Organizing a Chest of Drawers

Junk drawers, craft drawers, utensil drawers, desk drawers, sock drawers— all over the house, drawers are a popular way to store items. Here are some tips for organizing a chest of drawers in the most functional way for your needs.

An Overall System

First, it helps to determine what will be stored in the chest of drawers:

  • Items that are all of a kind or a wide variety of items
  • Items that are mainly used by one person, or items that are used by several people
  • Items that are used in one part or room of the house, or items that will be taken to various locations

From this inventory, some initial conclusions may be drawn:
  • Similar items are more likely to work in undivided space and dissimilar items are more likely to need organizers to be able to find them.
  • Items that have one primary user should be organized by that person, and items that will be sought by multiple members of the household should be accessible to all.
  • Items with vary different functions and sites of use may be more easily found if they are grouped by their destination.

In addition, it is useful to place:
  • items in drawers that the users can reach
  • the most often used items in the most accessible drawers—those that do not require bending or standing on tip-toe to reach

Internal Organization of the Chest of Drawers

Once your overall scheme is determined, organization within the chest of drawers will become the question. First, the height and depth and width of the drawers will come into play. It usually makes sense to use larger drawers for larger items, and lower drawers for heavier items. Second, ways to keep items in view, accessible, and orderly within the drawers will become important.

Consider inserts, such as:
  • drawer dividers
  • plastic covered wire racks
  • cutlery trays
  • ice cube trays
  • office supply trays
  • baskets
  • two-level drawer trays

There are also special organizers available for jewelry, spices, cosmetics, and flatware. But also keep in mind that the important thing is to choose organizational tools that will work for you, even if you use them for purposes other than what they were designed for.

Getting Started

Before you begin filling the chest of drawers, consider using lining paper. Self adhesive paper, wallpaper, or special acid free paper (when appropriate) may work to prevent splinters, protect the stored items, and make cleaning easier.

If the drawers are deep, consider having a front and a back section, and—if appropriate—rotate the items from front to back every once in awhile.

Written by Mary Elizabeth