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  • Writer's pictureTara M Stewart

The Top Three Mistakes to Avoid When Organizing a Deep Cabinet

You've tried every organizational product in the book, yet your deep cabinet still feels like a chaotic abyss. Whether it's your bathroom, pantry, laundry, or mudroom, I’m here to help you pick the perfect products for your deep cabinet and make it a functional space for your family.


You hit up Target, cartwheeling through the aisles and snagging all the adorable containers. After organizing your deep cabinet, you stand back with a proud smile, but something feels off. Turns out, your "organized" masterpiece might be suffering from one of three common mistakes. I’m here to help fix that! Today I will share recent client project and the tips I used as well as product links, so that you can apply the same strategy to to any deep cabinet in your home.

Before and after mudroom deep cabinet

The above before and after is of a 20" deep mudroom cabinet from a recent project. It is a great example of a lot of organizing product being used but it just wasn't the right product for her items and definitely not for this deep cabinet. Which brings us to...

The three most common mistakes I see people make when they are organizing a deep cabinet:

  1. Using containers that aren't deep enough

  2. Using containers with holes or slots

  3. Using containers with very short sides

Before we dive into a better way of organizing our space, let's take a speedy peek at why these container styles are a no-go.

Short on time? Skip the mistakes and jump straight to the product suggestions!

The Three Most Common Mistakes

1. Using containers that aren't deep enough

Deep Cabinet Organization

The most common container sizes available in stores are 10" or 12" deep. However, these are not the best fit for 20" deep cabinets. During this recent mudroom organizing project, I stumbled upon several small containers not easily visible in the above before picture. Proving when it comes to deep cabinets, using these smaller sizes can lead to one of two outcomes:

  • Items are shoved behind the container to keep the container towards the front of the cabinet.

  • The container may start out in the front but become pushed to the back by other items that get dropped in front of it.

Either way, this can lead to items being forgotten or becoming difficult to reach.

2. Using containers with very short sides

Deep Cabinet Organization Mistakes

So you have small items that you needed to store. It's only logical that tiny items require a small container, isn't it? However, as shown here, small containers can be easily overfilled, causing items to pile up on top of them. This happens because the container does not utilize the maximum height of the shelf.

Alternatively, if there is a nearby drawer, placing them inside the drawer would be more appropriate.

No drawers, no problem, try using a STAK bin – a personal favorite of mine – which will be detailed in the next section. We're almost there!

3. Using containers with holes or slots

Wire Basket in Deep Cabinet

While I highly encourage repurposing containers, there are times when investing in better storage solutions is necessary to guarantee functionality.

For example, you may have repurposed a container with large openings that was never intended for storage or was once lined with fabric, but the liner is now missing. Keep in mind that larger items might protrude, and smaller items might fall through the gaps, which could be problematic.

If you're still interested in finding a new use for a container like this, a great idea is to utilize it in your garage as a holder for "shop towels".

ProTip: Declutter and purge FIRST! Figure out what you need to store BEFORE you look at purchasing containers.

How to fix these common mistakes

Multi-Purpose Bins

When it comes to organizing a deep cabinet, whether it's in your bathroom, pantry, laundry or mudroom, using containers that are both tall and deep is essential. This will help you keep your items organized and easily accessible.

My top two recommended products are the Extra Large Multi-Purpose Bins* and Deep STAK Bins*, both available at The Container Store.

If you are unable to access The Container Store, consider using The Home Edit Everything XL Storage Bin*, which has a depth of 20 inches (not featured in this project), and is an excellent alternative.

How to use the Multi-Purpose Bins and Deep STAK Bins

But which one is right for you? It all depends on what you're storing. Here's a quick and simple guide to help you decide:

Extra Large Multi-Purpose Bins work best for:

  • Large categroies

  • Dump and go situations

Deep STAK Bins are ideal for:

  • Smaller categories

  • Multiple categories under the same umbrella

Examples of how to use these containers

Extra Large Multi-Purpose Bin

For this mudroom we used the Extra Large Multi-Purpose Bins* to replace the wire container and contain the overflowing amount of dog items. These are items my client can quickly toss into the bin without having to worry about organizing them.

How you can use this type of container in your home:

  • Large assortment of cleaning clothes

  • Cat or dog toys

  • back stock of cleaning supplies

  • Winter hats and gloves

Long Deep Wide Bin w/ Wheels

For grouping smaller categories under the same umbrella, there's no better container than this one – it's my absolute favorite! At 9 1/2" wide and 17 1/5" deep our client can easily and quickly access the various dog supplies.

How you can use this type of container in your home:

  • Laundry items such as: spray and wash, stain sticks, Woolite and mesh laundry bags.

  • Hair styling items such as: hair spray, dry shampoo, heat protectant, style gel.

  • Summer items: sunscreen, glow sticks, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes

Long Deep Bin w/ wheels

This version of the STAK bin* is more narrow at 6 1/5" wide but still 17 1/2" deep like the wider version above.

We used two on this project. One for items considered "The Great Outdoors" and another one for "Household"

How you can use this type of container in your home:

  • Hall closet: tools, picture hanging, command hooks

  • Household closet: shoe care, silver cleaner, specialty cleaner

  • Outdoors: bug spray, hand sanitizer, pepper spray, safety items

BONUS: If you'd like to watch the Timelapse video of this project click here!

Why the STAK bins with wheels are my go to favorite for deep shelves.

  • 17 1/5" deep

  • 9 3/8" tall sides

  • Light plastic makes it easy to hold onto when full

  • The adjustable dividers within the bin can be used to create smaller compartments for better organization

  • Wheels in the back and handle in the front make for super easy access

  • My two favorites being the Long Deep w/ Wheels and Long Deep Wide w/ Wheels

Remember: When organizing your deep cabinets, it's important to choose products that work for your specific needs and to create a system that makes sense for you.


Lexington Kentucky Professional Organizer6.jpeg

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