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The Organized Junk Drawer

How strong is your sense of smell? No, seriously. Does the way a room smells either positively or negatively impact your overall mood? Or can a smell immediately transport you back to an experience you had early on in your life? Well, as a very sensory person myself, I am greatly influenced by this particular sense and can answer "yes" to both of these questions. In fact, whenever I get a whiff of a rubber band, I am brought back to a weirdly vivid memory of me rummaging through the junk drawer in the kitchen of my childhood home. I remember opening the corner drawer and feeling like a pirate who just uncovered a chest of gold; there were so many treasures. Scissors, pens without caps, Scotch tape, the occasional spare button, paper clips, and of course, rubber bands. The possibilities of what a creative kid like me could do with this stuff were endless!

Perhaps the nostalgia of going through a good, messy junk drawer is what makes this space one of my favorites to tackle now as a professional organizer. I love seeing the types of things people consider "junk" and how--when one really pays attention to this space--there are definite categories of items that can be formed.

Where am I going with all of this, you ask? I will be the first to admit that despite my adoration for junk drawers, now as an adult with a busy life and tons of responsibilities, I do not have the time to sift through old lottery tickets and "World's Best Mom" koozies to find a pair of nail clippers. The simple fact is this: Having an organized junk drawer makes finding and putting away your home's most commonly-shared items more efficient.

What is the best way to go about organizing your junk drawer? Here are the steps to follow in order to create the junk drawers of your dreams.


Step 1: Clear all the junk.

If you have read previous posts of mine, you may be familiar with the process for organizing any space, and the junk drawer is no different. The first step that needs to be taken is to clear the space completely. Only by physically touching and seeing all of the items contained in the space will you be able to make thoughtful decisions on what to do with them.

Step 2: Decide whether to "can it" or "keep it".

As you are removing each item from your junk drawer, question its importance and whether or not you actually need it. Now, I have to admit that this step in the organizing process is the one people struggle with the most. It can be difficult to toss things that you once spent money on, or that your kids bought for you at their school's holiday shop, or that you kinda-sorta-maybe think you'll use again one day. I get that. But to reach the goal you established for the space, it is super important to get some decluttering done first.

So, if you are someone who finds it very hard to part with things, try tackling this step with the "head perspective" rather than the "heart perspective" by asking yourself the following questions and making decisions based on your answers:

Step 3: Categorize on-the-go.

Immediately after deciding whether to keep or can an item from your junk drawer, place it in a categorized space on your counter. For example, place pens with pens, bottle openers with bottle openers, and so on. By categorizing as you go, you will be organizing on-the-spot and will be avoiding having to touch the items a second time by going back and doing it later.

Be sure to create groups that meet your individual needs and organizing style. I am more of a micro-organizer, which means that I prefer items to be grouped in super specific categories (such as the whole "pens with pens" suggestion). However, if you are more of a macro-organizer--meaning that you prefer items to be grouped in broader categories--you can choose to place pens, pencils, and markers together in a "writing utensils" group. The only way you will maintain the space is to create categories that work for you, not that you think sound "right" according to the organizing shows you have watched.

Step 4: Contain it.

Ok guys, this is it! This is what needs to happen in order for your junk drawer to become and remain organized... every item needs to find a home. Based on the categories you established in Step 3, your junk drawer stock should be placed into bins that keep them together. My favorite junk drawer organizing set can be found on Amazon for $27.99 and it is worth every penny! The modular bins in this set come in various sizes and can be manipulated to accommodate junk drawers of any size.


If you are looking to get organized but become overwhelmed at the thought of where to even begin, the junk drawer is a great place to start! It is a small space, contains items that are more easily purgeable than others, and will most likely serve as an organizing victory that encourages you to tackle more spaces in your home. You've got this!

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