Before & After: The Catch-All Drawers

Belong (verb) be rightly placed in a specific position or assigned to a specific category.

When our belongings don’t have a proper home to return to, they eventually end up in the catch-all drawer a.k.a. the junk drawer. They are what Japanese organization expert Marie Kondo describes as “dormant”. These items become useless, damaged, forgotten, and eventually replaced. It’s quite sad really, if you imagine your possessions having feelings. They have somehow failed to fulfill their purpose in life, and are now lost in those drawers, causing only frustration to their owners.

In this Before & After, my client has 3 drawers packed with a wide range of stuff. The top drawer held scissors, tape, and charging cables that she uses frequently. The middle drawer had some hats and scarves, plus an unopened drawer organizer that she purchased from IKEA months ago. And the bottom drawer had some CDs and two red storage boxes that were actually empty.

BEFORE: Catch-All Drawer


The steps in any decluttering project are simple:

  1. Remove everything and sort them into categories.
  2. Pick up each item and keep only what brings you joy.
  3. Designate a home the item can return to after use.

You might think, how can anything in a junk drawer bring joy? As my client found out, of the 3 pairs of scissors she owned, one pair cut better, and making the act of cutting easier and more enjoyable.  She also realized that even though she likes scented candles, the one she received from an ex never brought her the relaxation they were meant to bring. One by one, even the most mundane item was evaluated. She kept only the ones that sparked joy for her and discarded/donated the rest.

It is important to point out that each of the discarded items had value to my client at one point. Perhaps they no longer spark joy because of a change in lifestyle or taste. Or the lesson is that she never really need them in the first place. Whatever they may be, taking the time to acknowledge the reasons why each item is discarded will help her shop more thoughtfully next time. Using the scissors as an example, from now on she’d only purchase a certain brand or size of scissors that works best for her hand. As for the discarded scissors, the KonMari Method recommends thanking the item for their “work” before discarding. This shows respect for all of your belongings, for what they’ve done for you, and the lessons they’ve taught you about that purchase.

AFTER: Top Drawer


After my client pared down her belongings, it was time to find homes for them. We opened the IKEA drawer organizer and used them to store things by category. This is now the utilities drawer, home of the office supplies and various tools. And it turned out, she had a few other plastic containers from the bottom drawer that were perfect for holding the charging cables and batteries. Everything was visible and easily accessible.

AFTER: Middle Drawer


The middle drawer was dedicated for her personal items and accessories. However, as you can see, she only had a few scarves and hats, some pedicure kits, and a stack of sentimental things. And the bottom drawer (not photographed) was completely empty.

During this hour and a half transformation, we discarded one small bag of trash and filled a medium box of items to be donated (purses, CDs mostly). My client was very surprised by how much room was left in the drawers. The plan is to move some of her purses from her hallway closet. And the bottom drawer will be used for holding gift wrapping and craft related items.


Simple Joy Tip

Sometimes the best drawer organizers are free. As mentioned in my last post, my favorite is the baby-wipe plastic container. New cellphone boxes and lids are super sleek and sturdy, they make great organizers inside your office desk drawers. Shoe boxes are the perfect size for holding your t-shirts and socks (Here’s a video to learn how to fold using the KonMari method.)


If you enjoyed this Before & After, or have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me.

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