013 at 2:34 pm

This is a fantastic tutorial — thanks so much! I am going to use your tips (and labels) to neaten and pretty up wall-to-wall bookcases that are in an upstairs loft area in my home. :)


36 Lauren from MomHomeGuide January 16, 2013 at 5:44 pm

I like the idea of using cereal boxes to create the magazine boxes — we eat a lot of cereal in my house!


37 Meg February 5, 2013 at 11:06 am

Wow! You did a great job…so pretty to look at! I love how you stacked the baskets – I would have never thought of that! Thanks for all of these great ideas.


38 Mel the Crafty Scientist February 23, 2013 at 6:26 pm

I LOVE this idea and the free labels! Thank you so much for sharing them! The colors look gorgeous too! : )

-Mel the Crafty Scientist


39 Kelli D February 27, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Love the 3 small “plants” on top of your shelving – where did you find them?


40 Diane Henkler February 28, 2013 at 2:45 pm

They are a pretty recent find. I could not resist buying them. I found them at Marshalls.


41 Patty Chisholm July 25, 2013 at 10:05 am

This was very helpful. I am about to redo my craft/computer room and this gave me some great ideas to use. Thank you.


42 Alathia August 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Hi! I just found your lovely blog from IHeartOrganizing. I have a silly question. =o) How did you mount the labels on the woven boxes on the very top shelf? I have the same lidded boxes and they desperately need labels. Thank you!


43 Diane Henkler August 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Hi Alathia – Thanks for stopping by. I used glue dots. The brand I used is called Zots singles to attach the labels on the woven boxes. I think they are made to use in Scrapbooking and are made by Therm-0-Web. They sell them in the craft store. I used the large size which are about the size of a dime. They are easy to remove and won’t damage the surface.


44 JKP August 15, 2013 at 12:29 am

Thanks for this awesome tutorial. I also came to your site via iheartorganzing. I am curious how you organize the items inside magazine files?


45 Ebony August 15, 2013 at 9:30 am

Just discovered you from simply, i love you. Thanks so much for showing your DIY techniques. I’m trying to prepare for 3 boys starting school in the next 2 weeks and I think I’ll become a copy cat. THANK YOU!!!!


46 Kelsey F September 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Where did you find the acrylic file organizer??? I have been looking for one for a while now. I found one at The Container Store, but wanted to see if there were more options out there before I purchased. Thank you!


47 Diane Henkler September 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm

I found the clear acrylic file holder at Walmart.


48 Ginger October 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Your ideas are so great and your instructions very clear and easy to follow. Thanks for the great labels!


49 Susan December 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I’m so excited about your blog – i want to make ALL your projects! Thanks so much for sharing!


50 Kathi S. January 24, 2014 at 7:03 am

Thanks for this super easy and fun organizing tip, also the tags are just lovely, and exactly what I was looking for.
Thanks Again :)


51 Traci@BeneathMyHeart March 1, 2014 at 9:13 am

Hi Diane!
I LOVE your organizing ideas for your cabinet! It looks so beautiful and fresh. :)
I would love to feature this post on my organizing blog, Organize and Inspire. Would that be okay? I would use one picture, and give you full credit with a link to your blog.
Just let me know!


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