I’ve been promising for a while now to pull back the curtains on my storage systems. What better place to start than with my jewelry? Warning: Underwear will come into this big reveal as well, but what you’re going to see is 90% jewelry–like rings, bracelets, necklaces, chokers, earrings. I’m going to throw a lot at you; nine whole shelves worth of storage. What you’re going to notice is that it’s all put away and out of sight when I’m not using it. You’re getting a quiz at the end! Study this outfit. By the end we’ll see if you can remember where the jewelry came from that I used to accessorize this shirt dress, gifted to me by J.Jill.
Follow me; I’ll show you where the magic starts.
A skinny antique cabinet holds the key to well-accessorized outfits
The first place I go to start the process of accessorizing is to this narrow, wooden painted antique cupboard that’s in the corner of our master bathroom. Before we moved to Sonoma this cupboard was in my home office. I used it for storing office supplies: envelopes, different weights and colors of printing paper, construction paper, trays that held paper clips and push pins, staplers and double-sided tape. I love the skinny shape. It measures 57x13x13 and has nine shelves.
William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement said, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.” This narrow, aged cupboard is both beautiful to me and insanely useful.
One little note: When we moved to Sonoma I had someone come and Feng Shui our home. It turns out that this cupboard is in an area that needs symbols of the water element. It’s already blue so that’s great. I added the hugging frogs to the top of the cupboard, a wooden fish to the side of it, and a magazine tear sheet of swimmers is inside the door.
Okay, let’s open the door and take a look inside.
Shelf #1 Leather jewelry tray
Right away you’ll notice the leather trays that have labels on them: Gunmetal, Silver, Black/Blue, White, Gold/Copper/Cognac. I arrange necklaces, chains, and various things by color in each tray. So if I’m thinking I want to accessorize with gunmetal accessories, I pull out Gunmetal. If I want to wear something in the gold family, I pull out Gold/Copper/Cognac and see if I find what I want to wear that day.
The shelves in the cupboard can’t be arranged to be spaced the same so these trays fit in where they can. Two of the shelves hold two stacked trays. The top one can only hold one tray. I easily slide a tray out and put it on the nearby vanity and ponder what I want to try first. I bought these leather-lined trays at the crack store; oh, no, I mean the Container Store.
Shelf #2 Earrings and brooches
There are two sturdy repurposed boxes on the second shelf. The narrowest one used to hold bottles of nail polish. I loved the box with the compartments and thought I could make better use of it. I use it to store my go-to earrings.
Again, it’s so easy to pull it off the wooden shelf and dig through until I find the earrings I want to wear.
Sitting to the right of the earring tray is a wooden box with a pic of old-fashioned underwear on the lid. This was a box of stationary with that underwear image on each card. Once the stationary was gone, I had to find another reason to use this fun box. I did. It holds my pins and brooches!
Shelf #3 Repurposed wire mesh baskets for large cuffs and wide bangles
On this third shelf down there are two wire mesh bins side by side. They used to hold office supplies in the same blue cupboard when I used it in my office but now they hold wide bangles and cuffs. Again, I can easily pull each tray out and look inside to see what catches my eye.
My thin layering bangles go inside these polka-dot tea cups. I don’t want them strewn about on the bottom of the mesh bin so I put the two tea cups inside the second bin. They don’t get messed up there and I can easily stagger larger bangles on top of them. So easy to see what I have, right?
Shelf #4 and #5 Leather trays for jewels and my underwear drawer
Shelf number four holds two more stacks of jewelry trays, organized by color. On shelf number five you see that striped shiny box, right? Somebody gave me cute fashion plates and they came in that round box. I had to find a way to repurpose the box because I loved it so much!
If you pull out that box, you’ll see that it’s where I store my undies! It’s my underwear “drawer”! Does that seem random, having panties in the cupboard with my jewelry? Well, I don’t own and haven’t used a chest of drawers in decades. I don’t have an underwear drawer, but I wear underwear, daily! That shelf was perfect for holding that size box and the box was perfect for holding as many pairs of undies that I want to own at one time. The lid to that striped shiny box gets repurposed on the eighth shelf. Wait for it…!
Shelves #6 and #7 More jewels
Now you’re seeing the bottom half of my blue-gray cupboard. Shelf number six holds two more color batches of jewels (mostly necklaces). Shelf number seven has two bowls which individually are favorites of mine. The “bee” bowl was a gift from my friend, Marjory. It holds my rings.
The glazed fish bowl, something I’ve had for at least thirty years, is where I hold random charm bracelets and watches. Again, these two bowls are easy to pull out and find what I want. When I’ve made that decision, I put the bowls back in their spot. A place for everything and everything in its place, right?
Shelf #8 Collar type necklaces, mostly blingy ones
Remember the striped box that holds my undies? Well, this is the lid of that box. It’s so perfect for these bulkier necklaces that hug my neck area. Just today I pulled one of them out and realized I could wear it backwards! It didn’t work for today’s outfit but you’re going to see it on me soon!
Shelf #9 Cute pouches for all reasons
You know how I use pouches to separate items inside my purses so it makes it easy to change them up? Well, this is where I go to choose the perfect pouch. They’ve come from all over: travels to Stockholm, gift shops, and gifts to me. I love them all for different reasons. They are all different sizes. I use them when I travel. Pouches bring me such joy! They’re pretty to look at! Every day when I open this cupboard, even if I won’t be using them that day, I enjoy the beauty and sentimentality of them. I want them right where they are.
Time for your pop quiz!
This “necklace” has gotten comments on Instagram. People want to know more about it. When you look close you can see that it’s not one necklace, it’s two necklaces. I took a strand of gray pearls and knotted them in the center. And then, because I just love my bee necklace that I got in Fergus Falls, MN years ago, I decided to add it to the pearls.
Well, now that you know my system, guess where I grabbed these from? The necklaces came from the very top jewelry tray labeled Gunmetal. If you go back and look, you’ll see them in one of the compartments of the Gunmetal try. The earrings came from …. yes! The box that originally held nail polish but now holds my earrings, right there on the second shelf!
And that sparkly ring came from where? The bee bowl! And the cuff came from, yes, one of the wire mesh bins.
Now when you see my pics you’ll be able to picture me reaching for my accessories to complete an outfit.
Okay, is this what you expected? How do you store your jewelry?
SpagsAugust 24, 2017 at 1:24 am
I love this, especially the panties/jewels combination. Where’s the rest of the underwear?
I store lighter necklaces on a cork pinboard next to my hanging clothes so I can see them, earrings in a hinged wooden box with small compartments that used to hold teabags, and heavier necklaces and brooches in a pretty printed box from TKMaxx. Watches and oddments (like my oversize Xmas earrings that won’t fit in the box) go in a pottery bowl from Turkey.
By the way I love that bag you have in the photo, where is that from?
BrendaAugust 24, 2017 at 7:51 pm
Well, you’ve got some great systems! I hang my bras on a hook in my closet. And I use a hanger meant for ties where I hang my full slips and shapers, also in the closet. My half slips are on a skirt hanger. That beautiful tote bag was a gift from my friend, Larry Buttons. He brought it back from one of his trips to Thailand. I ADORE it!
Michelle MillerAugust 24, 2017 at 2:48 am
This is just so fabulous. I have serious envy right now – that cabinet is just gorgeous. I currently store my favourite pieces in beautiful porcelain dishes I found when clearing out my late mother’s things last year – they were still in their boxes, primarily wedding gifts from so many decades ago. They are perfect for holding earrings, daintier necklaces, bracelets etc, and I have them set out in the top drawer of an antique desk I use as a bedside table. I just open the drawer and find these beautiful dishes with my favourite pieces. But bulkier necklaces etc are more problematic. I, too, have numerous fabric pouches that I use to hold things in my handbags etc – I was so happy to see your collection on the bottom shelf!
BrendaAugust 24, 2017 at 7:49 pm
I LOVE your idea. How wonderful to have those pieces that belonged to your mother. I’m bringing some things back from Mother’s china cabinet. I’m see the potential of making some changes! Thanks for inspiring me!
KathyAugust 24, 2017 at 3:18 am
I have a beautiful jewelry box that my husband had made for me several years ago…the real “stuff” goes in there. Costume jewelry is corralled in various small baskets that sit on a shelf in my closet. I sometime hang long necklaces on the padded hanger of the outfit I wear it most often with. I hang my clothes in color grouping. I have an antique cupboard in my basement…..it holds tea cups and candlesticks I’ve collected over the years. Now I’m thinking it needs to come upstairs for my jewelry! Oh Brenda you do inspire!
BrendaAugust 24, 2017 at 7:47 pm
Oh Kathy, I can totally see repurposing that antique cupboards. How fun that your husband made you that jewelry box. Makes it even more special!
JessAugust 24, 2017 at 4:34 am
First, you “cracked me up” with your crack comment. And…that is where I went to get the cases/trays I use to store my jewlery-the container store. They have different size compartments and thin clear plastic lids so you can see thru to what’s inside.
BrendaAugust 24, 2017 at 7:46 pm
That store is dangerous for me! I love it so!
DianeAugust 24, 2017 at 4:57 am
I love your cupboard and the special dishes and boxes that you use. I love to have most of my jewellery out so I can see it when I go into my ‘dressing’ room. Necklaces hang from a louverd door, and in glass candy dishes on a shelf with velvet trays for the more intricate necklaces. Also on the shelf are those velvet display busts for the larger more elaborate ones. I do keep my broaches on an old frameless picture on canvas that I covered in velvet as well. This way they are like art as well as reminding me of all my fave people who I inherited some from. You might guess, the rings are displayed as well, cut up a solid foam pillow, coverd it in that velvet, cut slits into it and voila, a rather visual ring display…I have been collecting jewellery for over 40 years..and just keep rotating in and out. Love, love love the post.
BrendaAugust 24, 2017 at 7:45 pm
Well, you are really an aficionado of combining beauty and function. LOVE it! That ring idea is splendid.
KATHYSUEAugust 24, 2017 at 6:23 am
Such a fun post and it is nice to see all your special accessories held in a very special little cupboard. I put my earrings in clear trays with lids that are used for holding embroidery thread. I got them at a craft store and like you, I have a box for certain colors. I also recently purchased a hanging bag with plastic pockets that I plan on putting pieces I seem to wear the most often. My good jewelry and vintage pieces, like rhinestone pieces and cameos from my mom, are in jewelry boxes. They are all on the top shelf in my closet since we just moved, but I hope to change that soon once we get the closet system installed. I also have one drawer that I keep the pieces I wear on a daily basis, so they are easy to grab and go. Fun post, Brenda, love when you share things like this.
BrendaAugust 24, 2017 at 7:43 pm
Glad you enjoyed this! Organizing is such fun. And the results are the best! I like your embroidery thread tray idea.
JenniferAugust 24, 2017 at 6:54 am
Enjoyed this post thx!
BrendaAugust 24, 2017 at 7:42 pm
KathyAugust 24, 2017 at 11:08 am
My new home has a split master bath. The woman’s side has a large counter with a sink, and opposite that, another, smaller and lower vanity counter. I went to Target and found pretty jewelry display stands that I could place on the vanity. Then I loaded up all my jewelry. It looks like a little jewelry store and having everything where I can see it, encourages me to not wear the same things everyday.
BrendaAugust 24, 2017 at 7:42 pm
I love this!! How great to have that space for your jewels!
AnnemarieAugust 24, 2017 at 2:41 pm
I love this! You have inspired me to rethink my jewelry storage. I have one area where my system is working pretty well BUT I have other jewelry in trays in a drawer on the other side of the room and I too often forget about those pieces. It’s time for me to let them all live together in the same area! And I will love repurposing some pretty boxes and containers that I have been saving. Thanks for the inspiration!
BrendaAugust 24, 2017 at 7:41 pm
You bet! I too try to have everything in sight. It’s easy to lose sight of what we have!
SueAugust 24, 2017 at 4:44 pm
I have two coat hook-type holders attached to a short wall in my closet where I hang all my necklaces by color and length (longer ones on the top hook, shorter on the bottom). I use small,clear, partitioned boxes (I think they were made to hold craft parts/pieces) to hold my earrings.
BrendaAugust 24, 2017 at 7:40 pm
I have a client who uses coat hooks and hangs her long necklaces that way too. It’s a great tip! Thanks!
LA CONTESSAAugust 25, 2017 at 8:16 am
YOU remind me SO much of SANDRA SALLIN!!!!!YOU two talk a like…………
I use pouches too but old vintage evening bags and old tin cigar containers for credit cards!
YOU HAVE MORE COLORS THAN I DO IN OUR PREFERRED UNDERWEAR!!!!!!!
Well, you better NOT walk into MY CASA……….as my JEWELS ARE EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!They adorn statues and BUSTS and I have an old SHOP CABINET from ENGLAND that houses MOST of the neck bits……….I NEED MORE SPACE TO BE HONEST!
This was FUN to see how another does it with APLOMB!!!
THANK YOU for the TOUR!
BrendaAugust 25, 2017 at 10:33 am
You’re so welcome. I do indeed want to see how your jewels live everywhere. I was scheming yesterday about how to make that happen. I adore finding out how people collect and store their things. Variety is the spice of life! And with the kind of necklaces you wear so well, I totally get how you’d need more space. I mean, geez, you’re a Contessa after all!
cindy hattersleyAugust 26, 2017 at 4:43 am
This is impressive!! I try to keep my jewelry organized but I fall off the wagon regularly! You have me inspired with that cupboard. I have just the spot for something like that!
BrendaAugust 26, 2017 at 4:06 pm
Oh my gosh, I can totally see you doing this especially with your design expertise!
BarbaraAugust 27, 2017 at 4:45 pm
Your storage creativity is a treat to see. I love that cabinet and it’s wardrobe contents.
BrendaAugust 27, 2017 at 6:58 pm
Glad you enjoyed it, Barbara!
Amanda jonesAugust 28, 2017 at 9:34 am
Hi Brenda, I discovered your site recently and I have been enjoying all your inspiring and interesting posts. I am 63 so I can relate. You have encouraged me to look at what I have in my closet and style it in different ways. I like your suggestion to wear things that give you joy rather than just throwing something on. I would be very interested to know how tall you are, it would help to relate to what you are wearing. You have a beautiful system for storing your jewellery. I have a tall standing mirror that opens up with hooks and sections for necklaces and rings etc. I’m afraid my purses are in a bit of a jumble. Thanks for the inspiration!
BrendaAugust 28, 2017 at 9:59 am
Hi Amanda. So happy to be discovered by you! I’m 5’5″ tall, generally average in every way. I’ll be showing how I organize my purses in an upcoming blog! Your jewelry storage system sounds great!
Catt-in-KYAugust 28, 2017 at 8:49 pm
I love your storage system! I store all my necklaces on 2 double sided stainless belt hangers. They are in the front right side of my walk-in closet and the necklaces never get tangled (a huge achievement for me). I have large plastic drawer insert trays with partioned spaces in two large dresser drawers. I store bracelets in one drawer and earrings, watches, rings and brooches in another drawer. Large vintage seasonal brooches, my old 1950’s cocktail rings, and a wonderful old charm heavy bracelet are stored in velvet pouches behind the trays. I am embarrassed to say how many years it has taken me to develop a system that works for me!
BrendaAugust 28, 2017 at 9:16 pm
You have established an incredible system!!! Bravo to you. I have used those doubled sided stainless belt hangers and had them in my closet as well. In fact, I think I need to reintroduce that for some of my more chainlike necklaces. Also, having that in my closet would mean I could have more necklaces which wouldn’t be bad. Thanks for sharing your great system!
Gretchen PinderSeptember 21, 2017 at 6:54 am
Always enjoy reading your posts. Love the black, gold and silver handbag. Is it a seatbelt bag? Manufacture?
BrendaSeptember 23, 2017 at 9:17 am
Yes, it is. It was given to me by a friend who brought it back from Thailand years ago. I guess you could try googling a seatbelt bag! Good luck!
Patsy OxleySeptember 21, 2017 at 8:09 am
I love your accessories cabinet! I hang the jewelry I wear daily on a simple wire jewelry organizer. It works but is not pretty or interesting like yours. My other jewelry is in a beautiful jewelry box but not as accessible, unfortunately. I have a spot for a lovely, slim cabinet so will be on the look out for one, thanks to you. I always enjoy your blog posts. Thanks Brenda!
BrendaSeptember 23, 2017 at 9:16 am
Thanks, Patsy. The biggest thing of all is having things accessible. It’s just essential! Otherwise those pieces will remain unused. When I open that cabinet door, all things are possible and in front of me to see! I hope you find something you love to store your pieces in.
NomiSeptember 21, 2017 at 8:25 am
I feel like I would need more storage than your cabinet, but I kept thinking “That can’t be right! Brenda has so much more jewelry than I do….” but maybe not. Sadly, my stuff is all over the place: in a floor-standing cabinet that is super functional but I don’t like the style of it (I like your distressed blue box much better; mine has froufrou Queen Anne legs & scrolly brass hardware, but it was a super bargain at an estate sale & I needed the storage); in various pretty boxes & cases strewn all over my bedroom; hanging on closet doors; in pouches & anti-tarnish bags. It’s more of an accretion than a system. Sigh.
BrendaSeptember 23, 2017 at 9:14 am
Well, there’s room for improvement! I do think it’s important to store items in attractive places. I have a mannequin in my bedroom, an antique one, and often I stash long necklaces around her neck. So in that sense, I do have more jewelry maybe than what you saw. For me it’s a combination of two things: I don’t have enough space to really spread out so I contain my collections to the space I have. I don’t like the feeling of “bursting at the seams” so I try to stay more on the lean side. And I edit. When something really doesn’t feel like me, I let it go to someone else. AND I want to be clear that I have no judgment about the amount of stuff people have. What’s overwhelming to me may be “not enough” for someone else. I appreciate large collections and can see how important they are to people.