Three drawers in my apartment had gotten unbearably messy, and each time I opened them, I cringed. Still, I didn’t take the time to reorganize them, even though I opened them many times each day. Finally, when one over-stuffed drawer jammed again, I declared that the next day would be Drawer Reorganization Day. This quick project expanded slightly in scope, but at the end of it I had three drawers that were once again clean and tidy. What follows is what I did, and how I did it.
First, one deep thought about organization: You can’t organize a space until every item has a specific place. When I visited my parents last fall, I took one look at their kitchen utensil drawer (memorialized in its messiness here) and knew I had to organize it. I designated specific places for all their different tools, and, as far as I know, the drawer has stayed clean. I never employed that same technique on my own kitchen utensil drawer, so it got messier over time, as I just threw utensils back in the drawer.
We’ll return to the kitchen in a minute. The first drawer up is where I store all my appliance manuals.
When I originally sorted my appliance manuals, I organized them by brand name. This became problematic because an appliance’s name wasn’t always immediately obvious and sometimes I would misfile manuals by the type of appliance (refrigerator, oven) rather than brand name. I decided that a more intuitive system would be to sort manuals by room in the house.
Let’s head to the kitchen, where the rest of this project takes place. The first drawer up is my linens/misc. drawer, which spells trouble.
Somehow I had accumulated five aprons. I almost never use an apron when I cook, so at the very most I needed only two – one for me and one for my wife.
I’m a little concerned that this drawer will get messy again, but I guess that’s the nature of “miscellaneous” drawers. I rearranged it so the items I always use are on top. I also put similar things that cause clutter easily – like cookie cutters – in bags for easier storage.
Finally, I tackled the utensil drawer.
The first thing I did was take out all the utensils and gadgets I had and lay them out on the counter. One quick glance told me that if I truly wanted to organize this drawer, and assign each utensil a specific location, I needed to get creative.
In the main utensil drawer, I moved all the gadgets to the back. The far-right slot holds spatulas, the middle-right slot holds tongs and Microplane gaters (aka long skinny things). The far-left slot holds flat items, like spatulas. The largest compartment, in the middle-left, holds everything else.
To fully embrace my mantra of “thinking outside my confined space” I wanted to find a different way to store my measuring cups and spoons. There isn’t much free space in my kitchen, but I found a little bit of wall that is easy to reach and not blocked by a cabinet door. I hung eight small hooks, one for each type of measuring cup and spoon.
While I was at it, I bought a second set of measuring spoons. I’ve written before about the benefits of having two sets of measuring cups. When the half-cup measurer is dirty and you need it again, you don’t have to stop what you are doing to wash and dry it. For some reason I never got a second set of measuring spoons, even though I cursed myself each time I prematurely put the teaspoon measurer in the sink. Now that won’t happen again.
Each time I open my organized utensil drawer I smile, and putting away my measuring cups on their snazzy new hooks has been strangely satisfying. That’s the mark of a successful project!