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the case of the ominous junk drawer/ cabinet

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

Do you have a junk drawer/ cabinet that has gotten out of control? You’re not alone. This week we’re going to tackle what to do to clear the clutter and how to maintain it moving forward. Below are 10 easy steps to follow for a DIY junk drawer/cabinet makeover.

  1. Removal - Take a deep breath. I need you to make two promises to yourself 1) you will do the project in one go and 2) when you get fed up, you will not throw it all back in. Yes, I am reading your mind. You can do this! Clear off a large amount of floor or table space and get to work.

  2. Categorize – Batteries with batteries, tech with tech – as you take the items out, categorize and put like with like. Categorization is based on personal preference; it needs to make sense to you so that you can find it again. I once had a client who put matches with tools because that’s where she’d think to look for them. Hey, you do you!

  3. De-clutter – Once your items have been categorized and you’re going through them, answer these questions – do you need it? Will you use it? Really, will you? Are you keeping it because you’re under the impression that as a responsible adult you should have it? Ok, so maybe you do need a shoehorn, but do you need 15? What would be a more reasonable number?

  4. Strategize – What is the best use of this space for your life? Access to office supplies? A miscellaneous area? It’s all out anyway so it makes sense to plan for it to go back in a way that makes the most sense to you. It doesn’t matter that the batteries used to be in the bottom right corner, if that’s not where they make sense, move them. Accessorize – I love the Container Store as much as the next person but I also don’t believe in buying things you don’t need to organize – that’s just counterproductive. If you’re going to buy storage containers, please make sure they’re clear – if not, you’re going to forget what’s in there, thus defeating the purpose. For a drawer, go for the Linus drawer organizers. There’s a tall and short version so make sure you measure before buying. Play tetris in the drawer to see how to make things fit the way you want them to. For a cabinet, go with different sizes of clear storage boxes. I love the Container Store line because it’s inexpensive and sturdy. The most important thing to remember when buying storage boxes is to buy from the same line so that all of your containers fit nicely on top and inside one another.

  5. Prioritize – The least important items should go in first and be hidden at the back. The front space in a cabinet is valuable real estate and needs to be treated as such. Don’t worry we’ll get to how you’re going to remember the hidden items. The client in question has a box of old computer files on CDs and floppy disks that she needs to keep but isn’t quite ready to deal with. Those went at the very back (fyi this subject will be dealt with in a future blog post). Whatever you grab for most often should be the most accessible, meaning it should be at the very front. Our goal is to make this space work for you.

  6. Label – When it came to this project, labeling was key. What we did was label all the items on each shelf as a mirror image on the inside of the door (see image). That way, things can be and when you’re looking for something, you should be able to just read the labels, which have been placed in line with where the item is. If you don’t have a label maker, let’s get inventive – you can use tape and a marker or pen. You could also print labels off your computer. This also works in the kitchen when you’re hiding things you rarely use at the back of a cabinet.

  7. Instruct - If you have kids/a partner/a nanny give everyone a tour of the space and explain why items are living where they were placed. Explain that you would like everyone to practice keeping it this way. If you want to get really intense, take a photo of what it looked like so that when it gets messed up, it can be put back.

  8. Maintain – If you tell me that your kids/partner/nanny won’t maintain it, please remember that organization is something that takes practice. No, it won’t be perfect but using labels helps a lot. And depending on usage of the space, it’s going to need to be tidied every once in a while. It’s a process, take it slow and keep it up.

  9. Celebrate! – Check you out! You just organized a cabinet/ junk drawer! Post a photo of what you did and make sure to tag it - #torganized :).

Try my tips and tricks above and let me know how it goes! You can email me at and follow me on Instagram @toritheorganizer. A job like this takes me an hour to complete. I would leave yourself 2-3 to be safe. As always, you’re going to have some trial and error. Good luck


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