How To Choose Storage Drawers

Drawers can add storage capacity anywhere from small apartments to large offices. They're a great way to make up for lack of closet space or keep everyday supplies within reach.

Different environments need various types of storage drawers, and some storage drawers are constructed more sturdily than others. Size, durability, and ease of use all impact how much use you get out of them. Here are the key questions and answers to consider when shopping for new storage drawers.

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How Large Are Storage Drawers?

Storage drawer sizes vary depending on the intended use. Some desktop units are less than 12" tall and wide, while large drawers for clothes or toy storage can be 36" wide. Certain storage drawers can also be stacked for even more options. Many drawer units are only one drawer wide, but some have multiple columns of drawers.

When measuring your space for a set of storage drawers, remember to leave at least 24" of room in front of each drawer, so you can stand in front and open the drawer to access what's inside.

Which Materials are Best for Storage Drawers?

  • Metal

    Metal frames and handles are common, but metal drawers are primarily used in office and healthcare applications. Aluminum is lightweight and can hold up for decades, especially if it's painted. Stainless steel is also an excellent low-maintenance option, but it is heavier and more expensive.

Colorful Metal Frame 10-Drawer Storage Chest
Practical Gray 6 Drawer Storage Chest
Simple Bulue 3 Drawer Storage Chest
Four Drawer Metal Storage Organizer
Woven Maize Fiber Drawer Storage Chest
Black and White Stylish Storage Drawer
  •   Plastic

    Plastic is ideal for storing craft and school supplies because it is easy to clean in case of a leak or spill. Cheap plastic can crack easily, but high-quality plastic and acrylic can last for years. Plastic drawers usually open smoothly and are lightweight, making them an excellent choice for children.

    Use plain plastic storage drawers in closets and other out-of-the-way places. For children's rooms or offices, look for more colorful and stylish options that can hold up to everyday use.

3 Drawer Rolling Storage Chest Set
White Functional 6 Case Scrapbook Cart
White Stackable Storage Drawer Set
  •     Manufactured wood  

    Thin manufactured wood makes excellent storage drawers. It can either be painted or covered in a thin veneer of solid wood, allowing it to match any room décor. Though manufactured wood is usually heavier than plastic, it is also more durable and visually pleasing.

    Manufactured wood works well in modern offices, especially if it's painted in black or gray for a sleek, professional look. Try storage drawers in the same color as your desk or office chair for a cohesive office space.

Light Brown 2 Drawer Storage Chest
Manufactured Wood 4 Drawer Storage Chest
White 6 Drawer Rolling Storage Chest
Dark Wood 4 Drawer Storage Chest
Elegant Brown Manufactured Wood Storage Drawer
Vintage Manufactured Wood Storage Box
  • Solid wood

    Large chests of drawers may use solid wood, but it is not common in everyday storage furniture. Some rustic style storage drawers or high-quality classroom furniture may use solid woods like beech or oak.

    For a cheerful children's room, try oak storage drawers with a brightly colored carpet and white or pastel walls. Rustic distressed drawers look great in a nautical-themed or earthy office.

Yellow Wood 6 Drawer Rolling Storage Chest
White Rustic 3 Drawer Storage Chest
Simple Gray Wood 2 Drawer Storage Chest
  • Fabric

    Fabric-covered drawers with cardboard inserts are an inexpensive and easy way to add drawers to shelves. Some drawer sets allow you to customize with fabric drawers in a selection of colors. They are not very durable and are difficult to clean thoroughly.

    To complete a space, coordinate fabric drawers with other colors in the room. Fabric drawers can add a great pop of color to a contemporary office, especially in soothing hues of blue and green.

Simple 3 Drawer Rolling Storage Chest
Pink Fabric 4 Drawers Storage Chest
Functional 3 Drawer Rolling Storage Chest
  • Wicker, Rope or Rattan

    Wicker, rattan, and woven rope storage drawers are unusual and add rustic charm to any room. They can be surprisingly durable if they are varnished and woven tightly. Pair wicker or rattan drawers with walnut or dark oak furniture for an earthy feel.

    Avoid using wicker drawers in rooms with high humidity such as bathrooms or laundry rooms as this can cause mold or deteriorate the natural fibers.

Brown Wicker 2 Drawer Storage Chest
Dark Rattan 3 Drawer Storage Chest
White Wicker 4 Drawer Storage Chest
Elegant White Mini 3 Drawer Storage Chest

What Features Do Storage Drawers Have?

Storage drawers offer a variety of features depending on the needs of your space.

  • Locks on one or more drawers can add security and childproofing.

  • Storage drawers designed for classrooms or offices often have small wheels on the bottom for mobility and better versatility.

  • Different colored drawers allow the user to color-code storage as needed.

  • Slots for labels make it easier for the user to identify the contents of the drawers, and change labels as needed, instead of having to scrape off label stickers periodically.

  • Storage drawers that are specifically designed for craft or classroom supplies often have multiple drawer sizes, making it easier to organize.

  • Some drawer units also include shelves, allowing some items to be accessed more easily.

Which Storage Drawers are Best for Offices?

Offices need durable drawers that can hold up to frequent opening and closing. Metal drawers and file cabinets are good long-term investments, but some offices need furniture that is lighter and easier to move. Look for plastic or manufactured wood drawers for a cost-effective yet professional addition to your space.

Make sure the drawers are at least 11" by 14" to store folders or documents comfortably. If you're only using the drawers for office supplies, make sure they're tall and wide enough to fit the supplies you intend to store.

Which Storage Drawers are Best for Classrooms?

Classrooms require child-friendly and safe drawers that cannot be easily knocked over or damaged. Look for storage drawers with a footprint larger than 12" x 12" especially for kindergarten or preschool classrooms.

Storage drawers taller than 36" should have an even wider base. You may still need to secure them to the wall with anchors, especially if they are made of heavy materials like wood or metal.

Plastic drawers are lightweight and easy for small hands to open. Their bright colors make color-coding easy, and they often have label slots to make it easy for teachers to change labels as needed. Wicker or rope baskets are also lightweight yet durable but can be stained by markers and paints.

Quick Tips

  • Storage drawers can be in almost any size, with some being small enough for desktop use.

  • Metal frames are strong, but plastic and wood are more common for the drawers themselves. Fabric and wicker also make good drawers. The right drawers for you will depend on how easily you need them to be cleaned, what colors work in your room, and how durable you need them to be.

  • Features include wheels, label slots, shelves, and locks.

  • Offices need durable drawers, but metal and wood can be hard to move. Lightweight drawers on wheels can be helpful for both classrooms and offices. Classrooms may need drawers with bright colors or label slots for easy identification.