DIY Industrial Locker Basket Mail Organizer

Cut the countertop paper clutter with this easy and inexpensive DIY locker basket mail organizer with a chalkboard. Use a simple tea, vinegar, and steel wool stain for a rustic industrial look.

Hey y’all!  It’s Lauren from Bless’er House, and I’m always thrilled to be back here with more DIY adventures.

Lately, we’ve had an epidemic in our house in the form of mail taking over our countertops.  It was out of control how much paper we had piled up in our butler’s pantry.  Sounds fancy, but it’s our coffee station/command center/drop zone really.  I snort at the use of the word “butler” in our house. Ha!  A girl can wish.

Every morning when I had to look at our cluttered countertops, I was instantly stressed.  Decluttering always cheers me up, and this project was an instant mood brightener.

Rustic Industrial Locker Basket Mail Organizer

Materials Used:

  •  1/4″ thick plywood cut @ 24″x26″
  • 1″x2″ board cut into 2- 24″  and 2- 17″ lengths
  • 2 over the cabinet medium baskets
  • Painters Tape
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Brad nails
  • Paint brush
  • Sponge brush
  • Medium sized craft brush
  • Rustoleum Aluminum spray paint
  • Oval wood craft labels
  • Dark gray craft paint
  • Sharpie

DIY Wood Stain

  • Black tea
  • 0000 grade steel wool soaked in apple cider vinegar for 24 hours

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer -- homemade wood stain, easy painted chalkboard, plus cheap Walmart baskets makes a great mail organizer!

I came across a couple of over the cabinet baskets in Walmart one day for $7 each and the solution hit me.  Most wood mail organizers I had seen in stores were more than I was willing to pay.  So with the help of some scrap wood, I managed to make my own for about $25.

I sanded down the plywood to make it as smooth as possible.

Cheap rustic industrial wall baskets

I use a DIY stain on almost everything these days because I can make it with just a few materials from my kitchen for cheap, and clean up is much easier than store-bought stain.

I stained my plywood piece first by brushing brewed black tea all over the wood.  The tea pulls the tannins out of the wood.  After an hour of applying the tea, I brushed on the steel wool and apple cider vinegar solution.

Super easy homemade wood stain using a tea, steel wool, and vinegar combo for a perfect rustic industrial color -- and then paint a chalkboard and add locker baskets to turn it into an awesome mail organizer!

Once the plywood was dry, I taped off the area I wanted for my chalkboard.

How to paint a chalkboard for a wall organizer - DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer

I like to use a sponge brush to apply chalkboard paint to make as smooth a surface as possible.

Use a foam brush for a smooth painted chalkboard finish - DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer

I used the area of my chalkboard to figure out the measurements for my frame using the 1×2 board.

Painted Chalkboard + DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer

And my handy hubby cut my pieces for me.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer

I used my DIY stain on those pieces too.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer - using a tea, steel wool, and vinegar stain for a perfect rustic industrial color

For the baskets, I wanted to age them a little, so I gave them a light brushing of dark gray craft paint.  I just dabbed off any excess paint and applied it to the basket in random places to make it look like it had an aged patina.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer - use paint to age and patina new wire baskets for a rustic industrial style

It made them look a bit more old and rugged.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer -- just use paint to age brand new wire baskets

I had some wooden chalkboard ovals leftover from a previous project that I decided to change with some Rustoleum Aluminum spray paint.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer

I used the same effect as I did on the wire baskets with the dark gray paint to age them.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer Labels

I knew I wouldn’t be able to handwrite perfect labels, so I used this transfer method instead.  I printed my wording on regular computer paper in black ink to the size I needed.  I made sure to flip the words to be mirrored in my print setup to act like a stamp.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer Labels - this is so easy and looks great! Love the rustic industrial look

I positioned my mirrored word on top of my oval and used a craft brush to swipe on a little water, not enough to soak the paper; just enough to wet it.

Then, I rubbed the letters to transfer them onto the oval.  I just used my Sharpie cap but anything will do really.  Just don’t rub too hard or you could rip the paper.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer Labels -- this text transfer technique is so easy, so smart

This is how the letters looked after they transfered.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer Labels - really easy text transfer technique

I used my Sharpie to fill in and darken the letters.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer Labels

Using the brad nails, we attached the 1×2 pieces around the chalkboard part of the plywood to make a frame.  And we used a couple more nails to hang the baskets.  My husband did this step so fast, I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture.  (Bad blogger, I know.  But you can see the nails enough to tell where he placed them.)

I just used some hot glue to attach my labels to the baskets, and that was it!

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer

We added a couple of heavy duty picture hangers on the back, and it was ready to go.

This was definitely the perfect spot for it.  I’m able to write all kinds of reminders for myself because goodness knows, I’m the most scatterbrained person on the planet.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer

And now, our mail is much easier to sort and is finally not on the counter sitting in piles.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer

And I love that it has that rustic, industrial vibe I’m always drawn to.

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer

DIY Locker Basket Mail Organizer

My morning coffee is somehow much easier to enjoy without those paper cluttered countertops now.  Makes me wonder why I didn’t make this project sooner.


Lauren from Bless’er House


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Website | + posts

Hi y'all! I'm Lauren from Bless'erHouse. I'm a builder grade subdivision house owner who dreams up outside-of-the-box ways to create a rustic industrial cottage on a budget. Between chasing my toddler and sweet talking my hubby into helping me with yet another project, you can usually find me with a paint brush in one hand and a big ol' glass of sweet tea in the other.

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  1. How cute is this! Love the tutorial. We too struggle with constant counter clutter. It is amazing how much accumulates. Thanks for the solution! And, I have to say the tea stain technique is a gold mine! Can’t wait to start using this technique, especially during the cold winter months.

  2. Great idea. I have to find a place to put it once I make it. I LOVE the dining room chairs in the background. The brass studs around the white leather (?) is gorgeous.

  3. Hey there!! I LOVE your blog!!! Thank you for posting all these wonderful turtorials. Do you have a recipe for the stain?