Simple Steps to Organize a Junk or Desk Drawer with Style

steps organizing a junk drawer
Do you have a drawer in your home that looks like this? Most of us have had a drawer that has gotten a little out-of-control. Organizing a junk drawer is actually quite easy and can typically be done quickly. Whether organizing a drawer that holds odds & end, cosmetics or office supplies, the process is the same.
Here are  simple steps to organize a junk drawer:
Step One – Empty & Edit
First take all the contents out of the drawer and purge. Item by item determine whether or not it is worth storing:
    • Toss if broken or expired {recycle when possible}.
    • Donate items that are not being used.
Take the opportunity to clean the drawer and line it with fresh paper if applicable.
Step Two – Group
The next step is to arrange items into similar groups based on function and size. When you come across items that don’t belong in the drawer, set aside in a separate group that will need to be returned to the correct place.
Step Three – Contain
Recently a Simplified Bee reader, Jeanette asked for suggestions on organizing a desk or junk drawer in a stylish way. The containers or dividers used and how they are arranged is where the “styling” comes in.

desk drawer organization tips
There so many organizing tray and divider options for drawers. Before you purchase any drawer dividers however, measure the drawer {width and height} to know what will fit. Also, keep in mind the sizes and quantities of the items you want to store to ensure you purchase the best option. The Container Store, Ikea, Target or any office supply store are great resources for basic and inexpensive drawer organizing trays like the ones in the desk drawer above via Apartment Therapy.

acrylic drawer dividers organization custom clear
I love the clean look of these customizable acrylic drawer dividers by LifeStyle Systems. Martha Stewart shows how to install them here.

Styling tip: For an uncluttered look, select a drawer liner in a neutral color and with a simple pattern.

Organizing your junk drawer doesn’t have to be expensive. Save money by using everyday items you may already have such as baskets, ice trays and shoe box lids in drawers to help keep items contained.

{image source: BHG}
For long narrow drawers like this one above, a trio of cookie sheets keeps supplies organized.

Drawer Storage Ideas BHG

{image source: BHG}
Muffin pans provide the perfect size compartment for smaller items such as stamps, paper clips and loose change.
stylish drawer organizing china bowls cups
{image source: Martha Stewart}
Put your China to good use everyday! Decorative bowls, plates and tea cups make this jewelry drawer colorful and functional.
HGTV had this great deak storage idea that’s also inexpensive and eco-friendly. Clean tuna cans and nestle them into a drawer to keep items neatly stored.

Step Four – Arrange

Next arrange each grouping of items into the appropriate container or divider. Keep in mind the idea is to be able to locate items easily and therefore, labeling the compartments may make sense in some cases.

how to organize desk drawer
Do you remember the first image of the messy, cluttered drawer? Here it is organized and functioning beautifully. Several containers were used in combination. First the basket {which was originally used} was spray painted a semi-gloss white for a cleaner look. A clear acrylic tray with dividers purchased at Target was added to divide the smaller items. A scalloped white bowl and vintage milk glass mug pulled from the cupboard were the perfect fit for containing iPhone cords and magnets.

Styling tip: If using different style containers & dividers, unify the look by having all the containers in the same color.

Keeping your newly organized drawer beautiful will take some maintenance. If it is a drawer used often, keep an eye on items that are misplaced and edit routinely. If the drawer is used infrequently, add it to your quarterly or bi-annual cleaning schedule so that it doesn’t get overlooked.
Do you have any fun styling tips for organizing drawers?
Happy organizing!
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21 Responses to Simple Steps to Organize a Junk or Desk Drawer with Style

  1. Bromeliad January 20, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    I love tidying my drawers, even though it doesn't last long. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Linda in AZ * January 15, 2011 at 5:53 am #

    *** It's SO NICE to know I can help “make your day”, as you requested above… because, YOU'VE sure made MINE!!!

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! GR888888 ideas/tips/advice!!!

    Linda in AZ *

  3. LindsB January 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    Martha Stewart has the best organized drawers that I've seen ever! I think it was in the last issue or maybe a few before that where her kitchen was featured in the magazine and it showed her drawers as well, omg I was in LOVE

  4. CalypsoInTheCountry January 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Cristin – I love all your organizing ideas and since I was writing about some organizing I did, I mentioned you in my post today. Thanks for the great tips and ideas to make organizing pretty as well!

  5. jvw home January 13, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    You're a sweetie!! Thanks so much for taking my question and creating this post.
    My sisters have been staying with me all week. One of them yesterday cleaned out alot of my messy kitchen drawers. I wish I would've taken before/after photos for you!! If they could've stayed one more day, then I would have had them help me with my junky office drawer!!
    I'll try to tackle it this wknd! I'll let you know how it turns out.
    Oh, the tuna cans are a brilliant idea and a great way to recycle/reuse…love it!

  6. Karena January 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Cristin, excellent,, I can do it!!

    Do come and join in my giveaway from Blydesign!!


    Art by Karena

  7. Laura Casey Interiors January 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    Great ideas! I need to try this…

  8. Jen@Organized-Design January 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    What fantastic tips and great pictures. I especially love the picture from Martha Stewart. I've been checking thrift stores to get a collection going!

  9. Margaret January 13, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    Your blog is amazing! I LOVE organizing. It is like chocolate to me.(makes me so happy)
    I would have never thought to use a cupcake pan as drawer organizer. How fun!!!!!!!

    On my blog I posted about my ideal bathroom. Images came from you. Tagged you of course.
    Be sure to check it out!
    Accessories Please.blogspot

  10. Melissa at January 13, 2011 at 1:39 am #

    I organized my junk drawer (under duress but still…). I am so glad I did it. Makes me happy every time I open it up. Here's my post about it. Love your blog!

  11. -Julie January 13, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    Great tips! I use muffin tins and cutlery organizers for the junk drawers in my kitchen. In other rooms, I use Ziplock/Glad plastic containers, and I LOVE them!

  12. CDS January 12, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    These are so pretty. I can't wait to get back to my office and organize it…xoxo

  13. jessica January 12, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    my junk drawer definitely looks like that first photo! haha.. seeing ideas for organizing has got me inspired! thanks! 🙂

  14. Live, Laugh, Love, Recycle January 12, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    We just recently moved changed our spice rack over to a spice drawer (spice rack was on a stadium stand – easy to see everything, but nearly impossible to get spices out from the back without knocking things over). In the spice drawer, we put labels on the top of all of the spices so that they are easily identifiable. I must admit, though, I picked this up from my cousin's wife on a recent visit 🙂 Barbara @

  15. Margaret Ryall January 12, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    What a wonderful array of cost effective ideas to control the never ending clutter in drawers. I particularly like the ones where you re-purpose things you would have around the house.

  16. pve design January 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Thanks for your comment! I would love to have a person with your talents to work on my junk drawer and arrange shelves…
    You are so talented and yes, nothing odd, but extraordinary!

  17. Ideezine January 12, 2011 at 7:32 pm #


    I enjoy an organized home, workspaces, storage etc. We can always learn more and become better at organization freely by taking it one space at a time.

    It rewards us as long as we keep exercising this new muscle and make the task fun!


  18. The English Organizer January 12, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    I don't have a junk drawer, but I do have a drawer that contains 'useful bits'.
    Love the idea to use muffin pans. Not sure I'm that wild about the tuna cans though.
    In one of my drawers, I've used empty chocolate boxes from Charles Chocolates which is a premium brand with lovely packaging. The colors are lovely and it seemed a nice way to stretch their life.

  19. Mr. Goodwill Hunting January 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    Everyone seems to be on the organization fit this week. Must be a sign for me to get my act together.

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  20. pve design January 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    hope you spotted the wonderful article in the NY times – I posted it on my first post today. “odd jobs” and I have a couple of odd drawers, junk filled that could use a cleaning….
    great tips.

  21. Wendy January 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    great tips Cristin! and, you have that 'feel good' feeling when you're done 🙂