Organization and Time Management, Other Home Projects

How to Install a Cabinet Organizer

Free Yourself of a Disorganized Bathroom Vanity

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Updated October 4, 2020.

Pinterest Pin, How to Install a Cabinet Organizer

All right, so I’m feeling fairly accomplished today.  [Note: Post was written last summer.]  I installed a slide out drawer organizer in the vanity of our master bath.  

While visiting my sister this spring she offered us this organizer.  As it turns out, she bought two for under her kitchen sink, but when reversed, the second one just didn’t quite fit on the other side of her cabinet.  Since she had nowhere else to use it, she offered it to us saying that if it didn’t end up working for us to pass it on to someone who could use it.  My sister’s awesome!  Naturally, we took the organizer and thanked her for it because it looked like a good sturdy piece of useful equipment, especially after seeing the one she had already installed. 

Under the sink, vanity cabinet organizer
Cabinet Organizer Freebie

The FREE part for something useful is also good. 

While many might jump at nearly anything that is labeled FREE, I do not normally do so and advise against it if asked.  If an item is free, it must be something I plan on using or will get some satisfaction out of owning.  Otherwise, that thing will just be “taking up space and making our house look messy”.  We don’t need any more of those things around our house.  The free circulars that come in the mail are just like that.  Very seldom do we ever look at them.  Most weeks they go directly in the recycling box because we know we don’t need anything else, or at least anything they are offering.

Back to business.  The summer is ending (remember that my sister gave this to us in the spring…a few months ago) and I am now four months pregnant.  My husband is away for work and I am finally getting to some home organization projects.  I would like to surprise him with some of them complete when he gets back.  I know he has had a busy and tiring work week, the travel adding to it, and I know a tidier home eases my own mind when I return from being away.  I am trying to do the same for him.  

Straightening up can be a really winding task for me (and so can writing I suppose🙄).  I’ll start in the place I intend to, but putting one thing in its proper place can lead me to another room and a different mess.  Once that first item is put away I may get into the pile in the new room, which leads me to another room and another nook that needs rearranging.  There I could find something that takes me back to the original spot and the cycle begins again.  At some point, after picking away at these spots a little each day, everything does get cleaned up.  Then we get in a busy cycle and neglect our systems and repeat the process.

Now, our house is not all that disorganized, but there are some spots that never really got settled after I moved into the house five years ago.  Some of those spaces were shifted around when my husband moved in a year and a half ago as well.  We have certain rooms we live in more and the spare bedrooms and corners are where we put things to store temporarily.  Stuff always gets stirred up, for the better, when Mom and Dad visit in the summer too.  I have already cleaned most of that up though, and the rest is in the basement.  It can wait. 

Pregnancy though, is pushing me to get to some of the lesser used spaces now.  We are going to need those spaces when the baby comes this winter.  One of the rooms has been my sewing room and a guest room.  The other is the loft, which serves as my husband’s office (and library?).  

I started in the sewing room, which will become the nursery.  The cabinet organizer had migrated to this room to be out of the way and it seemed like a perfect time to install it.

Tools needed to install vanity cabinet organizer
Tools needed to install cabinet organizer

I planned to install the organizer under the kitchen sink in our house as my sister did in hers, but the pipes were in just the right position to thwart that plan.  I checked under the sink in the downstairs bathroom vanity, but that vanity is smaller and the organizer wouldn’t fit through the door.  As an afterthought I checked our master bath and hooray! The organizer just clears the door hinges and the drain pipe.  

Mess under the sink
Mess under the sink

We had more under that sink than I remembered and I moved everything out.  Vacuuming cleaned out some dust and the cleaning products stored in one part of the vanity helped me wipe up any remaining mess.

Cleaned up vanity cabinet
Cleaned up vanity cabinet

Following the instructions of the cabinet organizer, I placed the bottom part of the unit in the cabinet in a position where it would clear the door and the drain pipe when sliding in and out of the door.  Then I used a pencil to mark the screw holes.  The screw holes are more of an elliptical shape on this structure so I tried not to mark too far to either end to allow myself some room to adjust the rails for the slides. 

Mark where the screws will go so you can drill pilot holes.
Mark where the screws will go to drill pilot holes.

Once everything looked good I locked a 9/64” bit into the cordless drill and made some pilot holes on my pencil marks.  (For those of you who may not have done any home projects before, a pilot hole is a hole drilled a little smaller than the diameter of the screw that is going to be used.  The hole makes the screw go in more easily.)  The inside of the vanity is dark, so I propped up my phone with the flashlight on to help me see.  Some people hold a small flashlight in their mouths, which works too, but kind of grosses me out.  I don’t like holding pencils or pens in my mouth either.  Who knows where they have been?

Drill bits: This project used a 9/54" bit
Drill bits: This project used a 9/54″ bit
Drilling pilot holes
Hold the drill as vertically as possible.
Pilot holes all drilled out for vanity cabinet organizer
Completed pilot holes

Next, I placed the rails of the organizer over the holes and slid out the drawer to get at the holes with the drill.  Without the screws to hold the rails in they became uneven.  However, since the holes were lined up beforehand, I could slide the second rail back into place when it was time to screw it in.  I began in the back because pulling the drawer all the way out to do the front first would tip the system off balance out of the vanity door and make holding everything in place more difficult.  I decided to use the weight of the organizer to hold itself in place.

I put the screws in the back holes; not as easy a task as it normally would have been due to the need to bend over in a small space with my belly gradually beginning to increase and the drawer of the organizer in the way.  (I am glad I’m doing this now and not in a few months.)  Then, I slid the drawer out…not all the way!  Ugh! The drawer just barely hit the door hinge.  I must have unwittingly bumped the drawer as I screwed in the rear holes.  Trying to problem solve, I loosened the screws in their elliptical slots and tried moving the system over.  Unfortunately, slid all the way to the right, the drawer still did not clear the door hinges.  I had to drill new pilot holes.  

Screw into the pilot holes at the back of the vanity cabinet organizer
Screwing in the back of the rails

I don’t know how I messed this up because I checked before drilling.  Can we blame baby brain?  Oh well, the holes can be puttied and painted, and they’ll hardly be seen.  There are worse things.

Moving on, the second set of pilot holes I made sure to mark in the center of the elliptical holes for maximum wiggle room.  I drilled the holes and they were in the right spot. Phew!  If I had missed again I would have been really angry with myself and possibly let go a few words I would not want the baby exposed to, whether or not the baby can hear or understand them. 🙉 

When drilling I began using an extender and a long screwdriver bit.  The bit kept falling out of the extender after I put a screw in, and the rails being the height they are, I was still unable to reach the holes furthest front straight on because the chuck (where the bit gets held in) hit the rails, preventing me from putting the screw in straight.  

Screw drive guide
Screw drive guide
Extended drill bit setup with magnetic screw drive guide
Final drill bit setup that worked

We have a screw guide extender that is magnetic, and longer, so I switched out the other extender for that and put the screwdriver bit in there.  No more problems.  The organizer drawer is more like a large metal rack, so I was able to fit this longer bit through the spaces and install the last two screws at the front properly.  Yes!  I highly recommend the magnetic screw drive guide.  It is a tool that is useful for so many projects, and a great stocking stuffer for any handy person you know.

Screwing in the front of the slide rails through the basket of the vanity cabinet organizer
Screwing in the front of the slide rails through the basket
Vanity cabinet organizer completely installed
All done!

Time to put everything back in.  Ahem, almost everything.  In the process I found expired products, a couple of near empty bottles I was able to empty and recycle, and a couple of things that really belonged elsewhere.  I took the opportunity to put them where they belong.

Vanity cabinet all organized
Under the sink is organized and everything is more accessible.

By now I was all sweaty from hunching over in the cabinet and glad at the same time to have checked another item off my list. 😄

While this should have been an easy task, it became slightly more complicated than necessary during the process.  Being a little pregnant also added to the difficulty a tad.  Still, anyone can do this, even those who have done NO home improvement projects before.

Next on the list?  Mom and Dad gifted us a small base cabinet to fit in a narrow niche next to the shower and tub so we can have some more storage in the master bath.  Right now the cabinet is awaiting unpackaging and staining in the basement.  Keep an eye out for an update on that project.  We will add it to the juggling routine …eventually!

Until the next project,

Materials used in the post: