Upcycling a Vintage Magazine Holder as Stencil Storage

Upcycling a Vintage Magazine Holder as Stencil Storage

One of my craft room organization conundrums is stencil storage: How to organize and store all my reusable stencils that accumulate over time? Finally, I had an upcycling idea (or maybe epiphany). What if I upcycled a vintage magazine holder into a file tote for stencil storage?

And lo and behold, I already had a vintage magazine rack in my garage. I had thrifted this one a couple of years ago and it had been sitting in my garage waiting patiently for an idea.

Vintage magazine holder at a thrift store

The magazine rack was already beat up when I bought it- with flaking veneer, missing knobs, and other assorted ailments. And two years of garage life hadn’t done it much good, either- so it was high time I brought it out from the shadows. 

I had also found some vintage file folders while thrifting, too. Specifically, some longer legal-sized hanging file folders. And they would be perfect for holding stencils in my file tote.

File folders to go in a vintage magazine holder

All I needed to do was give it a proper makeover and get my stencils in order!

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Upcycling a Vintage Magazine Holder

First things first, I had to clean it up and give it a “dust-scrubbing”, because the dust had seemingly fused with the wood.

How does that even happen?

Once it was relatively clean, I then set up my spray paint station, grabbed a can of white paint, and gave it a fresh makeover.

Spray painting a vintage magazine rack for upcycling

I gave the magazine holder two coats of paint over the course of a day, when the unthinkable happened.

A bird had pooped on my freshly painted magazine holder!

Bird poop on freshly painted surface outside

I mean, COME ON! On fresh white paint, no less. Thank goodness for disinfectant and yet another coat of paint!

Things can only go up from here- so let’s get back to it.

Sanitized and re-painted, I could now focus on the two pressed cane panels. I had three options: (1) leave it as is, (2) cross stitch on it with yarn, or (3) paint it a different color.

I decided to go with Door #3 and choose a dark metallic silver to make the cane kinda-sorta look like a metal grate for my file tote.

Upcycling a magazine holder as a file tote

First, I started using a regular paint brush, but quickly realized that one of my stencil brushes was a MUCH better choice!

Swirling and stippling gave the cane a slightly weathered, roughed up industrial look.

Painting the pressed cane on a vintage magazine rack

Stencil Storage for My Craft Room

I was quite pleased with the end result and set it aside to thoroughly dry.

Repurposing a vintage magazine holder as a portable file tote

Now I could pair up my file folders with my freshly upcycled magazine rack to use it as a file tote!

File sorter for reusable stencils and stencil storage

Of course, not ALL of my vinyl stencils would fit in the file folders, but the majority of them could!

Stencil storage has plagued me for a while now…how to keep them flat and organized without taking up a ton of room.

Stencil storage in a file sorter from a vintage magazine rack

After sorting my stencils into categories, I made some simple labels, fixed them to the file folders, and plopped everything in the file tote!

Arts and crafts storage for reusable stencils in a file tote

Upcycling a Vintage Magazine Holder as Stencil Storage

The hanging folders were simply the perfect length for the magazine holder. I also used a block of wood in the center to push the folders flat, so that they stood up straight.

File tote for stencil storage in a vintage magazine holder

My portable file tote really is perfect for stencil storage! My reusable stencils are flat and orderly – what more could I ask for?

Portable file tote for reusable stencils from a vintage magazine rack

But a file tote like this (from a magazine rack) has all kinds of organization possibilities. I could see this used for scrapbook paper or card stock in a craft room…or organizing recipe pages from magazines, etc. In fact, my friend, Gail, at My Repurposed Life, puts her upcycled magazine rack to all sorts of good purposes in her post here!

Either way, I LOVE it!! And now I don’t have to worry about those reusable stencils getting bent or lost.

If you enjoyed this upcycling idea for craft room storage, then you’ll love these craft organizers from the thrift store, as well!

organizing craft supplies with a paint brush holder

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Beverly Lovegrove says

    I love it! Well done! (I snickered when I read the bird poop part…..I’ve had some close calls with the birds and my painting projects, luckily for me, their aim was a bit off….)

    Looking forward to the second Wednesday of every month, to see all the creations!

  2. Brilliant repurpose! Love how it turned out, and how you did the cane panels to look like metal. I have a wooden magazine rack that I’ve been holding on to. I was wanting to use it for storing my cookie sheets, but I really don’t have a place for that. But a portable filing rack I could use. I don’t have very many stencils so I will use it for important papers that we want easy access too.

  3. I see those ugly magazine holders at the thrift store ALL THE TIME and never once thought to make one into a file folder holder. Great idea!

  4. Great idea!! Love it, pinned it!!

  5. I love this makeover, this would be perfect in my kitchen, where all the “stuff” seems to pile up!

  6. Sandra Steele says

    This is a brilliant idea! I have struggled with storing my stencils now for the last two years since I have accumulated so many. I LOVE stencils and use them often and never found a good option to store them other than flat in a drawer which caused me issues finding the one I need since I had to go through the pile to get at it. I never thought about doing this! Thank you so much for sharing this idea, now I am going to keep an eye out for an old magazine rack at the thrift stores! Stencil organization will soon be mine!

  7. Where do you get your stencils?

  8. Such a smart organization idea! Love the crisp white with the metallic pop!

  9. What a great project! I love how it turned out…and so useful, too! I just happen to have one waiting for a makeover. Thanks for sharing! Pinning!

  10. Now this is a fantastic idea. So much better than my old boxful of stencils. This will be going on my must make list.

  11. Sarah,

    Welcome to the team! We’re so happy to have you on board.
    I love how you transformed your magazine rack into a stencil storage rack. Super cute!

    ps pinning!

  12. Very smart idea for storing stencils and it looks pretty too! Pinned to my Stencil Tips board

  13. That is very, very clever! And congrats on joining the Thrift Store Decor team! Well deserved.

  14. Sadie, First of all….welcome to our little group! So happy to have you with us on our thrifty journey. I have a rack very similar to this. I never thought to put file folders in it! Genius! So going to do for my stencils and the overheads that I make for tracing. XO – Christy

  15. This is a great idea! I have a couple different magazine racks hanging around & this is a good use for them. My small stencils are currently in several different binders, but a magazine rack would be a good place to store them. 🙂

  16. Great idea, Sarah! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm–pinned!

  17. Those magazine racks are definitely prolific at the thrift stores, and you are making great use of it now! Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the best use for these, but you did a good one!

  18. Fabulous idea!!! I have a magazine rack waiting to hold my stencils!

  19. This is the kind of project I enjoy the most and one of the reasons I adore going to yard sales and thrifts. Instead of just buying something to solve a problem and paying top dollar, repurposing someone’s cast off into something unique through creativity is what interests me. Creative reuse as usual!

  20. acraftymix says

    That so works for me Sarah and I know we have something similar gathering dust somewhere in the garage. I guess I’m going have to get my dust bunny suit on and haul her out of there real soon

  21. I love this, Sarah! I’ve always struggled with stencil storage too! Guess I’ll be heading to the garage to find one of those magazine racks;)

  22. Peg MacDougall says

    another great re-purpose, will use mine for files. thank you <3

  23. Oh how I would love to walk the floors of several thrift stores with you! The “special vision” your eyeballs have never fails to amaze me! Looks great!

  24. Sara Welms says

    Where did you find the matching knobs? I have the same rack with a missing knob but cant find any that fit

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Check a few craft stores with a decent wood section – AC Moore and Hobby Lobby (neither of which I shop at a lot, ironically) both sell little bags of wooden bits. I can’t remember which one I saw little knobs at.

  25. I stumbled upon your post on Pinterest. I just bought an identical rack at Goodwill this weekend. It’s missing one of the threaded knobs on the outside though. I was just wondering if you happened to know where to find these? I’m not even sure what to search for. Thanks in advance for any info. And great idea! Yours looks great.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Hmm, I’m not sure you’ll be able to find an exact match, but it may be worth checking Home Depot. I’m pretty sure they sell basic wooden knobs for drawers and such?

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