Thursday, December 6, 2012

How I Built our Cubby Organizer

I want to share with you how I made our Cubby Organizer!

I designed and built this from an inspiration from Pottery Barn.  They have a Hotel Cubby style organizer they offer.  I wanted mine to have a different look than theirs.  I wanted mine to have more of a front on each cubby so this is what I came up with!

2-  8 foot 1x4 pine boards  
1- 12 foot 1x4 pine board  (with 2- 8 foot and 1- 12 foot 1x4's, you 
           should have enough pine board material to make all of the
           cuts for your cubbies.)
1- sheet smooth finish thin plywood 1/4in. thickness (Purchased               from Lowe's)
wood glue
25- label holders (mine are 2 1/4 in wide by 3/4 in tall)
50- extra small screws mine were 2x1/4
1 1/4 in Brad Nails
Brad Nailer
Miter Saw
Circular Saw
Palm Sander
White Paint
Stain of your choice
Drill & 1/16 drill bit

*****Special Note*****  I'm going to give you the cut list, BUT Before you cut the 1x4 pine boards, Make sure you Paint, sand, and stain your boards first!  This will save you so MUCH Time! With the small size of each cubby, it will be difficult to paint sand and stain each one after they are cut and assembled, so remember to paint, sand and stain first!!!  

The above Directions I give to paint first then sand it off then stain over it is for a Barn wood look like the way mine looks.  You can paint it really anyway you want.  If you don't want a barn wood look, you can just paint your boards the color of your choice and then begin cutting and assembling your cubbies. :)

Cut List:  ***Note, it does not matter which of the 8 foot or 12 foot boards you make your cuts from, they all need to be cut up.

From 1x4's make the following cuts: 
20- Blocks cut at 4 1/2 inches long each (Divider boards)
6- Boards cut at 23 1/4 inches long each (Row boards)
2-Boards cut at 27 1/4 inches long each (Side end boards)

From the Plywood: 
1 Board cut 24 5/8 in wide by 27 1/4 inches tall (Back Board) *** This board can be painted after it is cut.
3-4 strips cut 1 1/2 in wide.   Paint, sand, and stain these strips while they are still long strips, before you cut them into the fronts of each cubby.  This will save you time again!

Ok.  You have your wood purchased.  As I mentioned above, Paint the 12 foot long boards white first! The blocks in the picture are just for show, do not cut them yet!

Next sand each of the 12 foot long boards down as much as you want them to be sanded..  I sanded mine quite a bit.

Stain your 12 foot boards however dark you want them to be.  I used Minwax Black Walnut

Now you can cut out of the 12 foot pine boards,  your blocks, row boards and side boards.  Use the cut list above.

Now you can start assembling.  Before I nailed mine, I laid out the boards to see how it was going to come together.

Time to start assembling your first row.

Take a board 23 1/4 in long.  Take 4 blocks cut 4 1/2 in long.

Measure over from the left 4 inches.  Set a block on the row board.

 Draw lines on each side of the block.  Lay a bead of glue down in between the lines.

Turn the row board on its side and nail the block to it.  This has to be exact and flush so your cubbies turn out lined up with each other.

For the second block... measure over from the closest side of the first block you just nailed.  Measure over 4 inches.  Mark on each side, glue and turn it on its side to nail that block on.

For the third Block, repeat the same steps.  Measure over, mark, glue, turn on side and nail.

Again for the fourth block, repeat the same steps.

At this point you will have a finished row.  do not put any blocks on the ends, your side boards will provide that.

Now you need to make 4 more of these rows until all 20 blocks are nailed onto 5 separate rows total.  

Once your 5 rows are made, you need to start nailing them to each other.  This part also has to be very exact so the cubbies are not thrown off.

Take a row with the 4 blocks on it. Place glue ontop of each of the exposed blocks.
Take another finished row with 4 blocks on it.  Place it on top of the blocks with the row board touching each of the blocks below. Make sure they are exactly lined up.  Now you have to anchor this top row to the bottom row of blocks.  This is where you will need to toe nail them from the front at an angle in towards the back to anchor each board. Swing the project around to the back and toe nail the back of the row just like you did the front. To anchor it more securely.

Repeat this again for each row of boards with blocks on them. Always remember to toe nail them at the back too.

Repeat this until all 5 rows are toe nailed on.  Once all of your 5 rows are anchored.  Now you can glue and nail your last row board on the top.  Once that top board is nailed to the blocks below.  You can put the side boards on.  Make sure your rows are flush with the sides. (Some of your cubbies may be off, some of mine were, I had to swing some rows around and adjust them.) Once everything is lined up, glue and nail your side boards on at the corners and at the end of each row.

Here it is with all rows and sides on...

If you haven't cut your back board and front strips, you can cut them now.  

Once the back board and strips are cut, paint, sand and stain them.

Nail your Back board on. Make certain to nail it to the blocks and rows and that you do not puncture through to the front.

With your front strips, measure and mark each strip at the front of each cubby.  You have to custom cut each of these front pieces, because the sizes of the cubbies are all just a little bit different measurements.

Once your front board is cut, take a label holder and center it on the front board.  On mine, I used a 1/16 drill bit.  I centered my label holders on each of the front boards.  My label holders are 3/8 of an inch down from the top and roughly 3/4 of an inch in from each side.
Here are the labels  and screws I used.
The Labels I got from JoAnn fabrics online.  They come 5 to a package.  They are made by K& Company. The screws I found at Lowes.  The label holders I bought did not provide screws.

Once the label holder is on, glue it in its proper cubby with wood glue. Wipe off excess glue.  I did not nail mine because the wood is so thin.

Job completed!!!

I have a Facebook Page.  I would absolutely LOVE it if you signed up to follow me on Facebook!  Thanks, you're wonderful!!!!!

Visit my Etsy Shop HERE!

I have just finished another similar set of cubbies that I used for my daughter's Birthday Party!  If you would like to see these cubbies, you can do so here or by clicking on the picture below:

We have loved our cubbies!  I loved designing and building this!  I had a vision of what I wanted so I sketched it out in my idea notebook one night when I couldn't sleep. (Do you love all the pencil scribbles compliments of my little toddler?) :)

If you do build one of these yourself, I hope you enjoy yours as much as we have ours.  I plan to use mine for different holidays crafts and decor.  Currently it is serving as our Advent Calendar countdown to Christmas! If you would like to read more about our Advent Calendar, you can here or by clicking on the picture below.

If you would like to read more about how I made the peppermint that is the marker for our advent calendar, you can do so here, or by clicking on the photo below.

If you would like to see other things I have built, you can see that here or by clicking on the photo below!

Thanks for reading!
With Much Love & Gratitude,

Pin It


  1. What an awesome project! I've been wanting something I could use for an advent display for different holidays. You've come up with the perfect thing. Thanks for all the detailed instructions!!!

    1. Oh thank you! absolutely! I have been dreaming up this idea for a while and I finally had the chance to do it and we loved it as an advent calendar!!! thanks so much!!

  2. THis is such a great tutorial. It is a lovely project and one that you can use for many things. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you! thank for reading and your sweet comments! It really has been fun to have in our home!

  3. Michelle it's beautiful. I'm just finding you now and wish I had done so sooner - your projects are amazing, we have tons in common (build, paint, create + kids!). Following now.

    1. Thank you! Thank you for your sweet comments. So glad we have such common loves!! :)

  4. New follower from being featured on Knock Off Decor. I am so impressed with your cubby. I also am very impressed with your tutorial. I feel like I could make one myself. Thanks so much for being so detailed about everything on it. You are an inspiration. Happy New Year :)

    1. Oh thank you! I tried to be very clear with every step on how to build it. It was fun to design and build! thank you for your sweet comments! :)

  5. I love this soooo much! I think this would make great storage for all my little crafting things; I think I'm going to need to make my husband make me one since I don't have the time. Thanks for such a great tutorial! I also found you through Knock Off Decor and I'll be following your blog now :)

    1. Oh would absolutely make a great storage for crafts, I have thought that too and so many other items to store in it!!! I can't wait to use it for other things! I hope you enjoy yours!!

  6. I'm too lazy to attempt to make this, but I think yours is absolutely incredible! I like it better than the one from Pottery Barn! I hope you'll come by and share this at the Knick of Time Tuesday Vintage Style Party!
    Happy New Year!
    Angie @ Knick of Time

  7. You are a angel! I have been combing the internet for plans just like this , but to store smaller lego parts in. And you have them for me. Thank you. I am going to modify a bit and use 1x6 boards. Thanks again, so much! I may build 2, one for me too!

  8. Beautiful cubby. I want to make one! Question.....why did you paint then sand it off then stain? Do i need to paint it first? Thanks for the help

  9. Hello! I did all of those painting steps so it would have a Barn wood look. This is how I did it: I paint it white first. Next I sand some of the paint off so when the stain is applied next, the white will show up through the stain to give it a weathered or Barn wood look. I do all of this before I cut and assemble the project because with each cubby being only 4 inches in size, it is hard to paint and sand and stain each cubby. So that is why I recommend doing all of that first before you cut your wood and assemble. Hopefully that all makes sense.

    Now if you don't want a barn wood or weathered wood look, you don't have to paint and then sand it off. you can just paint it any color you want. You have two choices, You can paint it before you begin cutting or wait until you build it and then paint. I just recommend having the boards all painted and stained first before you start cutting because painting each of the cubbies once it is assembled is very time consuming. It is easier to paint the boards when they are all long and uncut instead of built as a cubby. Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions. Hopefully you get this response. You can also email me directly at I'll just need your return email address so I can reply directly to you. Thanks again. :)

  10. I LOVE love LOVE this cubby! Thanks for the tutorial! Using it as an advent calendar makes it even more awesome. :)
    Definitely following from now on. :)

  11. This is awesome. I've been wanting to build one of these for my craft room. Thank you so much for the tutorial! I just pinned it.

  12. This is just beautiful! You've got my wheels turning, trying to find somewhere in my house that "needs" this. lol


  13. Oh My! I love it. You are so talented. Thanks for sharing how you made it. I so want to make my own now.

  14. Just found your post through Pinterest! Great tutorial! thanks so much for sharing. This may be a summer project for my craft room.

  15. wow, this is fab and your instructions look very easy to follow...I now just need to persuade my hubby to make this for me ;) thank you for sharing your talent

  16. This turned out so great! And I am so happy that you included a tutorial, I think I may try adding your cubbies to a mud room bench that I refinished, it would make a perfect shoe organizer (if I made the slots slightly bigger). Thanks again for the great post!

  17. This is AWESOME! Putting the front lip on the cubbies gives the unit a card catalog look without having to construct drawers! Brilliant design!! And I love the finish
    i wonder- perhaps this could be built with recycled pallet wood- saving the work of finishing it to look worn? Not sure of the measurements. And using it for an advent calendar?! Perfect! I have 4 daughters- a tiny little box or envelope simply doesn't cut it lol. Kudos to you!!

  18. Oh my goodness...soo in love with this! Thank you for sharing!

  19. Wow! I can't believe you did this all alone. I am amazed!

  20. Love it!!! Found it on Pinterest!
    Kindest regards,

  21. You have done a lovely job with this. Been eyeing one but hating the price tags I see. Going to follow on FB and Pinterest!

  22. I think this,cubby is awesome and you are so good at giving directions I make doll clothes for American Girl and you have so many little items and things you use this will be prefect in my sewing room;right now I use plastic little containers and I hate having to hunt for the small items, taking off and on the lids;with this cubby I can see the label and reach right in. Thanks for sharing this great project.

  23. I love this and wanted an Advent calendar with a similar finish but couldn't find anything, so ended up buying one like the pottery barn advent. It seems like the finish has more than just walnut stain, maybe a grey wash of some sort? would you consider sharing the products you used to achieve this look along with a short tutorial? Thanks so much. Paula Watson

  24. I know this is a silly ? However really an important one to me, I have never ever been able to make wood glue stick, on a painted or stained surface, so I always ending painting or staining in the end, and YES, it gets tricky, what kind of glue did you use? I use elmers wood glue, and truly for the life in me, I have never managed to get a good bond at all unless i was using bare wood!
    Your projects are beautiful by the way, thank for the tutorial!

    1. Try gorilla glue, E6000 or if all else fails there is construction glue that comes in tubes like caulking which is sure to work. Personally I like Gorilla glue.

  25. Found this project on Pinterest, thank you so much! I'm currently in the process of building this. Question, though: How would you go about hanging this shelf on a wall? Do you have a tutorial for that??

  26. This is absolutely amazing!! Love it so much!!

  27. Great tutorial. I am just curious why you didn't drill pilot holes and use screws? It would be a little bit more secure and handle a bit more weight that way.

  28. Can you tell me how much this project cost you?

  29. This is amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  30. This is perfect. Thank you for taking the time to do a tutorial. It is well done and easy to follow.

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