Jun 24, 2019

The “everything” drawer – Kandy Shepherd

I’m the first to admit I’m not the tidiest person around. I try, I really do try to keep things organised and tidy, to de-clutter, but it’s a constant battle. I relate to the Peanuts character “Pig-Pen”—mess gravitates towards me!

I kept an old magazine for years that showcased actress Jamie Lee Curtis’s house. It was amazing. Everything sorted, placed, regimented. And the awesome Ms Curtis (I’m a big fan) interviewed, saying how good all that tidiness made her feel. I longed to be like her—how wonderful it would be to have my house look like hers. (Instead of fearing what might fall out and crash to the floor when I opened a cupboard door because of all the stuff randomly jammed in there!)

I want to be like Jamie Lee Curtis!

Then the lovely Marie Kondo with her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and subsequent television show, struck a chord. There’s a big emphasis on very neat folding. She suggests you discard anything that doesn’t “spark joy”. (Am I surprised to see Jamie Lee Curtis is a supporter of Marie Kondo? She actually says in this article for Time magazine, that if she were to get a tattoo it would say “Spark Joy”!)

Kondo style folding

The message is—decluttering can be life-changing. The few areas of the house I have managed to declutter work so much better and are less stressful to negotiate. It works! (Least said the better about the other areas. And the books. Oh, the books. How difficult it is to get rid of books. Especially when you’ve written them yourself!)

My pantry system needs some refining - but the intention is good!

However, while I am attempting to change my deeply ingrained ways (even my school desk was always untidy!) there is one thing I am adamant about keeping—and that is my beloved “everything drawer”. 

Do you have such a drawer/shelf/box into which every miscellaneous thing that doesn’t have an immediate home is tossed?

I’m bravely sharing my everything drawer with you here. 

Here it is in all its glory - my "everything drawer"!

A quick survey of the top layer of my drawer: take-away menus from restaurants; rubber bands; flyers from tradesmen we might need one day; Band Aids for when it’s too difficult to hunt out the first-aid box; an apple slicer; a sample tile; some anonymous part from the fridge; plugs that don’t seem to fit any of our sinks but must or otherwise why would we have them; a kitchen timer that needs a new battery; spring -flowering bulbs I forgot to plant; string; a cute cat-shaped black board I’ve de-cluttered from the fridge door but still like; appliance instruction manuals that haven’t been put away in folder yet; a device that times boiled eggs; glue. And that’s just the top layer!

When I first lived with my husband he pronounced: “This has got to go!”
“To where?” I asked.
“Files,” he said sternly. “All this stuff put in order where we can find it.”
“Okay,” I said, after an initial feeble protest. After all, I knew where I could find it. In the everything drawer!

After 30 years of living with me, he has wearily and silently conceded some of his hard-fought ground. No bills or invoices are ever allowed in the everything drawer. All the warranties and appliance instructions have their own folder in the everything drawer. Spare light bulbs must be in boxes. Yes, yes and yes. But everything else is randomly tossed in. 

“Where are the spare batteries?” someone will inevitably ask. 
“Do we have any sticky tape?” 
“Aargh! My friend is allergic to cats. Any antihistamines?”
“Look in the everything drawer,” I serenely reply. 
And inevitably what they are looking for is there!

It’s a great system. Maybe I should write a book about it…

Do you have an “everything drawer”? If you are a naturally tidy person, what can I learn from you? Do you declutter? We’d love to see your comments!


  1. Oh Kandy what a great post and I am the same as you (probably worse LOL ) I too have and everything drawer it is the 2nd drawer for me and we cram everything into it and I always have had one every now and again I will pull a few things out but not much and as for the rest of the house I really need to do a big de-clutter :)

    So sorry I am no help for ways to de-clutter

    Have Fun


    1. When it comes to decluttering, I start with such good intentions Helen! I love that your "everything drawer" is the second drawer, as I realise mine is always the bottom drawer!

  2. I do NOT have an "everything drawer". I have clutters all over the place instead! Clutter to me is procrastination of making a decision (as to where something should go). If something has a place, it generally ends up there some day; however, if something new to the ball game shows up, it might take me a week to figure out what to do with it before I move it from the kitchen chair and/or counter (both visible from the front doorway). Seems like I shouldn't move this until I move that, but in order to move that, I need to work on this first, but I can't work on this until someone does the first thing. Sound familiar? One thing leads to another and nothing gets done for ages (or at least it seems that way).

    I DO consider myself a naturally tidy person; however, real life knocks you down pegs sometimes. It's part of life that I accept (but do not appreciate). We had a yard sale this past Saturday, and I am STILL trying to find my house. Just today I managed to get all the empty boxes down to the crawl space so I could decide which ones to keep and which ones to recycle. I still have my cash float on the dining room table waiting to balance; I've tried twice but been interrupted, so there the money and lists sit. (We had 6 people contributing to the proceeds, so I need to balance and sort out the cash for everyone.) Yes, I COULD have balanced it at some point today, but I chose different priorities. We had someone come to the house to buy furniture (YAY), so I readied the front entranceway for that. My daughter had a dental appointment, so I drove to her place to watch her 4-mth-old son. I drove for some groceries that we needed for a long trip tomorrow morning. I went for my nightly walk with a girlfriend and then watched my daughter play ball. So ... my priorities changed - and that's okay. I can only put out one fire at a time apparently.

    Most of the decluttering/organizing books I read have said, "Don't sweat the small stuff." THAT is my advise to you. You're doing fine. As Red Green would say, "We're all in this together." Good luck!

  3. I had to smile as I read your wonderful post, Laney! I identified with so much of it. I particularly liked this: "Clutter to me is procrastination of making a decision (as to where something should go)." That's so true, isn't it! You give some wise advice, gratefully accepted!