I Still Have Nothing in My Antique Hardware Cabinet Drawers.

Alert!  Alert!  I’m a loser!  At the very least I’m losing the battle of how to move forward on my antique hardware cabinet.

You may remember this slick looking antique hardware cabinet from last fall. I dragged it home from a flea market, cut it down to size so it would fit on this wall and then pledged to get the drawers filled up and handles switched out once Christmas was over and I had more time.

Aren’t I hilarious?  We’re all hilarious actually.  Future time is WAY more abundant than real time.  Ditto for future money!  We always think we’re going to have more of it than we have right now.  That almost never happens.  O.K., it never happens, ever, I just didn’t want to sound like a downer.

When Christmas rolled around and I had a week off after it, I had WAY better things to do than figure out my hardware cabinet. I have absolutely no recollection of what those things were but they definitely weren’t figuring out what to put in my tiny drawers or what kind of handles I should have on it.  I have a blurry memory of me alternating between sleeping and napping for a full week but that can’t be right.



Every so often I try to shove something in one of these drawers.  Very little fits.  I bought a box of microwave popcorn thinking I could fill a couple of drawers with bags of microwave popcorn because that’s the weird kind of thing I think would be fun to keep in there.  That and doll heads.

But the bags of popcorn don’t fit … and this is the important part … by about a quarter of an inch.  EVERYTHING doesn’t fit in these drawers by about a quarter of an inch. Each box measures 4 ¾” wide x 5 ¼” long by 5 ¼” high on the inside.

I KNOW there are things I should be keeping in here. I know these are the BEST drawers in the world for … something.  Like they’re seriously perfect for holding 4″ by 5″ boxes. I thought for a time I’d keep my seeds in the drawers but that’s dumb.  I do all my planting in the basement so having my seeds upstairs doesn’t seem very practical.  And I like to be practical. I say that with all the confidence of someone who cooks her pizza in an outdoor wood burning oven that requires chopping wood and stoking for 3-4 hours.

AND I STILL NEED TO FIGURE OUT A GOOD SYSTEM FOR INDEXING THESE DRAWERS. We’ve established I have no ability to remember if I own avocados or not, I’m never going to be able to remember what is where in these drawers without some sort of a list or index.

One of the suggestions you gave the last time I was whining (about this) were to keep one drawer for alphabetized index cards.  Someone else said to hang an antique clipboard on the side with everything itemized.  I think that would look good actually.

As far as handles go I still don’t have a clue, but I think I’ll probably get something basically like what I have now only not so ugly.  Just a round, worn brass knob that looks authentic. I just realized something and now I feel bad for you. I’m basically just thinking out loud putting zero thought into making this post  entertaining for you.  In keeping with that poorly executed writing style – I just lifted my head from the computer to the television and thought I saw a young girl with a massive black beard.  Turns out she was just holding a doll with black hair in the vicinity of her face.

Back to this cabinet.  I need help.  Am I missing something?  Is there something that I should be putting in those drawers that’s painfully obvious that I haven’t thought about??  Don’t say spices because I don’t want to have to open 34 drawers to take a look at all of my spices. I’m a spice browser so I like them all to be in one big drawer for easy eye access.

I realize not knowing what I own is likely to make this difficult for you, but I probably own the same things you do. Scissors, paper, elastic bands, a guinea pig merry-go-round, those sorts of things.  I’d want to make the best use of the drawers possible which at this point is making any use of them.

As a last resort I do have one thing I can put away in all of those drawers – all of my hopes and dreams for this hardware cabinet. Just kidding, I still love it, it’s beautiful.  It’s just a bit of an asshead.

Have a good weekend!






  1. Julia says:

    Was also going to suggest combining drawers to make useable space….but maintaining the original look of separate drawers. .Otherwise I’m afraid you’re going to have to face the sad fact that, while beautiful and perfect to look at, it’s not working for storing anything.

  2. Mike says:

    Legos. Legos will fit.

  3. NinaMargo says:

    Riffing on Dane and Judy, I’d write down a beautiful quote I found: a meditation, a poem, a memory, a remembrance of someone I loved now gone and stow it away in one of the drawers. Maybe a stone, a dried flower, a small antique toy, something embedded with a fragrance that brings a tear to my eyes. Each day I get to open a drawer and relive that joy that lives there. No need for labeling that drawer, it holds a sweet surprise.

  4. Stop stressing, they will fill themselves in time. Meanwhile it looks beautiful just the way it is!

  5. David in Oakville says:

    I hope the Easter Bunny has been busy making babies because they will need a platoon to deal with that bad boy.

  6. Sboo says:

    I like the ideas others have shared about small baking items that are not used on a daily basis: cupcake liners, decorating tips and frosting bags, sprinkles, cookie cutters, food dye bottles, specialty molds or ramekins.

    Tea bags and coffee beans would fit nicely!

    I have a drawer stuffed full of kitchen towels, aprons, oven mitts, and hot pads, maybe those would work?

    • Karen says:

      Tea towels don’t work great because you have to fold them up so many times to fit, lol. But things like kitchen J cloths would fit. ~ karen!

  7. Karen!
    The old fashioned label makers… black and white ticker tape thingy… great for labeling everything, they look great and are cheap. Woot woot !

    Can I come over and make them for you? I’ll bring my label maker, and you make me pizza. Deal? 🙂

    PS. I can’t promise what I will label each drawer ha!

    • Karen says:

      I wanted a label maker *just* last night! I was labelling my new outdoor speaker charging plugs. I just remember how sticky those labels are, lol. Hmmm … I’m gonna think about this one. But pizza? YES! Don’t need to think about that at all. ~ karen!

  8. Mary W says:

    Glad it’s your problem and not mine. I love it – but love it to look at not to use. I definitely would do what one suggested – open a few random drawers and put little plants in them. I thought of Christmas decor but not all would fit and then you’d have it scattered between storage places. Time capsules are a great idea but who is the unlucky person to inherit that? A massive junk drawer that takes longer to look up stuff than grabbing it out of your current junk drawer. Face it, elephants are wonderful creatures but in some other person’s home. It is gorgeous – just look at it and marvel. I have a room full of craft supplies that is basically the same thing. Too busy looking at Pinterest to go in and actually do something in my craft room. At lease you have a beauty that only takes up one wall when me and many others have a whole room.

  9. Susie Meadows says:

    I’m not a great help because I’m a crafter- I’d have buttons, safety pins, scrap fabric, hot glue sticks, office supplies, canning jar lids (you know the ones that you’ve already used for canning once so can’t can with again but can’t bear to part with because they’re so handy?), ummm * looks around the house *, thread, crayons, random collected supplies for That One Art Piece… candy that I hide from my kids… you know, all that little shit you know needs storing but can’t ever find space for.

  10. Mary W says:

    Admit and accept it as art (gorgeous art) and forget about it’s use. You don’t use Margaret!

  11. Sally says:

    Surely it’s obvious – eggs!!

    I agree with the comments about it being better to keep the drawers empty rather than accumulating more nonsense. The suggestions of butchering the drawers into larger configurations should be roundly ignored as the blasphemies that they are…

  12. Jane Doe says:

    Another vote for the meds. But I make my own herbal meds; decant everything into spice bottles … so I might not be normal.

  13. Georgia Girl says:

    Face it. You don’t need that many LITTLE drawers. Combine some to make larger ones for napkins and placemats.
    Try taking out the top row drawers and use the little cubbies for displaying stuff like the small white bowls sitting on the top.

    • Karen says:

      Well, they’re only 5 or so inches deep so even placemats wouldn’t fit. Widening the drawers would only help a tiny amount because they’re so shallow. Although it doesn’t matter because I’ve since decided to fill every drawer with potato chips. ~ karen!

  14. Christine says:

    Leave them empty.

  15. Kerstin Staudal says:

    I love love love this cabinet!!!!
    You could store all your seeds in there and more. When I collect my seeds from my garden I store them in those plastic pill containers you get from the pharmazie when picking up your meds. Those little container do fit in the small drawers. Tea candles by the bulk. Crafting supplies….christmas ornaments….pet stuff…..

  16. SH says:

    Combining drawers sounds possible. And if you can join two, then maybe join a square of four? Like in the first photo, the third and fourth drawers to the right of the duck (thicker vertical divider?). Plus the two above them. The external dividers would stay as is, for support. But the drawers and the dividers between them combine for one. Maybe that would work for the upper level drawers, supporting less weight. idk

  17. Catherine says:

    Maybe what’s needed is some further surgery to the upper cabinet part to combine a couple of drawers to make the resulting box size more usable. Or, combine 3 boxes to hold candle tapers. Or combine 2 or 3 drawers vertically to hold tall items. Just a thought.

    In any case, the appearance of the drawer fronts wouldn’t change, so you don’t lose the cabinet’s wonderful charm but you’d get a piece that’s much better suited to its location.

  18. NinaMargo says:

    Each drawer deserves a poem, or a meditation, or a stone, a dried flower, an antique toy, something you want to have in your life. Let each drawer give you a joyful surprise that will bring a tear to your eyes, a smile to your face or a belly laugh. Add something with the perfume you wore in fifth grade, or a picture of that friend you’ve been meaning to call. Put in a picture of you and Pink Tool Belt at the antique show, you and your Mom in the kitchen. Don’t label the drawers. Change things up, so you constantly have more wonderful discoveries each day.

  19. Linda says:

    Since it seems the stuff that fits in the drawers doesn’t fit in the room, how bout changing the room? Could the cabinet work in your office? Lots of officey doo-dads have been mentioned. I would add gift wrapping supplies: spools of ribbons, gift tags, tapes etc.

    • Karen says:

      Nooooooo. Nothing fits in my upstairs where my office is. Old house, narrow winding staircase. Also I really did buy the cabinet specifically for the kitchen. I’ll figure it out. One day. Maybe. ~ karen!

  20. Crystal says:

    Your cat’s toenail trimmings.

  21. Suz says:

    Golly, the possibilities! In my house (and i can pick up this wknd! Lol) my empty supplies for my essential oils, ink bottles and pen parts (though it would not hold the stencils), jewellery parts. Fat quarters. Staplers and other office supplies. Some stock items could go into specific sized containers, then into drawers. And we would do lunch box items like granola bars and pre packed cookies etc. In fact, lunch baggies and the cutlery for school. Perhaps measuring cups and spoons and the little stainless steel bowls from lee valley for food prep. And all the things without a home like the knife stone and the small salt and pepper set for the deck.
    BTW I have the perfect wall.

  22. NPW says:

    I’d place the small kitchen items that kind of “interfere” with my pantry organization. I have a pantry closet which is mostly has quart and pint jars to keep things organized and accessible but the small items are a pain… bottles of extract, extra large bags of spices and seasoning, tea bags. Being able to pull the entire drawer out and take it to your work area seems like a big plus.

    I’ve lived in my house for 20 years and half my kitchen cabinets are empty and I’m still trying to get rid of stuff that never gets used (fun fact, you can sell Le Creuset items for MORE than you paid for them, oddly enough). More headaches come from too much stuff in drawers than too little.

    Good luck!

  23. Patricia Zellen says:

    My, my! How many excuses! Everything that would work you don’t want to do. You like to browse your spices, but unless they are lined up one deep you can’t see them at one go. And they maybe stored that way. Label the top of your spices , and you’ll see what you have. Or if this really isn’t working go back to your awesome craftsman and have him take the boxes off some of the boxes and combine to make bigger drawers with the small drawer fronts mounted on them so cabinet looks the same.

    • Karen says:

      Mmm. It’s more about knowing what will work for me than pouting, stamping my foot and saying I don’t wanna, lol ~ karen!

  24. Brita says:

    I know what you’re going through! My husband just indulged himself with 288 bolt bins on his tool room wall. Then he spent two days trying to figure out how many of what sizes of nuts and bolts he has and needs and put them all in some sort of order.

  25. karen tomlinson says:

    I think you should rename it a pharmacy cabinet and fill it up with drugs.
    Lots and Lots of drugs.

  26. Al C says:

    Cut off the faces of the drawers and make taller, wider drawers. 2 drawers wide by drawers tall. You’d have to saw the stiles between the drawers but leave the left and right stiles for the new, larger drawers. You’d turn 48 drawers into 12 larger drawers but the look would be the same. You could take the face off each drawer and glue it to the severed stiles and create a large faux drawer face that looks like 4 drawers but it’s only 1 big drawer. The same idea would if you combined 3 drawers horizontally. You’d get 4 drawers per row.

  27. Maureen Gilbert says:

    while your waiting for your money tree to grow to buy new hardware.
    Have you considered painting the current knobs with a hammered black metal paint?

  28. Judith says:

    Throw a frame around it and call it art or….spend lots of time and money, not to mention frustration, in finding and fitting stuff in it. I’m also of the school that candlelight is a nice “clean house” device. That k mari e woman would have a mental breakdown between the two of us.

  29. Lisa Wallace says:

    In recent weeks I have great luck with reversing the question – if you are struggling to know what in your kitchen to put in the drawers, what it might mean is that the piece is in the wrong room. Does this piece need to be in a den/office, or in the workshop?

  30. Jeanne says:

    Depending on how tall you are, I would guess you could eliminate the “need” to fill maybe the top two rows of the cabinet drawers because they are higher than you can see into without a ladder. Convenience is everything in my book! On the other hand, there are some very attractive antique ladders out there…

    • Karen says:

      I’ve already thought of my shortness and the cabinet’s tallness. :/ I’ll put things I don’t often use there. Like common sense. ~ karen!

  31. Sandra Dowkes says:

    I know you said not to say this, but spices was the first thing I thought of (the fronts would be labelled, of course). Alphabetically, if you want. You could take the spice drawer to the counter to use, too! If you found another spice the drawers are easily moved, since they’re the same size. You could line the drawers with something to protect the spices, or make them removable, so the drawer could be cleaned.

    That’s what I would do – I’m having a problem trying to think of a good way to organize what I have now (3-4 places where I have my spices, non of them great spots). I’ve moved my dishwasher out, so I’m thinking of making four rolling shelves to hold spices, flour, sugar, etc.

    Google is helping, somewhat 🙂

  32. Idaho Girl says:

    There you go, teasing me with that amazing cabinet again… IMO it’s such a piece of art in and of itself that it doesn’t need to be functional, but I know you won’t be happy until it serves a purpose in addition to making you happy when you look at it (which I hope it still does, despite the guilt of not filling it yet). My suggestion is to look in all of the drawers and cabinets around your house and pull out all of the small objects that you don’t use very often (and can’t make yourself get rid of) that are taking up valuable space elsewhere: Crab picks, garnish tools, burger press, cake/cupcake decorating supplies, birthday candles, cookie cutters, tea, rolled napkins, wine corks, melon ballers, cheesecloth, cooking twine, lightbulbs, business cards, etc. It’ll be an adventure every time you’re trying to remember which drawer you put what in, especially when you get older!

  33. Cussot says:

    Could you pop out some of the drawers and use them elsewhere in the kitchen as open storage for stuff like wooden spoons or whatever, then use the voids for display?

  34. Darcy says:

    Your cabinet looks great as-is, so it is a totally backburner project (as you have admitted). If it were mine (and yes I do covet your cabinet!), it would be a glorified junk drawer housing my unsorted coins and paper sleeves, post-it pads, pencil lead, rubber bands, twisty-ties, string, batteries, toothpicks, cupcake papers, essential oils, canning lids, tea bags, playing cards, keys, tape measures, super glue, tape (duct, electrical, transparent, gaffer), binder clips, nitrile gloves, paperclips, all those USB backups, etc. There, filled. Just need a cute-font printed diagram (probably black or cocoa brown with white typeface) in an old frame on the wall to let you know in which drawer you left things. When the right hardware presents itself, you can tackle that…don’t force it. We might just find those at the next garage sale we go to, right!

  35. Ann Patton says:

    We have a primitive hardware cabinet of 36 drawers. We are filling it with sentimental or just fun things. A small jar of his old marbles; soft plastic pig, dog, and horse with teeth “noses” on elastic to wear, Plez containers, a small jar of dice and other old odd game pieces, many very old and new Cracker Jack prizes, a battery operated Bag of Laughs, a 1940’s Woolworth “diamond” ring; a pair of clacking false teeth, tiny wind-up walking characters, his old yo-yo, and some more serious things like pocket knives, sun glasses, WWII bakelite “fashion” jewelry from my mom, cuff links with a tiny diamond from his dad. Mostly though, just “stuff” to make us laugh or remind us of old and new good times. Every time we pull out a drawer it is a good memory or a laugh. Friends we have shared it with will sometimes pull out drawers to see what’s there.

  36. Sherri says:


  37. I have an apothecary cabinet in my kitchen that suffered the same fate for years. Finally I found a tupperware container that fits and now I use it for various different sugars or flours I don’t often need (’00’ for example). Sure I have the same crap in multi drawers but I had 36 drawers to fill. So, maybe take a drawer to the dollar store and see if you can find bins that fit? Or maybe the worlds largest tea chest? Eye of newt and other potions for a new blog, ’Art of witchy stuff’

  38. Kipper says:

    One drawer for cat treats, another for cat toys, another for kitty meds (hi Ernie😻)
    One drawer as mini first aid kit with a few bandaids, gauze, Neosporin, OTC pain relievers
    Another drawer for the emergency chocolate or whatever special sweet treats.
    A drawer with a few nails, screws and maybe Gorilla or SuperGlue.
    Drawer with one of those small multi head screwdriver things and a tape measure
    Drawer with extension cord and some twine, cable/zip ties
    Drawer with money for when ice cream truck is in the hood in the summer
    Basically the drawers have a bit of the stuff you have in other parts of your home but you feel lazy and don’t want to walk that far.

  39. Linda Stengel says:

    i’m coming in on this conversation very late, but how about , nuts, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, a nut cracker, picks for digging the nut meat out, etc. Certainly not in all 54 drawers but in some.. but then think about it, they may draw furry critters to your kitchen if you don’t have them sealed. ok never mind, bad idea maybe. i would love a cabinet filled with loose spices, your own dried herbs, tea, etc. things i use every day.

  40. Avril says:

    Lots of great ideas on what to put in the drawers. Initially I also thought making them bigger with a false front would be great, but like you say, too much work for the outcome, and still not big enough for kitchen stuff. Just open up a few of them and see what lands in them, and keep them open for awhile. You might just get more ideas than the multitude of ones others have suggested here! …tea towels, and dishcloths?????

  41. Nicole says:

    48 different varieties of marijuana 🙂

  42. Vanessa Devoto says:

    For knobs I’m leaning towards the card catalog kind, with the labels so you know what is where.

    As far as what to put in them I’m leaning towards ALL the “junk drawer” items. String, tape, ketchup packets, batteries, random dice, paper napkins etc. The small size drawers would benefit you here keeping all the junk organized and there by freeing up a larger more user friendly size drawer!

    And is it just me, or have you really not thought of a drawer of twine with a small pair of scissors. I don’t know why, but the idea of always being able to find twine AND scissors when needed makes me happy!

  43. Bonnie Gutierrez says:

    Dryer lint for sculpting1

  44. Sue, a different one says:

    Either groove a channel or add chunks of wood with a groove that’s half the depth of the drawer to be able to put a little chunk of dowel rod in and actually hang ribbon, twine, tape in the drawers. Open the drawer, unspool the twine/ ribbon, etc. and cut the length you need from the drawer. That should use up a few drawers. You could get some brass chain and hang a cool old pair of scissors from it near the ribbon drawers.

    You could also put back stock of tp, one roll per drawer in one of the harder to reach rows.
    I agree with you about the seeds, you should keep them cool so they last longer. Still, for organizing them it would be awesome!

  45. Loli says:

    When you got this BIG beautiful cabinet, I thought more power to you. I love it. I had a very much smaller(not antique) cabinet that I just had to have.The drawers were much smaller than yours. It sat on top of my dresser. I half filled it with stuff. I put in locks with keys, jewelry, staples with mini stapler, more jewelry, paperclips, index cards, mementos, hair clips, hair elastic thingees, and I still did not fill it. But the thing I hated about it was I could not find anything! I got lazy and kept putting things back in different drawers, and then in order to find anything I kept opening drawer after drawer after drawer. It was very impractical for me and exhausting and frustrating. I got to hating the impracticability of it. But I sure loved the looks. I know you will find a purpose for it that you will just love. I have faith in you. Smile. Really.

  46. janpartist says:

    love all the suggestions but the conglomeration of it all would confound my OCD-ness. So I would have to divide it into rows or columns of like minded items. For instance, health and beauty, oils and fragrances (candles etc), office type supplies, small kitchen/entertaining supplies, & hardware items. Then I would use one row or column for each category. Now go to town! (I like the knobs that are there-they go with the cabinet)

    • Karen says:

      The style does go with the cabinet Jan! But they’re cheap, awful knobs and they aren’t even all the same size. It’s hard to tell from the photos. Also … some of them are … PLASTIC! Ach. I do like the idea of each row being a “topic”. ~ karen!

  47. Nora says:

    What was the cabinet originally for? Maybe that would provide a clue. I know, something they don’t make and we don’t use any more!

  48. Sheryl Powell says:

    What great ideas. My favs are batteries, recipes, matches, chip clips, cake decorating stuff including all those little bottles of colored sugar and sprinkles, mouse traps, fancy toothpicks (umbrellas anyone?) and napkin holders. I also thought the time capsule idea was pretty great. Forget the lightbulbs though. What would fit in there? One? Two? I also agree with the person that doesn’t want to walk far for whatever they need. I must have 12 pairs of scissors all over my house. And it is still the greatest piece of furniture ever. I think the knobs are fine but maybe they don’t look as good in person.

  49. Jacquie Gariano says:

    Everyone has such good ideas, I’d have a hard time picking between them. When I replaced the pulls on my drawers I went to a remodel recycle store and got the pretties china knobs that matched my kitchen color. Flea markets, thrift stores, etc frequently have these things and I love to go to them to find things(usually things I didn’t know I needed..LOL).

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