Monday, March 8, 2010

Project Craft Room Organization

By-Jenny2

Oh boy.

That's what Ben says lately when something overwhelms him. And it seems pretty fitting as I get ready to show you the embarrassing mess that is my craft room, aka my dining room. Thank you for starting this sharing and organizing process. I don't feel quite as vulnerable putting this whole mess "out there" as if I were the first one to go, ha! Though I still am a bit nervous.

Warning: This is a bit of a long post because I wanted to thoroughly introduce the magnitude of the craft chaos. After this initial one, I'll be able to just focus on solutions and improvements!

As you know, we now live in an old apartment, in a 1906 duplex. It is perfect for our little family, so full of charm and light (how grateful are we for that, living in cloudy Seattle!). However, it is quite short on storage space and there are no "extra" rooms for playing or crafting. Our dining room is the largest, most central room in the house. It is also the brightest with a wall full of windows. Naturally, it became our "busy room": a mix of office, family room, play space, art den, sewing studio, and occasional dinner hosting facility.

My daily challenge is to transition smoothly from "craft room" to "dining room". From chaos to order. From activity to peace. I am so grateful to my husband for not making a fuss every time he comes home and the center of the house is a bedlam of fabrics, paints, toys and assorted crafty messes. And fortunately, we eat most meals in the kitchen. But, I am DONE with things not having an out-of-sight storage place of their own, and not being able to properly clean up my craft messes.

So... Without further ado, I'll go ahead and unveil the chaos, with hopes that you can help me get organized.

Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization
Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization

Above you see the general view of the dining room from 2 angles. Notice the beautiful "choo-choo train" of chairs (a common occurrence when living with this 2.5-yr-old), the ironing table which lives almost permanently in front of the windows, the 2 large storage boxes waiting to go to the basement, etc. This was actually a "good" day mess-wise, as there are no projects in progress on the dining room table.

If this weren't bad enough, here are some more detailed shots. Wee!

Here's our "buffet" (which used to be our kitchen island in a former life). The top is covered with various items awaiting a trip to the post office, works-in-progress, miscellaneous crap to put away, homemade party hats from New Year's... On this surface, you can usually see Ben's latest arts-and-crafts project, the iron cooling off, various stacks of fabrics, etc. The make-shift curtain (pieces of an Ikea duvet cover taped to the wood until I finally get my act together to make a proper curtain system) hides the craft supplies.

Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization
Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization
Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization

In the corner is our "bar", a cabinet I got from a friend, refurbished and painted, which is child-proofed enough to hide our booze and fancy glasses. My sewing machine lives on top -- and that is just not cool. You can see my cutting mat against the wall. I want to do something with those empty coffee cans, but not sure what. The storage boxes had gone to the basement by that point, but a bunch of wool sweaters prepped for felting are now stacked up on the side. That box exploding with material drives me up the wall! That spot right there is probably the single biggest problem area in my organization struggles.

Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization

Here's the lovely built-in hutch, housing all my fabrics and some works in progress. This part is fairly organized, how ironic that it would be hidden by fabric taped over the windows. I also taped (masking tape, how I love thee!) some cork squares against the back wall to use as an inspiration board of sorts, but you can barely see it behind the mess on the counter. One of the cupboards stores my sewing notions, chaos! And, to beautify it all, my husband's shirt is hanging, awaiting a button replacement.

Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization
Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization
Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization

Here's the desk, covered with too many papers to be filed, bills to be paid, and notebooks scribbled with ideas and to-do lists. When I can keep the stacks of paper under control, that is generally a happy spot where things have their place.

Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization

In the final corner, you can see the shelves we scored for $5 at a yard sale, filled with toys, puzzles, and my craft books. That old laptop is still used quite a bit but has become an eyesore. Eek.

Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization

Whew! I think that rounds it up! I don't think it's hopeless, but it's definitely reached the point of overwhelming. I just don't know where to put stuff, and it's not like we have a lot of extraneous supplies to weed out.

To end on a positive note, I'll share the first thing I did to improve this space. I finally asked my landlady about an old wooden box I'd noticed under the outside stairs. She said I could have it. So, I thoroughly cleaned it with soapy water (it was filled with gardening tools and dirt), let it dry for a few days in front of a radiator, then generously rubbed it with jojoba oil and a soft cloth. It now houses all my craft books and magazines. The ugly laptop is now hiding where the magazines used to be. And it freed up a bunch of space for some of Ben's books. So much better!!

Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization
Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization
Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization

I am especially happy about the fact that my crafty books are so much more visible, thus likely to inspire me.

Jenny: Project Craft Room Organization

Okay! That's it! What do you think? Right off the bat, do you see obvious areas that I can improve or consolidate? I need to follow your example and make a list of every single category to be stored, and start organizing it by priority and need for accessibility. Stay tuned for updates and improvements! Can't wait to see the results of your renovation and how you're going to fix up your craft space!

Angel-mini-buttonLet me just say off the bat, I am jealous of your fabric armoire! It is so awesome. I would love to have something like that! It is so easy to just pick something up at Ikea (love that delivery service!) but old pieces have such great energy. The fabric looks so neat and pretty up there. HOWEVER: do you need it all accessible all the time? I'm wondering if you could pare some of it down and store it in a more long term space, and use whatever shelf space you gain for storing other sewing related items. Also, how high is the top of the armoire? I was thinking that if it wasn't too hard to reach you could fill some neat glass jars with embroidery thread, buttons, etc., you'd be decorating and storing at the same time!

The second thing I notice is that the other storage pieces you have are not large enough. You have quite a bit of unused space below the picture rail that you could be using! I'm sure there's a limitation on putting up shelves (hence the picture rail?) but I'd be on the lookout for a new storage piece or two. Or, if you could find a drawer system that could go on top of the "hutch" piece that would give you more vertical space that might work! (I looked on the Ikea website and didn't see anything, they used to have a drawer system that would have been perfect but it was discontinued!)

Since you're so small on space I'd try to find interesting vintage containers (maybe at that thrift store down the street you were telling me about?) that will look great while holding your stuff! I LOVE the box, it looks like it was made for your books!

Things are still a mess here, but we should be able to start painting in a few days. I'll try to post some pictures on Tuesday!

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