Organizing – How to Make Desk Drawer Dividers the Easy Way

How to make desk drawer dividers using small cardboard boxes to organize the contents of a desk drawer

I recently lined my desk drawer with pages from a thrift store book on lettering.  I love how it turned out, but since the drawer is nice and big, it needed some sort of organizing dividers to keep everything in the desk drawer from shifting around.

Drawer Dividers would also make it easy to find things and maintain as well as easy to find and keep organized.

 Restoration Style Home Office Decorating Ideas

In this photo, I love the way the drawers are divided with a simple label for each compartment.  The scan quality of the photo isn’t great, but if you look at the bottom left you can see what I am talking about.


I used a P-touch label maker to help me get my desk drawer organized like the one in the photo.

If you know me, you know I enjoy finding ways to re-purpose items. I went around my house and collected all the small boxes I could find.  I found quite a few since Christmas wasn’t that long ago. They held candy, jewels, checks, wallet, etc.

I used the tops and the bottoms of each box. Since the boxes were all different colors, I sprayed the top edges with spray paint just so they would look cohesive.

Drawer organizing ideas for your home office desk

I also picked out a few pieces of scrapbook paper and lined the boxes using a few decorative patterns. I still have to collect more boxes, but you can see how I have created pretty dividers to organize all my drawer junk. The boxes can be changed and rearranged in many different ways – they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

How to Make Desk Drawers Dividers Using Boxes and Scrapbook Paper

supplies needed:

  • An assortment of small boxes
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Paper Cutter
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil/Colored Pencil
  • Glue Stick
  • White Cardstock
  • Labels
Drawer organizing ideas

Make a Liner for Each Box (optional)

How-to-line-a-box-with-scrap paper

1. Lay scrapbook paper right-side down. Trace the top of the box on the paper making sure there is extra space all around that is the same measurement or taller then the height of the box.

2. Use a colored pencil/pen and a ruler. Make a line on each side of the box outline 1/8” inside the lines. This will allow for the fact that the inside of the box is smaller than the outside. If it is a very thick box, make the lines 1/4”.  Once you make one line – you will understand this step, if it seems confusing.

-Once the lines are made you need to score the lines. This is easily done by lining  up the ruler with each line and gently running the closed tip of a pair of scissors or a paper clip along the ruler. You don’t have to press too hard, you just want to make an indent in the paper.

3. Cut outside the lines to cut off each corner- so that no pencil marks show on the 4 tab like sections.

4.  Your lining should look like this.

Fit the Liner into the Box

 DIY Pretty Drawer Dividers

1.  Fold the score lines and place the paper into the box. If it is too big – adjust the size by taking another 1/8” off of one or more sides until it fits.

2. Once it fits, mark the height of the sides of the box on the liner. Remove and cut off excess.

3. Rub a glue stick all over the back of the liner.

4.  Place in box. Smooth the bottom and sides with your fingers to make sure the paper is adhered.  If you want to cover the outside of the box, measure the height and cut a strip to size.  Glue the strip around the box.

Make A Paper Strip for the Label

Drawer Organizing Ideas Tutorial

1.  Using a paper cutter – cut the card-stock into 1/2-inch strips.

2. Score down the center of each strip by running the closed tip of a pair of scissors along the ruler. This will create a scored line to fold the strip in half nice and neatly.

3.  Place the folded strip along the back of your lined box. Mark the length and cut with scissors.

4. Run a glue stick along the inside bottom of the strip.  Attach to top back of box. Smooth with your hands to make sure it is adhered.

5. Peel the backing from your label and attach to the paper strip.

6.  All done.

Organizing a Desk Made Fun

The P-Touch Label Maker I used was quite easy to use right out of the box. It came with one cartridge and full instructions.  I just started playing with it until I understood how it worked. It came with a diagram of all the sizes, fonts, and stylish designs you can create on the labels.

I just went with the simple Helvetica font. Once I made a few, I started having fun with it and thought of all the other places that could use a label – like the circuit breakers in the electrical box in the basement. We labeled that years ago, but the writing has faded and now it is a guessing game on which breaker is for what.

The labels made with the P-touch are said to be indestructible and will never fade.

The only downside I found using it was that it needed 6 AAA batteries – which can get costly if you start labeling everything in sight, like me. It would be more cost effective if you could just plug it into a wall socket, but then the initial price of the machine would be more.  The retail cost of the the P Touch runs around $39.99.

The labels come out the back of the machine once you press print.  There is a side button to press and your label is instantly cut.  It is quite fun and easy to use.


I am feeling very organized and I like the feeling, the feeling of order.

How to make Drawer-Dividers

Since I love the black and white lettered drawer liner, I added a few clear plastic boxes to the mix. They won’t need a scrapbook liner since they are see-through.

Drawer organizing ideas

This was a fun project since I love to organize.

Home Office Organizing Ideas

Once I was finished with the drawer, I started making labels  for the file folders in my file cabinet. The P-Touch only comes with one sample starter pack of tape and I used it up, so I will have to get a full roll to finish my file drawer on my next trip to Walmart or Staples.

It will be a huge milestone for me to finally have the files in the cabinet all nice and neat with easy to read labels instead of my scribbled on handwriting in all different colors of inks.

Update: If you want to make permanent drawer dividers, see this post: How to Make Wood Desk Drawer Dividers

If you like to label things: Check out my:  Free Printable Label Library. It is where I have lots of freebie labels for you to use all around your home.

Colorful DIY Drawer Organizers

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  1. Brandi Cancellieri says:

    Can’t wait to get started.
    Thank you.

  2. I really love your idea for the label edges Dianne. These boxes are so very pretty! I can see myself making more than one of these pretty little boxes, not only for my office desk but also for my sewing room. They would also look lovely on the inside shelving in my wardrobe.
    They also look pretty enough to be used on open shelving in my sewing room. As I have problems with my hands, I need carers to assist me with most things, so they might just be cursing you for giving me so many great ideas! :)
    If like me, you don’t have any small boxes suitable for your drawers, I have a suggestion for making your own boxes using Dianne’s instructions for the box liners.
    – You can make these boxes using cardboard boxes from shoe boxes or even boxes from the supermarket, depending upon how sturdy you want your boxes to be.
    Dianne’s instructions for the drawer liners will work well, but I’m just adding a couple of tweaks for making DIY boxes.
    1. Make a template of the cardboard boxes using Dianne’s instructions for the drawer liners.
    2. Next, cut 2 pieces of pretty paper using the same measurements that you used for the box, but make one of the pieces about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wider all around, for folding over the top edge of the box.
    3. Draw a line around the card on the inside base measurement and score as Dianne described for the lining.
    4. Cut the corners out of the cardboard as described by Dianne.
    5. Glue the pretty paper on both sides of the cardboard.
    6. Make diagonal cuts in the corners of the pretty paper from outside the corners, into the inside corner where the cardboard has been cut out.
    7. Fold up the sides of the covered cardboard and cover the top edge of the cardboard by turning the extra paper over the side edge.
    Then fold each corner piece over the other. This will give a more sturdy corner.

    These would also make for very pretty gift boxes (making lids to match), especially if covered with fabric. Thank you for such a lovely idea.

  3. Thank u so much for the tutorial! Now I am addicted to making cute boxes for everything. I find myself walking around the house looking for boxes to makeover like a lion looking from prey! :)

  4. Skintight says:

    Sweet. Will definitely copy.

  5. estelina sanchezhall says:

    You can always buy the batteries cheap with coupons and stock up. Also, office max runs them for $1 for 20 (with maxperks) about three times a year. If not, packing tape over cardstock makes for a good, wipeable label also that is inexpensive.

  6. Great idea and really beautiful boxes.

    I found it a little strange though that you complained about the cost of the batteries for your labeller. I too have this label model and MY major complaint is the cost of the tape cassettes. They are incredibly expensive plus this particular labeller wastes about two inches of tape per label. Not cost effective at all!

    1. Hi Jenny – When I wrote this post I did not know how much the cartridges cost, only the batteries that I had to buy. It came with 4 refills of tape. When I went to buy one, I could not believe how much they cost. I totally agree with you and wonder why they have to cost so much – Same with printer ink. I also agree with you that each label uses up more tape than needed. I always want it to stop right after it prints. :) We have outside valves and electrical pumps that the tape is wonderful for. It truly is industrustible from the sun, rain, snow, and cold. We use to use magic marker and that faded quickly. It really is a great machine, but the price of a refill makes me think “Do I really need to use this or can I make a label myself a whole lot cheaper.”

  7. I love this! You have helped me so much! definitely going to try it!

  8. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Oh, I so love your organized drawers……. and I am jealous. (grin).

  9. Marilyn Holeman says:

    As usual, you’ve gone the extra mile, and added in the pretty papers. It would make me happy whenever I opened the drawer.

    I’ve been using a label maker for several years, and don’t like using all those batteries, either, but using rechargeable ones makes it a little less painful!

    Thanks for the great ideas.

  10. Sandra Licher says:

    Thanks for the ideas! I have organized my drawers and used all kinds of free containers like you did but I did not cover the bottom of my drawer or use cute paper to cover the containers. No wonder it doesn’t look “done” or pretty either, yours does! It’s all in the details and you covered them all! I do have a label maker but it only has one font and I would like more. Mine was about $20.00 and doesn’t take as many batteries either but I want more style in my labels! You’ve got me going now and I am going to have to re-visit my drawers!

    1. Hi Sandra – The label maker is addicting, but a fun addiction. I can’t wait to get more tape so I can continue labeling everything. My friend came by yesterday and told me her hubs got her one for Christmas. Since getting it, she has labeled just about everything in her house :)

  11. What a great job organizing, I need to do that too.

  12. Laurel@Ducks in a Row says:

    Love how this looks – it would make me very very happy! I also love that you just made it work, but it still is very pretty!

  13. Upscale Downhome says:

    Really cute. I’d be happy every time I opened this drawer. I love the coordination of your papers.

    1. That’s what I like – happy! Why have it boring when pretty isn’t too hard to achieve and will add a little beauty to my day.

  14. Diane….as PO in Boston, I love making organizing pretty! Great job.

  15. They look so cute! Such a happy drawer. I love the Brother P-touch. I used one at my last job and now I’m going through withdrawal! I think I’m going to need one of my own.

    1. Hi Bettsi –
      When I first got it, I kind of was thinking – why do I need this thing -Waste of time and batteries. Once I started using it, I quickly changed my mind. I am enjoying it a lot! Who knew a label maker could be so much fun to use.

  16. beach house living says:

    Very neat and tidy for sure.
    We have a label maker but it’s doubtful a desk drawer would every be so organized around here.

  17. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    Nicely done, Diane! This post came at a good time ~ I just got a whole bunch of little jewelry gift boxes together this morning, and I was going to give them to my daughter. Now I’m not so sure!

  18. The enchanted home says:

    Wow this is sooo impressive and inspirational. One of the best tutorials I have seen in a long long time. So clever and very well done!

  19. Kim {ShopKim on Etsy} says:

    Love the idea of putting the paper on the inside! Going to have to try this.

  20. Diane,
    Is there a banner, crown jewel, award for you? You come up with the best, inexpensive, easy to do, “why didn’t I think of that,” ideas! I am convinced my mind doesn’t work that way although I do an okay job of “copy!”

    Such a great idea . . . once again thank, YOU!
    Love, Lynne

  21. I just cleaned out my desk drawers and am wishing I had some boxes I could use like you have. Unfortunately, I pitched them last week when I was decluttering.

  22. Nana Diana says:

    That is EXACTLY how I organize my own drawers…except…mine aren’t nearly that pretty! Love what you did here- xo Diana