Monday, March 1, 2010

Craft room revolution:

By-Angel

It's about 7:30 in the morning here, I just managed to get Silas back to sleep for a few minutes. That kid never stops moving! He usually falls asleep mid-crouch, ready for action the second he wakes up. I am about to have my hands FULL!

The computer is in the dining room, our friend from North Carolina (the carpenter) is asleep in the living room with his dogs . The couch is next to the dining table. Everything from the office is packed up, furniture moved and shelves taken down. Pretty soon the plastic will go up and the wall will come down! I am very excited to have this renovation done.

I don't know if you ever really went into our office and looked around, it was not a room I was keen to show off because the mess in there was always on the verge of chaotic. Most of my craft related items plus all my husband's personal stuff (records, CDs, old soccer trophies, clothes and shoes, GIGANTIC mountain bike, etc.) plus everything that would belong in an entryway or foyer (like Goodwill bags, clothes I'm saving for a friend as Silas outgrows them, coats, shoes, diaper bags and purses) plus a few random items like a massage table and the extra couch cushion made for a MESSSSSSSSS.

Angel:  Can anyone find the sewing machine?

So now, with this wall coming down? No way to hide the mess. I am looking at this as a gift, an opportunity to shift the energy in the house and create a space that we can all use together that focuses on CREATIVITY. You and I have talked about organization so much in the past I thought it might be fun for me to document the process a little as I go along, I'd love your input or inspiration along the way! Today I wanted to talk about how I organized my materials when I had to pack up everything for demolition day.

I started out removing everything in my craft space that did not belong. In my case that included bills:

Angel:  Craft space revolution

A few yoga mats and a yoga block, a massage table and head rest, a huge bin of maternity clothes I need to give back to a friend, two bags of cloth diapers someone is borrowing.......you get the drift.

Once I had cleared enough space, I started sorting my supplies into piles. Here's an example of some of my categories:

  • Paper/ephemera (I have lots of old calendars, photos from magazines, decorative paper)

  • Ribbon/twine

  • Knitting notions and circular needles (My straight needles are in a wraparound case)

  • Stickers/Stamps/Labels

  • Wool Roving and Tools (foam mats and my cigar box full of needles)

  • Yarn

  • Felted sweaters

  • Fabric

  • Old clothes

  • Sheets/Towels (mostly thrifted)

  • Felt

  • Works in Progress (embarrassingly big pile)

  • Miscellaneous (wooden beads, chenille stems, paint, etc.)



  • Angel:  Craft room revolution
    Angel:  Craft room revolution

    After I had things sorted, I went through each pile to be sure I needed/wanted everything I had. I gave some fabric to a friend, got rid of some extra flannel sheets, threw away some broken/dried out/no longer functional items, and took stock of how big each pile was so I could figure out which container would be best.

    As an aside, do you hate plastic bins as much as I do? I hate buying them, I hate the way they look, and yet I still buy them over and over and use them for many things. In this case, I need them for my wool yarn, rovings and felt so that moths do not lay eggs on the wool. I need them for my fabric so that it doesn't get dusty. For me they are a necessary evil, and here's my advice about using them:

  • Buy the best quality ones you can afford. Check the lids: do they snap securely? I like buying ones with a fold over piece that clicks the lid into place. Is the plastic thick and likely to hold up over the years? I figure if I have to buy something plastic it is more responsible to buy something that is going to last instead of something cheap that I will have to replace.


  • When using them to organize a specific space, buy all the bins at once after you've assessed what you need. This way they will be coordinated and will look better (especially important if you can't hide them in a closet somewhere). Many bin "systems" also stack on top of one another very nicely and are meant to work together in that way. If you have bins you need to reuse, try to find pieces that stack well and coordinate the best in terms of shape and color.


  • If you have a LOT of one type of material, don't buy one gigantic bin for it. Buy two or three smaller bins and separate things a little more. The really huge bins are impossible to store, and depending on what's inside they can become too heavy to move around. You want your storage to be easy to move and get into.


  • Clearly label each bin. Buy cute labels if you want to. (But DON'T go to chronicle books' website to look at their stationery unless you've got some extra cash lying around.)



  • You asked about what other types of containers I am using, right now it is this: Ikea DVD box and Ikea CD box. We have them in red, but I much prefer the green and may have to re-evaluate when we choose a paint color for the new space. They work well for small items, but when they get too full the sides bulge and the lid does not fit well. This is where I've got my paper, knitting notions, miscellaneous items, that type of thing. I also have a few large glass canisters full of old buttons, embroidery floss and that type of thing.

    You can see them stacked on the floor here:

    Angel:  Craft room revolution

    On my list? Making those Maya*Made buckets for WIPs and for the kids' craft area. Those green plastic baskets are probably going to go, they were not working but I had them on hand so I thought I'd try them out. Maybe in Ian's room? That neon green color is a little much for me but it might work in there. A perfect example of the importance of buying stuff you actually like looking at.........

    That is as far as I got before everything had to be pushed up against the wall and covered with plastic. But I am ready to get to it as soon as I am able! This week we'll choose the paint color and get it painted this weekend so that we can move ahead to organizing and moving things back where they belong.


    Jenny-mini-button What a project! The closest thing to a renovation I've ever experienced was when we painted the floors in our old house in Nashville. That was crazy chaotic and I was about 7 months pregnant at the time! I am impressed by your positive attitude in facing this domestic upheaval. But, it's all for a good reason: it is going to be so nice to have the 2 rooms open up to each other. Like a brand new house! Can't wait to see photos of the result.

    I love all your organizational ideas. Separating supplies is a very smart first step. Determining categories and labeling them is such a good idea. All my sewing notions are a mess right now and you're really making me want to get them in order. I love those Ikea boxes! I too use (and detest) plastic boxes for organization. Fortunately they are mostly out of sight at the moment. I am taking a bunch of photos of the mess that is *my* craft space and will post about it soon, so we can keep each other motivated through this re-organization!

    Jenny-mini-button Coming back to add: I have been thinking of 2 things that may help in your re-organization phase: adding curtains around your craft shelves IF you decide you want to keep that stuff out of sight. It also child-proofs the whole thing a bit more. Also, a few months back, I had pinned a tutorial for fabric-covered toy box made out of one of those cardboard boxes you can get at the office supply store. I thought it was such a cost-efficient, smart idea for fairly large AND aesthetic storage. Here is the link on Kootoyoo.

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