We live in a consumer driven society, acquiring lots of things whether we have space to store them or not. Some of us love the challenge of getting and staying organized, so we're always looking for new organizing gadgets. In this article I'm sharing how I learned to organize kitchen drawers using a neat new product … first in Arizona. Now that I've moved to Florida, it's time to rethink how my new kitchen drawers need to be organized.
At the International Home Builder Show (IBS), I discovered a company called OrganizeMyDrawer.com, with a unique approach to organizing lots of little things in drawers. Loved the idea and volunteered to use their design tool and product. Wanting to show you that it's easy to organize your kitchen drawers, I started with the most challenging drawer in my kitchen … the “junk drawer”.
Steps to Organize Your Kitchen Drawers
With Organize My Drawer products, it's a bit like designing a house. You've got to get the design right on paper, as once built, it's not easy (and definitely not cheap) to make changes. It seemed like more work than I'd anticipated, but after spending a week with my junk drawer open, I realized it was really helpful.
Here's what I learned and wanted to share, so you too can organize your kitchen drawers to work better for you. The challenge was really about making decisions, and deciding what belongs in each drawer. That's because it's not easy to change the location once the drawer is built. So let's look at the decisions I had to make:
- Does this gadget belong in the kitchen? Are there tools and sewing supplies in a kitchen drawer, to save a trip to the garage or sewing room? You might need a basket to collect these things, left by the door so you can grab items when you're headed in the right direction.
- Does this kitchen gadget belong in this drawer, or is there a better drawer closer to where I use it. For example, I moved my plastic wrap and aluminum foil to a narrow drawer near the stove.
- Does this item need a permanent home in this kitchen drawer? It was easy to say yes to my scissors and tape. However my oatmeal baggies I forgot to take on a recent trip shouldn't be there long. I also need to find a better place to store miscellaneous tea bags and K-cups, closer to the Keurig and coffee cups.
They've got some great videos to help you through the design process, starting with How to Measure Your Drawer. I didn't find these right away because they're at the bottom of the left navigation bar, and required me to scroll down to see them. You'll want to watch the videos before you start measuring, which will make things much easier than my detailed measurements down to the 32nds of an inch.
- Drawer measurements – 18 15/32nds (ordered 18.375 in”) wide by 17 19/32nds (ordered 17.5″) deep; forgot height, which is 3 20/32nds (ordered 3 inches).
- Storage baggies – sandwich baggies are 6 inches wide, and quart storage bags are 7 1/4 inches wide.
Now I was stumped. I knew how tall the compartments had to be for the baggies, but didn't know how wide they should be as that's optional. That's when I decided it was time to go online and play around with the design software. With an idea of what you want, it's really easy to find a template that the software automagically modifies to fit the dimensions of your drawer. Here's what I started with:
At this point I got a bit frustrated because I didn't seem able to edit the template I selected. Turns out you have to create an account, before you can edit anything … so once I did that, it was easy, sort of. I started my design on the right hand side of the drawer where the biggies will live. I eventually learned that I was working opposite the grid (starts in the top, left corner), so you'll find it easier if you start there.
Design Tips to Organize Your Kitchen Drawers
Maybe you can relate to the saying, your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Well in this case, I'd say our eyes are also bigger than our drawers which explains why we try to cram so much into them, that we can't see what's there and often can't find what we need. (Read Organize Your Kitchen Drawers Once and For All.)
Before you start designing your drawer details, do some simple math and make sure that the number of columns you're planning is realistic. Simply divide the width of your drawer by the number of columns, and test the column width on your biggest item to be stored.
If you look at my countertop design, there are six columns. It didn't take me long to realize that wasn't realistic, so I rearranged things into five columns. Now look at my design for five columns (above) and it's obvious that something has to change.
18 inches / 5 columns = 3.6 inches per column
18 inches / 4 columns = 4.5 inches per column
So back to the drawing board as I was much too generous on column widths when I thought I had plenty of room. The real decision came down to whether I was willing to combine gadgets in order to have one column wide enough for the hammer (see below, 4.5 inches).
PS You'll also get my list of recommended steps to design your new drawer inserts from OrganizeMyDrawer.com.
Wondering why I want my hammer & screw drivers in the kitchen? The reason is the garage, where all the tools are kept, is up the stairs and at the opposite end of the house. I've learned that when a tool is too far away, things don't get done now … and sometimes never. I'd rather make space to keep my tools handy, so small things like hanging a new hook, get done right away.
Final Drawer Design Includes My Hammer!
Here's my final design to organize this drawer, and right below I'll share with you mistakes I almost made and my recommended steps to organize your kitchen drawers.
There's one big challenge when you decide to organize your kitchen drawers with inserts from OrganizeMyDrawer.com. You can't make any mistakes! That's because your drawer insert comes with fixed dividers that can't be moved, and there are no problems for your design mistakes.
Don't think you're going to make mistakes? Well I did, and I want to share them with you so you realize taking a few extra steps to avoid these mistakes is the smart choice. What I missed:
- Determining how many columns will fit into this drawer – already explained here …
- Mixed up drawer depth and width measurements, putting them in opposite as that's how I measured them and thankfully caught this problem early.
- Didn't allow enough space (height) for my hammer, really? Guessing that when I decided to combine the top space for the two columns on the left, I lost an inch which would have hurt if I didn't create the printout above to check my measurements.
Recommended Steps to Organize Your Kitchen Drawers
Unless you've already invested a lot of time and money in organizing your home, there's probably at least one tip you'll take away from this list … and I hope you share your favorite tip below.
Here are the steps I recommend using to organize your kitchen drawers:
- Pick one drawer to start the process. Don't be scared to pick the worst drawer in your kitchen or bathroom, as you'll get more value once it's done, and that will get your through the process.
- Review what's in the drawer and decide what you're not really using, and things that belong somewhere else in your house.
- Spread everything from the drawer out on the countertop.
- Organize things where you want them to live inside the drawer.
- Make sure you don't have too many columns. For example, I started with five columns but an 18 inch wide drawer, means 3-3.5″ wide columns which didn't make sense, so I went to four columns.
- Design your drawer, measuring each cell as you add it to the design.The “measure tool” makes it easy to check the size of any cell.
- Print your design (I used Jing to cut and paste into PowerPoint) and write in what you plan to store in each cell. I wanted this to be sure I was comfortable with how I laid things out, and then recognized I needed to verify measurements for items that aren't flexible.
- Identify and verify there's enough space for gadgets requiring a fixed amount of space (shown in red above). For my drawer, these included my hammer, scissors and tape measure.
Good luck designing your drawers, and please share your stories below. If you send me photos (before and after are the most fun), I'll add them here so we can get more creative about how we use this cool new product from OrganizeMyDrawer.com.
PS For help organizing larger kitchen drawers, I've used other products which you can learn about here. My favorite is the knife and large utensil pull-out drawer next to my stove.
- Organizing Kitchen Cabinets: The 5 Minute Guide
- Kitchen Cabinets & Outlets Need Creativity
- Kitchen Cabinet Plans Can be Challenging
- Kitchen Pantry Storage Ideas