Organizing the Junk Drawer (please contain your excitement)

By Kate Riley August 14, 2012

I followed my own advice yesterday and tackled a project that I’ve let go all summer long.  Those lazy days of summer led to laziness around the house which led to a messy kitchen zone with piles of who knows what’s in there and I came home from vacation to a cluttered mess.  Yay.


I’m in back-to-school mode this week so I grabbed some fresh school supplies and then tackled that family zone that hides our junk drawer in the kitchen.


In the past I’ve been good about keeping my junk drawer organized but I pretty much let it all go over the summer.  Since it’s ‘hurry up and get organized’ week at our casa  I began with the dreaded dump.

Oh. what. fun !!

Nope, it’s zero fun if you ask me, but a few hours later, I had it all separated, tossing the real junk and organizing what remained into sections – on one side some new supplies and school related stuff like erasers, tape, scissors, chalk, rubber bands, glue sticks, etc. and on the other stamps, business cards, gift cards, small screwdrivers, hooks and pens.

Organizing teeny tiny things is never a fun task for me but in the end it’s a satisfying one – I’ve had these two tier organizers for about five years, I think I found them at Bed, Bath and Beyond – not sure if they carry them anymore but they keep me sane.  At least when I keep them under control in autumn, winter, and spring.  :)  Update:  these drawer organizers are available here at The Container Store and they are awesome.


“I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I had your name and address”  – name the movie.


The tumbler is from Anthropologie, the pencil cup I bought two years ago, and the patterned tray was a Joss & Main purchase, and I painted the corkboard too, to lighten up the scene.

If you’re looking for motivation for organizing your office or junk drawer, check out this article on Ten Ways to Organize the Small Stuff – just in time for back to school !




  1. The quotation is from the movie, “You’ve Got Mail” and my husband and I said it together at the same time last night when we walked past the school supplies at Target! :D lol Nice organization! I’ll be back to read more :D

  2. I have used those SAME organizational compartments for a few years in our junk drawer with much success! The “junk” drawer stays CLEAN, yay! :)

  3. YOU’VE GOT MAIL!!! I love that quote (and the entire movie) because the teacher in me will ALWAYS love the smell of freshly sharpened pencils during the Back To School season (yes, it is a season – like summer, fall, winter and spring)!

  4. I so need to do this. Things seem to fall to the watside over the summer. School starting always means organization overhaul !!!

    I love the movie “You Got Mail” and freshly shapern pencils !!!

  5. Does that say “Persian Cuisine”? I am Persian. Love the food and love your BLOG!! Awesome job on your drawer. I almost never comment, but I always stay updated and you inspire me every day :)

    • Yep Niloo it does! My husband loves Middle Eastern cuisine, so I try to make it for him from time to time. Dolma is his favorite!

  6. Love the “You’ve Got Mail” quote. :) Is there anything more lovely than a nicely organized drawer? I think not!

    My oldest starts 1st grade on Tuesday!! I can’t believe it. We’ve got some work to do too…too much time at the pool lately. ;)

  7. Ah, this post makes me feel good about life. And to Priscilla, she said they are from Bed, Bath & Beyond but not recent, so good luck. It’s funny, I prefer to keep my junk drawer messy because, that’s like, the point? No? Also, back when I finally moved into an apartment that had a large enough kitchen to even ALLOW the space for a junk drawer, I considered that proof I had “made it.”

  8. I’m a bit with you Emily! But maybe I should tackle ours. So reassuring to know everyone has a junk draw (like a “goody draw” – now name THAT movie!!)

  9. Love to see you tackling your clutter. Clutter, even if it is hidden can cause chaos in our mind, therefore chaos in our lives. I like to give out a tip that if you have clutter that overwhelms you…start first by setting an alarm for 9 minutes only…and just throw away stuff that requires no decision to be made. Removing that ‘trash’ will help to release some of the stress about tackling the project. Clients report after the first or second 9 minutes of clearing, they are feeling way more motivated and clean for 30 minutes or more!

    Find your Freedom by clearing your clutter.

  10. I love this, it’s a beauty to behold in its own way. Unfortunately, my three-year-old would also love it, and he’d have my hours of organization “reorganized” in a few minutes. Do you think Bed, Bath and Beyond sells padlocks for junk drawers? : )

  11. Ugg! I hate that job too! Yours looks so organized now and colorful! Looks gorgeous! Guess I better get going on mine.

  12. I was amazed when I saw you have the same ‘junk drawer’ organizers as I have. I found mine on a garage sale about 6 years ago and have loved them ever since. They make organizing so much easier. I reorganized my junk drawer at the beginning of summer and will probably not do it again for a couple of years. Your area looks so fresh and clean! Nice job!

  13. Love this! We returned home from vacation on Friday and I did the same exact thing on Saturday morning! I was putting together the backpacks and knew I had enough pencils and pens to avoid buying more. My junk drawer isn’t near as large as yours (thank goodness for me!). So much better to have it cleaned out and straightened up!

  14. Nice organizing. I have an organizer similar to that on my desk, under my monitor riser. It started out as a great idea but it’s currently a mess. After seeing this, I’m ashamed of my clutter and plan to fix it today after work.

  15. You’ve Got Mail! :) Thanks for the nudge to get my junk drawer organized as well! It’s been on my list…but like you, I have trouble getting stoked about going through all those “little bitty” things floating around in there.

  16. You’ve Got Mail!! The BEST!! This post is highly inspirational…you now have a glimpse into my sad, sad existence. :) Of course this is not to say that the lives of anyone else who is similarly inspired is as lame as I am. Deeper hole? Anyway, high five!

    • Hi Andrea, what was thrown out was 1. food wrappers, 2. old matchbooks, 3. dead batteries 4. broken teeny toys, 5. movie rental cards 6. dried up glue sticks 7. miscellaneous screws 8. fish food 9. dried up pens 10. and a whole bunch of other junk!!!! :)

  17. You’ve Got Mail!!! (my absolute favorite movie) And yes! You have absolutely inspired me to organize not only my junk drawer in the kitchen but also our “office” which somehow has turned into our junk room :) Thanks!

  18. Okay, did you say you painted your cork board? Did you mean the wood trim or the actual cork and if you painted the cork what did you use?

  19. Kate,
    This may not be fun for you, but I absolutely love to organize and seeing your drawer made me want to do my kitchen junk drawer. Thanks for the motivation…very MS like! :-)

  20. Too funny. I read the title of your post and actually said “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I had your name and address” out loud.

    • Shows how many of us loved that movie, right Cookaholic? I hear Tom Hanks voice in my head when I see pencils!

  21. uuuggggh! Now you reminded me I need to tackle mine!!!! Love the way you did yours, kudos to you Kate. I have a huge problem with mine though, the drawers we have a FILE Drawers, deep ones, so if i put on those trays, even the 2 level ones, still there’s a lot of space uptop for junk to re-emerge!!!! I just dont know what to do, unless I redo the drawers!!!!

  22. “You’ve Got Mail” of course! When my son was in 1st grade (he’s about to enter 8th grade) I used my scrapbook stash to alter a lunch pail. Then I fill it with coffee beans, and a dozen pencils. When I handed it to her she exclaimed, “A bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils!” I was so happy that she “got it”. Love the blog Kate. You rock!

  23. It looks great! I too recently organized my junk drawer and it felt great. Yes, I too was excited when it was all said and done. In fact, I’m on an organizing mission right now. Little by little I am tackling my whole house!

    • Exactly Clever Spender, it’s those little things that make you breathe a sigh of relief!

  24. “You’ve Got Mail”! Love that movie! ;) And love your organization…always inspires me! Thanks for giving us the boost to do those not-so-fun organization projects ;)

  25. Since I rarely do one thing at a time, I use telephone call time (especially when I know it’s someone who goes on and on) to clean out a drawer or cabinet in my kitchen! I restack or organize the cans in the pantry, clean out the junk drawer or just go through a shelf in the kitchen. I toss expired items, pen caps, lids with no jars, etc and feel like I’ve accomplished something.

  26. OK Kate, you have kicked me in the butt once more. I’m going home and dumping out my junk drawer and re-organizing it too. I hate when I organize something and then the hubby comes and messes it all up. LOL. Why do others like to make a mess after it’s all neat? :(
    Thanks for the inspiration to get mine done also. :)

  27. LOVE that you shared your junk drawer with us. I chuckled because, I too, have birthday candle “numbers” in my junk drawer. Somehow I think I’ll use them again (hey, I paid like $2 for them!)but do I really want to save them for a few years? Probably not. :)

    • Ha, Teresa, I can’t understand why the “3” was in there…. my youngest is 6!

  28. Everyone already said, but I knew immediately it was You’ve Got Mail. I always remember that because those lines EXACTLY represent how I feel about a new school year-when he says about fall ‘…makes me want to buy school supplies.’ And I know you were being sarcastic but I really did have to contain my excitement. What a nutball, but I love stuff like this. And you’re color coordinating just gave me a little thrill! Wow, how I’m motivated to get my color-coordinated-with-new-school-supplies junk drawer organizin’ on!

  29. I found those exact same two tier organizers today at Marshall’s for only $7.99 – yeah!

  30. Your organizing posts always make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, you have such a gift for making it look so pretty. And those drawer organizers are awesome!


  31. I think the movie quote is from You’ve Got Mail, with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks?? I’m somewhat new to your blog, and am loving it and learning from it. Thanks!

  32. After closer inspection, I stand corrected on my earlier comment. The white drawer organizers at Target for $6.89 are NOT the exact configuration as the one at Container store but equally workable. It is also white, 2 tier, exact same dimensions (height, depth, width) and also identifies the various spots for supplies with little pictures (tape, scissors, etc.). After looking at your drawers again I noted that the compartments in the Target one are configured slightly different but still have all the appropriate big and little squares and rectangles for all your ‘junk’. I set mine up the other day and I love it and plan to get another one. If you don’t want to scroll through all the comments to find my previous one, the drawer organizer I found was at Target, $6.89 in the aisle with the dish drainers and silverware organizers. :)

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)