Introduction: Illuminated Footrest With Inbuilt Storage

Our illuminated footrest with inbuilt storage was inspired by modern, yet natural colour schemes. These compliment many themes and styles present in modern housing which can also be adapted based on your own colour schemes. We are proud to say that all materials used to make our product were originally headed to landfill. In this era of environmentally concerned generations, we view our product as a stride toward the goal of achieving a healthier planet without having to make compromises.

This energy efficient storage solution has LED strips with built in light sensor technology, turns itself off when the lid is on so as not to waste electricity. The LED's are highly efficient lights and do not heat up while in use; this is an important feature for lights within a cardboard structure to abide by fire safety regulations. There is no concern with this storage product cluttering your room as it doubles up as a comfy footstool which is an important addition to everyone's lives.

We consider this to be an easy and relaxing project that can be constructed alone (in front of the TV with a cuppa), or with a group of friends who are equally enthusiastic within a short space of time - it took us about 10 hours with a lot of trial and error (we will include our mistakes and problems in the instructions). It can even be made by kids - albeit with help to make the electric circuits.


All supplies for our product were up-cycled, however, some may need to buy the circuit components.

  • Cardboard (lots) we sourced ours from a school's parcel packaging
  • LED Light Strips, we used two in total. One White and one RGB sourced from our local theatre's off-cuts.
  • Wool (lots) sourced from cut-offs of old knitted projects. We used: grey, green and cream although other colours can be used.
  • Foil, we flattened out strips from old school art projects.
  • 12V adaptor to mains, sourced from an old laptop cable.
  • Circle of foam (12.5cm diameter, for the top) off-cuts from old cushions
  • Buttons (17), removed from a couple of old shirts
  • Fabric (we used white) Sourced from an old bed sheet
  • Batteries (3 x 9V)
  • Light sensors (x2)
  • Masking tape
  • Hot glue
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Solder and soldering iron (alternatively tape or twist the wires together)

We also used a laser cutter and a foam cutter, however all the shapes used in our project could be cut by hand.

Step 1: Cut the Cardboard to Size

Cut a straight strip of cardboard ours was 40" x 13". Ensure that the short edge is parallel to the grain direction, otherwise the cardboard will not fold into a circle. To cut the strip of cardboard we used scissors but to get a smoother edge ideally use a Stanley knife.

Step 2: Assemble the Cardboard Cylinder and Add Reinforcements

After cutting the cardboard fold at short intervals to allow it to curve. This part should be relatively easy if it isn't and smooth folds are hard to achieve it may be that either the cardboard is too strong or you are working against the grain. If you are working against the cardboard corrugation then restart because as we discovered this WILL NOT WORK.

After folding at regular intervals we laser cut a bottom 14" circle but this can be done using scissors or a Stanley knife. We discovered that it is best to glue while rolling the cardboard up (picture 2) this will give you the best finish. To glue the bottom onto the cylinder we used a hot glue gun. This held it well.

As you will discover after gluing the cardboard isn't very strong so you need to layer the card board corrugation. To do this we laser cut 1 cm strips of cardboard with corrugation in the opposite direction to that of the cylinder. Gluing these on at regular intervals helps prevent the cardboard bending inwards. To make it easier to decorate we then added another layer of cardboard around the cardboard using hot glue. Follow the same process with folding as the first time.

Step 3: Make the Lid

To make the lid we cut 3 a 1.5" width rings with diameter 14" on the laser cutter. We used the inner part of these three rings to make the lid and the outer ring to reinforce the cardboard even further. You should find after this step the the cardboard feels strong enough to take a large amount of weight. To increase strength we glued 3 layers of this ring together using a hot glue gun.

To make the lid we cut three 14" diameter circles and centrally glued the ring innards onto this top lid. This creates a lid within which the inner circle can fit inside the whole of the footrest.

Step 4: Make the Circuits

We made 2 circuits for our project. One for the multicoloured LEDs and one for the white LEDs. The multicoloured LED's are wired into a microprocessor and then connected to the mains via a 12V plug. The white LED's were connected to a set of batteries. Circuit diagrams are included in the above pictures to help with your wiring. Both circuits had a light sensor attached.

When making the circuit we soldered the wires together and covered it in a sheath to prevent the wires being exposed with the possibility of a spark or short circuit occurring. Once the circuit is made and powered you should visibly see it react to light y pressing your finger over the light sensor.

Step 5: Make the Cushioned Lid

First cut the foam any width and diameter that you want. We cut a piece of foam with 2" width and 12" diameter this worked very well on top of a 14" lid. To cut the foam we used a foam cutter, we thought this gave it the best finish however scissors or a Stanley knife could be used as alternatives.

Use a hot glue gun to centrally fix in place the piece of foam to the lid. Wait for it to dry and ensure it doesn't slip.

After ensuring a good hold cut pieces of fabric (if you are choosing a lighter colour such as white you made need multiple layers) so that when they are placed on top of the foam the edge of the fabric reaches under the lid. This is where we came across problems.

Initially we tried to use a staple gun to fix the fabric in place but cardboard is mostly air so that didn't work as it had no grip. Then we chose to pin it in place before using hot glue to stick the fabric on. We had many problems with messy folds appearing on the top of the lid so eventually we decided to fold the fabric in like a present (video) and pull it as tight a possible. This removed most of the folds on the lid so we glued it in place using a hot glue gun. We then trimmed the excess

Around the edge of the lid to reduce the harshness we ringed two colours of wool fixed in place with hot glue. To make this easier we lightly clamped the lid on it's side to allow us to glue and fix the wool in place easily.

Next glue the buttons at regular intervals around the side of the lid using the glue gun. Leave to cool.

Step 6: Decorate the Foot Rest

To decorate our footrest we glued wool (using a hot glue gun) onto the footrest in many different patterns. Personally I think the spirals work best, they left the smallest gaps and in my opinion looked the best.

Tip - When making the spirals do not glue it and try and spiral the wool at the same time. Spiral the wool on a surface first and then transfer onto the footrest. The fibres in the wool hold it's spiral shape long enough to be moved and stuck onto the footrest.

On the inside we painted the bottom white and around the edge we have used foil to create a mirror effect and reflect the light around the box better.

To insert the foil we cut a 1m long piece and cut it in half to increase the ease of inserting it. Warning - Foil is easily ripped so it may take a few attempts. On each half of the foil we added two strips of double sided sticky tape. Working with the box on it's side to increase the ease and work with gravity we pressed the foil against the edges of the box to create a high quality mirrored effect.

Step 7: Make the Battery Holder

In order to keep the batteries out of the way and to avoid the circuit getting damaged, we decided to make a battery holder using the cardboard left over from cutting out the circles for the lid.

First, we drew out a net around one of my batteries (as shown in the photo above). This included a flap at the front and the sides of the batteries in order to hold them in place. I made sure that the folds between the batteries were in between two ridges of the corrugation in order to make the holder easier to fold.

We then proceeded to cut out the shape with scissors and fold along the drawn lines. It was more difficult to fold the base round since it was against the corrugation so I recommend scoring the cardboard lightly using scissors before folding.

Then, we cut the corners off the middle section's base since our product is round and thus the battery holder needed to curve too in order to stick properly. Afterwards, we used masking tape to hold it in shape while we checked the design. Unfortunately, the batteries tipped out of the front so we decided to cut a strip of cardboard and tape it round them, acting as a belt to keep them in place.

Finally, we taped on another strip of cardboard with fold-able flaps going out using double sided tape so that we could glue the whole holder under the ridge of the top of our footstool more easily.

We then glued the battery holder to the side of the box using a hot glue gun.

Step 8: Insert the Electronics Into the Foot-rest

Our LED strips had built in adhesive tape so we simply stuck the multicoloured sting of LEDs to the bottom of the box and the white LEDs to 2" below the top of the footrest.

The top ring of lights for our project were generally hidden under the top ring so we left that as it was.

For the bottom ring of lights with multicoloured LEDs the micro-controller looked awful at the bottom of the foot-rest so we created a small rectangular case of cardboard with an outer layer of foil (attached with doubled sided sticky tape and cut using scissors). We attached this over the micro-controller using a hot glue gun and it hid it very well. We also created a small hole in the side of the footrest using a hand drill to fit the cable through.

For the light sensors we had an issue of them being too light sensitive so that even when the lid was on the light being reflected round the footrest was enough to keep them powered on. This may not be the case for you but to overcome this problem we used a gray sharpie to colour a small portion of masking tape. We then stuck this over the light sensors and this worked well. The lights then turned off when the lid was placed on.

You have now finished your footrest with inbuilt storage. Be proud of yourself!

Cardboard Speed Challenge

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Cardboard Speed Challenge