Small/Narrow kitchen drawer inspiration

Flatware tends to get relegated to the narrowest of kitchen drawers — and for good reason! Few kitchen tools are as slim as silverware. Though they’re often small in size, a flatware drawer is typically the most frequently opened drawer in the entire kitchen. For that reason alone it deserves to be well-organized and to look great!

Here are some photos of beautiful, narrow kitchen drawer, worthy of a smile every time they’re opened.

narrow kitchen drawer Jill template

Continue reading “Small/Narrow kitchen drawer inspiration”

Thin side walls for inserts in narrow drawers

narrow drawer with extra-thin side walls to maximize usable space

Another title for this post could have been “A match made in heaven — your narrow drawer and the Brandi template.” But that sounds too dramatic and rather ridiculous. So we’ll stick with the boring-but-practical-sounding title.

The narrow kitchen drawer tends to be used for flatware, and there may be no better candidate for a custom drawer insert. Why? Because every bit of space counts in a narrow drawer!

Narrow flatware drawer organizer insert

By far, our most popular template for narrow kitchen drawer is the Brandi template…and for good reason. When all the dividers in an insert are oriented front-to-back, we can use thinner material for the side walls of the insert, leaving more usable space across the width of the drawer than with other templates.

You might be wondering, “Why can’t you always use thinner material?” Well, the slots require that we use thicker material. If dividers are in the side-to-side orientation, we need thicker walls to make sure there’s room for slots and for enough material left over for a structurally sound product.

tiny kitchen flatware drawer

If having thinner material is important for your drawer situation, let us know, and we’ll do what we can do accommodate.

When scooped dividers are not appropriate

Scooped dividers are handy — even essential — in some situations. In others, they’re just a preference. There’s one situation, though, where having scooped dividers is not advised — when they’re oriented perpendicularly to the utensils they separate. Not only are they unnecessary in those situations, they’re a liability. Let me explain…

In general, scooped dividers should be oriented in same direction as the utensils, as in the scooped divider (not circled) on the left in the image above.

The remaining circled scooped dividers in the photo above are oriented perpendicularly to the utensils that will be in those sections and will be subject to the impact of sliding utensils on the smallest, most vulnerable area of the dividers, the material just below the cutout, as the drawer is opened and closed.

In such cases, we insist that you opt for regular dividers. Not only will you save money, you’ll get a more durable product.

Can I turn my custom insert around?

If you mean, “Can I turn my custom insert 180 degrees?” the answer is yes. You can plan inserts with this in mind. Here are some examples of inserts that were planned in one orientation, but the owner is using them turned around. What was at 12:00 is now at 6:00.

Here is our Eric template…

And here is an insert designed using the Eric template, turned 180 degrees in its drawer.

The following is our Jill template…

And here is an insert designed with the Jill template turned 180 degrees in the drawer.

Here is our Andrea template…

And here is an insert designed with the Andrea template and turned 180 degrees in the drawer.

So, yes, turning an insert around in your drawer works just fine.

What’s not possible is flipping the insert over, pancake style. That’s a no-no for two reasons.

First, the underside of our inserts are unfinished. Second, and more importantly, the dividers would not function properly. The dividers cannot be removed from the bottom. This is an intentional design so that the entire insert can be lifted straight up, and, even if the insert is bottomless, the dividers will not fall through. 

Avoid this common mistake when sketching your drawer insert

You can see it in your mind’s eye — the perfect layout for your drawer. Quick, make a sketch before the image fades!

If you’re like most of us non-engineering types, you sketch your layout in two dimensions. The artistic quality is akin to a stick figure, which is fine as long as you realize that, like stick figures, stick drawer organizers  don’t exist in the real world. Real-world drawer inserts have dimension (or thickness). Are you with me?

I sometimes receive drawings like the following along with a message like this: “This is a pretty straightforward design. Can you make this?”

Well…no, actually.  Here’s why…

The drawer’s internal depth is 19″. The perimeter walls and the two horizontal fixed walls will be 1/2″ thick. When we subtract the thickness of the front perimeter wall (1/2″ thick), the back perimeter wall (1/2″ thick), and the two horizontal fixed walls (1/2″ + 1/2″ = 1″), we’re left with 17″ of usable depth.

There’s 17″ to divide among the front, middle, and back sections — not 19″. So it’s back to the drawing board. At least one section’s usable space will need to be reduced. If that’s not possible due to the length of the contents being stored, a different layout is needed.

P.S. If things just won’t fit, maybe you need an outside-the-box solution.




Sometimes things fit best outside the box

I recently helped a customer with a tricky drawer arrangement. The drawer to be organized was a 13.5″ deep island drawer. (Remember: the “depth” of a drawer is the front-to-back dimension.)

This was her first draft… original drawing cropped

…and it was problematic. Do you see the problem?

Let’s just consider the right side of the drawer. The  back section is 11″ deep. The front section is 2.38″ deep. 11 + 2.38 = 13.38. When we add in the thickness of the perimeter walls alone, which are 1/2″ each (and we won’t even mention  that horizontal wall in the middle) the depth of the entire insert would be 14.38″, which would not fit in a 13.5″- deep drawer.

We needed a different design, a different place for the 13″-long items.

Here’s what we did. In the drawing below, the thick black box represents the drawer box.

out of box solution

We removed the long section in the front of the drawer and decreased the overall width of the insert so that the 13″-long items could be stored in the space between the insert and the right side of the drawer. So the longest items in the drawer will be stored outside of the insert.

Problem solved. Organized drawer. Happy customer. 🙂

Here are some other examples of inserts that don’t fill the entire drawer.

glassware insert

medium-sized kitchen drawer

silverware drawer

Should the height of my drawer insert match the height of the drawer box?

large flatware kitchen drawer with knife block

People often assume that the height of their drawer insert should be level with the height of their drawer box, but this is not necessarily the case. Another common assumption is that there are “standard” drawer sizes. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you live in a part of the world that is wealthy enough to have no such thing. Beyond kitchen counter height, there are not many “standards” when it comes to cabinetry and therefore drawers. Drawers come in a myriad of sizes, including heights.

narrow drawer flatware silverware

large flatware drawer with narrowly spaced compartments

The height of your insert should be determined by how you plan to use the drawer — not by the height of the drawer.


Consider a 4.5″-tall drawer where you plan to store silverware. If the drawer insert were 4.5″ tall,  and you had a 2.5″-wide compartment for forks, imagine reaching your hand into such a compartment. If you can’t imagine the tight squeeze that would be (especially if you have large hands and if the compartment contained only a few forks), try to simulate such a situation before designing and purchasing. Such an insert might look nice in the drawer, but retrieving items from it could be quite awkward.

There’s a reason why most off-the-shelf drawer organizers are 2″ or less in height.

Certainly, though, there is a place for tall-ish inserts — a narrow , 10″-wide drawer that needs to hold 12 place settings of flatware, a baking drawer for large bulky items that could spill over a short insert…

Bottom line: when deciding the height of an insert, consider functionality above all else. Consider how your drawer extends and if that should factor into your insert height decision. If you determine that you need a 2.5″ or taller insert, you might want to consider scooped dividers.

How tall should the insert in my tie drawer be?

Cubby Grid tie drawer organizer

I recently got some feedback on the height of a tie drawer insert. A customer ordered a 5.5″ tall Cubby Grid for his tie drawer, then found reaching into those tall, narrow compartments to be awkward. The cubbies were sized 2.35″ x 3.85″ x 5.5″.

For ease of access, he recommends a height of 3.5″ for ties.

Organizers for drawers of hutches, sideboards, buffets….

hutch drawer insert

It’s easy for what I’ll call “overflow” drawers to get ignored. I’m talking about drawers in sideboards, hutches, buffets, credenzas, servers… These drawers typically store overflow silverware, the good silver, linens, etc. Their drawers are usually shallower than those found in kitchen cabinets, and finding a suitable organizer can be tricky.

If you’re looking for a nice drawer insert to complement your hutch/sideboard/buffet, we can provide a solution that looks, perhaps, as timeless as the furniture piece.

Makeup drawer inserts

Santiago white acrylic makeup drawer organizer

Makeup Drawer inspiration.

When Orderly Drawer was young, we offered only wood inserts. Today they’re available in acrylic as well, which many may find a more suitable material for makeup and other bathroom drawer.

makeup drawer organizer

custom makeup drawer insert

maple makeup drawer organizer