DIY Car Organizer

The wind is howling and the temperature is dropping – time for a little DIY project!

Many of us live in our cars, and therefore keep a lot of things inside of them. Unfortunately, these items can end up in a cluttered jumble, so I thought I would share with you how to make an organizer to fit into the center console of a car.

Of course, everyone’s car is a bit different, so although I am providing dimensions for the organizer I made, feel free to adapt this design to one that fits inside of your car.

The first thing I did was gather supplies for the project. I used:

  • Foam core (1 large sheet)
  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Exacto knife
  • Cutting board
  • Ruler
  • Glue

My next step was to empty out the console and wipe it clean. Here is what I wanted to organize:

Car Clutter

[Note: this a good time to clear away any items you don’t need to keep in the car!]

The next step was to measure the dimensions of the console area, taking note of anything that was “sticking out” into the space (in my case, an outlet.) This is how mine looked:

Measure your console

Now came the “thinking” part. I sketched a few ideas out on graph paper until I had a design that I thought would hold all of my items. I made space to hold my pens & pencils along the back, and smaller items closer to the driver’s side. I decided to make a base (piece #1 in the drawing below.) This would be one large piece, with three flaps folding up on three sides. I only made three flaps so that the left side would be open for easy access to the outlet. This piece is optional: you can simply build the center unit (pieces #2-#6) and let it freely “float” in your console. My base piece measured 10 3/8″ square, and then I cut corners out of the top right and bottom right corners. The corners measured 2 5/8″ by 2 5/8″.

Here is the aerial design:

Aerial View of the Organizer

Now I needed to decide how tall each piece would be, making sure that they would be tall enough to hold my belongings in place, but not so tall as to make it difficult to reach inside. Here are the elevation drawings for the center pieces. Note that I notched out pieces so that the foam core could interlock. Also, on piece #3, I drew a dotted line to indicate where a fold would be.

Elevation Drawing of Pieces 1
Elevation View of Pieces 2

Now it was time to start the cutting. I used my Exacto knife to cut out each of the pieces of graph paper.

Cutting out the templates

Then I traced around these templates onto the foam core, and then cut them out.

Transfer templates to foam core

Next it was time to cut the folded edges, which is easily done on foam core. Simply cut only halfway through the board on the back side – much like you would score a piece of meat – and then gently “snap” it towards you. This is a photo of the base piece, upside down, so you can see how the folds work.

Cutting a fold

The next step was to fit the inside pieces together at the notched out points. Pieces #2 and #4 have their notches facing down, while pieces #5 and #6 have their notches facing up. Piece #3 – the one with the fold – has its left notch facing down, and it’s right notch facing up. This gives the structure stability. If you want, you can dab a bit of glue on the pieces before assembling.

Fit the pieces together

The last step was to set the inside piece into the base and fill it up. Here is how it looks now in my car…

Finished Car Organizer

You can see how I am able to plug in my phone charger. Yes, the cord drags over the top of the organizer, but I can still reach my items.

I love having my items organized so I can easily grab what I need. It is a big improvement over the mess of loose items which I had before.

Not everyone enjoys a DIY project, but I thought it was fun. What do you think? Would you make yourself a car organizer?

35 thoughts on “DIY Car Organizer”

  1. I love it! I would usually prefer to buy it as opposed to making it. I’m just not that crafty or patient. I wonder if the snap and break divider system from the container store would cut out a few steps for us non DIYers? Better yet, maybe I’ll get my crafty husband to make one for me. Thanks for sharing!
    Jamie Steele recently posted…Techie Thursday | Bootable DrivesMy Profile

    1. I love a craft project, so this was fun for me. My father is an architect, and he had me working with foam core from a young age — actually called it “marshmallow board.” It really is so versatile and pretty sturdy. But I know not everyone enjoys making things from scratch. I imagine you can find aftermarket organizers in car supply stores as well!

  2. What a great idea and I can make it this weekend. I love having a clean and organized car because you’re shut up in such a small space in a car. I don’t want a bunch of stuff in that small space, too.

    1. Yes, and when I’m driving, I like to be able to easily reach into that small space and grab my chapstick! Anyway, fun for people like us, right Susan?

    1. Foam core is one of the most versatile products ever invented! My father was an architect and made all of his models out of it (back in the day before computers…) He taught me how to use it, and I have it all over!

    1. Yes, it is kind of hard core.. not for everyone, but something fun for the true DIY organizer! I imagine you can buy these in an auto aftermarket supply store, but I had fun doing it!

    1. DIY is not for everyone, but I have some followers out there who have been asking for this kind of thing. Maybe share with your husband and get a great gift out of it!

  3. Wow, you are so organized (well obviously!). We are actually driving a rental car at the moment and are on the hunt for a used car and just starting test driving one today so this is very timely for me. I think we need to start with good habits about not leaving junk in the car we don’t need to prevent it from becoming too much of a mess. Having compartments also seems like a very smart idea. ~ Jessica

    1. Having everything where I can easily find it (even while I’m driving) just makes me happy! I don’t post a lot of DIY, but thought it might be fun to mix it up a bit:)

    1. I imagine you can buy an organizer in an auto aftermarket supply store. I don’t post a lot of DIY, but I do enjoy these kinds of projects, and it really isn’t too terribly difficult. But I know it isn’t for everyone:)

    1. Makes me smile every time I flip open the lid on the console. I can reach and get exactly what I need in a second. And it really was pretty easy to make:)

    1. My Dad was an architect and got me interested in this kind of thing from a young age. I remember YOU encouraging me to share this, so thanks for the nudge! AND, thanks for being such a wonderful contributor at NAPO-CT yesterday. I learned a lot:)

  4. That’s great, Seana! I hate my black hole of a console in my car so much so at I rarely use it except for larger things like a box of handi-wipes and an extra charger. I don’t have the visualization skills to make one like you did but I would use something like this snap-to-length dividers from Container Store to do something similar. http://bit.ly/1XDMFdg I used them to containerize items in the bottom of my travel makeup case. It was an amazing transformation. Thanks for sharing!
    Andi Willis recently posted…I Give You Permission To Get Rid Of…My Profile

    1. Yes, the snap-to-length product from Container store would work well. Someone else was inclined to go that route… it is easier for sure:) Either way, adding structure makes it much more functional!

  5. Wow, Seana! Impressive skills/ both planning and executing. As I was reading your process I was thinking that you could have been an architect. Then I read in your comments that your Dad was an architect. You inherited some of his skills.

    Have you considered creating a product based on your creation? I can imagine doing it in a way that would allow someone to the dimensions & compartment number and size. In your spare time, right? 🙂
    Linda Samuels recently posted…Appreciating Genuine Joy With Life’s Inevitable ChangesMy Profile

    1. The list of products I have in my head to make is LONG, Linda! Thank you for the affirmation. I had a lot of fun doing it, and it really isn’t that hard. That’s the kind of thing I enjoy doing in my spare time:)

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