In the battle to keep my house organized and find places for everything, I have often had to resort to the use of some unconventional methods. I love organizers, and I enjoy looking at magazines and web sites which have organizational ideas or merchandise! However, it is rare for me to make any purchases from these companies because of the expense. Instead, I take inspiration from their ideas and look to see if I can make what I need on my own from the things I have on hand. This closet organizer project is the result of one of these ventures.

I bought this inexpensive cardboard shoe organizer over twenty years ago! I moved around quite a bit at the time and it was easier to pack, move, and set up in a new place if I simply took the whole box of shoes. When I ceased living a nomadic lifestyle, I discovered that the box took up too much space on the floor of my closet, and I was forced to find another way to store my shoes. But I did not want to part with the box—all those lovely organizational cubby holes! It was not to be thought of! So I put it onto the shelf of another closet and began to store craft materials in it. The only problem that I ran into with this idea was that the organizer was over my head, so when I went to pull things out of it, I could not always see what I was getting. More times than not, I ended up pulling things out onto my head and toes and was constantly having to pick everything up off the floor. I do not remember how many years I went on like this, but I finally decided that something had to be done to correct the problem.

Drawers or cube-shaped storage bins to turn an open-faced shelf unit into something more versatile became very popular several years ago. I liked the idea of having a drawer unit to put everything into so I could simply pull out the whole drawer when I wanted something and set it down on a level that I could see into, but how could I get drawers for my shoe organizer? Purchasing them would have been too expensive and it was highly unlikely that I could have found them in exactly the size I needed. I would have to make them. I armed myself with pieces of foam core board that had been used for school projects and set to work. I measured the inside of one of the spaces in my shoe organizer and cut pieces of foam core board to make a box that would fit inside the space. I made sure to allow for the depth of the foam core board and how the pieces would fit together when I was measuring and cutting the board. For instance, to make the sides rest on the base piece, I had to subtract the depth of the foam on the bottom from the overall height I needed before I cut the side pieces out. Once I had the piece cut out, I used tacky glue and packing tape to adhere everything together.

Now these home-made drawers are obviously not designed in such a way as to be able to put a standard drawer pull on them to get them in and out. The foam core board, tape, and glue would tear up too quickly under that kind of stress. So I devised a suitable and inexpensive alternative—tape tabs! I took a six-to eight-inch strip of tape and folded it back on itself about two inches (sticky sides together). Then I lined the strip up on the center bottom of the drawer with the tab overhanging the end and stuck the tape in place. In the photo demonstrating this step, I have outlined the tape tab with a red line. To help hold this tab in place, I ran another strip of tape over the first one along the edge of the drawer. This is outlined by a black dashed line in the photo. The beauty of this design is that the stress of opening and closing the drawer is always on the bottom piece of foam core board and not on the front and sides. I have been using my drawers for several years now and have not had to replace the drawers or even repair them since I made them.

Decorating something that will largely be hidden in a closet is a personal choice and not totally necessary, but speaking personally, I find it boosts my spirits to open the closet and see something of beauty as well as organization! This was very simple to do, so I did decorate my drawers. I waited until my local craft shop had a sale on scrapbook paper and bought the size and color I needed to cover the front of each drawer. Other options would have been paint, wrapping or tissue paper, an old map, or even pictures from a magazine. I used spray adhesive to attach my paper, but decoupage glue would also work.

Labeling the drawers is also a personal choice issue. For some people, a permanent marker is all that is required, while others like to have the option of changing the contents of the drawers and their corresponding labels. For those in the latter group I recommend using the pages from an old photo album or even badge holders like those used to hold name tags. I found a package of badge holders at Walmart for under two dollars, so I choose to use them. I removed the end piece and used spray adhesive once more to attach the plastic to the drawer fronts. I used my computer to print some labels and decorated them with some rubber stamps before sliding them into their holders. The finished drawer unit has worked wonderfully in keeping my stuff organized and preventing me from injuring myself!

This drawer unit was an excellent illustration of how long we sometimes will procrastinate before doing something we know we ought to do! It is perfectly silly how long I pulled things down on my head, picked up things off the floor, and lost things in the back of the cubby holes that were too high for me to see into. How much time did I waste going to find a stool to stand on each time I had to be able to see if what I was looking for was actually in one of the spaces? It was always one of those projects I was going to get around to one day, but did not have the time to handle just now. And yet, in the long run, it would have saved me a lot of time and made things run more smoothly if I had just set something else aside and taken care of the problem. I am sad to say that this tendency to procrastinate carries over into my spiritual life. I know that memorizing more Scripture, meditating on it, and spending more time focusing on and fellowshipping with my heavenly Father are all things that would make my day-to-day life run a lot more smoothly and increase my usefulness in the Kingdom. Yet how easy it is to look at my schedule and decide that my day is too packed to spend fifteen minutes in memory work! I rationalize that tomorrow will be better because VBS will be over, or there will be no more orthodontic appointments, etc., but there is always something new to take the place of the activities that I completed today. I am reminded of Solomon’s final admonition, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” (Ecclesiastes 12:1a). I hope this project will be a reminder to me not to sacrifice things of eternal significance, the joy and peace of knowing my Creator, for the temporary convenience of an additional fifteen minutes in my day.

This entry was posted in New Life for Cardboard, New Life for Misc. Items and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Ed says:

    Do you know where I could purchase a shoe caddy? I have tried Google and only your site has what I am looking for.

    Thanks for your hek=lp.

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