If you read my previous post on “Transforming the Ordinary into the Extraordinary“, then you’ll remember me mentioning the mail station that childcare used to keep all the kids arts and crafts and ‘mail’ organized:

I searched all over the internet for a similar smaller scale solution.

My first thought was to find something espresso colored that would match my IKEA Expedit in the front room- something I could put on top of the cubbies for kids to use and parents to see (so they remember to grab their kids’ stuff and take it home).  But everything I found in espresso or black only had 2-4 slots, and everything else was the wrong color.

Or huge!  Like this piece for $257!

I only have 3-4 families….usually only 6 kiddos max, so I only need one row of 6 slots…not 36 slots.  Not even 12 slots!

Sure I could buy a basic letter tray or letter organizer…like this one from Amazon.com

But that’s not the look I was going for.

Then I saw this one on Amazon.com:

Perfect!  Except it only comes in a gray or oak finish.  I need something I can paint white or stain espresso.  Maybe the gray isn’t too gray.

Then I started seeing these:

Construction Paper Organizers.  Heck, I could use one of those too!  But these bad-boys are running $50+ and again, they aren’t the right color.

What if I could find a white one?  A white finish would match my daycare room furniture and I could put the kids’ mail box one in the playroom, too.


So I started looking for white made-from-wood construction paper organizers and really couldn’t find anything for under $50.  I almost caved in and bought one of those cardboard units for $25.00 from Office Depot, but y-u-c-k.  Not my style.

I started thinking about ways I could make one myself…and thought about the Closetmaid shelves we have in our closets for shoes.

I know they come in white (or espresso obviously).  Could I modify this in such a way to turn it into a mail station /slash/ construction paper organizer?

Sure I can!

At ten bucks a pop (from Target.com) I ordered five of them.  Figuring I’d need a second unit in order to get 4 compartments tall, plus I’d need a shelf for the bottom- so I’d need half of a 3rd unit.   That’s 2.5 units per system.  Basically, $25.00 per system.

I ordered them and waited patiently.

When they arrived, I sat on them for a few days trying to figure out my plan.  Not literally, much like a babysitter does not really sit on kids.  But I sat on the idea (picture that one!).

I finally broke open the boxes to look at the predrilled construction and I was sad to see that the center shelf is not really perfectly centered.  Dang!  Maybe once it’s built it won’t be so noticeable.  I used a right-angle ruler to ensure my lines were straight and I measured half-way between the pre-drilled holes and marked where I would need to drill.  And then I drilled.  And then I took a piece of paper and made a template of what I had just done so that for my next 3 boards I could just drill through the template.  Flip it over for the other side- voila!

Lo and behold…. here’s what I constructed:

It doesn’t have the middle dividers (that would involve me getting out the saw and require very precise drilling and pegs and all that good stuff).

Much better than our old paperwork system:

Here’s the construction paper organizer I made, too!

For the full view of our Art Station:

I had 6 sides leftover, which I assembled into a divided cubby for Riley’s room:

It sits on top of her existing cubbies and doesn’t match exactly- but good enough.  It’s “bottomless” so what you are seeing is her supply of blank copy paper (for drawing on).

I saved the template (somewhere, not sure where) so if you want me to assemble a divided organizer for you, just let me know!  Easy peasy!