Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Crafting Space: Part One

The Background

In our old house, my craft space was the fourth bedroom, tucked away from all public areas yet, because of the acoustics of the house, open to all the sounds of the home. I could hear my children and their friends playing (when they didn't think I could!), I could hear my husband coming in the garage door, I could hear the silence that means children are being naughty.

That space was perfect because I wasn't isolated yet no one had to look at my room full of plastic storage drawers and mismatched furniture...all of which were perfectly serviceable and optimally organized.

And then we moved. The fourth bedroom in the new home is the quietest place in the whole house, tucked in a corner of the finished basement. I could hear nothing in there, not even a child screaming in pain upstairs. The privacy was nice, but I found myself uneasy every time I was crafting and kids were home, popping up every few minutes to check on them. It was lonely and distracting.

So I moved to the nook in the finished rec room of the basement--not a perfect solution by any means, but better than the bedroom. It's public space, the first thing you see when you walk down the basement stairs. For the first time ever the mismatched furniture and plastic bothered me.

Really bothered me.

Unfortunately, we aren't made of money and a trip to Ikea for matching, functional, yet not terribly expensive furniture is not in the budget this year, and perhaps not even next year.

Whatever is a girl to do?

Work with what she has to make it look as good as possible.

The Process

I wish I had before pictures, but I don't. Here's the whole space now, which is mostly finished. I still want to come up with a better arrangement of art over my main desk and better punch storage.

I spent many, many hours contemplating the space before doing anything at all. The rowing machine is set up so I can stare at my craft area while rowing. Amazing what good thinking one can get done as one's body goes on autopilot exercising!

A few thoughts that governed my overall plan.... First, I don't like to sit for long periods of time in my craft space. I have to sit at the computer while writing, so I want to get up off my butt when stamping. This means not everything is organized to be most efficient. For instance, I have to stand and walk to get paper, which is behind the desk, and then walk to the cutter and scorer to make a card, and then sit down. This doesn't qualify as exercise but at least keeps me moving.

Second, I'm in a long-term phase of gradually purging my craft supplies. Years of acquisition have resulted in a weighty burden of craft crap, so much of which falls into the category of "nice to have, but haven't used in years." Urgh. What you see in this post is stuff that is out. I have boxes and bins of stuff in storage as well. My hope is that by the time I can make that Ikea trip for furniture, I will have a lot less stuff both in my working space and in storage.

Third, this is a pass-through area for the basement walk-out. That means the path to the door needs to stay clear of all but the dog's tennis balls. The sliding glass door behind the curtains opens on the right, hence the open path on the right.

The Space: Part One
Since I was stuck with the furniture, I tried to think of ways to make it more visually appealing without spending a lot of money. The ugliest piece by far is the battered wooden table held together with L-brackets because movers lost the hardware for holding it together years ago. I ended up with a spare green tablecloth (long story) and realized just hiding the ugly wood table with it would be easy and block the view under the table, which was visually cluttered and awkward.

On this table rest two vital tools for papercrafting: a paper trimmer and a scoring device. It's also a good space for my little computer and pencil sharpener. You can see the refrigerator in the background...that's where the wet bar is, so running water is quite close, as are cold beverages!

Hidden under the table are four 12"x12" drawer units that house my embellishments, sorted by color, as well as embossing supplies; colored pencils; and watercolor pencils, crayons, and paints. These used to be on the baker's rack on the wall opposite my desk, but placing them closer to my workspace has been very helpful in reminding me to use them, and I still have to get out of my chair and stoop to get into them. The Cropper Hopper scrap storage resting on top holds all my colored card stock scraps, sorted by color. That's a big ol' yes to OCD.

And yes, shoving the tablecloth out of the way is a bit unsightly, but you can't see the mess when standing, and it's unlikely a non-stamping guest will stoop down to the level of the picture!

My work table is huge and wonderful. And plastic. Oh, well. You can't have it all, I suppose.

The plastic-drawer tower on the left of the desk includes the inks I use most (Memento) and markers, scrap copy paper, stamping accessories (sponges, daubers, stipple brushes, etc.), white card scraps (the ones I use most), and adhesives. The smaller tower contains Sharpies, Bics, and Copics, organized by color. These are the only drawers I didn't label because the contents are so obvious. Tucked between for easy access is my 6"x6" quilting ruler, with which I do 99% of my layer cutting.

I don't always layer. But when I do, I use a quilting ruler. Cut safe, my friends.

The two items on top of the pen drawers are my stamp scrubber for particularly oogy stamps and a travel-wipe case with a damp washcloth in it for most of my stamp cleaning.

The immediate work space consists of a stamping pad (the burgundy mat that provides some "give" under larger images for better impressions, purchased at JoAnn's), a cutting mat for the quilting ruler and craft knife, and an apology note from my youngest.

The orange and green cups hold frequently used tools (scissors, knife, tweezers, pens, pencils, spare bone folder, etc.), and the white tray holds acrylic blocks for unmounted stamps and my glue bottle, stored upside down for quick use. The cork board above the space holds my proportional matting cheat sheet, notes on what size envelopes I have, a color wheel, and my reading glasses (for eyes are older than the rest of me, apparently). This board will fill up with post-its and such pretty quickly.

The tower to the right on the desk contains ink. From top to bottom, Brilliance, VersaColor, VersaMagic, miscellaneous dye inks, specialty inks, and Stampin'Up inks. I've been gradually whittling down my inks for the past six months, and hope to get them even more whittled in coming months. At one point, I think I had about 400 pads...ridiculous by any clean-and-simple standard!

The plastic drawers are truly perfect for this job. They slide out very easily (no bumpers hold them in), meaning I can pull out drawers I need and stack them on the desk for easy access. I LOVE being able to do that! Seriously, I make a giant mess when I work (not that you can tell from these pictures!).

Under the desk, in a very unsatisfactory arrangement I'm still ruminating upon, are punches. This three-drawer set holds basic shapes (circles, ovals, scallops, squares). The blue basket holds border punches and deco scissors.

To the right of the desk is this tower of punches. My hope is to be able to whittle down the punches to the ones I actually use over the next six months or so. Once I have a smaller collection, a perfect storage solution will present itself. I hope.

The wall above the desk is proving problematic but I adore exceedingly the sketch paintings my mom gave me (well, I begged for them) during my last visit to Maryland. Mom is a fine artist who works in watercolor, oils, and pastels. She's a poster-child for loosening up and playing with her art, and these sketches are quick, unfinished studies she whips out to loosen up. I need to be looser, freer, like she is. So her colorful sketches give me the inspiration I need to cut loose and have fun!

Please note that she didn't sketch any pears.

Anyway, when I fix this wall, I'll share the photos with you. But please don't hold your breath. It's taken me five months to get to this point. Who knows how long it will take to fix this?

On either side of the sliding door, I put cork boards covered in white linen for a bit of texture, to post cards people have sent me. This collection changes as new cards come in.

For my next post, I'll detail the right-hand side of the craft space, where my paper and stamps and some other stuff are oh so carefully arranged. I'll also talk about my color choices for the space, where they work and where they need improvement!


  1. Fantastic - thanks for sharing your space - love that you tell us what you keep in the drawers as well as showing us the drawers. Your space looks amazing (and so tidy right now!)


  2. Thanks for showing us your space! Interesting to hear your thoughts on what goes where and the room location. Love how the rowing machine fits into the space and your creative process! And very nice to see what you did with "making do."

  3. It looks great and I love all of the room. I wish I had a better solution for punch storage. Mine are in 3 different drawers. I had them in a large tub once and that was just not handy at all. My craft table is just like your except mine is in a terrible mess right now from stamping. I could probably go through my stuff and purge again, too, but right now I'm too lazy. Looking forward to seeing more or your room.

  4. We did see "before"--when you first moved in and we all had opinions about where your craft space should be. I use an over-the-door shoe holder for my punches. It's on the back of the door and the door is open most of the time. Won't work for you though :(

  5. That was a great read...and you are not alone in the organising stakes...not at all.....I am in the same position as yourself regarding finding the right place for things and I need to purge too.....I don't have anything like your amount of stuff but I still need to weed out the stuff I don't use all the time.....shove it to the roof space and if not used or missed then out the door.
    You'll get there - I'll get there too but in our own time...proper planning is good in the long run.

  6. It's looking just like you, Susan. Neat, thoughtful, organized, and labeled. And above all, it reads "Simplicity." I hope you row on and stamp on with happiness in your bright, home-centered, space!!

  7. Oh my, Susan, what fun to look over your shoulder as you explain your creative space! Everything looks so perfect; a place for everything and everything in its place. I've picked up a million hints from your narrative and your pictures! Thank you for opening your Simplicity mind to us, and showing us how you work. Oh, and can't tell you how flattered I am to see the pic of me and my grands on your cork board!

  8. Thanks for sharing your space, Susan. I absolutely love looking at other stamper's craft space. I always get ideas. Your space is clean and organized (did I expect anything other than that from CAS Susan?).

  9. Oh, my. I think my craft space looked like this when I first set it up. I remember the tops of tables and counters. ;/

  10. You've come a long way with your space since ruminating and putting it up for suggestions as to location, layout, etc. I, too, rely on those plastic roll-around carts and stackable storage. I'm going to put some of your ideas into use. How nice to have everything set up for how YOU operate, not how some fancy craft space that someone's spent scandalous amounts of money sort of dictates how things LOOK best, as opposed to WORKING best. Kudos! I love your mom's artwork. Did she have one with pears that you gladly left behind? ;-)

    I'd be surprised if anyone coming down the stairs isn't immediately drawn to your space and wanting to jump into creating along with you.

  11. Even as a work in progress, your space is so together. I have an entire room with excellent light, and it's a total mess every day. I just can't seem to get it organized. I'm interested to see more of your room :) Thanks for sharing!

  12. I'm glad you are able to make the space work for you and your family. It looks neat and practical. Thank you.

  13. As you think about punch storage, consider IKEA's kitchen towel bars. I would gladly send you a photo of my SU demo's setup, which I ahve copied. The price is perfect, something under $2 per bar. My SU (old style) punches hang over the bar and make it so easy to actually use my punches. Before, I had them in drawers in a plastic rolling cart. Each drawer had a lid that closed after pulling out the drawer. I found it cumbersome to find the punch I wanted and find a place to put the drawer as I opened it to find the right punch. Hanging on my wall on those towel bars is a perfect solution for me and I really use my punches. Easy to access and easy to put back where each belongs.

  14. Oh thanks for sharing! It's so pretty with the green and black -- and clean. -- Actually, it doesn't look mis-matched to me, but then again its not my [OCD]space :)

    I also did my room yesterday and got my floor space BACK! I am in heaven again in my room! :)

  15. Thanks for the tour of your craft space. I also picked up a couple of tips that I might try. My space is my daughter's old room and now I know why she never put anything away.There is no ROOM! I noticed that one of the cards on your wall has two pears :<).

  16. my favorite part is the L shape of the tables, as that is so efficient.

    my solution to punch storage is to get rid of all my punches! Not the solution for everyone I know but they are just too big and bulky for me.

    Can't wait to see part 2...

  17. Marg, that pair of pears card was sent as a joke by a very dear online friend for my wedding anniversary. ;)

  18. Thanks VERY much for taking time to show us your space. I feel like I had a nice visit to your craft area!
    And thanks as always for being a MUSE for me and for being amusing!

  19. ooo I'm such a clutter puppy but we have so many organizational similarities it makes me happy! I'm having to work with a corner of the family den and am trying to make it work with inherited furniture so I completely feel your pain. Love what you have done so far - (and secretly that you have functional pieces over matching ATM) BTW I agree with Joan. TBH it may have to wait but you may want to consider a digital cutter. I bet you could find an original silhouette for a small price and they are light and non bulky - probably less so than dies and die cutters. LOL! Or if you really are going to Ikea - they have lovely slim drawers for punches.... Enjoy your space and your choices.

  20. I haven't nearly the amount of supplies you have, but it still overwhelmed my small space.

    I just purchased a fabulous writers desk and hutch by Martin ( by Kathy Ireland Home. It has drawers, a large surface and room for my score board and cutters. I still have plastic storage underneath and now a metal filing cabinet for all the paper I amass, but it's a very clean and simple (albeit not cheap) solution that can morph into other uses as time passes. If you'd like, I can send you some pictures.

    Sarah (kegbo)

  21. Thank you for sharing your crafting space and the well thought out decisions you made in sorting it out.

  22. Thanks for posting this - I really like seeing how other people organize their crafting space. Mine is undergoing a year-long reorganization! It got interrupted when a new very tall house got built next door that blocked all my natural light so I packed everything up and had a skylight installed above my work table - the wonderful light I get now is worth every penny! I bet you get great light from the patio doors.

  23. Thanks for sharing this information - I remember when you were considering where to set up your new room. It looks wonderful! and it is probably nice being in the middle of family life (most times :)

  24. I started smiling when I saw the pear card on your board; then I burst out laughing when I read Marg's comment about it.

    I often go back to that post when I need a pick-me-up, and it never fails!

    So to MY dear online friend, "Thank you."

  25. Thanks for sharing your space! My solution for punches is one of the inexpensive shoe organizers that I hang on the back of my door. I know that you prob don't have a door since you are in an alcove, but might be able to hang it on the wall?


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