Storing and Organizing Parts (small parts, medium parts … all parts!)

Organizing and storing small parts

As you can probably tell based on our blog posts, we have many projects we work on at home. Some of them are technology-focused, some of them are traditional DIY home improvements, some crafty, others garden-related. These projects often require STUFF. So much STUFF. When I first moved in with Ken, I could not believe the sheer quantity of tech stuff he had. Cords, wires, cut cords, motherboards, remote controls, tiny screwdrivers for building computers. You name it, he had it.

Ken and I had been living together for nearly a year when I realized that any time I needed to find something, like an extension cord or a power strip, I always had to ask him where he kept them. He almost always could locate the item quickly, but things weren’t organized in a way that anybody but Ken would be able to understand.


Organizing and storing small parts

So, it began. The great home organization project. The first “major” undertaking of this project began in 2010, when we started migrating things to bins. We installed an Elfa shelving system in our laundry room, and we got to work.

In general, we have multiple categories of storage sizes.

Medium parts storage.

We store items in these Sterilite 6 quart bins and Sterilite 16 quart bins.

We find that the 12 inch deep Elfa shelves are perfect for the 6 quart bins, while the 16 inch deep Elfa shelves fit the 16 quart bins perfectly.

We seriously keep Sterilte in business. Here are a few examples of what we keep in our medium storage bins:

  • USB cable bin
  • Short extension cord bin
  • Long extension cord bin
  • Candles, matches, and lighters
  • Remote controls (since we use Universal remotes, we store the individual remotes in a bin)
  • Power strips / surge protectors
  • Velcro, glue, and other fasteners
  • String, bungees, and rope
  • Fish tank supplies (even though we haven’t gotten new fish since our last ones died, we still keep the bin!)

And many other bins. There are a few that you probably wouldn’t find in other homes, but we have thanks to Ken’s many technology projects. Those are bins like Speakon cables, molex connectors, computer cards, and Cat–6 patch cables. But, each type of item has its own home, so we can always quickly find what we’re looking for.

Smaller parts storage

We store smaller items in these Accessory Boxes that we buy at the Container Store. These are for items that aren’t quite big enough for the Sterilite bins.

Most of the items we keep in these bins are probably pretty unique to folks who work with computers and other electronics. We have bins of of splitters, couplers, microfiber cloths (it seems like everything you buy with a screen these days come with microfiber cloths, so we just throw them in there), switches, power pigtails (which I don’t even understand), and many other things.

Small parts storage

For storing very small parts, we used these Akro Mils Drawers in different sizes, including this one with all small drawers, and this one with a mix of small and medium drawers. We mounted these drawers on the wall in our laundry room.

We keep things like screws, rubber bands, thumbtacks, washers, picture hanging supplies, nuts, small batteries, spare keys, staples, drill bits, screwdriver bits, and many other tiny items in these drawers. We even have a drawer for telescope parts!

Everything gets a label and we can find things very easily when we’re looking for them.


Large storage

We use these blue bins from Rubbermaid in the 18, 14, and 10 gallon sizes. In these blue bins we keep things like interior painting supplies, tarps, and shipping and mailing supplies (like bubble wrap and brown paper).



The system is constantly in flux. For instance, sometimes we’ll acquire more of a particular part, so we have to move the items to a larger bin. But, it’s a great system because we can easily move things around and adapt, creating new bins or removing them when necessary.

Although these photos are just from our laundry room, we have this same organizational system, using the same size bins and boxes, all throughout our house. For instance, in my home office closet, I have bins with sewing supplies, travel supplies (like small bottles for traveling), paint and paintbrushes, cards and stamps, extra picture frames, and camera supplies. We have a TON of the blue Rubbermaid roughneck bins in our attic as well, storing party supplies, Christmas decorations, and seasonal clothes.

It does take a bit of work to make sure things don’t get too out of control. For that purpose, we have a “to sort” bin. For times when we don’t feel like putting something back in its proper bin, like when we’re mid-project or in a hurry, we put it in the “to sort” bin, and we try to go through that fairly regularly.

I’ll probably post a bit more about our organization techniques, including what we keep in all of the bins. How do you organize your stuff?

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