3 Small-Space, Renter-Friendly Junk Drawer Alternatives

updated Apr 8, 2021
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If you’re dealing with an unruly and constantly-expanding junk drawer, the concept of just cutting junk drawers out of your life may seem appealing. No junk drawer means no opportunity for things to get unmanageable and cluttered, right? In theory, yes. But in reality, people will usually find places to store clutter, anyway — and sometimes those places are less than ideal (kitchen countertops, entryway tables… ) and much more visible than a drawer full of trash that’s easily hidden away.

Accumulating small bits and bobs like sticky notes, batteries, flash lights, miscellaneous mail, and other odds and ends is just part of life for most people, meaning that eliminating a catch-all space is probably a bad idea. Luckily, if you don’t have drawer space, there are other options.

“Junk drawers are a luxury that some small spaces cannot accommodate,” Anne Gopman of Organized By Anne explains, but goes on to say that those in small spaces can still find organizational options by simply being creative.

As Shannon Krause of Tiny Nest says, though, a good first step is to stop thinking of a junk drawer (or any alternative storage option) as a space for junk at all. 

“We think in terms of utility drawers; not junk drawers — and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the former,” Krause explains. “It’s important to create intentional spaces and avoid encouraging catch-alls.”

If you’re looking to create a utility space, but don’t have the traditional go-to drawer options, here are three areas to create or consider. 

Credit: Franke Chung

1. Wall Mounted Baskets 

“By using wall mounted baskets, you can create a decorative catch all in your kitchen or entrance,” Gopman suggests. “Plus, it can be used to give your additional storage for other items you may find in that area.” 

Gopman lists these rustic wood and metal mounted wall baskets as an affordable option that can be easily placed in almost any room — home, office, or kitchen. You can even consider labeling each basket with names of specific items so your “junk” is organized efficiently and easy to sort through. For example: One basket could be for mail and bills, another for keys and face masks, and a third for something else, like hand sanitizer, sticky notes, or other miscellaneous items.

2. Storage Ottoman 

While some people might benefit from something like a wall-mounted set of baskets because they’ll be face-to-face with most of their junk each and every day (and therefore more motivated to keep things tidy and organized), they don’t offer the option of hiding clutter away from the world at a moment’s notice. The best part of a junk drawer, after all, is that no one has to see the inside of it every day if they don’t want to. If this aspect of a drawer appeals to you, but you don’t have any drawer space to spare, Gopman suggests trying out a storage ottoman instead. 

“Another alternative would be a storage ottoman that allows you to create the ultimate odds and ends storage area, but also adds seating or event trays depending on the design,” Gopman says.

More storage and more seating (especially in a small space) is a game changer, making this option a big win-win. For even more options, consider finding a storage ottoman on wheels so you can move it around easily when you have guests over and need more space.

3. Desktop Caddy 

For a more “visible” option, Krause suggests a desktop caddy as an alternative to a junk — ahem, utility (old habits die hard) drawer. 

“They come in all different sizes, colors, designs and price points so there’s something for everyone,” Krause says of caddies. “The reason we like this option is because it separates all of your items but keeps them corralled in the same area, and because it’s not too big, it forces you to choose what you really need to keep.” 

As someone who has a specific work desk junk drawer that needs serious sorting out, this seems like a much-needed solution.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: No Room for a Junk Drawer? Experts Recommend 3 Small-Space, Renter-Friendly Alternatives