DIY Storage Crate Seat

How to Change a Storage Crate into a Storage Crate Seat. An easy project that requires no sewing and can be made in an afternoon.

Last month I told you about my partnership with Waverly Inspirations where every month I will get sent a surprise box filled with fabrics, ribbon, paint, and other goodies. I am then challenged to create something pretty and useful out of the contents of the box within a given theme each month.

Waverly Inspirations fabrics used to make a storage crate seat using a milk crate

Here is the contents of this month’s box. The theme is “Back to School”.  As much as I love that back to school feeling and the chance to get a fresh new start, this was a true challenge since I no longer have anyone to get ready for back-to-school anymore.

I do however have lots of experience in doing so.  My most recent was when my daughters were in college and I helped them get what they needed to decorate and organize their dorm rooms in such a way that they could fit quite a bit into the tiny spaces.

When I first went to college, my mom had lots of clever ideas that combined decor and storage. She helped me make those first dorm room’s comfy and well organized. When it was my turn to help my daughters, I remembered what she did way back when and added a few new ideas to my arsenal so that we could get it done in a day. A few trips to Walmart were always part of the process.  I included some of what I did in a post I wrote which included an idea for Stackable Seating for Dorms.

What can you do with a milk crate or storage crates?

So to get myself inspired for all things back to school, I headed to Walmart to see what I could find to go with the fabric, ribbon and paint I was sent. As I kept my eyes peeled for inspiration I saw this line up of classic plastic storage crates.

Milk crates… now called storage crates are a timeless staple when it comes time to organizing just about anything very inexpensively. I think they got their start back in the 60’s when some creative hippie repurposed a simple milk crate, probably stolen from a supermarket or dairy back then since you could not buy them. They used it in their college dorm to store and organize their stuff and never knew that they paved the way for manufacturer’s to make and sell them as inexpensive vessels for decorative yet functional storage.

I know 9 out of 10 of you have used one or more of these super affordable, multi-functional storage crates in your life. I had 6 of them back in college. 3 lined up with a board on top and then 3 more on top of that board and then another board on top of those 3 to make a shelving unit in my college apartment. After college, I lined them up on the floor in my clothes closest and used them to hold shoes and folded sweaters.

They are the best stackable storage for a tight space like a dorm room or even a child’s room where they have lots of toys that need to be organized, but easily accessible. I even know a elementary school teacher that made a few of the seats and uses them in her classroom.

Double duty storage crate seats for dorm rooms. Using fabric and paint you can style up dorm rooms, classrooms, kids rooms and more using these milk crate storage crates. Step-by-step photo tutorial shows you how. Easy DIY

When I saw the colors the crates came in, I grabbed 3 that would go with the fabrics I was sent.  I made three storage crate seats, each one has a different top. I like to give you options. :-)

The key to transforming the storage crate into a seat is to get a piece of plywood cut to fit inside the lip around the inside of the storage crate. To make this easy, I had the lumber guy at the home improvement store cut it for me.

College dorm room storage idea using a stacking storage crate

For the pink storage crate, I used a ready made pillow-form to make a very soft pillow top cushion…

Cheap college storage for dorm rooms using plastic storage crates
…and 2″ thick foam for this turquoise seat.

Uses for milk crates and plastic storage crates

…and just used fabric over the plywood to make the seat for the neon orange storage crate.

Stackable storage using plastic storage crates. Perfect for dorm room decor.

The crates are so versatile. If you still want the stacking capability of the crates as well as using them as a seat, then you want to just wrap and staple fabric on the plywood since it will sit inside the crate and won’t interfere with the stacking capability.

When storing and keeping things organized, labels are a must. I used pre-made chalkboards. Using the holes in the storage crate design made it easy to thread the ribbon through to hang the chalkboard.

How to Make a Storage Crate Seat For Dorm Rooms, Classrooms and Kid’s Room

how to make a storage seat using a milk crate or storage crate

supplies needed:

Everything needed to make the seat is available at Walmart, except the plywood.

  • Sterlight Storage Crate – rectangular shape
  • 1 yard Waverly Inspriations fabric
  • Semi-gloss craft paint – I used the colors Lagoon, Sunshine, and Fuschia
  • 1 – 30″ long piece of ribbon
  • 1 – 8″ long piece of ribbon
  • 18″ x 18″ pillow form or 2″ thick cushion foam
  • 1/4″ thick plywood cut to size: 15-11/16″ x 12-11/16″
  • Chalkboard sign
  • Chalk
  • Staple gun and 1/4″ staples

how to make a cover for a milk crate or storage crate for storage and seating

  1. Have 1/4″ or 1/2″ thick plywood cut at the home improvement store. If using the Sterlite storage crates from Walmart, get the plywood cut to 15-11/16″ x 12-11/16″.  It will fit right on top of the lip inside the storage crates.

Waverly inspirations craft paint used to paint a storage crate seat

2. Paint one side of the plywood with semi-gloss craft paint. This color is called Lagoon. Let dry. Once the seat is completed, this will be the underside of the cover. It is an optional step but one that I like to do so that the top will look finished on both sides.

How to staple gun fabric to a storage crate cushion

3. Lay fabric on work table right side down, place pillow or foam next and then plywood with the painted side up.

easy to make cushion for a storage crate

Variation: If using a pillow form, staple the 4 corners of the pillow to the corners of the plywood first before covering with fabric.

dorm room decor DIY using storage crates

4. Bring the fabric up an over the the layers as if you were wrapping a gift box, but instead of gift wrap and tape, you are using fabric and a staple gun. Before stapling the fabric taut to the underside, fold the edges of the fabric so the edges look like a finished hem… all nice and neat.

milk crate seat tutorial

5. The underside should look like this. When using the pillow form, the corners are a little harder to smooth out, so you will have more excess at each corner then you will have if using 2″ foam to make your cushioned seat.

Removable cushion cover for a storage crate

6. To easily remove the seat from the crate, make a ribbon pull.  Cut an 8″ long piece of ribbon. Fold in half to make a loop and staple to the center of one short side of the top.

labels for organizing storage crates or milk crates

7. Remove twine from chalkboard sign and replace with a 30″- long piece of ribbon.  Tie on to the storage crate using the holes in the crate. Use chalk to write the contents of the crate on the chalkboard sign.

crafting with ribbon tricks


Use a skewer or toothpick to push the ribbon through the small holes in the chalkboard.

Dorm room storage idea that does double duty by using a storage crate to make it into a seat as well as a place for storage.

The seat cushion fits right into the storage crate and makes a pretty sweet seat.

Double duty storage crate seat for dorm rooms, teacher's classrooms, and kid's rooms.

Simply pull the ribbon loop to remove the seat cushion to access the contents of the crate.

Now… I know you have used one or more of these classic storage crates in your life. Please tell me… How have you used or still use these them in your home?

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  1. Katy Perry says:

    I have 3-4 milk crate, I also want to try for making a seat and decorate it with your idea’s. I always think that how did you get this types of a creative idea.

  2. OMG! You’ve done it again…I really wish I had it together and read this text when you posted it earlier this month. Instead I was freaking out, disconnected from the world trying to prepare (myself and) my first child for college. I dropped her off last weekend and she could have really used these crates…I better get busy! Thank you for sharing:)

    1. I followed these directions on how to make them but I had an epic fail. My seat cushions kept falling through the middle of the crate. I don’t know why this is happening because I had my plywood cut at home depot with the crate in hand and they measured it. Any help or has anyone had this issue before? Feeling frustrated and like I wasted my money.

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        hhCori – The only thing I can think of that went wrong is that your milk crate is older or didn’t have an inset along the top edge. Most crates have this.The crates I used from Walmart have a little ledge right along the inside top edge. This is what the wood sits on. Take a look at your crate to see if it has this. If it does not, then you would have to have the wood cut larger so the wood sits on the outer edge. I hope this makes sense.

  3. Love this idea! Great muli-purpose use in those ever so small dorm rooms.

  4. I still have 3 from college! 1 is used to store Deco-mesh in my craft room and 2 store extra household items in the garage. They are so versatile.

  5. I loke your storage crate seats, in particular the pink one. Can you make and sell some for me?

  6. I have a closet full of crates that I use for fabric storage. Milk crates are the best!

  7. Ashley @ the handmade home says:

    This is adorable – awesome as always, Diane! Such pretty colors! LOVE it.

  8. Gorgeous fabric and paint colors. I love these for even my girls room. Thanks for the inspiration Diane

  9. Jean Cogdill says:

    Your right, it seems most every garage sale you see one or two of these crates. Nice that they are sturdy enough to hold up for a longggg, lonnnnngggg time! LoL…. I had one that I used that was divided into slots to be used for a file system. So I filed music in it that I used for when I belonged to a double trio. It’s only been a few months ago that I finally sorted it out and got rid of the crate. We like you used them along with boards to store kids toys and books. Easy to use, close to the floor; (so the kids could use them easily) and when you are done using them… pick up boards and put away! Pretty versatile.

  10. I love the pretty colors that you use in your home! The crates look wonderful & were such a good idea. I have 3 crates stacked on top of each other in the garage & sitting on a chest. I keep boxes of trash bags, extra laundry detergent & extra supplies like that in those. They look cute stacked & make the supplies easily accessible.

  11. as always Diane, your creativity amazes me fabulous for any room needing a bit of extra brightness

  12. Diane @ An Extraordinary Day says:

    Diane, you are so creative! I LOVE this idea and I might even know a few college gals to share it with!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Diane… Thanks so much. You are too! XO

  13. I have a set of these containers, solid version – no holes, that have been around for about 25 years. Toy storage, shelving dividers, tool holders, craft supplies – the evolution goes on and on. They are the best investment ever! Love what you did with them using your Waverly challenge. Great job! Love the colors!

  14. Great ideas! Moving my daughter to college this Friday and I might have to make some of these for extra seating/storage for her suite.

  15. Daisy Claremont says:

    I love those fabrics! They are at Walmart? This is such a great project, I cannot wait to show my girls.

  16. Wow! Your post brings back memories of the time I made these for my classroom. My students loved sitting on them during small group time. I love your colors!

  17. Very cute! I am working on putting together a basement game room area so my kids can invite their friends over and have a space of their own. Some DIY crate storage seats like yours would work perfectly in the space!

  18. Melissa Leach says:

    I have never used milk crates for storage before. Now that they are easily available for purchase I will consider for under the sink storage. Hopefully I’ll have enough room for stacking. Thanks for the inspiration. You did a fantastic job with your challenge :)