Monday, December 18, 2017

The drawer project

There are ample resources to help people organise their homes, from commercial products, to stores that specialise in such products, and on to an endless stream of advice all over the Internet. There are useful things amid all that, and a whole lot of useless noise. Recently, I sifted through all that and discovered some solutions that worked for me, and it ended up being a blend of all that.

Since me moved into our current house, I’ve installed a new wardrobe system to increase storage in the master bedroom’s wardrobe, added small shelves (tiers, really) in the pantry and other cupboards to increase their storage, and added some plastic boxes with lids to hold things we don’t need very often. I also pared down some stuff—that’s a project in itself.

Our kitchen drawers were the glaring exception to all my organising efforts because they were nothing short of a disaster. There are four drawers in our small kitchen, and the top one had a plastic insert to separate cutlery, but the other three drawers were just drawers.

Organising has long been one of the things I searched for on Pinterest, and some of the solutions were reasonably good—but nothing was quite right. One day I was at Storage Box, a chain of stores that sells all sorts of storage items plus a lot of other homewares. Run as a cooperative, the chain’s stores are all independently owned. At the store I visited, I found different solutions for each of the drawers.

I was familiar with the sort of drawer liner that was already there: A rigid plastic thing with wide edges giving room to cut it down to fit a particular drawer (not necessarily easy to do, but it's possible). The problem is that those wide edges waste space, and the one we had wasted a lot of space (plus it was too narrow, so it slid around). My solution was the most expensive solution for any of the drawers: a Madesmart Expandable cutlery tray with eight compartments. I chose this because I could adjust the side compartments to fit our drawer, and I already knew the depth was about right. In the end, however, to get any decent size compartment on the outside, I took the one on the right side away entirely. Who knows—I may need that in a different kitchen some day. Here are before and after photos:

The cutlery drawer before (left) and after (right).

This particular tray also has “non-slip base” in each section, which makes the drawer quieter (it cutlery rattles a lot). There was one other problem, though: It was a little too short. The solution was provided by some little foam rectangles that were originally part of the packaging for some curtain rods we bought, so I re-purposed them by putting them firmly at the far end of the drawer (not visible in the photo). This had the added benefit of increasing the noise dampening in those drawers—a bonus, and a solution that was free.

Next up was the worst drawer of all, the utensil drawer. I didn’t want to get an insert because I’d put one in our previous house and didn’t like the results: The compartments weren’t quite right, and there was the usual problem of wasted space.

So, I bought a set of three expanding drawer dividers. I’d seen similar ones on Pinterest, and I decided to give them a go, even though I was a little worried they might slip. They ended up working really well, though they do slip a bit over time. I can live with that so far. Before and after photos:

The cooking utensils drawer before (left) and after (right).

The final drawer I did was the drawer that mostly has serving utensils of one sort or another (separated form the cooking utensils mainly so there’s more room in the cooking utensil drawer). The truth is, I wanted to use expanding drawer dividers in this drawer, too, but the store only had one set.

Instead, I bought three plastic basket-like trays that had dividers. I ended up not using all the dividers because I didn’t need them, but they’re all in the drawer in case that changes in the future. The trays are a little shorter than the drawer, so I used a couple more of those little foam rectangles to secure them side to side, and they now stay firmly in place.

Before and after photos are below, and it’s worth noting that the plastic container on the right holds clips for bags of chips or whatever, and it has a broken lid so we can pop a clip we’re not using at the moment back into it without having to take out the container and open it. Sure, I could have cut a hole, but at least this way nothing falls out. And, the container, like those little foam rectangles, were free.

The serving pieces drawer before (left) and after (right).

I haven’t done anything with the bottom drawer yet because it’s the deepest and I’ve been considering a two-tiered approach. But first I want to see how it works to see what solution is best. Besides, at the moment it mainly has tea towels and dishcloths in it, so it’s not a high priority.

This project was a LONG time coming, and in the end it amounted to looking at what was readily available, and what would work for our particular drawers. I had to modify those things slightly to make them work, but doing so didn’t cost me anything extra.

I might have been able to make dividers out of wood, as I saw somewhere through Pinterest, but I didn’t trust my woodworking skills. My path seemed the best for us, and, so far, it has been. And that’s the real point of this endeavour: Because of the Internet, I found various potential solutions, and that meant that when I found things in the store, I knew how I could make them work because, in a sense, I’d already done that. In this case, the Internet didn’t provide THE solution, but it definitely helped me find solutions that worked.

Full disclosure: I purchased all the products mentioned at retail. Neither Storage Box nor the particular store provided any sort of compensation, special pricing, or anything else. Or, to put it as I do in my standard disclaimer: I have not received compensation of any kind for this post—not that I’m above that or anything, it’s just nothing’s ever been offered to me. So, the opinions in this post are entirely my own sincerely held opinions.

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