Shelf Yourself: A DIY tip for dealing with clutter.

By Jeff

Surface is a precious resource in our home. Even in a home where the floor is considered a surface. But where it is virtually nonexistent is our kitchen. There’s nowhere to put anything down. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods bags, full of canned and perishable items, crowd the floor. This is considered acceptable temporary storage. Temporary (as defined by the Terryble Dictionary) means “until it liquefies.”

Necessity is the mother of invention. But this tip is the ugly cousin of Invention, born from Necessity’s oft-jailed sister, Desperation. So here it is: when you have a lot of groceries (what we call pre-garbage) and no space to set them down, simply open a drawer and call it a shelf. It’s amazing. Just pull it out and BAM! It’s like that joke: “When is a door not a door? When it’s ajar!” Oh, ha ha HA! In our house, it’s not a joke and it goes like this: “When is a drawer not a drawer? DO YOU SEE ANY PLACE ELSE FOR THESE DAMNED DISHES?!”

Follow up tip: There will come a point when all of the drawers are open and full of dishes, I guarantee it. In that case, the garbage can lid is a wonderful and under-utilized spot to place stuff, especially garbage. It’s not unusual in our house to find a paper plate full of half-eaten bananas and coffee grounds resting on top of the garbage can. It’s the first place I look. It also helps to tell yourself that you have a high-tech receptacle with a porous top that consumes the garbage. Otherwise, you’re just a slob. I was proud of myself for believing this lie.

Then one day, Ian (our eight year-old), had two handfuls of garbage that he needed to throw out. The first handful he dutifully set upon the highly advanced lid. Then he stepped on the pedal to raise the lid to toss away the second handful of crap, and the pedal snapped off. Ian looked at it, set his second handful on top of the first handful, and backed away. He was right to do that. He knew that either the lid would pass these offerings through into its bag-lined belly, or the garbage can lid would be added to the list of acceptable temporary storage sites. It was the latter.

I’m not saying that our system will work for everyone. We realize that our house is an unconventional place. But if you find yourself short on storage, open a drawer. I guess.


  1. Mary Morgan

    07/30/2013 at 4:45 pm

    My favorite!

    • jeffandjill

      01/20/2015 at 2:27 pm

      I’m JUST NOW getting around to read the one comment on the post that has been viewed one time according to this site’s analytics. Thanks Mary. Thanks for being there in the beginning.

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