A Drawer Reorganization Brings Much Peace of Mind

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.

The lesson from this drawer: An organizational system is only effective if it is easy to use.

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.

In addition to tweaking the organizational system, I also did some tidying. I threw out old manuals and straightened them all up. I labeled the manual spines that needed it.

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.

The lesson from this drawer: If you aren’t using something, get rid of it. 

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 lesson of this drawer: Think outside your confined space.

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.

So I did. I moved the large spoons to the drawer above, and slightly organized that drawer  as well. I got to employ one of my favorite tricks: put rubber bands into a paper cup.

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!

  • http://www.breadbeansandbudget.com/ IdaBaker

    I love the feeling one gets after having completed an organizational project.  Recently, I went through my clothes drawers, sending two bags full to the local Goodwill.

    Like you, I can now find the items I’m actually interested in using.

    By the way, I could use those unneeded aprons.   :)

    • http://themanlyhousekeeper.com Mark Evitt

      Did you see this post I did? http://www.themanlyhousekeeper.com/2012/04/26/10-steps-to-a-completely-cleaned-and-organized-clothes-closet/
      One of my most satisfying projects ever!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ableapril April Johnson-Shults

    Great stuff as usual. 
    (You should consider installing a Pinterest widget.)

  • C M

    Love it! When my house is in order. I am in order.

  • gracewriter

    The spoons is a good idea. I have several sets still tethered together. I’m going to break them up and have a slot for each size in my drawer. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Romy

    A good friend of mine, who admits freely she is OCD, had a drawer for each type of utensil: metal, wood and plastic. I don’t have that many drawers, but I bought bins that are a bit bigger than shoe boxes and separated my utensils this way in a large, deep drawer. I was so excited when I did it, I called her not realizing she was vacationing in Mexico. It’s one of the few very organized spaces in my house.

  • gaanchoo

    After reading this article, I remembered about the lecture i had attended in my organisation, wherein they had talked about the japanese practices in which we were told about the 5 ‘S’, each S represnting a word in jaanese. The method involved was !) sorting 2) discarding what has not been not used for a long time, 3) organise, Allot definite place for each of the items, depending on their frequency of use 4) keep the articles in the definite space allotted and 5) review periodically and if necessary, apply points 1-4 .
    It never occured to me that it can be used anywhere, including my kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room, the garage and for that matter in every part pf the house. I had to read this article to realise that. Thanks for the Manly housekeeper, I intend to adopt that now onwards

  • Meagan Young

    My bro needs this! 😀 His drawer is certainly one of those messy drawer that you see out there. He’ll make of use this tips.


  • http://peterrabbitremovals.com.au/ Peter

    Though you did a great staff but it need to be update.
    Hope will get more informative post in future.

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