In Praise of Drawer Dividers

I recently noticed just how many drawer dividers I’ve added to the drawers in my home. Even more interesting to me was that the divider solution for each drawer is different. When it comes to drawer dividers, there is no “one size fits all”. It’s important to carefully measure the drawer dimensions as well as the dimensions of the items you want to store.

A photo of me organizing the dividers in the junk drawer of my desk actually appeared in the New York Times five years ago when I was interviewed for an article. Of course I wrote about it in my blog, and you can see the blog post and photo here.

When I first got the drawer dividers for that junk drawer, I discovered that the drawer would now hold slightly less stuff. That was not a bad thing, however, because grouping similar things together made me realize that I had a lot of duplicate stuff that I didn’t need. In addition, it was more important for me to be able to find my stuff than to have a ton of stuff, so it was worth the tradeoff.

I gave that desk away last year (along with the dividers) but I still have a lot of other dividers all over my home. Here are some of them.


When I work with clients to organize their kitchens, one of the first changes I recommend is to get a drawer divider for the silverware, if they don’t already have one. Here is a photo of my silverware drawer. The divider doesn’t fill the entire drawer, so we pushed it to the back and put in front our most frequently-used small utensils (can opener, vegetable peeler, ice cream scoop, and the avocado tool I wrote about recently) are in the front. It’s easy to find what we need and also easy to put it back after it comes out of the dishwasher.

I also have a larger utensil drawer which holds long items. There are drawer dividers in that one, too. Rounded items like cooking spoons and salad tongs go in one section, and flat items like spatulas go in another. Grouping them by shape prevents the items from getting tangled up in each other and catching on the drawer so that it won’t open.

Living Room

Last year, when I got rid of my desk, I moved my office supplies into the living room end table that is closest to my computer desk. (I wrote about that switch in Transforming My Home Office.) To best utilize the space in the three shallow drawers in the end table, I laid out what I wanted to keep in each drawer, then measured the size of the drawers as well as the size of each grouping of office supplies. I got on the Container Store website and looked at the drawer divider options until I found a product that offered the depth I needed for these very shallow drawers and that came in a variety of lengths and widths. The end result was a series of containers that keep small items together (paper clips, batteries, rubber bands) and prevent larger items from sliding around the drawer.


The latest addition to my suite of drawer dividers is in the end table next to my bed. It’s a small drawer and doesn’t have that many items in it. However, when you are looking for something in the dark in the middle of the night, and you’re trying not to wake your spouse, it’s easier (and less noisy!) if you know exactly where it is in the drawer. Because of the curved front of the drawer, I ended up with a narrow space in front of the drawer dividers, and that turned out to be a great place to stand up my bookmarks!

How to Select Drawer Dividers

If you’ve got a drawer in which the items slide around and it’s hard to find things when you need them, consider adding a drawer divider. The most important thing to do is measure your drawer very carefully. Don’t forget to measure the depth! Also consider what configuration you need. Do you need to store long items (like spatulas) or tiny items (like paper clips)?

In some instances, your best product will be an expandable drawer organizer. There are a lot of these for kitchen drawers especially.

Once you have your measurements and a good idea of how many small compartments and how many large compartments you need, you can find good solutions online at The Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Amazon. Here are the products I included in the photos above.

Kitchen: ORG Powder-Coated Large Mesh Flatware Organizer in Silver from Bed Bath and Beyond

Living Room: Drawer Organizer White/Translucent (in multiple sizes) from The Container Store

Bedroom: iDESIGN Linus 3-Section Tray Clear (two of them) from The Container Store

You might also consider having drawer dividers custom-made. This will be a more expensive option than buying an off-the-shelf product, but it might be worth it. One company is Organizer My Drawer, which makes custom acrylic drawer organizers.

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