The Junk Drawer

All my pre-married life, I lived in a house that had a junk drawer.  It was always in the kitchen—why is it that we never have enough cupboard space, but we have drawers in such abundance that we fill them with random junk just so they can have a purpose?  I don’t know, but that’s how it was in my family.  The one time we moved, we packed up the kitchen cupboard by cupboard, drawer by drawer, and, while the cups and plates and silverware had to share one box between them, the junk drawer stuff got its own box, ready to dump into the appointed drawer in the kitchen of the new house.

Years later, when my parents decided to completely renovate the kitchen at the second house, we once again packed up all the contents of the existing cupboards and drawers, and, once again, the junk drawer stuff got its own box.  When the two-month remodel was finally complete and we were at last able to use the kitchen sink instead of the bathtub for washing dishes…you’d better believe the junk drawer junk came back with a fervor.  Over its time in exile in the living room, the junk drawer box had accumulated even more junk than it had ever known before—living room junk, bedroom junk, it was all there.  When the remodel was finished, the junk drawer had to spill over into not one, but two other drawers—THREE JUNK DRAWERS!  Luckily, my parents had planned for such overflow, and the new kitchen layout was perfect for such an arrangement.  We were so rich, with our three junk drawers.

To this day, if my mom says, “Can you grab me the so-and-so?  It’s in the junk drawer,” it takes three times longer to find than ever before.  I firmly believe that junk drawers are a status symbol of the middle class.

What was in the junk drawer/s that made it/them so special?  Junk.  Naturally.  But not just any junk—good junk.  Anything that any family member came across which didn’t have any designated place, but was nevertheless too useful to be thrown away.  Stuff like rubber bands, paper clips, random batteries of every size, pencils without erasers, half-petrified sticks of gum, pennies encrusted with a layer of bread crumbs, rolls of Scotch™ tape that had long ago lost their spools, cough drops enveloped in tattered wrappers, and maybe—just maybe, if we were lucky—a watermelon Jolly Rancher™.

There was so much hope in a junk drawer.

It got so that the junk drawer was no longer the place for place-less stuff, but the actual place where stuff belonged in the first place.  (Huh?)  That is to say…at first, we just stuck the scissors in the junk drawer because we didn’t have a home office, and it was the only place we could think to put them.  Eventually, though, the junk drawer was the designated holding place of the scissors—all hell would break loose whenever they were misplaced.  “HAS ANYBODY SEEN THE *@#!!! SCISSORS?”  “I put them in the mug of pens next to the computer.”  “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT WHEN YOU KNOW THEY BELONG IN THE JUNK DRAWER?”  So obvious—duh.

Now that I’ve moved out and live in a house of my own, I’m sad to say that I don’t have the luxury of a junk drawer in my kitchen.  As it happens, we actually need every drawer we have.  Trust me, though: If we ever find ourselves with excess money and a hankering to overhaul our kitchen, adding in a junk drawer will be my first act—even before stainless steel appliances or subway tiles.  It makes me sad to know that next time I need a double-A battery, I’ll be able to walk straight to the office where we keep them—no searching necessary.  Gone are the days of fumbling through the kitchen junk drawer, asking the person on the phone to hold on just a sec, this pen is out of ink, wait, here’s a pencil—no, the lead is broken, dammit—can you just call back later, please?!  I liked the treasure hunt that accompanied the junk drawer at my parent’s house—I could whittle away hours of my day looking for one single needle or a pocket knife or paintballs.  I really miss that.

Good thing I have an entire room devoted to junk in my basement…it may not be the kitchen junk drawer of my youth, but it’s the next best thing:

Basement junk roomI spent an hour down there yesterday looking for the wrapping paper I knew was in there.

That sort of under-productivity is just the sort of boost I needed to gear up for another week of university.

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in change, family, I hate change, It's All Good, kitchen failures, short stories/vignette and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The Junk Drawer

  1. Lindsay says:

    That junk room looks like my back room…except my back room doesn’t even have electricity. This is kind of a good thing tho, because half the time I cant see the horrid mess where all the crap from moving and painting and just not wanting to haul it out to the garage junk ends up.

    ps – i miss being able to comment on your posts. just wanted you to know.

  2. Jordan says:

    Hooray for comments!!

    We had 3 junk drawers too, now that I think about it… One was the useful drawer that had the scissors, tape, rubber bands, etc and was next to the phone.
    Somehow the other 2 drawers developed over time. If I were to go home right now and open them I would find old report cards of my sister and I , random pictures, some pens, and of course batteries.

    ahh, junk drawers. Thanks for the childhood memories.

  3. Amy Andersen says:

    I actually have two overflowing drawers in my kitchen because I refuse to give up the “junk drawer”. I can’t live without it.

  4. Liz says:

    Hi Camille!

    I loved this post! It’s so true!! I don’t have enough drawers in my kitchen for a junk drawer, yet somehow I STILL have one!! I’m impressed that things like scissors and tape have a place in your house! I’d say it takes a lot more diligence put things away than to throw them in the drawer, so you’re one step ahead!

    (Glad you opened comments, by the way.)

  5. GRANMAMA says:

    I’ve been working on cleaning out the junk drawer. Sorry.

  6. Tisha says:

    YAY FOR COMMENTS!!!!!!!! Although my parents had a junk drawer, I’ve never hadd a junk drawer at my house. However, we did have a junk box on the shelf in our kitchen!

  7. chelsie says:

    Our drawers were never labeled as junk drawers, when you were talking about them I was sad I didn’t have any. But, I didn’t realize until right now that they actually are junk drawers!!! And plenty of them at that!

    I can’t wait to see you!!! that is what is getting me through these wretched 51 days…

  8. Whitney says:

    I can write something. This is the best day ever! Yeah for junk drawers. and junk rooms. I have both.

  9. Geneva says:

    Yay! Comments are back! I too love my junk drawer. And my junk room. I’m glad I’m not alone :)

  10. You are SO RIGHT about junk drawers being a staple in a middle class home. In my house, there’s not only a junk drawer in the kitchen, I have one in my bedroom!
    It’s grand.

  11. Chloe says:

    I love this post! You’re so right! I don’t have junk drawers in the kitchen, but in my bedroom… and I love them (I have FOUR!). I can find there whatever I want. And even things I didn’t know I had!

  12. Amy says:

    I have an empty drawer, but it’s not fit for a junk drawer. It’s in an odd location and the bottom slides around. My pasta drawer is underneath it so I’d inevitably drop batteries and junk on the fettuccine. I grew up with junk drawers, too, but now I don’t have one–just a junk room!

  13. Kelly says:

    We have a junk drawer and junk closet. My mom and Nana would be very unhappy to know that where I store my “fine china” is where I consider to be junk closet.

  14. Mike says:

    I firmly believe that every good organized person needs a junk drawer. Where else would the scissors, the tape, the paper clips, small candles, a lighter, the box-cutters, and the small extension cord go? When organizing, I put everything where it goes, but I’m still left with things that have no home! Well, i want to be neat and have everything put away so that my house looks orderly. So, all the misc. stuff goes in the junk drawer! It’s genius.

  15. Camberley says:

    Ha ha ha! Love this post – great topic. Unfortunately, my foil/baggie/wax paper drawer is currently doubling as a junk drawer. I haven’t felt 100% whole in our new house, now I know why.


  16. jeff says:

    i’ve never been able to junk up my drawers, cabinets, any type of storage space like that. something to do with me, something about the house i grew up in, (the packratting thing), something about the clean and clear of an understuffed place. this was a very interesting thinky post. merci.

  17. I got that remark on packratting, Jeff. So this is for you and Camille, read it and weep!

    My tools are in my toolbox,
    Batteries in my clocks,
    Staples of all sizes
    In their own little box.
    Candles in the garbage,
    Of matches I have none;
    Pictures in my albums,
    What’s left beneath the sun?
    My house of clutter is no more,
    I never search for things,
    For pens or string or sealing wax,
    Or cabbages or kings.
    My home’s a house of order,
    All things in their place,
    A dream come true I tell ya
    Now that I have space!

    Apologies to whoever wrote the stolen quote.

  18. DeAnna says:

    Yay for Comments!

    I love this post, it really makes me miss having a junk drawer. Sadly I have the problem of every drawer is needed for something else too, so instead my hallway closet is kind of my replacement “junk drawer”. One day I will have my junk drawer, one day.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Yea for comments, A+s, and good ole’ Charles P. Glad to have you all back.

  20. Petro says:

    Good One! We keep stale taffy and any nail or screw that we find on the floor in case we find their orginal home again. could not live without my junk drawer.

  21. Molly says:

    :) Ode to Junk Drawers….

    Even if I have a million dollars some day, I will still have a Junk drawer, with pride. :) My mom always went through the junk drawer periodically, to “make a home” for the items found there, however, it would always fill up again…

    another thing we had growing up that I truly loved was the “laundry money”. Mom would collect up all the change and money found in the clothes when she did the wash and put them into her “laundry money” tin… to be used however she saw fit, without accounting. :)

  22. Carmen says:

    We have so many drawers in our kitchen that we actually have 2 junk drawers. One for tools/batteries etc and another for papers, pencils and the like. So you can borrow one if you want.

Comments are closed.