Thursday, May 31, 2012

What to Store in 72 Junk Drawers - My Beloved Card Catalog

I know I said my next post was going to be the FFA Challenge, but I decided I wanted to have something of mine up here first so instead I'm going to post an ode to my card catalog. Like I said in my CAN'T list, one of my downfalls is being organized. This is something that helps me.

(P.S., I'm sorry the pictures are small and some uncentered. Will try to fix later!)

Behold, in all her glory:

Now, some of you youngsters may not even know what a card catalog is, or what its purpose was/is. I'm not in the mood to give much of a history lesson right now, but I will say that this is how we used to find books in the library before computers became commonplace in libraries. Little cards filled all the little drawers. The cards listed all the materials in the library, searchable by title, subject, and author. With the advent of computerized catalogs, the old card catalog files became mostly obsolete. Some strange people now like to purchase them and repurpose them for use in the home. I've been wanting one for years, and about a year and a half ago my dream came true and I bought a card catalog formerly used at the College of Eastern Utah in Price, Utah.

Card catalogs come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and materials. Mine has 72 drawers, so it's a rather large one. We were living in a tiny basement apartment when I purchased it, so I couldn't even bring it in the house. If I had asked my husband to move it down the stairs to the apartment...well, let's not go there.

I finally was able to set it up when we moved to a different basement apartment that didn't have exterior stairs. The first question my husband had asked when he first saw it was, "What are you going to use it for?" I said I was going to put stuff in it, of course! I think he thought there weren't 72 categories of stuff that could go in these little drawers, but there are! It's my 72-drawer junk drawer! From address books to a voice recorder, everything has an organized little home in my card catalog. In fact, here's the whole list:

Address Book, Batteries, Bills, Business Cards, Buttons, Cables - AV, Cables - Computer, Calculators, Camera, Candles - Long, Candles - Tea lights, Candy, Cards - Index, Cards - Note & Thank you, Cell phone, Change, Chapstick, Checks, Colored Pencils, Coupons, Crayons, Elastics & Twist Ties, Envelopes - Large, Envelopes - Small, Ephemera, Erasers, First Aid, Flashlights, Glasses, Glue, Gum, Hand Sanitizer, Hard Drive, Hardware, Hole Punches, Ink cartridges, iPod, Keys, Labels, Lighters, Lint Roller, Markers, Matches, Measuring Tapes, Medicine, Nail Clippers & Polish, Needles & Thread, Paper clips, Paints, Pencils, Pens, Pins, Playing Cards, Post-it Notes, Receipts, Rulers, Scissors, Shoe Polish, Sidewalk Chalk, Stamps - Ink, Stamps - Postage , Stapler, String, Sunglasses, Tape, Tools, Toys, Voice Recorder

That's not exactly 72. Some are split in two drawers, and I actually have two drawers leftover.

Enough with the talk. Here are the pictures.

Card catalog in our townhouse. Note my creative kid-proofing. I didn't want to do anything to mar or alter the card catalog so I devised a dowel system that causes young children extreme difficulty when they try to open the drawers. One must pull on a dowel with significant and evenly distributed force in order to open all the drawers in that row at once. This keeps kids away from the stuff they shouldn't get. Beck (my younger son) has now become interested in removing all the labels, however, a stage Sawyer (my older son) went through when the card catalog was first set up.

Closeups of the "Batteries" drawer.

In context in our townhouse a few years ago (pre-remodel). If that sofa looks strange, it's because I removed the main part of the gray slipcover, leaving the piece with an odd two-tone look. It was just too heavy and gray with the full slipcover, which was skirted and hid the feet. I regretted this sofa within days of buying it, but it's too big and expensive to flush down the toilet.

Card catalog in context in our first Pennsylvania living room. I rearranged that furniture frequently. Then we moved to another house. Then we moved across the country yet again, back to our townhouse. We have moved this heavy sucker a number of times! It now has heavy felt pads on the bottom so I can slide it around if need be.

My favorite thing about the card catalog is that even my husband knows where things are now, without being told! Best feature ever.

What about you? Are you a natural-born organizer, or a "messy"? Either way, spill your best secrets! I need help! What is your favorite piece of organizational gear? Drawer dividers? A cabinet? An elaborate system of empty formula cans to store your kids' small toys (hmmm...probably just me)? But really, have you ever repurposed something for organization?


  1. Eeek! I absolutely love the card catalog and want one for myself. I think it would solve my main organizing problem...having a place for everything. Like batteries;), thank you cards, safety pins, tape, pens, candles, etc. I'm glad I'm not the only one who repurposes formula cans, the hubs thinks I am a nut (which is most likely true;) And I think your couch looks fab!

  2. I appreciate your ingenuity for finding lot of places for stuff when living in a small space with kids. I love the cubby/basket storage system that we've got going on in our entryway. Unfortunately, not nearly so many categories (just 6) but at least there is A PLACE for dog stuff, baby stuff, going-outside-in-winter stuff, and needs-to-go-upstairs stuff (I had previously been piling that last category on the stairs -almost killing myself and Dave on a couple of occasions). Also good for keeping shoes handy but out-of-sight. Our other "trick" was to buy an end table that doubles as a filing cabinet -perfect for magazines, bills, letters I am half-way through writing, that sort of thing. Also love IKEA. The dining table we bought from there can fold down into basically the size of a box or can be an (almost) full-sized table and still manages to give us 6 more storage drawers!

  3. I love your card catalogue - it looks great, stores lots, and even your husband can find things. What's not to like.

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