Organizing the junk drawer with dividers! Easy little project!

When I am trying to force myself to NOT start a big project, I find myself doing little projects. 

My kitchen. I have a severe case of "Pinterest Envy" and I am trying desperately to avoid taking on a major project!

Little has changed in the last 16 years in my kitchen. I installed granite. I cut down the large pantry so it is only 12" deep rather than the hulking 24" deep, installed a different window and added under counter lighting (seriously, you HAVE to have it!) And of course there was the addition of the den which allowed for the addition of a bar!

Truth is, I loved the color of my cabinet stain 17 years ago and I still love it today. It is called "paprika cherry" and it really is a little more timeless than "honey oak" or "pickled" cabinets. 

What do I WANT to do to this kitchen?

I WANT to pop up the cabinets flanking the stove and add 2 open shelves beneath them...maybe even make the upper cabinet on the left open shelving for displaying dishes. Maybe add cabinets all the way to the ceiling. I use to decorate on top of the cabinets but honestly, I got tired of having to crawl up there and clean everything several times a now, not so much!

New appliances? Oh yeah...have to have new appliances...a counter-depth refrigerator...maybe the new "slate" stainless. (Un)fortunately all the appliances work perfectly!

I was thinking about removing the cabinets on each side and above the refrigerator and installing open shelving. I bought some awesome walnut "coffins" just for this purpose. Coffins you ask? Yep...actually the wood lids from antique sewing machines. I am in the process of refinishing them now and I can't wait to share them!!!

And then of course, paint! Paint the upper cabinets and stain the lowers a darker color. Add some stainless hardware!

But I am at that point in life where I don't want to do projects just for the sake of doing a project. I made a few changes in my den recently, but honestly, that was because I really needed new flooring in that room. Eventually I want to install the same flooring in my living room and that will be another major undertaking. 

So while I would love to give the entire kitchen a "Pinterest makeover," I am working reeeeeal hard to be happy and grateful for what I have!

This is one of those "need vs. want" conversations I have with myself on many occasions!

Last week I decided to do something I have wanted (and honestly needed) to do for years...add drawer dividers and get my kitchen drawers a little more organized.

Everybody should have a junk is just one of those necessities. If you have one and feel guilty about it, don't. Honestly, I am a fairly "organized" person and even I have a junk drawer.

Seriously, were else would you keep pencils, sharpies, utility knives, glue, zip ties, birthday candles, picture hangers and Lord knows what else.

I have tried to keep this drawer fairly organized...and several times a year I dump it out and clean it up a bit. The little plastic "organizers" are nice, but truthfully, they are a bit tacky! And since they don't fit the drawers perfectly, there is always that odd, wasted space on the sides!

So I decided to take on a simple little project to organize a few drawers in my kitchen. Three, to be exact. The two "utensil" drawers, and of course the junk drawer.

To do this, I first emptied each drawer and went through all the "stuff" that was in each drawer. Seriously, do I really need FOUR ice cream scoops or three sets of stainless measuring spoons. Um, no. And why am I keeping the turkey seasoning injector when one comes with the seasoning we buy every year! My point....this is the perfect time to do some serious purging. 

Get rid of stuff you honestly don't use or need! Now, don't do what I did several months ago during one of my "purging" sessions....when I went to open a bottle of wine recently I found that I didn't have a cork screw. Why? Because I had 3 and I guess I got rid of ALL of them.

Take some time to really think about what you NEED and honestly use! 

Also, quick tip...while I am not a huge fan of having "stuff" on my counters, I do have a crock where I keep all my spatulas, serving spoons, wooden spoons, etc. in. This frees up a TON of drawer space...worth the investment (a whole $1 at an auction) and a little real estate on the counter! More importantly, the utensils are at my finger tips when I am cooking!

Adding dividers to your drawers is really not hard. 

After emptying them and purging what I don't NEED, I put everything in the drawer to see how it would all fit. Then I marked where I wanted to put dividers to create "sections" with a pencil on the bottom of the drawer. Then I measured and drew it out on a piece of paper. Basically, I just measured the INSIDE of the drawer and then measured out where each of the dividers would go. 

For example, in this drawer... 

....small utensils that would get lost in my crock...paring knives, mixers, ONE ice cream scoop, biscuit and pizza cutters, etc. I knew I only needed two little dividers so my knives, beaters and basting brushes wouldn't get lost in the clutter. It is still a tiny bit cluttered, but the stuff I use every day are at my finger tips!!!

For the dividers I used 1/4" x 3" (actually 2 1/2") oak boards. You can find it at most home improvement stores. Since the inside of my drawers are a natural color, I just sprayed each board with polyurethane to seal stain needed!

For this drawer I cut two pieces the exact width of the inside of the drawer with my chop saw. I applied A GOOD wood glue (that dries clear!) to the edges along the bottom and sides, then just slipped them into place. You may want to clamp them to hold them in place until the glue sets up. There is no need to nail. When the glue is dry, they are not going any where...besides, if you tried to hit a 1/4" wide piece of wood with a nail, you will probably fail and find yourself seriously frustrated (trust me on this one!) 

The other two drawers were a little bit more challenging only because I have more dividers and I wanted to make sure the longer items had a place. Again, empty the drawer, purge and then lay out everything where you think you might want it. Mark the drawer with a pencil where you want the dividers, measure, and draw it out on a piece of paper so you know how long each board needs to be.

I know a lot of people hang their measuring cups and spoons on the inside of their cabinet doors. Nifty idea, but honestly, I don't want mine banging around every time I open the cabinet, they are at my baking finger tips without the noise or knocking them off the door every time I take something out of the cabinet! 

Now it was time for the dreaded "junk drawer." So much "junk." But honestly, MOST of the stuff is stuff I need from time to time. Unfortunately, it gets so "unorganized" that I can rarely find what I need or what I know I have! 

THAT is one of the benefits of staying organized...being able to find what you know you have so you don't have to go out and buy it again!

I did the same thing with the junk drawer that I did with the others...I emptied it out, purged the stuff I don't need (seriously, do you really need a dried up sharpie or empty bottles of glue!) and then laid everything out in the drawer and marked where I wanted the dividers. I measured and drew it out on a piece of paper, and then cut the wood dividers to fit.

I glued the edges of each divider....

....and slipped them into place. Again, you may want to "clamp" then....or just set something with a little bit of weight on top of a can of veggies. But if you cut them to fit, they should stay in place until the glue dries!

DO NOT get in hurry to fill the drawers back up....let the glue dry overnight!!! If you mess with it too soon, the glue will not have time to dry and the dividers will pop out of place...then you will have to scrape the half dried glue off and start over (again, trust me!) 

Since this was a bigger drawer with lots of smaller pieces, I put in the longer pieces first, let those dry, then went back and put in a few smaller pieces to create small "cubbies".....

Everything has a place...and there is even a little room to spare just incase I need to add something in the future!!! (Like maybe another 30 or 40 pencils or highlighters)

The most important thing is it is all organized and finding an emory board, glue stick or the magnifying glass will no longer be a twenty minute ordeal! 

I will no longer have to dig through the drawer to find things I use almost every day like my mixing beaters or a paring knife!

Truthfully, I was amazed by several things...first, there was a LOT of stuff in each of those drawers that just did not need to be there (except the cork screw that I will now have to buy!) Purging is important!!! 

Second, getting everything organized and easy to find is a real time saver and when you factor in the fact that you don't have to go out and buy something you know you have but can't find, it is worth the few dollars and little bit of time you will spend on this simple project!

I thought seriously about doing my makeup drawer and my silverware drawer. But honestly, I think I will stick with the plastic dividers in those for now. Those drawers need to be "cleaned" more often and I think the plastic dividers are easier to clean!

Not sure if this is enough to keep me from ripping down cabinets and breaking out the paint, but it is a simple project that may pacify my need for "change" until this urge passes!