Seattle's Child

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Reframing the junk drawer

Some people say "junk drawer" as if it's a bad thing. Let's face it, every home has one. The problem is not with the idea of the junk drawer itself, but rather the chaos that so easily ensues within.

Here are some tips for taking control of your junk drawer and putting it to work for you.

Purge first.

  1. Empty the contents of the junk drawer on a nice, open space like the living room floor or kitchen table.

  2. Toss everything that's broken, expired, or no longer needed.

  3. Group like items (e.g., small tools, pens and markers, take-out menus and coupons).

  4. Is there anything that belongs somewhere else in the house? Most things end up in the junk drawer because it was convenient to put it there at the time. Chances are good that there's a much better place for it.


    Photo credit: Pinterest

Think outside the drawer.

Before you go piling your pared down pile of junk back in the drawer, see if there is a smarter way to store any of your stuff. Whatever you create will be the most successful if you keep like-themed things together where they are easy to reach and find.

  • Magnetic board with clips, cups, and cubbies.

  • Over-the-door shoe organizer

  • Hat boxes

  • Coffee tins or mason jars


Photo credit: Clutter-free Classroom



Photo credit: Pinterest

Decide what stays.



Photo source: Joseph Joseph

If a drawer is the answer, there are no hard and fast rules for what belongs. It depends on what other storage systems you have set up and what you consider essential to have on hand.

Here are some ideas of things that tend to make everyday life more efficient while not necessarily fitting elsewhere in the home:

  • Scissors (not cooking shears)

  • Tape

  • Small tools (e.g., multi-head screwdriver, glasses repair kit)

  • Tape measure

  • Small sewing supplies

  • Thumb tacks, paper clips, rubber bands

  • Pens, pencils, and a few Sharpies

  • Spare house keys

  • Small note pad

  • AA batteries (or other size you commonly use)

  • Matches and/or a lighter

  • Small flashlight

  • Take-out menus (Tip: If you have a whole bunch, put them in a three-ring binder.)

  • Coupons (Consider stashing in envelopes or an expandable file marked with the category or expiration month.)

Put the things you use most in the front of the drawer. I'm a big fan of stacked trays that let you make the most of drawer space with easy access to everything.



Photo credit: Pinterest

Create internal order.



Photo credit:

One of the main reasons junk drawers get so…junky is because everything is just shoved in willy nilly. Your junk drawer needs a system!

Before you go crazy buying cute colored baskets and bins, plot out the size requirements of the drawer and the individual components. Nothing takes the wind out of your organizing sails more quickly than getting brand new stuff that doesn't fit.

When you are ready to shop, here are some of my favorite spots for organizing gear:

You can get creative (and save money) with outside-the-box storage solutions, too. Old jewelry boxes, mint or candy tins, jelly jars – you name it!



Photo source: Pinterest


Photo source: Pinterest

In this high-tech, digital age, I love how these guys got creative with cord storage!



Photo source: Don't Worry. Be Happy. Keep Learning.

Maintain, maintain, maintain.



Photo source: I Love You More Than Carrots

Now that you've done the hard work, make it count with a little maintenance. If you've created a storage system that really works for the way you live, an annual refresh should only take 10-15 minutes. That's nothing compared to the time you'll save finding what you want, when you want it, every other day of the year.



Sara Eizen is a Seattle-based interior designer and home organizer with a passion for helping busy families reclaim style and space in their homes on any budget. In a bi-weekly column for Seattle's Child, Sara shares creative, fun, affordable tips and tricks for clearing clutter, sprucing up rooms with minimal effort, creating systems that simplify family life, and much more.

About the Author

Sara Eizen