Cleaning

17 Junk Drawer Before & Afters to Make Your Jaw Drop

Can't stop looking at these photos. Can't stop feeling inspired.

August 20, 2020
Photo by Julia Gartland

Junk drawers are a weird phenomenon, but they’re also inescapable, if you ask me. There are just way too many odds and ends that don't have a logical place in your home, yet can't be trashed either. All of them eventually find their way to the junk drawer.

Elastic ties? Junk drawer.
Store receipts? Junk drawer.
Birthday cards? Junk drawer.
Batteries? Junk drawer.

The problem is that after a few years of collecting random bits and bobs, you're left with a giant, unmanageable mess on your hands. If you’ve reached this point, and your junk drawer is groaning under the weight of its contents, it’s probably time to call in some virtual assistance, via the professional organizers of Instagram.

Lo and behold: 17 amazing-to-the-point-of-unbelievable junk drawer (and other messy storage drawer) transformations that will make you think, "I can do this." Yes, you can.

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“Always organize the drawer before it becomes a junk drawer and then ask yourself the golden question above and life will be much cleaner. ”
— Gina U.
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Note: Make sure to hit the arrow on the right side of each image to see the before and after photos.


1. A Purged & Organized Masterpiece

I think my exact words here were, “Oh, wow.” There was definitely some purging that took place between the before and after pics, and the result is every neat freak’s dream. Imagine being able to find thumbtacks that easily?


2. A Job for Multiple Organizers

This junk drawer was such a mess that it needed multiple organizers to get everything into place. Check out how they paired a wooden utensil organizer with another (probably repurposed) plastic bin to create a space for all their necessary junk.


3. A Makeup Drawer Makeover

Okay, I’ll admit this isn’t a “junk” drawer, but it got such an impressive makeover that I had to include it. There are actually multiple drawers tackled in this IG post, all of which took messy, cringe-worthy bathroom spaces and turned them into organized, efficient storage systems.


4. The Ultimate Organization Station

Pens in one section, Post-its in the other. Erasers stay separate from binder clips. Even gum gets its own little space. This drawer is truly a sight for sore eyes.


5. A place for everything

Now that's an office supplies drawer that would inspire me to work! And those trays are so perfectly configured for the drawer. (Also: very glad to see that there are others that pile up batteries like I do...except most of mine are spent!)


6. A Spice Drawer That’s Oh-So Nice

Again, this isn’t junk. It’s very essential kitchen content, in fact. Check out how crazy beautiful this drawer of spices is. What was once a mishmash of seasonings is now every cook’s dream. Love isn’t a strong enough word.


7. An Extra-Wide, Impeccably Sorted Junk Drawer

The more space you have in a junk drawer typically means the more the mess, but not in this case. Sure, it used to be overflowing with “stuff,” but now everything has its place in cute but simple acrylic bins. Even the batteries are sorted!


8. An Essentials-Only Kitchen Drawer

Raise your hand if you have several some kitchen tools that you don’t ever use. Now that we all have our hands up, let’s take a minute to appreciate this lovely kitchen drawer, which got purged and organized during a spring cleaning. I’m going to go ahead and bookmark it for next season's cleaning inspiration.


9. Fix-its at the ready

Also raise your hand if you've turned entire closets inside out looking for the WD-40 to fix a creaky oven door. Or run out in the rain to buy Goo Gone only to find two bottle of it hiding in (two different) places you'd never think to look in. This Instagrammer has all her handiest tools organized, so fixing things around the house is a cinch.


10. The Most Beautiful Coffee Drawer Ever

There’s no “before” picture here, but I’m so obsessed with it that I’ll let it slide. Is this little coffee and tea drawer not the sweetest, most organized thing you’ve ever seen? It’s such a great way to keep all your hot beverage essentials in one place.


11. The Bare Essentials Junk Drawer

The before-and-after here is like night and day. This junk drawer starts out packed with too many golf balls, and it ends up looking incredibly chic and minimalistic with its acrylic drawer dividers. No chance of losing your keys in this hyper-organized drawer.


12. The Everything-You-Need Drawer

This organizing pro calls her junk drawer the all-purpose drawer, because it's full of the things she reaches for most. Seems like a very good idea to have one.


13. Why stop at one when you're having fun

Bathroom drawers can so quickly and easily become one of the most disorganized places in our whole house. Note: the deep containers to keep larger toiletries standing up (less chance of spills and drips), and the clever(er) use of what is essentially a tiered spice rack (I've got one and can't recommend it enough) for smaller-sized beauty products.


14. Corralling the cords

This 'grammer tests out a cool new system on the family's out-of-control spare cord & charger situation: Each member got to pick a color, using thick rubber bands for cords and washi tape for chargers, to make sense of the mess. There's something about color coded organization that is so satisfying. Let's just hope they remembered to put the rubber bands back on after use!


15. Utility Room Magic

Just. no. words. Look at what was achieved by purging expired or unused items and finding the right homes for others! Professional organizer Emily Moore used clear drawer dividers to create zones for her client's most common household items, and just got rid of the rest.⁣ Her advise? "If you are looking to organize your home but feel overwhelmed, start with that junk drawer and a couple of drawer dividers. This small task will make the biggest impact." Amen.


16. An orderly utility drawer

There's a lot to love about this kitchen drawer reorg, but if there's one lesson we're definitely taking away from it, it's that labeling each of the drawer dividers or trays is a very good idea. Remember, label and contain is the name of the (organizing) game.


17. A Firsthand Look at Junk Drawer Magic

Wondering what it takes to actually get you from holy-mess-before to can't-stop-looking-after? There's a process involved. Take a look at this video of a professional organizer in action. She meticulously measures every compartment to make sure they all fit together and that she's maximizing the space available to her. Ta-da! Fits like a glove.

Do you have a drawer that needs some extra attention? Let us know below!

This article first appeared in 2018. We're resurfacing it because, somehow, junk drawers always seem to fill up.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.

9 Comments

Gina U. January 4, 2021
Purging is a year long commitment. When you go to put it in the drawer ask yourself does this need to even go in the drawer or can I ditch it now??? Usually we get junk drawers because we need to get rid of unsightliness. Always organize the drawer before it becomes a junk drawer and then ask yourself the golden question above and life will be much cleaner.
 
FrugalCat January 19, 2019
Of course these look nice- they got rid of at least half the stuff in the drawers. Yes, we all need to purge, but I'd be more impressed with a before and after shot where there is still the same number of items in the drawer!
 
mdelgatty April 28, 2020
Ditto...!
 
susannerosenkranz September 24, 2020
Yep!
 
Pamela_in_Tokyo January 4, 2021
Yes, exactly, or information on where the extras were put.
 
Cathy W. January 12, 2019
I would love to know where to get the adjustable wood organizers come from! Those are nice!
 
Jaye B. January 4, 2019
Yep, easy to do when you have large/deep drawers like these or can spare a whole drawer just for coffee/tea supplies. What about teas that don't come in individual packets?
 
Claudia T. January 15, 2019
I put my loose teas into glass jars because I like to have them sealed (otherwise I feel like they dry out and lose their potency quickly). They're kind of like the picture of spices, only bigger jars. My fave tea comes in bags but not the individual coated-paper bags, just the paper bags, so I have those in a low metal tin that fits in the drawer. I think it used to hold some fancy chocolates.
 
amanda R. January 1, 2019
My kitchen utensil drawer absolutely looks like the "before" picture.