Fruit crates.

You know how you always see cool projects all over the place that involve re-purposing old fruit crates? Or old shipping pallets? And then you start getting obsessed with looking for these old fruit crates and old shipping pallets everywhere you go. Where is everyone finding this stuff? It’s like there must be some pile of magical old wood out there somewhere, just waiting for you to take it home and make it into something lovely. Except you never actually find that magical pile of wood—not in a location where it’s up for the taking. At least I don’t.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, fruit crates. I found some! A whole bunch, actually. They’re all piled up in the parking lot of a store that’s gone out of business on the outskirts of Newburgh. We’ve liberated three of them so far, and I think we’ll go back and get some more this weekend. I want to use them for basement storage bins. If I can get my hands on a bigger, sturdier crate, I want to put casters on it and use it for stashing magazines in the living room. Like so:

(via emmas designblogg)

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  • Reply elisabeth August 20, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I know there are no children in your house, but, you might want to go to Ikea website re: enje shade recall.

    • Jesse October 3, 2014 at 2:55 am

      I want one crate to use as a toy box for my dog. Any ideas where I can find one?

  • Reply Adam August 20, 2010 at 10:38 am

    You just gave me a great idea! I’m so tired of my current magazine stand, I never would have thought of using a fruit crate!

  • Reply Alice August 20, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Jealous! I’ve been looking for crates myself. Great idea for the magazines, too!

  • Reply Anna at D16 August 20, 2010 at 10:43 am

    @elisabeth: Thanks — I’m not too worried about Evan and I strangling ourselves, though! 😉

  • Reply Bekka August 20, 2010 at 10:49 am

    You are right about never being able to find cool stuff. I’m envious of your finds! My stepmom has a house full of cool old things and I still have no idea where she gets it all.

  • Reply Cherry August 20, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Nice reuse. I see a lot of people reusing old wine boxes. I pass by a wine store that has tons of them outside after they get a shipment.

  • Reply annie August 20, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I have tons of shipping pallets sitting in my storage on Mott street… you can always have them.
    I don’t know what to do with them.

    • PaulaCanz July 26, 2013 at 11:39 am

      I am looking for palets to create a table for the garden, where can i get that??

    • Anna @ D16 July 26, 2013 at 11:47 am

      You could ask at a loading dock, I guess, but I’d make sure they don’t have any weird preservatives in the wood before using them to make a table.

  • Reply ItRainedonaFriday August 20, 2010 at 11:04 am

    I’m with you – there must be a fairyland of sorts where good fairies get access to fun things meant for repurposing. So what’s a girl gotta do to get her fairy wings?? I’ve been searching high and low for vintage metal letters (I only need two more!!), and wooden crates to put on casters to store floor cushions. I keep telling myself…one day…one day…

  • Reply Stephanie August 20, 2010 at 11:05 am

    You kill me. I was just thinking about this the other day. I’m even worse off. I live in the suburbs of Orange County. No cool city alleys in my hood. I eventually caved & just bought a crate from a craft store, stained it and stenciled my own made-up fruit company. Haha. I’m such a poser.

    Can’t wait to see what you do with them! I think it’s perfect for basement storage.

  • Reply Kay* August 20, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Ah I LOVE this idea and actually…this might be the perfect storage solution for my place while in India. And inexpensive too. Sweet. I’m sure I’ll be able to find all sorts of interesting fruit crates…might be worth it for me to bring along a few pairs of castors though…thanks for the idea!

  • Reply Kim at Yellow Brick Home August 20, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I always think it’s so nutty when I see another home blogger write about a project on my to-do list!

    We actually have a crate, casters, and paint in our office ready to go. Due to an overwhelming 9-5 workload, I’ve tentatively “scheduled” my project to take place this September. We plan to use the crate to house our board games.

    Thank you for the photo inspiration!

  • Reply Townerson August 20, 2010 at 11:24 am

    YES! I got some of THESE for my dining room last month, and scored some whitewashed crates like yours on Craigslist for my new roommate’s clothing storage. Even better when they’re free, though.

  • Reply Dan August 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I once made a table out of a shipping pallet for a high school theater production. It was supposed to look crappy and thrown together, which was a good thing because it was SO HARD to take apart. So much broken and splintered wood, I don’t know how people make such nice stuff out of them.

    Good find, though! I totally know what you mean about not understanding where in the world people just happen to find this stuff.

  • Reply elissa August 20, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I think I have the opposite problem. I have a to do list of enough future projects to last me several lifetimes yet I am constantly finding new “cool things” that have potential. I usually pass them by with the knowledge that I’ll never get around to doing anything with them, but occasionally I pick them up and they sit in my garage indefinitely. Too bad I can’t figure out a way to make a living getting them to people who are looking for them.

  • Reply emily@thirtyeight20 August 20, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    We have a whole wall full of apple crate shelves in our living room, and we love them. We paid between $3-$5 each for them at a local orchard — way cheaper and more interesting than any store-bought shelving system.

    We also have an old dynamite crate on casters (which my dad gave me for my last birthday!) full of magazines. This isn’t the greatest photo ever, but you can check it out here:

    It seems we’re on the same wavelength today!

  • Reply PhillyLass August 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Oooh, I just love those orange casters.

  • Reply elisabeth August 20, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    !!! but watch out for the critters!!

  • Reply Design Fixation August 20, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I have a similar obsession with crates, and I was recently able to get my hands on a whole slew of wine crates. I’ve been using them mostly for storage:

  • Reply Bunny @86n' It August 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    That is terrific. I love the casters. I’m putting this in my idea box. Thanks!

  • Reply Vicki @ Piccolo Takes All August 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Did anyone catch this scene from the most recent episode of Mad Men??? If you want crates, you might check Washington Market… Oh yeah, in fictional January of ’65. 😉

  • Reply Funnelcloud Rachel August 20, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    That first paragraph could’ve been written by me – where do people find all these supposedly FREE treasures? I was obsessed with wine crates for a while (want to make one into a dog feeder), but haven’t found any free ones – in fact, they can be quite pricey on ebay. I’m still looking for that magical pile of free wood!

    Congrats on your stash though – can’t wait to see what you do with them!

  • Reply Alana August 20, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Haha… this post cracked me up because I’ve been looking for both crates and shipping pallets for so long… I even have that exact same picture (with the orange casters) in my inspiration file along with this one.
    When I asked my dad (who is a builder by trade) where I might find these and why I wanted them he thought I was nuts but oh well.

  • Reply Michelle August 20, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    this is so funny- I totally know what you mean and you just made me feel not so bat crazy. It’s like an itch you can’t shake when you have this idea in your head and you know it’s out there but you can’t find it. I had the same problem when I went on an obsession with planting succulents in wine crates, but for some reason nobody would give me their empty fancy crates.

  • Reply Cindy August 20, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    In 1996 I was taking out the trash and there was a PILE of old fruit crates (all pears, but lots of different labels) sitting next to the dumpsters. I brought a couple in, and then I just kept going out and grabbing more. I’m still finding new uses for them. “Tipsy Bee” is my favorite label.

  • Reply Fiona August 20, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Casters. There’s a thought. I’ve got three wooden boxes from some old pharmacy company. The mixed copperplate typography is cool and proudly advertises the medicine as ‘Practically Tasteless’.

  • Reply Lissa@AfterAdornment August 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    What a lucky find!! I can never happen upon anything cool like that either….maybe I am looking in the wrong places?
    I love the idea to put them on casters. That would work great in my office to roll samples around!
    Have a great weekend!

  • Reply Lindsay Jewell August 20, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Yea, I’ve been looking around for some fruit crates myself. Nice find. 🙂

  • Reply donna August 20, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Funny, I was in an antique shop in Toronto today where they were selling old wine crates for $95 each. Crazy huh?

  • Reply Karen August 20, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Ha! This reminds me of a night in college a looooooooong time ago, when a friend of mine told me where I could score some of these fruit crates and wooden milk crates. So after many cocktails, some girlfriends and I dressed all in black and got a guy with a truck to drive us out to the warehouse, where we climbed over the fence and got us a big pile of boxes, all while giggling and singing the Mission Impossible theme song. Very stealthy. We thought we were the cat’s PJs until about a week later when we drove by the warehouse again and they were all piled up out front with a big FREE sign on them. I still have some of them and I think they are still as cool as they were 35 years ago when I first brought them home (and now they are genuine vintage!) I hadn’t thought of the casters though, that’s genius and I will definitely be giving that a try!

  • Reply Elisabet August 21, 2010 at 3:57 am

    I put casters on an old wooden crate for sugar (quite usual here in Sweden) keep my daughters cloth diapers in it. I want more! But now they are starting to get ridiculously expensive, and I regret I did not by one this summer on our vacation in the countryside that I thought was too expensive then, should have known how expensive they are at home. Hoping that my mother in law will give me one she has in the basement.

  • Reply Sammi August 21, 2010 at 8:43 am


    My boss had this idea, that in his new store (that he is currently building) he would put things in fruit crates on shelves in the shop, and I thought this perfect for a village farm produce shop in the middle of the countryside… until they arrived. And I had to clean them…

    And they were FULL of maggots, and worms and God knows what kind of other bugs you don’t want anywhere near you.

    Now those things *terrify* me.

  • Reply Becky August 21, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Lovely! Those orange wheels are killing me – so beautiful!

  • Reply Stacey August 21, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Yeah baby! I love this! Great way for me to store baby Zion’s toys. I love the orange wheels too-stylin’:-)

  • Reply Avant-Gardenist August 21, 2010 at 10:40 am

    yeah well don’t be surprised when you catch Fritz and Bruno having Indy 500s whilst you’re out…

  • Reply Cait @Hernando House August 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I love old fruit crates! If i could find one somewhere it would immediately go on casters in my library to hold magazines.

  • Reply Kellie Dobbie August 21, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Great idea! But I question the quality of wood used in these crates. Proper wood treatment is essential for these transformed-from-crate innovations to serve its purpose much longer.

  • Reply Lisa August 22, 2010 at 9:08 am

    It was once that many things being shipped out of Russia and the former CCCP block were packed in dovetailed wooden crates. It may be something you would have access to in a city with neighborhoods and usiness importing directly from their home countries. My father does electronics testing (has for 20+) years and the products from USSR came in these amazing crates. Maybe all the world uses UPS and shrink wrap, but maybe not. I toted those crates to college and still have them…..somewhere. LOL

  • Reply Amy August 22, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Love your blog. Thanks a lot for sharing all your wonderful ideas with us. I’ve used so much of your inspiring ideas when renovating my own place.
    A tip for where to find nice orange castors: have a look at

  • Reply chrispito August 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    ha ha–my friend was soooo happy to hear that shade was being recalled, her cat has basically killed it.

    I hear you on the magical fruit crate pile…there are often some where I live but it rains a lot here and they always seem to be very scruffy and sad by the time I find them.

  • Reply julia -rockthathorse August 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Just came across this artist’s photo:
    in case you need more crates, hehe

  • Reply Susan August 23, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Too funny, I feel that way about shipping pallet furniture, too. And then I wonder about the chemicals in the pallet wood and how are people finding safe pallets?

    Check your local liquor stores for wine boxes, too. Fewer wine bottles are packed in them these days and sometimes the stores don’t know what to do to get rid of them, so they’ll just give them away if you ask. I have a wine box that I put casters on recently and it holds wooden blocks. One day when the my kids are bigger I’ll use it for something that won’t get turned into a go-cart on a daily basis.

  • Reply dew i August 23, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Pottery Barn is selling off their “props” we have some nice looking vintage soda crates if you need an easy place to locate some shallow crates, and it’s free shipping!

    A good source for colored casters.

  • Reply BCOME August 24, 2010 at 1:09 am

    In case you wanna add some green to your balcony it is also always nice to put the plant into such fruit crates … than you don’t have to see the ugly planters and can move the plants also easily when you wanna clean the space.

  • Reply Sarah August 24, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I love it. Just love it. What a great way to stylishly reuse old material! And @Bcome – great idea with the plants in the fruit crates. Thanks for the post!

  • Reply edna August 24, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    one day I was walking and suddenly I saw 3 old condensed milk boxes. pure wood joy. magic happens. just keep looking.

  • Reply Eric August 26, 2010 at 1:19 am

    Where do you get those rad orange casters?

  • Reply Charlotte August 26, 2010 at 3:22 am

    Great ! Avesnes les aubert is near my place in the north of france ! I love it

  • Reply European Chic August 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I use wine crates for everything. I am afraid the wine merchant around the corner here in Paris knows me too well and kindly saves the crates for me.

  • Reply chelsea August 27, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Its so true! You do start obsessing over where to find these random things that others found so “randomly” and then the hunt is on and they are no longer so random afterall. Sigh.

    I like to peruse le craigslist for anything random. And I have my hawkeye always fixated whenever we are walking anywhere for treasures!

    your boxes are divine and I’m totally smitten with that rolling crate idea!

  • Reply MaryDodgen January 11, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Thank you.

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