The deep drawer problem

deep-drawerOne drawer in our kitchen (pictured) is a real problem area for us. It is an incredibly deep drawer that is the depository for most of our food preparation tools. It contains everything from a whisk to a rolling pin. The depth of the drawer makes it prone to disorganization.

I looked into drawer dividers to find a stackable option and eventually came across the Lipper International Bamboo Drawer Organizer with Removable Dividers and Top Sliding Tray. This drawer organizer looks like the perfect solution for my problem. The top tray can be removed for access to larger kitchen tools below and the measurements (14-1/2-inch W by 12-1/2-inch D by 3-3/4-inch H) are just right.

Has anyone else had a problem with too-deep drawers in the kitchen? How did you solve the problem? Please share your solutions in the comments.

39 Comments for “The deep drawer problem”

  1. posted by shris on

    I dunno, this doesn’t look like a problem of depth but of division. The depth allows it to hold more, but without any dividers at all everything gets mixed up.

    The lipper thing looks OK, but the top tray is too shallow to be useful in the kitchen.

    If it were my drawer (all my kitchen drawers are too shallow for funnels and ladles and sifters, I am envious), I would pull everything out and separate by type. I’d grab an old box or three or maybe a big sheet of poster board, and cut them up with scissors and tape them together to make custom dividers for the shapes of things I have to store. Once I get it made and arranged in cardboard, then I know what I have, how big it is, and if I want I can look for a commercial solution that is prettier.

    In my kitchen with my shallow drawers, I don’t have an opportunity for double-decker storage as you do. So I ended up buying cheap plastic boxes that link together–they’re made for kitchen drawers, and for the most part they work pretty good.

    Anyway, cardboard is ugly, but it’s infinitely flexible and allows you to move stuff around, take it apart and put it back together, etc. until you have something you can live with. With your nice deep drawer I would personally try to store things standing up or on-end rather than going double-decker. Double decker just increases the number of motions required to take something out and put it away, and it definitely obscures your view of what you’ve got and where it is.

    And after building something, if you decide you like it, you can paint it or paper it to make it look more ‘on purpose’.. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    My deep kitchen drawer was located on the bottom of a stack of drawers. I kept stuff in it that I didn’t use very often and I was able to stack it – things like extra plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

    I think the drawer organizer that you purchased would be the ideal solution for storing your utensils – especially if they are accessed frequently.

  3. posted by AddiesDad on

    We have two, long, and deep drawers that are sort of a catch all. The middle one contains either bulky kitchen tools (rolling pins, extra ladles, graters) or tools I don’t use every day (meat tenderizer). Kitchen towels sort of float on top. Since I keep my day-to-day and go to stuff by my stove, I find I don’t really need to worry about the organization of the drawer, which is kind of a relief.

    The other drawer has aprons and telephone books.

  4. posted by Bridget on

    Use them for something that is actually that deep (food!)

    as in here:

    I guess it’s a lot of thinking about what you own and what you need…

  5. posted by Sandra on

    My mother has a deep drawer and she uses it to store all her dish towels. She does not use papertowels so this was a perfect place to keep her many dish towels.

  6. posted by Kathryn on

    I use my deep drawers for storing deep things. I’ve only got a couple that are narrowish and deep (15 W x 11.5/12.5 D). One has a couple of soup pots, and the other has an assortment of small-medium baking pans that fit it–muffin pans and cake pans and so on. I’ve got several that are wide and deep, and the possibilities are endless there.

    What doesn’t make sense to me to put a 4-in high divider set into what appears to be a drawer at least 10 inches high. Put shallow things in a shallow drawer, and deep things in a deep drawer! And in the best of all possible worlds, you shouldn’t have to unstack and restack anything to get at the stuff you use all the time.

  7. posted by Peter on

    To keep things organized, a large drawer should only hold large items. Keep small items in a small drawer. Also, don’t feel compelled to fill a drawer to the top. There’s a declutter principle that says no matter the size of our house, our clutter will expand to fill it. This principle applies even to a single drawer. Assign a purpose to a drawer, assign a limit to the number of items, and enjoy a decluttered lifestyle.

  8. posted by Kathy on

    I’m glad you found something that works, but I think you’re storing the wrong stuff in that deep drawer. Long skinny utensils are better stored in shallow drawers with dividers to keep them neat, and from the photo it looks like you have mostly long skinny (or otherwise non-bulky) items in there.

    The dishtowel idea is good (since all dishtowels are basically the same, you never have to paw through a pile to get to a specific one). Bulky stuff like plastic food storage containers are good in deep drawers. Think about items that are too bulky to store well elsewhere and see if a deep drawer might be a good solution.

  9. posted by joanna on

    For my too-deep drawers, I use one for foil/plastic wrap/ziploc bags etc- all these boxes that stack nicely in the deep drawer, but in a more shallow drawer I’d have to cram them in and unpack the whole drawer to find anything. The other deep drawer, I use for my plastic storage containers- I don’t have to have containers that stack perfectly, & there’s room for them to all be piled in the drawer. I store the tops for the containers in a shallow drawer to reduce the clutter (and because they are all flat- they easily fit in the shallow drawer.).

  10. posted by eve on

    I’ve only got shallow drawers, and the utensils that don’t fit live in a container on the counter even though they’re rarely used. The rest have to be in a single layer or the drawer gets stuck – which happens anyway since they will slide around when closing or opening the drawer. Just another inch would solve the problem but that would involve a big kitchen re-do.

  11. posted by Barbara Tako on

    I would consider keeping the long spoons, spatulas, and whisks in a ceramic container on the counter by the stove so they are easy to grab.
    To use the full depth of the deep drawer, I would use tall dividers versus a divider that has to be lifted out to access what is underneath. A tall divider could be the taller tissue boxes with the tops cut off or maybe well washed and well rinsed milk cartons with the tops cut off.
    I like to try inexpensive home-made solutions to see how they work before I consider buying something that is more expensive.

  12. posted by awurrlu on

    Kathryn and Kathy are on to something here. I have one deep drawer, and that’s where I keep the salad spinner, the immersion blender (standing up), and other vertically-oriented things. The sifter could definitely stay there, but for the long handled items, a vertical holder of some sort is a much more uncluttered and space-frugal solution.

  13. posted by Michele on

    LOL, I’d love to have this “problem”! I have a very small kitchen and could use some more drawers.

    If it were me, I’d use the deep drawer for dishrags and dishtowels. Like @Sandra’s mother, I don’t use paper towels. But since I don’t have much drawer space, I have to store them in my hallway linen closet. If I still had space left over, I’d store my tupperware type containers in there as well.

    As for where to put the spatulas, turners, whisks, ladles, and so on, I keep them out on my counter in an old crockery water pitcher. I love the way it looks, and it also keeps the tools on hand, right at the stove.

  14. posted by Kira =] on

    I think the organizer you found would be worth trying. I personally think I would let the kids enjoy that drawer. How fun for them to dig in that too deep drawer and find all the different “tools” in there. hmmmm, gotta go. I have a deep drawer that needs rearranging. =]

  15. posted by Jodee on

    Shris and I think alike about how to handle this clutter problem (“If it were my drawer, I would pull everything out and separate by type.”). I separate kitchen utensils in my deep drawer by type or function into appropriately-sized ziploc bags. I keep utensils I use daily and need to grab immediately as I cook in a crock on the countertop next to the stove. I keep utensils I use frequently but not daily in a drawer next to the stove. When I didn’t have the luxury of a deep drawer for storing back-up and rarely used utensils, I used a cardboard book box leftover from moving, labeled it, and stored it somewhere that I could get to easily.

  16. posted by Sky on

    I wish I had this problem. I have two small shallow drawers in my kitchen.
    I did have deep and wide drawers once upon a time and kept my saucepans in them with the lids on. It was great.

  17. posted by Heidi on

    This was one of my biggest pet peeves, so I took everything out and arranged them in crocks/pitchers/whatever containers I had on the countertop, under the cabinets. I then filled the big drawer with oatmeal fixin’s so everything is ready in the morning, right under the microwave.

  18. posted by Angie on

    That’s my drawer! I will try to source a divider, but it’s hard to train the family to use it effectively.

  19. posted by Peg on

    I’m with the deep drawers = deep stuff crowd. I have one deep drawer with baking things (measuring pitcher, sifter, rolling pin, immersion blender), one for pots and one for bowls.

    I’ve also severely edited my utensil drawers: the one next to the stove holds cooking related items like wooden spoons, ladle, meat thermometer, etc. The other holds food preparation stuff – meat tenderizing mallet, egg slicer, garlic press, etc. I only keep the things I use on a regular basis, so we never have to root through a cluttered drawer to find things.

  20. posted by Maggi on

    I second Bridget’s recommendation – use it for storing food instead of utensils. My mom uses her deep drawer for storing her big jars/canisters of flour, sugar, etc. The tops of the jars are labeled so you can easily tell what’s in each one. It’s organized and looks neat – I love it!

    We have two drawers in our galley kitchen that are deep AND wide, and we use them for storing pots and pans since we don’t have any hanging space. Maybe your skinny deep drawer is a good place for a stock pot, stacked casserole dishes, etc.?

  21. posted by Sheryl on

    I have a decent sized kitchen, but not much cupboard space, and the few drawers that I have are shallow. Silverware and smaller, non-bulky utensils and pot holders get stored in those.

    I have two ceramic canisters on the counter next to the stove – one contains my big spoons, ladles, and turners, and the other one holds my whisks, rubber spatulas and other assorted utensils. Bulky things like funnels and my parmesan cheese grater go in a plastic basket and get stored on a cupboard shelf. I have a small dresser that I got at the thrift sore that I use to store kitchen towels, trivets, and other assorted and sundry kitchen and household items.

    I would love to have a lot of blank wall space to hang pegboard on, so that I could hang my pots and pans and utensils up where they’re easy to see and grab (like Julia Child’s kitchen…)

  22. posted by Sheryl on

    Um, that would be the thrift “store” NOT thrift “sore”…

  23. posted by Anne on

    My kitchen “junk” drawer has a shoebox inside to hold things like pens, pencils, and other objects in that size range. There’s also a ziplock bag full of ketchup and soy sauce packets I haven’t brought myself to throw out yet, and a smaller open box for rubber bands, twist ties, etc…there’s still quite a bit more junk that shouldn’t be there, but I can find it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. posted by Jessica on

    My kitchen actually has 2 deep drawers. I use one for dish towels as previously suggested (we don’t buy paper towels in my house either.) The other holds my strainers, measuring cups, funnels, digital kitchen scale, metal steamer basket, and collanders. To keep things tidy and easy to find, I use the tops of egg cartons as space dividers. One for measuring cups, one for funnels. That way the smaller “deep” things don’t get lost amidst the bigger ones.

    It works great for shallower drawer dividers too. I also have one egg carton bottom (the part with divided sections for the eggs) from a 1/2 dozen carton that I use to store small things like rubber bands,twist ties, corks, and little plastic cupcake toppers. I like having them out of sight but easy to locate when I need them.

  25. posted by Bob Loblaw on

    how much money do you spend trying to declutter? most of your solutions seem to involve consumerism. the top of that thing is too shallow to be worthwhile anyway IMO

  26. posted by shris on

    OK, after reading the other comments, I’ll agree on the ‘deep stuff’ comments…

    …except that a kitchen should be arranged into stations so that the ‘stuff’ for each task is in the area where the task is done (assuming you have the space to do so). For example, the pots and pans are near the stove along with the spatulas, spoons, tongs, and ladles. The rolling pin is near the cookie cutters, measuring cups, rubber/silicone spatulas, and mixing bowls.

    It may be that the kitchen drawers are not arranged in the most useful way for the ‘station’ concept, or that the drawer in question is the only one available for the things it now contains. So I was kinda assuming that there wasn’t another choice like taking the long skinnies and sticking them in another shallow drawer. ๐Ÿ™‚

    But yah, deep stuff or stacks of like stuff in deep drawers is a nice rule if you can get away with it. The towel thing is a good idea too. But if you can’t avoid having a deep drawer full of small stuff, you then need to arrange it in such a way that opening and closing the drawer isn’t going to stir things up and make a mess.

    As I was considering the drawer, I was even thinking that angled slots would be cool for the longer things like the rolling pin if they won’t fit in the drawer standing up. Think knife block. I was also thinking about cup hooks installed on the *inside* of the drawer for stuff like measuring cups and utensils with loops. I was also thinking about a coffee can inside the drawer to stand up the utensils that will fit vertically. It all depends how much stuff you really have and whether it stands, sits, hangs, etc.

    I’m not a big fan of keeping utensils on the countertops, just because I don’t have enough counter space as it is. But that *is* one way to handle the long skinny stuff. OTOH, I like my knives on a magnet bar on the wall, which would be a cool solution for any metal gadgets you access frequently.

    Anyway, what you have, what shape it is, how many, what they’re good for, where you use them–it all factors in to how you arrange them. But dividers of some sort are going to be a must with the existing items. Whether it’s the Lipper gadget or something else is the decision you make after you know what you’ve got.


  27. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Bob Loblaw — is in favor of smart consumer practices. This is not an anti-consumer website. We are not ascetics. If a tool or product can help you to 1. organize those things you have chosen to bring into your home, 2. is the best product for the job, 3. is made of quality materials, and 4. will help you to be more productive and save you time in your life — that product has utility and is not clutter.

  28. posted by Kirsten on

    While the idea of that organizer you mentioned might be a good idea, for me having to remove the small top tray every time I wanted something below it would be enough to drive me nuts.

    For my cooking utensils, no matter how small my kitchen has been, they live in a crock next to the stove. It’s the most accessible and convenient place for them. For the drawers, I had a kitchen with deeper drawers once, and I kept my plastic storage containers in them. I’d also recommend smaller appliances like a hand mixer, coffee grinder or mini chopper if you have things like that, because those sorts of items are a real pain in the behind to retrieve from the depths of a base cabinet, which is where I currently keep them.

  29. posted by Lose That Girl on

    I have one deep drawer — would like more but you use what you have! I put deep pots in mine. I don’t have many so the one deep drawer works like a treat!

  30. posted by L. on

    What everyone else said: you’re storing the wrong kind of thing in that drawer. I think using it for dish towels is a fabulous idea. (We use cloth towels most of the time instead of paper, so we have quite a few; I go through them fast.) Or use it for larger infrequently used items. And, like Kirsten and others said, I store my frequently-used utensils in a crock by the stove for ease of retrieval and use. The footprint is small and this capitalizes on the organizing philosophy that items should be stored according to frequency and type of access.

    Your shallow organizer adds an extra step for access and hides everything on the bottom level. It would drive me insane.

  31. posted by Dave on

    I’ve seen people with very deep drawers use them to hold large items such as pots or casserole dishes.

  32. posted by Jen on

    I have a deep drawer right next to the stove, so I use it for all the lids of my pots and pans, as well as a strainer or two. It works very well for me – it’s easy to access, everything is big enough that nothing gets lost in the drawer, and it also makes my pots and pans easier to store and use.

  33. posted by Mickii on

    Those deep drawers are supposed to be used to store pots or other types of containers. It is not a problem of organisation, but one of incorrect use. It is not convenient or time effective to have all the utensils down in a drawer. Put them in several containers on the counter near the stove for better accessibility. Use the drawer as it was meant. Maybe put kitchen linens in it.

  34. posted by mb on

    I have 2 deep drawers (8-10 inches)and use them to keep the medium sized appliance off the counter top (food processor, etc…). It works well especially when there are multiple pieces to appliances so I can keep it all together and find what I need.

    Before, one was used to hold odds and ends of kitchen utensils and towels. The bottom one became a catch all for package mixes (gravy, soup mix, jello, pudding etc…) and none of it was ever used.

  35. posted by gypsy packer on

    Only deep drawer I have is in the Hoosier cabinet. These were used as breadboxes back in the cabinet’s youth, but as a single, I keep bread in the freezer. These drawers tend to be of identical size even in differing manufacturers.

    The canister idea sounds great! Be nice if I could find some rectangular jars which would fit close together, giving the efficiency model a new use in keeping with its original decluttering purpose.

  36. posted by fred on

    walmart has cheap drawer organizers/baskets in the laundry/dish rack area. be creative.

  37. posted by Vanessa on

    I love how some people posted comments on “putting items where they belong” in the kitchen. I have an extremely small kitchen, and I only have ONE tiny shallow drawer, which is for my silverware. All my other utensils (spatulas, serving spoons, other “long skinnies”) have to go in one of my two deep drawers, along with towels, my rolling pin, aluminum foil, etc. If I had counter space (I have 1 sq. foot of counter space, and half is used by my toaster over), I would put them there, but I don’t. I also rent my apartment, so I’m not able to attach things to the wall. I know that I’m making “incorrect use” of my drawers, but for some people it’s not possible to have everything neatly where it belongs.

  38. posted by Kristin on

    I just recently cleaned out my deep drawer in my kitchen. I realized that I only used the top 4 or 5 things, so I went through and took out everything I hadn’t used in ages and realized in some cases, it was years. Then I put back the things that worked for me and it ended up being just two layers deep. On the bottom were the bamboo skewers and the large ladles. Then on top of that was what I used almost daily. Now I can literally see everything in the drawer. I don’t use the depth of the drawer efficiently, but I don’t know what in the world I can store in there because the space isn’t very wide. Editing was my trick.

  39. posted by elly on

    I’m with Vanessa. I HAVE to use my deep drawer for utensils and gadgets because my shallow drawer is for silverware. I do keep my most used utensils in a crock near my stove, but they don’t all fit. What I don’t like about the organizer from Amazon is I’m not sure about the top tray. It doesn’t look like you can store anything on top because of the small/shallow compartments. If you are just going to stack things on it, it sort of defeats the purpose of it being sliding.

    I went to Container Store when we moved and got some deep drawer organizers that are modular & stack. It’s still not ideal because I will need to occasionally lift something out to get to the stuff below it, but it’s better than what I had before. I just put the most-used items in the top compartments.

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