Did you know there are people in the world that have never heard of junk drawers? Seriously, y’all. Think about that. THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WITHOUT A JUNK DRAWER??!! How is this possible? Are they ok? Do they need a junk drawer intervention? Please explain how this is possible (I joke, I kid). So, in case you are one of those people who does not know what the heck a junk drawer is, I have decided to answer the question, “What is a junk drawer?”
A Little History of junk drawers…
Because I am a bit of a history nerd, I needed to know the historical context for junk drawers. Where did they come from? How did the junk drawer come to be a thing? The definition from Word Sense lists the first published reference to “junk drawers” back in 1912, from a dentist in New York. He referenced his “junk drawer” in the context of keeping all of his gadgets handy to where he was working. The drawer he references sounds like it fulfills exactly the same purpose as modern day junk drawers. It’s a place to keep all the odds and end so that they are close by when you need them. Apparently, junk drawers are not a new thing.
Junk Drawers: An International Phenomenon?
My next question was do people in other countries have junk drawers? Apparently so! According to this article, junk drawers exist around the world. Here’s what the author Marshall Connor says about international junk drawers,
“Friends from England, Scotland, France, and multiple Caribbean islands all reported the existence of junk drawers in their nations. Different names maybe, but the same thing.”
From what this author could tell, junk drawers present an interesting, universal human phenomenon. Everyone has one, but everyone thinks they are alone. Growing up we had a junk drawer, and just like the author suggests, I thought it was just our family. And probably like every family, ours was unique in what our family thought should belong in the junk drawer. The odds and ends that created our family: take out menus (two working parents), pens with the name of said places of work printed on them, eyeglass repair kits, scribbled down phone numbers, and all the other oddities that represented our family unit. Kinda poetic, don’t you think?
As a military spouse, we have moved houses as a family over 10 times. No matter what size house or the number of drawers, a junk drawer always seems to magically appear. So what do I keep in mine? Basically the same items as when I was young. Pens, pencils, scissors, random nails and screws, extra keys and a pad of paper to jot down notes if I’m not close to my desk. Not as many take out menus, and the names on the pens are from different schools, different dentist offices, and different places representing all of the places where we have lived (I am a self-proclaimed pen thief). Right now, ours is in the kitchen, but it would be just as useful in a dedicated command center, which our base housing does not include. If you would like to read about 3 organizing challenges military spouses face, READ HERE.
Junk Drawers and Organization?
Speaking of organization, the words “junk” and “organization” don’t seem to immediately go together, do they? I wonder if “junk drawer organization” is a new phenomenon? Were there people in the 19th century with the “perfect” drawer containers, or is this a modern era problem? Either way, I’m here for it! If you would like to check out my junk drawer organization process, please click here.
Junk Drawers tell our stories
So, what do you think about your junk drawer? Is it organized and accessible? Or is it a hidden space never meant to be seen? Before you go, I want to leave you with this lovely sentiment from the same article:
junk drawers have been compared to time capsules, collections of marginal things, a place of chaos created by sweeping clutter into a hidden drawer, and even mosaics of our mental state.
Finally, do you have a junk drawer? What do you keep in it? Is it organized or is it an understood, agreed upon, space of chaos? And, for real, if you do not have a one please reach out. I’m here for you.
Happy Organizing, Y’all!