For the first Project Get Organized activity, I wanted to do something simple. I tackled one of the drawers in my kitchen.
The drawer is the top one of four next to my stove. Because of its location and size, the drawer holds lots of small tools that I use frequently. In general, I like to put the items I use the most in the easiest-to-reach places. I think this is advice that most organizing books and web sites also recommend, but I also know it’s one that I’ve noticed as being very beneficial over the years.
As you can see from this “before” photo, the drawer had gotten to the point where I was just throwing things into it with little order. As I work through Project Get Organized overall, I remind myself “A place for everything and everything in its place.” The issue with this drawer (besides me being a little lazy when using it) is that it didn’t have a place for the things it contained.
If you notice in the photo, there is a white compartmentalized box that is not functioning well. Either the items weren’t placed well in there to begin with, or the box just wasn’t a good fit for the items. Additionally, there weren’t good containers in the rest of the drawer, which caused them to be put in there somewhat haphazardly.
Note: You can choose to either purchase storage containers prior to tackling your project or during. If you want to purchase them before, which is what I did, just pick up a few different sizes from a store with a good return policy. Once you see the sizes you need (as your work through your project), you can determine if you should purchase any additional containers or return any unused. If you prefer to purchase containers during, I’d get mine after Step 3, once I’ve estimated what sizes and shapes would work based on the size and shape of the various groups. I’ve written the following steps the way I did my project – purchasing containers first.
Step 1: Purchase storage containers
I purchased several Linus Shallow Drawer Organizers from The Container Store prior to starting my project. There are many options, but I like these because they’re clear and have neat little non-slip “feet” on the bottoms that help them stay in place. Before making my purchase, I measured the drawer to get a sense for how much space I had – width, depth, and height. Knowing that that drawer I was organizing was short and contained small items, I selected the shallow option (there are also deep ones) and chose smaller sized containers.
Step 2: Remove drawer contents and assess fit
I took all the contents of the drawer out and put them somewhere I could easily see – my kitchen countertop. I looked over everything and found a couple items I could donate, as well as a couple items that were better fits in difference areas of the kitchen. For example, I had some plastic drink lids that were pretty large and took up a lot of space in the drawer – I found a larger cabinet (where the matching cups actually were) and placed them there. I also found a couple items in the drawer that I didn’t use very often and moved those to other drawers. I wanted only frequently used (and smaller-sized) items in this particular drawer.
Step 3: Group like items
I actually did Step 2 while I did Step 1 – as I removed various items, I placed them into groups.
Step 4: Clean drawer (and add liner, if desired)
Now that your drawer is empty, it’s a good opportunity to give it a wipe down. I also lined my drawers with this black and white liner when we moved in, so I just placed it back in the drawer.
Step 5: Assess groups and select storage containers
Take each group of like items and determine the size/shape container that best fits it. For example, this rectangular container was a perfect fit for my group of measuring spoons.
Step 6: Fit containers together
I took my time fitting the various containers together into the drawer – placing them in different spots and configurations until I was happy with the entire fit. I decided to keep the white compartmentalized box that had been in the drawer before, but I moved it to the back of the drawer. Next, I fit the other containers together like a puzzle. I tried putting the measuring cups into a larger rectangular container, but it didn’t seem efficient for the space – there was a lot of empty space in the container and it took up a large portion of the drawer. I decided that since the measuring cups were pretty organized if you just kept them stacked that they didn’t need their own container. I pushed them to the side and found that I could fit 3 rows of storage containers next to them in just the right amount of space.
Remember you can move items in and out of this drawer – just assess the fit (shape, size, and use) and rearrange as you like.
I also found as I went through the project that were even a couple smaller items in other drawers of the kitchen that I could move into this one. Sweet!
And now for some “after” photos.
In the white container towards the back, I put small, less-used tools: a garlic press, meat thermometers, a pot spoon-holder clip, matches/lighter, timer, and a couple other random, small tools.
Towards the front, I put more commonly used items: wine openers, wine stops, tooth picks, measuring spoons, condiment spoons, measuring cups, and garlic. (By the way, where do you keep your garlic?! )
“A place for everything and everything in its place.”
Now that everything has a place to go, it will be easy to maintain this system going forward.
Total project cost: $15.95 (5 clear containers)
I’m also hoping that this will be easy for hubby to maintain. By the way, if you have a roommate/SO, you should make sure they’re okay with you re-arranging stuff before starting. They may even be interested in helping you with the project! Just ask! Either way, consider asking for their help in maintaining the organized system you put in place. Go teamwork!
And remember, you can constantly assess your drawer and items. If you find there are other items you use more that you want to be able to access more easily, exchange them for less-used items. Always consider use, size, fit and re-organize as needed.
Your homework (this would be a great weekend project!): Organizer a drawer. Start small. If you try to do all the drawers in home at one time, you could end up frustrating yourself or feeling overwhelmed. I know I have several other drawers I’m planning to organize, but by starting with one and seeing results, you’ll feel so good about that success, you’ll want to tackle more.
Feel free to share before and after photos – email them to me at thechiclife at gmail dot com. I’d love to see them!