When we were cleaning out the garage a few weekends ago, I was so excited when I stumbled upon two empty plastic shoe boxes (I knew they were out there somewhere!). Why? Because I originally had 12 of them, but when I was recently organizing my clothes in my dresser drawers, I could only find 10. With all 12 in place, my dresser drawer storage system felt “complete,” and it occurred to me that I’ve never really shown you my favorite way to quickly and easily organize drawers. Sure, I’ve been known to come up with clever and easy DIY solutions…but really…my favorite method is to use off-the-shelf bins and baskets to create customizable and changeable dividers within a drawer. Let me show you what I mean and give you a tour of my newly organized clothing drawers while I’m at it!
One thing I have learned from moving so many times is that we need serious flexibility when it comes to our organization systems. A dresser that holds office supplies in one house might become a bedroom dresser in the next. A trunk that holds games now may hold pillows and blankets in a guest room later. Our kitchen cabinets may have space for our entertaining supplies in this house, but our next one might have a much smaller layout. Figuring out the right organization solution for every space in each house is actually one of my very favorite parts of moving so much. But it also means I don’t like spending a lot of money outfitting each and every nook with “perfect,” high-end or very specific-fitting organizers. Mainly because there is just no guarantee we will be able to use them over and over again (especially if they are designed to fit something that doesn’t move with us).
Over the years, I have come up with some pretty clever DIY solutions for organizing drawers. Not only does the DIY approach allow me to truly customize a drawer for my specific needs, but the materials I tend to use (cardboard, foam core, balsa wood, and paper) are pretty inexpensive and easy-to-find should we need to either abandon or expand the system in future homes.
While DIY drawer organization solutions are often easy, inexpensive and fun to pull together, they do take some brainpower, skill, supplies and…time. Sometimes I have that time in abundance and sometimes I don’t. So when I need to create more order in a drawer ASAP and just don’t have the time, desire or supplies to create a custom solution, I turn to unsuspecting off-the-shelf products instead.
My Easy Way to Organize Any Drawer
Below is a shot of the drawers where I store my clothes…can you spot what I’m using to create dividers within the drawer?
Let me take everything out for you. There…now you can see!
After playing around with a few options I had on hand, I quickly discovered that four of the clear plastic shoeboxes I bought from The Dollar Tree years ago fit perfectly in these drawers. Their size is big enough to hold pretty much everything I store in these drawers, and their height is shallow enough to allow the drawers to open and close with ease. Instead of having to DIY something to fit these drawers that won’t move with us (they are built into the master closet), four $1 boxes created the dividers I needed in order to keep my clothes sorted and tidy (and looking oh-so-nice!)
In addition to the idea of using off-the-shelf bins inside your drawers, there’s one thing I really want to highlight. In the previous photo, do you see that channel along the right-hand side of the drawer? Sure, I was bummed when one or two more shoeboxes wouldn’t fit there. But honestly, I didn’t need them to. The edges of the shoebox create dividers, and items can sit both within the boxes and outside the boxes (within channels created by arranging the boxes!) These boxes are so well-fitting that the 5th compartment maintains its size…and just happens to be the right spot for all my cardigan sweaters!
I used the same arrangement in my bottom drawer. There are four shoeboxes hold bathing suits, pajamas, and hats. That 5th compartment became the perfect nesting place for all my scarves and wraps! Whether you use as many bins that can fit within your drawer or just one or two, you can use clever arrangements to create compartments that can perfectly corral a variety of items.
Keeping Bins In Place
But what do you do when you can’t find PERFECT fitting boxes for your specific drawer? It actually doesn’t matter! Well…the height of your bin, box or basket DOES matter because you need to be able to close the drawer. But the other dimensions can vary greatly…they just need to fit within your drawer, hold what you need them to, and create other usable spaces if necessary.
In my top drawer, I didn’t have quite as much to store, yet I found the shoebox-size still ideal for undergarments, socks and stockings (I tell you, these shoeboxes are PERFECT for a variety of clothing items!). To keep everything a little more accessible, I lined up the four boxes across the front of the drawer (instead of two-deep like I did in the other drawers). This arrangement left me with about 5″ of space behind the boxes. I could fill that space with something else, but I don’t have anything else I need to put there (thanks, KonMari!). But all that space meant the boxes kept sliding around each and every time I opened the drawer. So…to keep the boxes in place, I just placed some adhesive-backed Velcro under each box.
BONUS TIP! One of my friends also said she uses shoe boxes to store undergarments in her drawers. When moving day comes, she pops on the lids on the boxes and they can be packed right up!
Every time I open my clothing drawers, I just get so excited. Not only do I really love everything that is in there (thanks to my ruthless decluttering), but the organization solution was just so simple and works so perfectly. Not only has this $12 solution ($12 for 12 boxes) created some serious and easy-to-maintain order in my drawers, but they can come right out and move with us. And since they are clear, generous size and we have a lot of them, I know we’ll be able to use them in other homes we live in!
Same Concept, Different Drawers
Regular readers will certainly notice this isn’t the first time I’ve used this bins-in-a-drawer trick. In fact, I find myself continuing to use it over and over again as I work my way through the last few spaces in this home! Here are just a few other places I’ve used the same idea!
Notice both above and below, the boxes didn’t fit perfectly. Nonetheless, I was able to arrange them in a way that created empty compartments I could still fill and use!
The base drawer in our bathroom is extra deep, so the more shallow Sterilite boxes were a poor use of space. I discovered these deep acrylic bins (that I bought to organize our bathroom two houses ago!) were a perfect fit. Can you spot the three different boxes I used? The far channel is just another example of employing that leftover space!
In our kitchen, I actually discovered that these super inexpensive drawer organizers from IKEA fit the depth just right, but the available widths were just a bit too skinny. By securing the dividers to the drawer with Velcro, we were able to make one more compartment perfect for storing longer, bulkier items!
Finding the Right Bins
Once you have the right baskets in hand, this type of organization project really couldn’t be simpler. Just place them in your drawers, play around until you find the best arrangement, secure if necessary, and put your things away. However, finding “just the right” basket can admittedly take some work. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind while shopping or hunting through your garage:
- The main thing you need to focus on is size (obviously), but most specifically: height. Make sure your baskets are shallow enough to allow the drawer to close but deep enough to hold what you need to store.
- Speaking of storing items, consider what you need to put in the drawer before selecting bins. If you need to organize small supplies like paperclips and rubber bands, smaller baskets would be ideal. If you need to store clothes, toys, or bigger items, more generous-sized bins will be required.
- Don’t make yourself crazy looking for the exact right sizes to fill up your drawer(s). Experiment with various configurations and embrace empty space by finding the right item to put there!
- Keep the baskets consistent. Surely you can use whatever you can find; but if you’d like your drawers to look clean, streamlined and simple, use bins in all the same finish/color.
- If you move a lot and might need to reimagine your arrangements regularly like we do, I also suggest buying a lot/extras (as in, 12 or more). This will give you flexibility in both applications and arrangements without having to use different baskets.
You guys know I love a good bin or basket and use them pretty much everywhere. Even if you aren’t a crazy basket lady like me (is that a thing?), I hope this post demonstrates that you don’t need fancy, expensive “drawer organizers” or fussy DIY projects to create some order in your drawers. It’s been my experience that finding inexpensive, sturdy bins to fit drawers is pretty easy; and with some experimenting, you can come up with some pretty amazing arrangements to take advantage of every inch you have!
Have a great weekend, my friends! See you back here next week!
Other Great Solutions for Organizing Drawers
Figuring out budget-friendly drawer solutions is my jam. Here are some other ways we’ve done it!