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.

Pausing on the Santiago Knife Block as we prepare for something better

When we launched the Santiago line about two years ago, we had reason to believe we’d be able to eventually offer that product line at bargain basement prices. After hunting extensively and corresponding with various suppliers and dealing with a shortage of helpers, we were not able to get the price nearly as low as we had hoped.

Needless to say, we were disappointed.

So we’re working on a new line of acrylic products that will be much more affordable and somewhat more versatile, a kind of sister line to the Santiago line products. On top of this, we plan to have a super-affordable you-assemble option on this line. When fully built out, we expect this line of custom inserts to include options/features like a spice rack, cubby grids, and a knife block that can be part of a larger drawer insert.

Stay tuned. If you want to be notified when this new line is ready, make sure you’re on our mailing listWe’ll have some extra-sweet deals for beta testers.  


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

The Orderly Drawer slot-and-divider system


It all started with a customer musing about his flatware drawer, “If this organizer were adjustable…”

The wheels started spinning (literally and figuratively) and weeks later a method and feature had been developed.

Our traditional inserts have adjustable dividers that fit into slots. The slots are rounded at the bottom, so if you have a bottomless insert, when you lift the insert up, the dividers will not fall out. (Clever is my husband, no?)

Santiago inserts have slots with a similar, though different, feature to keep the dividers securely in place but unable to fall out of a lifted insert. The slots terminate rather than running the entire height of the inserts.

Santiago kitchen drawer insert



Targeted dividers

maple insert with targeted dividers

Our signature slot-and-divider system was perhaps the thing that initially distinguished Orderly Drawer from other custom insert providers. Most people seemed intrigued by the adjustability the slots provided. But…potential customers would occasionally pop their heads up and say, “I don’t particularly like the look of all those slots.”

Fair enough. Some people like them; others don’t.

Furthermore, we were told, sometimes you know what you want and you don’t anticipate changing it in the future.

Enter targeted dividers,   Continue reading “Targeted dividers”