Elizabeth Lavin

Home & Garden

Junk Drawer No More: Easy Organizing Tips from Dallas Pros

We all have an overstuffed drawer that barely opens. Here's how to transform it into a comely catch-all.

The “junk drawer.” The “everything drawer.” No matter what you call it, everyone’s got one—and everyone’s embarrassed by it. “It’s the space people say, ‘Oh don’t look in there,’ ” says Shelley Tims Anbouba, owner of luxury organization service NEAT Method Dallas, who touts organization as a necessary form of self-care. “If your life is functioning well at home, your mental space is so much clearer.”Anbouba suggests starting any organization project the same way: Empty the space completely, clean it, take inventory of your items, and whittle it down to the essentials. Then heed her advice below for a junk drawer worthy of display. 

  1. Ditch the Packaging Not only is it more aesthetically pleasing, removing boxes and outer wrap makes it easier to access and keep inventory of your items. “When you can see it, you’re not going to let yourself run out,” Anbouba says. “It’s almost like an ‘accountability’ drawer.”
  2. Embrace Multipurpose “It’s much easier to keep up with one thing than 20 things,” says Anbouba, who’s a fan of multi-tools like this one, which contains pliers, a screwdriver, a bottle opener, and more, all in one compact design.
  3. Get Matchy-Matchy Choose drawer dividers that match the aesthetic of your space. But whether you choose plastic, bamboo, or acrylic, containers—and ones that are wipeable—are a must: “If a battery corrodes or pen leaks, cloth, felt, or the interior of the drawer can’t be as easily cleaned,” she notes.
  4. Beautiful Basics Like items in a neutral palette lends a sense of calm. (Read: Ditch the mismatched pens you’ve accumulated over the years in favor of a fresh matching set.) “Spaces like this shouldn’t be overstimulating,” says Anbouba.

    Shelley Tims Anbouba
    Courtesy of Shelley Tims Anbouba

Additional Tips

  • Location, Location, Location Where your everything drawer is located is critical to its effectiveness. “It should live in the closest drawer or piece of furniture to where you park your car,” Anbouba says. “It provides that last check before you leave the house and the first place you stop when you get in.”
  • Everything in its Place Create categories for your contents—and get granular. “The more you subcategorize, the more you’ll prevent over-accumulation,” she says. “If you can always find it, you’re not going to end up with multiples.”
  • Divide and Conquer For smaller drawers, Anbouba uses modular components you can mix and match to maximize your space. For larger drawers, she prefers fixed dividers so you’re not overwhelmed with options.
  • Maintenance Plan Keep your drawer pristine with periodic refreshes. Every few months—or more, if you live in a busy household—Anbouba recommends a “10-minute touch-up” to take inventory, clean containers, and reassess your categories. “If you don’t let it get behind,” she says, “it won’t ever get out of control.”

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