DIY Backseat Car Organizer for Kids

Hello Remodelaholics! Sarah here with The Created Home, and today I’m bringing you a DIY build that will improve your life immeasurably. Okay, it will at least help a little. There is nothing like a long car trip with small children. No, nothing at all quite like it. I would love to tell you that I have found the solution to making it a breeze, to ensure your children never fight and hardly notice the passing time. That may be the impossible dream, but this simple build is a DIY to the rescue that can at least help make the road a bit smoother.

How To Build A Backseat DIY Car Organizer For Kids Road Trips, With A Hidden Snack Storage Drawer #remodelaholic

This custom car organizer can be fit to any size car, is strapped into the vehicle’s latch system for safety, keeps their drinks and toys within reach, and features a drawer for car snacks so that you don’t have to have everything crammed at your feet or theirs. Want to build one? Here’s how!

How to Build a Backseat Car Organizer

(with hidden snack storage!)

Click Here to Get a Printer-Friendly Version of This Building Plan

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  • Kreg Pocket Hole Jig (you can make this without it if you don’t have one but we highly recommend it)
  • drill
  • brad nailer
  • spade or other large bit
  • jigsaw
  • tape measure
  • trim router and round over bit (optional)
  • circular saw or table saw

Cut List:

Car Organizer dimensions diagram

For the main box:

*All cut from 1/2″ ply unless using 1×8 boards, in which case cut the first four boards – the box sides – using the 1×8 ripped to 6 1/2″

  • 2 – 20 x 6 1/2″ (front and back sides of box)
  • 2 – 13 1/2 x 6 1/2″ (left and right sides of box)
  • 1 – 19 x 13 1/2″ (box base)
  • 2 – 3 3/4 x 13 1/2″ (left and right side divider)
  • 1 – 10 x 13 1/2″ (middle divider)
  • 2 – 3 3/4 x 3″ (cup divider)
  • 2 – 2 1/2 x 14″ (bottom support)

Cut from 2×4:

  • 2 – 2 1/2″ x about 1 1/2″

For the drawer:

*All cut from plywood

  • 1 – 18 3/4 x 13 1/2″ (base)
  • 2 – 13 1/2 x 1 3/8″ (sides)
  • 1 – 17 3/4″ x 1 3/8″ (back)
  • 1 –  18 3/4 x 1 7/8″ (front)

Build A DIY Backseat Car Organizer With Hidden Snack Storage And Activity Organization #remodelaholic

[pinit align=”center” url=”” image_url=”×800.png” description=”Make family road trips more fun and less ‘are we there yet’ with this DIY backseat organizer. This center console storage for the kids holds drinks and waterbottles, coloring books, electronics, and yes, there is a secret snack storage drawer! Full tutorial and video at from The Created Home #remodelaholic”]

How to make a DIY car organizer

From Remodelaholic: Please remember, this blog is for entertainment purposes only. As with ALL of our free DIY projects and tutorials, be certain to read over the complete tutorial before starting a project. Build at your own risk and be smart, be safe. We will not be responsible for any injury or damage incurred while following a tutorial from our site. None of our posts should be considered expert advice; please consult a professional when needed, read all safety and instruction manuals, and take all safety precautions. All projects performed following instructions found on this site are done at your own risk. 

Step 1: Measure your vehicle and cut out pieces

This organizer is made to fit our truck and is designed to compliment the car seats on either side of it. I wanted the organizer to sit close to the height of the Diono car seats we use, which have a lower profile than most. Make any adjustments necessary before continuing, then cut out all of the pieces. I used a table saw, but a circular saw is great for this.

diy car organizer pieces


Step 2: Cut holes for the strap and carry handle

Cut the holes for the strap in the back panel (20 x 6 1/2″ piece). The holes should be 2″ high and 3/4″ wide. Place them about 4 inches from the sides of the box. Cut a notch in the back of the middle divider (10 x 13 1/2″), about half inch from the bottom, using the same dimensions. If you would like to have a carry handle you can also cut a long hole in the top of the middle divider. Place it down about 1″, and about 1″ wide so fingers can fit through easily.

Here is a look at how the strap fits through the finished organizer.

diy car organizer safety strap

diy car organizer safety strap

Step 3: Assemble the main box

You can join the box via pocket hole screws if you like. I used glue and brad nails, and it went together quickly. if you have them, clamps are helpful here to hold the pieces in place while nailing.

diy car organizer assembly

Step 4: Attach the base

The base piece fits down in the box, just over 2″ from the bottom so the drawer can fit easily. The best way I know how to do this is to stack some material underneath to the correct height and then fasten it in place with pocket holes.

diy car organizer assembly

If you use pocket holes be aware that 1/2″ plywood is actually 7/16″, which messes with the holes. I adjusted for this by lowering the collar on the Kreg bit just slightly and making a few practice holes in a scrap piece of ply.

diy car organizer pocket holes

When the exit hole looked like the correct size and pocket hole attached to another 1/2″ piece correctly, I knew it was good to go. That sounds like a lot, but the whole thing only took a few extra minutes. I attached the base piece via Spax screws, since I didn’t have an 3/4″ Kreg screws on hand. They worked great!

diy car organizer pocket holes

Step 5: Add the dividers

I attached the dividers (13 1/2″ x 3 3/4″ pieces) three inches in from the edges.

diy car organizer assembly

My reasoning was that my kids’ water bottles fit nicely in that space. You can measure this precisely, but I believe this size should work for most beverage containers. Attach the 3 3/4 x 3″ pieces three inches back to create a 3″ square space for the drinks. I glued them in pace and added a couple brad nails where I could, but glue does the heavy lifting here.

The middle divider fits between the two outside dividers and is also glued and nailed in place. Be sure the notch is to the back.

diy car organizer assembly

You can run the strap through at this point to ensure it fits.

diy car organizer assembly

Step 6: Build the drawer

The sides of the drawer sit on top of the base, with the exception of the front piece.

diy car organizer drawer

Glue and nail them from the bottom.

diy car organizer drawer

Attach the pull to the front piece, and then glue and nail the piece to the rest of the drawer.

diy car organizer drawer

Step 7: Attach the bottom supports and lifters

The 2 1/2″ x 14″ pieces serve as the base and as drawer supports.

diy car organizer

They are attached via glue and brad nails.

diy car organizer

Vehicle seats tip back slightly for comfort. The organizer will not sit evenly unless you add a couple pieces as feet to the back of the divider. I had 1 1/4″ thick pieces that worked perfectly. You’ll want to test this out in your car to make sure they are the correct thickness. Then glue and attach.


Your car organizer is now constructed!

diy car organizer

If you wish you can use a trim router to round the edges for a smoother look. Or leave it as is if you prefer. I painted mine black to match the truck.

diy car organizer


Bonus tip:

If you are painting, and you want a smoother edge than plywood allows, simply grab some Bondo filler and smooth over the edges. It dries fast, and is easy to sand.

diy car organizer

You can see how smooth it looks once painted. This only works if painting, as the Bondo does not take stain.

diy car organizer


Attach the strap to your vehicle’s latch system. This feature ensures that the organizer doesn’t fly around the vehicle in the event of an accident, but keeps it from flying forward during sudden stops, as well. The strap is only a few bucks on Amazon and is well worth it.

diy car organizer latch system


That’s it!

diy car organizer


The final step is to go for a drive!

diy car organizer

We used this organizer for the first time on a recent trip, and it worked great. I love that the trip food is so accessible now – but the kids cannot reach it. It always gets so cluttered in there during long drives, and I don’t like having to unstrap and turn around to reach food in the back seat. This drawer is not reachable by the kids in their seats, but it is easy for an adult in the passenger seat to grab.

diy car organizer

The kids love being able to reach their stuff, and I love not having to hand them something every two seconds. I mean, I really, really love that part.

diy car organizer

Remember, this is a custom organizer, so make it any way you like it! I kept it simple with just a few compartments, but you build this in any configuration that works for you.

diy car organizer


If you build one be sure to share your version, and happy road tripping!

How To Build A Backseat DIY Car Organizer For Kids Road Trips, With A Hidden Snack Storage Drawer #remodelaholic

More kid-friendly DIY ideas:

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Rocking Horse Horiz 3

1-hour no-sew play tent

DIY Kids Tent The Learner Observer 21

cottage style bunkbed playhouse — and it’s an IKEA hack!



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