How to Make a Junk Drawer Your Happy Place

Junk Drawer

Everyone has a junk drawer. Well, almost everyone does if they come clean and fess up. It’s the one area in the home where messy hides out and has a field day. What lurks behind these closed drawers is just about everything that doesn’t have a place in the rest of the house and by default lands there.

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Hint: Keep reading until the end – there’s a surprise you won’t want to miss…

Why Do We Love Our Junk Drawer?

It’s our personal story. A kind of treasure chest. The who, what, where, and when of our lives. If you have one of these it makes you human. Maybe a disorganized human but human nevertheless.

  1. A junk drawer is our messy spot. It’s the one place you can throw all the odds and ends that don’t belong anywhere else.
  2. These spaces are a catchall for all things unrelated. (The second set of car keys; a couple of willy-nilly keys, a few stray batteries, magnets, a ponytail scrunchie, a random phone number scribbled on a post-it, loose change, matches from a favorite jaunt.)
  3. It is a place to store a collection of different items that are easy to find because they’re always in the same place. Granted, it’s under a massive mound of other things. But hey, just a little digging will uncover what you’re looking for.
  4. This is a place to put stuff that you don’t have to “think” about where to put it. Or you don’t know where else to put it.
  5. In those drawers are things you just can’t part with. You may not even know why.
  6. A junk drawer is just so easy. No bins, no boxes, no sorting.
  7. It is a safe place to control clutter. It’s hidden behind a closed drawer. Close the drawer and it all disappears.

Since our junk drawers tend to be the messy little secrets within our homes, it can be a point of frustration or even embarrassment for some. As much as we tend to love our junk drawers for their ease and convenience, we prefer to keep them hidden from others.

Junk Drawer Confessions

As this is The Organizing Confessions, I felt it necessary to share some of your confessions too. That’s why I asked a group of people why they love their junk drawers and here are their confessions. I bet some of these sound familiar to you.

Confession 1:

So, my whole kitchen is a junk drawer. We’ll be renovating it in a couple of years so I told myself not to spend any money organizing something that will just be tossed in the end! I’d say, with two busy toddlers, I love that I can just throw something in there quickly without having to spend time organizing or feeling guilty about it! Plus, when you can’t find something there’s always a good chance your junk drawer will have it.

Confession 2:

It’s so convenient for me to have access to it and I use it so frequently. Mine is next to my bed. Where I jot down reminders in the middle of the night; my checkbook, a magazine article, cut-outs, etc! I am constantly emptying it and reorganizing it monthly!

Confession 3:

I don’t like junk drawers. They make me nervous. But I have miscellaneous drawers; for odds and ends.

Confession 4:

I LOVE my JUNK DRAWERS.  (I have one in every room.) When I’m “rushed,” which is usually several times a day, I love having a place to throw things and it’s easy to go back and look in “that” place.

Confession 5:

Ohhhh, I had the best drawer in the kitchen of my LA house. It held the world!! So many little things that would bring back memories with each sighting or touch. And now those items are in a large zip lock bag on my bedside table. I can take it out whenever I want to remind myself of my life back when.

Confession 6:

I think you do what you had as a kid. My mom always had a designated junk drawer. Growing up, my neighbors (who I babysat for) had a junk drawer that was for junk food. It was the best drawer ever!

Confession 7:

I don’t have one 🙁

Confession 8:

I love my junk drawer because it’s an organizer’s dream! Whether its mugs, glassware, socks, t-shirts, or “junk”, my drawers are treated equally and are all things of beauty.

Junk Drawer

Simple Junk Drawer Solutions

Do you know that in the time that it takes you to find National Treasure” On Demand, you can re-organize your junk drawer for good? Really. It’s that easy. Use my simple process that anyone can follow and implement with any type of junk drawer.

Junk Drawer Organization
  • Liberate yourself by unloading all the contents of the drawer on a counter or flat surface. (If it’s in the bedroom, you might want to first lay a work sheet or towel down to contain the dust.) This is the easiest way to begin to sort and separate, toss and decide what to keep.
  • After scrapping anything that’s lost its appeal or usefulness, gather all items you want to keep and sort them into categories to be put back into a specific place in the drawer.
Clean and Measure Before You Shop
  • Take a rag and with a touch of warm water, wipe out the drawer including the corners.
  • Take measurements of the drawer, the width, length, and depth to know how much space you have to work with. This information will come in handy when you buy organizational containers, dividers, and inserts.
  • Take a picture of the contents of the drawer or make a list of the groupings. The last thing you want to do is get to the store, select all the organizers that you need only to realize you forgot about the ruler, flashlight, anything that may take up more room.
  • Cut a piece of newspaper to the size of the drawer. Roll it up and bring it with you when you shop for organizers to help you unscramble the drawer puzzle. When you get to the store lay out the newspaper and arrange organizers on the paper to fill the space and hold what you need. Double-check the height so that the organizers aren’t taller than the height of the drawer. It would be awful if the drawer won’t close after all that work.
  • At the store, you’ll find an assortment of shallow and deep drawer organizers, acrylic containers, organizers that expand and drawer dividers – my favorite are these adjustable bamboo dividers.
Credit: Walmart

If you don’t want to make a trip to the store or you can’t right now because you’re hunkering down, look for items around the house that will help you group things: egg cartons, small craft like cups, an unused cutlery tray, etc. That works too! Otherwise, I suggest doing some online shopping and getting what you need delivered straight to your home for extra convenience. My personal favorite options for organizational items are Walmart and Dollar Tree.

Optional – Line the Drawers

If you’re motivated, lining the drawers not only looks good, smells good in the bathroom or nightstand, but helps to prevent items from rolling around. You can choose from non-skid lining, a ribbed backing (ideal for the kitchen), or scented paper – this Scentennials lavender drawer liners is my top pick. You can also use old wallpaper cut to fit. Attach with double-stick tape so the lining won’t move. Again, if you’re unable to leave the house, simple paper toweling will do. You can also eliminate this step altogether.

Junk Drawer
Credit: Walmart

Nightstand Junk Drawer Organization

The nightstand is one of the most common spots for junk drawers and I can understand why. It’s so convenient for the wide variety of things we need when we’re in bed. Since our bed is a spot we don’t necessarily want to leave once we’ve gotten in, our nightstands soon fill up with a myriad of different items. But just like other junk drawers in the house, there’s a simple solution to getting it organized and working for you.

  • Your first step is to clear the clutter on top. There’s a reason that you have a nightstand with internal storage. You need to use it and use it correctly so that the flat surface on top can stay clear of clutter which will help keep your bedroom looking organized.
  • The next step is to remove everything from your drawers and decide what you actually do need next to your bed. Everything that doesn’t need to be there should be discarded or returned to their correct place in your home.
  • Once you know what needs to remain, follow the steps above to clean the drawers, and measure out the space.
  • Then, purchase and add some organizing dividers to keep similar items neatly together within your drawers to ensure that everything has a dedicated spot.
  • Finally, if your nightstand has a bottom shelf, consider adding a pretty storage basket to store larger things (Walmart has a huge selection of attractive baskets) such as magazines or laptop.

If your nightstand doesn’t have enough interior storage space which keeps the top cluttered then it may be time for a new nightstand. Houzz has a gorgeous selection of nightstands that range from one to three drawers. To keep the top clear, a nightstand with at least two drawers works best for me. Otherwise, a small decorative storage box is the perfect way to keep small items organized on top of your nightstand – works great for sentimental items as well.

What to Store in Bathroom Drawers

Although bathroom drawers are not usually used as junk drawers, these spaces can quickly become a mess as you fill it up with a variety of different things. Honestly, we tend to store way too many things in our bathrooms which can make these small rooms feel super cluttered. There are only a few essentials that should be stored in the bathroom cabinets and drawers:

  • Toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, contacts and the solution and possibly even facial moisturizer or eye creams unless you have a place to store these in your room.
  • Face and hand towels can be stored in drawers but bath towels can be rolled up and placed in pretty baskets in the bathroom.
  • Shower supplies such as razors, shaving cream, soaps, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner.
  • Makeup and other grooming items such as hair brushes, hair dryers, styling tools and more should also be neatly stored within bathroom drawers.
  • Extra rolls of toilet paper.
  • A first aid kit should be in a place that’s easy to reach, accessible to all, and simple to direct someone to it in case of an emergency.
Junk Drawer

Maintain Junk Drawer Organization 

Now that you’ve put the effort into organizing your beloved junk drawers, you want to make sure it all stays that way, right? Well, when it comes to junk drawers upkeep is crucial if you want them to stay organized. Make it a habit to check your junk drawer on a regular basis to maintain the order. When doing this, put the essentials back in their place and deal with the non-essentials accordingly. The idea is to organize your junk drawers in such an effective way that everything has been thought of and has a place – which means it can be put back in its place after use. This is what I mean when I say put systems in place. But even the best organizational systems require regular upkeep to avoid wasted time looking for the keys, batteries, charger, or whatever you need.

Do you love your junk drawer? Share why in the comments.

Mother’s Day Kitchen & Closet Essentials Giveaway

Mother’s Day is around the corner and since we’ve all been hunkering down for months, I wanted to do something exciting to give back to my audience. Whether you’re a mom feeling stressed out and need a treat or want to spoil your mom with something special, this giveaway is for you! I’ve partnered up with Real Home Innovations again and All Hung Up Hangers to giveaway two amazing prize bundles. Enter the giveaway now to stand a chance to win either the Kitchen Essentials Bundle or the Closet Essentials Bundle on Mother’s Day!


Junk Drawer

Comments 51

  1. I think people need TWO junk drawers. One that is organized and renamed something like “utility drawer” where you can always find scissors, tape measure, batteries, etc. And another that is truly a free-for-all, where you can stash small items that have no homes (yet) and no defined purpose (yet). Before it overflows, though, one must purge it of trash, and find homes for the items you have deemed useful. Love the tips, Ronni!

    1. I’m so glad you like the tips. I have quite a respectable catch-all drawer. Until my family dips in. Then I start all over again.
      I like your two junk drawer ideas. I’ll keep mine and give my family their own.

  2. Getting the chaotic drawers in order is a perfect way to feel instantly empowered. Even one drawer can make you smile every time you open it. Love all those little organizers. They are critical. I tell clients that I don’t believe in “junk drawers” because we don’t buy junk. They are supplies drawers. We need to give them a little respect and definition. The more specific we can be about what goes where, the more useful they will be! Perfect little project for these crazy days:)

    1. I loved one of the drawer confessions, “I don’t like junk drawers. They make me nervous. I have miscellaneous ones, for odds and ends.”
      I always find that when I clean out a drawer that I feel instantly better. My clients are always amazed at the difference.

  3. The junk drawer confessions you collected are fabulous! I love how people take ownership and embrace their connection and use of their “special” drawers. I have organized MANY junk drawers with my clients. And one of the most common things that happen is that loud, long groan they do when we start the work. Because as you suggested, organizing a junk drawer requires taking EVERYTHING out first. That can feel overwhelming. But once we group, sort, edit, and reroute, there is always a big sigh of relief. And very often, they find things they thought we long gone.

    Also, those bamboo drawer inserts from Walmart look terrific and easy to use. I’m going to try them.

    1. I have to say that the drawer confessions really made me laugh. What’s better than real life stories?
      So glad you’re going to try the bamboo drawer inserts. Please let me know and send me a picture once they’re in place!!

  4. I found that lining the drawers gives me the opportunity to create custom layouts without have to place bins in them using customizable drawer dividers. I did this in my cutlery drawer. I love it. Thanks for the tips!

    1. That sounds great! I’d love to see a picture if you have a moment.
      At home I use both dividers and small boxes depending on what I’m storing.

  5. I love the confessions! Also like the idea of taking a picture of the items you want to store before going to the store (with measurements and newspaper plan) to buy drawer storage. I have not drawers in my bathroom, but am in the middle of renovating so will soon! I am looking forward to customizing the space. Thanks for the tips.

    1. The stories are so funny and real! I’ve always taken a picture before heading out.It’s so easy to forget an item or forget to write it down.The newspaper idea is something I’ve been doing forever as it just helps me to fit what’s needed. It’s really a smart planner.
      Good luck with your renovation!

  6. Thank you for the tips. My junk drawer is a mess. Great idea’s to get it in order.

  7. A junk drawer serves a useful purpose of keeping junk in one place rather than spread throughout … and it’s where you can look for anything you can’t find. That being said, when it gets too full of stuff that isn’t important junk, it’s usefulness is much less. So organizing it and keeping only important junk that doesn’t have another logical place is a useful endeavour.

  8. Thank you for the tips! I’ve cleaned out our junk drawer so many times only for it to end up the same way less than a week later.

    1. You must be disappointed. Two steps forward and one step back. I bet if you identified why they returned to their original state so quickly, you might be able to work around it.

  9. Since I am home all day now, I was able to tackle my junk drawer and it is now neat and tidy. (After throwing away half of the stuff that was in there). As a matter of fact, my whole house is much more organized.

  10. Maintaining is always the tricky part! I LOVE organizing and decluttering but then I have three boys. LOL! Thanks for all these tips. I have a few drawers I need to get to this week!

    1. I know it’s really hard with kids. You know, depending on their ages they can help you with some of the organizing and then take ownership of it!

  11. Timely post as I can cleaned out our kitchen junk drawer yesterday! Im always amazed at what accumulates in there and the “oh wow, thats where that went!”!
    And then the satisfaction of a clean drawer! Ahhh the best!

    1. It reallyis a great feeling when you’ve cleaned up the mess and can find what you’re looking for. I loved what you said, “Oh wow, that’s where that went!” So true!

  12. I always feel like a new woman and can conquer the world when I’m organized. Junk drawers are one of those out of sight, out of mind things but boy oh boy do I feel good throwing things out!

    1. I agree with you, Maggie. It is so freeing to get rid of what we don’t want and reduce the clutter and stress.

  13. The key to organization is to first: get rid of unneeded and unnecessary “stuff” clogging up my life.

  14. ty for the great tips and ideals.going get rid of alot thingsi dont need this weekend

    1. I’m glad you were inspired. Did you start your project this past weekend?

  15. It’s so refreshing to see that we are all humans after all and have so much in common. This I can identify with. In fact, one of the drawers looks exactly like one of the drawers in my kitchen. We don’t need to be ashamed anymore. Thanks so much for this.

    1. Hi Joleisa,

      I think most people have a junk drawer. There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

  16. Usually my ‘junk’ drawer includes batteries, flashlight, matches and candles for power outages.

  17. All of my junk drawers are well organized, except for the one in the kitchen. That one, I just can’t keep organized for some reason.

    1. The kitchen junk drawer is a difficult one to keep organized. Usually, lots people have access which makes it challenging to keep order.

  18. This is a perfect post for me right now because I am just about to go through my entire house and organize it, including my junk drawers!

    1. That’s a big project! I’m excited for you. Let me know how it turns out.

  19. Ronni, great post! Lots and lots of helpful information!

    For drawing lining, I’ve even used wrapping paper. The Dollar Store stuff works just fine.

    And I’m so glad that you mentioned the depth of the drawer. I live in an apartment right now, and the kitchen drawers are barely deep enough for a spatula or ladle as they are not flat. So, absolutely, you need to check the depth.

    1. Hi Debbie!
      I love your comments and I think wrapping paper is a fantastic idea for lining drawers. I’ll add that to my list.
      I always measure, not once but twice to avoid the headache of purchasing items that end up not fitting. Who has the time for that?
      If you think of any other ideas let me know!

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