Would You Like To See My Craft Room?

October 19, 2010

Because it is finally in a state suitable for visitors.  It has taken about about 18.5 months to get it set up the way I want it.  All my fabric is put away, for the first time ever.  Well, I do have some fabric on my table, but I plan on working with it over the next few days.  The key was finally having enough storage.  I am at the point now where everything has a place where it is considered put away. Some might think an option was to purge, and I have done a fair amount of that.  But really, I just kept adding shelving solutions until I had enough.

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This is my favorite corner.  It’s got my wall of favorite framed things and the comfy chair.  But my absolute favorite part of the corner is the light.  I bought it at Target about three years ago.  It was in January when they hold their Bazaar.  (Target has some pretty cool stuff in that display/promotion.)  This is the first time the light has actually hung and been plugged in, and I love it!

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See, isn’t it pretty?!  But getting back to the rest of the corner, I have a tall Billy Bookcase to take advantage of verticle space.  I use it to store empty frames, photo albums, embroidery threads and projects, some books, and there’s one shelf for display.  The shelves behind the chair store things I hardly ever need access to so that I don’t have to move the chair often.  Not that it’s hard, but it would be obnoxious if I needed to get in there every day.  I have a Besta shelving unit in front of the fire place.  There’s a couple of bins to store fabric scraps and fabric for projects, yarn for a granny square quilt, and holiday fabrics. There’s also more embroidery thread in the white boxes and a shelf for displaying some boxes that I also use for storage.  You can’t really see it, but on the far left side of the picture is our microwave.  It’s sorta weird having it in my craft room, but it’s right by the door that leads to the kitchen.  We have hardly any counter space and the other places we’ve tried it have been in the way, so this is really the best spot for it.  We’re renters so we’re looking for the best option as opposed to the perfect solution.  We got the table for less than $20 at Target and under it is a crate on it’s side so that we can store the cookbooks.  The added benefit is that the microwave is now on a different fuse so we don’t accidentally blow the fuse when we accidentally have the toaster and microwave going at the same time.  You don’t do that more than twice.

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This is the view of my room from the kitchen looking towards Gracie’s bathroom.  She’s now extended her living space to my craft room so we have her scratching post and some toys out for her.  This isn’t a very exciting part of the room, but it gets a lot of use.  That’s the dresser that I redid (as blogged about here).  It holds TONS of fabric and most of my sewing notions. On top, I have my collection of vases, two that Bill brought back from Copenhagen, two were wedding gifts, one was my first gift from Bill’s grandmother…  Special stuff.

Then there’s my cutting table.  It’s up on bed risers to make it a bit more comfortable for cutting fabric.  The added height also lets me store more stuff under it.  I have my laundry sorting baskets/hampers and our new second comfy chair of the room, newly purchased from Ikea.  Occasionally both Bill and I like to sit in here and watch tv or a movie, but there was only one comfy chair.  But now there’s two, with one that can easily be stored to not take up extra floor space.  When I’ve got the ironing board out and I’m working on a project and the laundry is sorted into piles all over the floor rather than using the handy baskets I have, it gets a little tight in here.  There’s also a lot of doors in this room (6 including the sliding glass door) which makes furniture layout tricky.

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Here’s the view from the garage door.  Why do you care?  I only show this view because I want to point out how I try and use every bit of space I can.  For example, I hung my dustbuster out of sight but easy to access.  It was either there or the garage and this is definitely more convenient for me.  Can you see it?  It’s to the right, next to my can of tubey things.

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This wall is my pi¨ce de r©sistance.  This is my worktable.  The shelving is Elfa’s freestanding shelving.  As I mentioned, we are renting so this is a great option for us.  It’s not attached to the wall so we can pack it up and take it with us when we move.  Because it’s Elfa, it is incredibly flexible and will work in any kind of room.  It gives me tons of storage and lets me take advantage of the vertical space which is often underutilized.  I’d say that we had about half of the shelves and brackets from our previous house.  We had Elfa in every closet and room and before we put our house on the market, we packed up a lot of stuff leaving out the bare minimum and taking the rest with us. In addition to half the shelves, we already owned three drawer units and one of the desktops.  Buying the rest of the components was an investment, but I love all the storage it provides.  I have lots of my plushies on the top shelf.  They keep me company while I work.  Then I have a bunch of boxes, from Ikea, storing (more) fabric scraps, speciality fabrics and materials, and WIPs.  I really like the size of the Ikea boxes which are slightly larger than shoe boxes.  The next shelf is mainly books and patterns.  There’s sections.  From left to right we have sewing, knitting, decorating, beading, general crafting, decorating, and other misc. stuff.  The bottom shelf is part display part storage.  I have scrapbooking stuff, my owl collection, beads and buttons, and then my ribbons and electronics.

Then there’s my work table.  One side is for sewing, the other is for beading or working on my computer, or a spot for Bill to sit and work at his computer.  I like having a second flexible station. For about 8 months, I didn’t have the second desk but it has gotten a lot of use and I like having one side dedicated to sewing. With my three drawer units, I use the left one for art and scrapbooking, the middle one is for sewing and stores more fabric.  This is fabric for apparel as opposed to quilting/crafting fabric stored in the dresser.  And the left most drawer unit is for my much neglected etsy store.  One of my little tricks for the work area was to put a power strip up on one of the brackets, above the work table.  If you look to the right of my sewing machine, you can see it.  When I started taking sewing classes, I spent a lot of time on the floor plugging in and unplugging my machine.  It was a pain.  Plus, I move my laptop around the house and sometimes I need my charger.  This is out of the way and easier to get to.  I used Command Strips to hang it.

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Last but not least is my closet.  It holds copious amounts of yarn, general craft supplies, batting and stuffing, pillow forms, and more fabric.  Plus, it gives my Tom Cruise poster, which I have owned since 1986, a home.

So that’s my craft room.  Some might say “holy crap there’s a lot of stuff in that room.”  To me, I see things that I love that bring back special memories.  They inspire me instead of overwhelm me.  This type of room wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.  It’s finally the way I want it to be and will probably be a complete disaster this time next week.


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My Love Of Magazines

August 14, 2008


I love magazines. I get so many ideas from them. New hairstyles. New products to try. Craft ideas. Decorating ideas. Recipes. And I rip all these ideas out of the magazines and end up with a huge folder of papers that grows and grows and grows… Finally, when I go through a purging phase, I’m tempted to just chuck the whole folder since I have lost track of what’s in the folder. Alas, I can’t bring myself to do it. I have found a solution that helps me keep things in better order. And today’s favorite thing is the Circa system by Levenger.

You buy these little round disks (which come in different sizes) and the hole punch and you can make a “book” of anything you want. This book has a plastic cover that I bought from Levenger and I created an inspiration/idea book. I cut out the articles and the pictures and I punch holes in it and then I put it right in the book. It’s easy to do and I am doing a better job of staying on top of thing. I could improve my book by creating sections (Craft ideas, Decorating ideas, etc). I used to try and organize binders using plastic page protectors, but then the binders got huge and took up a lot of room and it was time consuming to insert the pages into the binders, and then if I just had a small thing I wanted to put in I still had to use a full size page… With the circa system, I can take any size item and add it to the book.

circainsideWe have also used the circa system to create a book of take out menus. You can also use it for work and create a regular notebook. I use one for BabyDuckles with a nice cover. I have regular lined paper for making notes, writing out product descriptions, etc. I have blank paper for sketching. And there’s room for me to add pictures I clip from magazines for inspiration. Plus, if I am doodling at work or on a scrap piece of paper, I can just punch holes in that sheet and add it to my book.

I will say that this is not cheap, but if you can find multiple uses for it, it pays for itself in terms of organization and sanity.

Separate from circa, I have tried to cut down on paper by making pdf files of articles, craft projects, etc that I see in magazines and can find on the web. I created a project folder on my computer and save the files there. I should make a list of those files and keep it in my Circa book and I think that would help me keep track of what I have and where to find it. Hmmm… a new project.


Clearly, I Am Meant To Live In Chaos

July 30, 2008

Last night’s activity, though I really wanted nothing more than vegetating on the couch watching the Cubs, was to work on the garage a bit. I go into the garage at least twice a day, once in the morning to get into my car to go to work, and once at the end of the day when I park my car in the garage. It is a horrible way to start the day, walking through a disaster zone.

My focus was the shelving unit that holds our To-Be-Ebayed items and our pantry over flow. I had plenty of plastic containers around which makes the job much easier. Things still need to be labeled, but at least they are in a spot, like things grouped together. Now they are easier to access and the plastic containers make things stackable and that creates more room. Beverage storage is tough for us. I’ve tried keeping soda in the cases but that creates a different kind of mess. We’ll see how this works. For now, it is 100 times better.

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Next up was the trunk of my car. The trunk of my car is tiny to begin with and when it’s messy, even less fits in there. I like to keep a pair of old sneakers and clean socks in my trunk in case I have car problems. Now that I drive to work, I wear my “work” shoes. When I took the train, I always wore sneakers and changed shoes at the office. I just want to make sure I have comfy shoes in case I find myself in a situation where I have to walk. And I put two bottles of water in the box just in case. Again, 100 times better. And it only took 5 minutes.

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This is the next bit that I have to tackle. It is already better now that Bill and I broke down the cardboard boxes for recycling and put the trash and recycling out. Still a little more to do, but isn’t there always.

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So at home, things are looking better. Then I come to work. Summer time at work means cleaning up the files and getting ready for the start of the next budget season. On to of it, I was waiting for another piece of furniture to give me additional storage. Well, the furniture was delivered and it was huge. So I spent most of the morning moving things around. Now that the furniture is in it’s place, I’ve started putting stuff away and it looks about 50 times better, but still needs some work.


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The Furminator and The Widowmaker

April 28, 2008

furminatorBill discovered a new brush at the Pet Smart last weekend. With 3 cats and a dog, I have my fair share (and probably yours too!) worth of animal hair in my house. One of my cats is particularly hairy. She’s full-figured and has trouble cleaning herself so her hair is greasy and has more dander than the other cats. She does love to be brushed but I am most allergic to her so I don’t do it often. Bill tries, but he’s busy and so it just doesn’t get done. Anyhoo, at the pet store, Bill saw a new tool and decided to give it a try: The Furminator. It’s available on amazon for $22 (for the small, more for the medium and large) and change which is less than we paid, admitedly a lot for a brush for a pet. But let me tell you. The amount of hair that came off of her, and the other cats which we didn’t really think of as big shedders, was amazing. AMAZING, I tell you. That’s a picture of CJ and her hair, after only half of her had been brushed. We do have other brushes we use on CJ and get a lot of hair off, but I think this does a better job. For the cats, hands down it is better than anything we’ve used. For the dog it is as good but probably better, than other tools.

widowmakerLet me show you a picture of what we now call The Widowmaker. Originally named The Divorcemaker, this little organizing tool let to a few arguments in my house. We bought it a few years ago because we didn’t have a good place for our foil, saran wrap and wax paper. (We need to stock up on parchment paper.) It’s one of those relatively easy jobs that never gets done. The roadblock was probably the disorganization of the garage which made it difficult, or at least very frustrating, to get to Bill’s tools, and I believe he did need a drill and a screwdriver. When we cleaned the garage last week, we came across The Divorcemaker. I asked Bill if we should just get rid of it. I joked about it’s name and we laughed and then he came up with the new name. He also said that he would put it up and I think we both knew if it didn’t end up in a cabinet soon, I would be a single woman. Good news, he’s still alive, and our little organizer is up. Isn’t it doing a good job?

yumLastly, I thought I would share one of my favorite meals with you. Last week, on Admin’s Day, we had a special breakfast for our secretaries. Donuts. Bagels. Cinnamon Rolls. Fruit salad. Donut holes. Ugh. Of course I showed no resistance and came home from work feeling like garbage. I needed something nutritious and light. Perfect time for my tomato-mozzarella-basil salad. It’s very easy, simply spiced and tastes very “fresh” to me. I once ate this at a little cafe in Switzerland so when I have it at home, it takes me back. I get a container of cherry or grape tomatoes and slice them in half and put them in a big bowl. Slice up a hunk of fresh mozzarella cheese and put it in with the tomatoes. Chop up some fresh basil, add to the bowl. Coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors set. I serve it with a hunk of crusty bread. It’s all to taste, there are no measurements. An optional ingredient is balsamic vinegar, but I usually don’t put it in. It’s got calcium, vegetables, good fats. It would probably be healthier without the bread, or with a whole grain bread.

Well, that’s all I have for today. Hope you enjoyed your weekends and that you have a good Monday!


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The Great Drawer Project of ’08

January 11, 2008

It actually started in ’07. On a trip to IKEA, I saw this cute little drawer set that I thought would be perfect for my sewing notions. Let’s just say, Some Assembly Required. Thankfully, Bill did not curse me all that much, though I stayed way out of his way which it got put together.

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We (and really that means mostly Bill) finally got to the painting this week. The original green that I picked out was way to green. Not remotely what I had in mind. We switched to more of a sagey green which still isn’t exactly what I wanted, but it’s a great improvement. I wanted something more appley. I could have asked really nicely and Bill would have done a 5th and 6th coat, but I more wanted to get this bad boy in use. It stores my zippers, magnetic clips, bias tape, elastic. You name it, it’s in there. Except for threads. Those are elsewhere.

Didn’t my hubby do a great job? All that’s left is labeling the drawers.


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An Organized Pantry

March 13, 2007

pantry_before_1-07My pantry is pretty small.  Tiny, even.  And I don’t have a lot of other storage so I try and jam a lot into it.  And as you can see, it gets pretty messy.  I probably don’t have to tell you that finding things in here is quite a challenge.  I’ve tried to organize this space before, but I’m limited because of it’s size.  One of my first attempts was adding the shelving on the door.  It helped, but didn’t solve the problem. 

I’m always keeping my eyes open, looking for inspiration on what to do with this space.  A recent article in Real Simple, set off a lightbulb and I had hope.

kitchen-pantry-complete-2 I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  The drawers are a great tool and really fit a lot.  I have more space for my cereal which ended up creating room in my cabinets.  It really is amazing how much more you can fit in a small space when it’s well organized.  I even have room for my food processer freeing up space in a different cabinet!  I also utilized the floor space for some infrequently used small applicances, freeing up valuable space in yet another cabinet.  (I had a really hard time finding a storage container that would fit and still be large enough to be useful.)  There’s still work to be done in the kitchen, but this is a good first step.


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I Have the Nicest Rags!

February 27, 2007

I came home from work last Thursday and was motivated to sort through our t-shirt collection.  The only reason we had room for all of them in the closet was because they all weren’t clean at the same time.  Normally I have a very difficult time getting rid of things, but as I mentioned, I was motivated.  I was very strict – anything with a hole or a stain was trash.  T-shirts that passed the test were sorted into three categories – dress (the nicer t-shirts that can be worn in public), exercise, and sleep.  The unofficial fourth category was Cubs.  I refolded and put the shirts back into labeled drawers in the closet.  And surprise of all surprises, there is room for more t-shirts!  Hurrah, because there’s at least five in the dirty clothes!

Now what to do with all the t-shirts on their way to the trash?  It seemed like such a waste.  Many of them were garbage because of a small dog-sized teeth holes.  (Our punkin loves to run around with a t-shirt in her mouth and because she looks so darn cute we let her.)  The logical choice was to make them into rags, but I never use the rags.  But then inspiration struck and I had a plan – a mitten rag.  Maybe it would be more functional than a square rag.

rags1My first step was to  create a mitten template by putting my hand on a piece of paper and drawing around it in the shape of a mitten, giving myself a little extra space so my husbands big ‘ol hand could fit inside it too.  Then I laid out the t-shirt inside out, matching up the bottom edges, making sure to utilize the finished edge of the shirt.  I traced the pattern onto the t-shirt checking that I didn’t include any holes or stains in my mitt.  Next I pinned it, and then sewed around the pattern with a straight stitch.  I made another pass around the edge using a zig-zag stitch to prevent fraying.  I cut around the stitching, leaving a slight border.  Once that was complete, I flipped it inside out and had my completed mitt.  Not perfect, but good enough for a rag.  As you see below, Harrison approves.

rag-mittsBill tested out the mitt when he scrubbed the cats’ litter boxes.  They worked well for both scrubbing and drying!  If you use a super soft t-shirt, it would also make a good pedicure mitten – slather on some lotion before bed and then put on your mittens.

I do realize that I put entirely too much time into making rags.  But it did make me feel less wasteful. Maybe I’ll even use less papertowels now too!


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The Laundry Closet Is Done!

June 17, 2005

The laundry closet has actually been done for about 2 weeks, it’s just taken me awhile to take the pictures and update my blog. If you’re interested in the before pictures, check out the original laundry closet post.

We have a ton of storage now. Elfa shelving is awesome. We originally only bought 2 shelves for each side. After we put them up, we realized we would be able to comfortably fit three shelves. Because Elfa gives the flexibility to adjust the shelves, we went back to the Container Store for an extra row of shelves. Our top shelves give us room for growth. I’m storing my beach towels (in a plastic bag so they don’t get dusty) on the left top shelf because those don’t get used very often. On the right top shelf, I’ve store extra office supplies.

Previously, the ironing board was squeezed in the closet next to the dryer (on the right wall). While this maximized space, it was not easy to get the ironing board in and out of the close. Since our board has a cute cover, we bought an over the door ironing board holder and now store the board on the outside of the door where it is very easy to use. It makes a statement with it’s colorful cover. As convenient as this new location is, my husband still doesn’t put the ironing board away; we’ll have to work on that, Bill.

In place of the ironing board, we put up a small towel bar to hang a cleaning rag and my delicates bag.

All of the wash supplies we use regularly (bleach, detergent, baking soda, oxyclean, stain stick and woolite) are on the bottom shelf right above the washer. It is so easy to graph the detergent and bleach bottle. Bill said he didn’t realize how much energy he spent pulling those bottles before we put up the new shelves. I was always worried I was going to hurt my wrist. I put the baking soda and oxyclean in cute glass jars with scoops so that I can easily take the top off my jar and scoop the appropriate powder. No moving of the jar required (although I will have to move the jar when I get close to the bottom). I also put up an undershelf basket for my dryer sheets, color absorbtion sheets and garbage bags. I can easily grab the sheet and it uses space that would otherwise go unused; the lid to the washer easily clears this shelf. The second shelf on the left side is for extra laundry supplies.

On the left wall I have my dustbuster and a bulletin board with laundry instructions and a bag for buttons. The laundry instructions are care of Martha Stewart Living and helpful for deciphering the little graphics on some care tags. I can also pin things that come out of pockets so that one of my cats doesn’t bat it off the dryer.

The shelves on the right side hold ironing supplies, rags, dryel supplies, garbage bags, miscellaneous cleaning supplies and extra hangers. Everything is in a labeled container making easy to know where to find things, or where to put them when I’m done.

There are only 2 things on top of my dryer – a little garbage can and a money jar. The little garbage can collects garbage, mostly dryer lint and tissues from my pockets. All money from our pockets, usually mine, goes in the money jar. I figure every six months or so we’ll empty it. It’s taking all my willpower not to dig the bills out right now. I think there’s about $10 of mine in there. Drats!

Last but not least is the fun orange color. I love it. You make think it’s too bright, but everytime I look in there, I smile.

Bill and I are really happy with our new laundry area. It’s well-organized, colorful and functional.


Update on Laundry Closet

May 30, 2005

Painting is complete. The walls are pretty orange, but I like it. If you look up the stairs from the third floor, you see an orange glow.

It has toned down now that the appliances are in place. Bill also hung the main support for the Elfa shelving. Not the easiest installation he’s had. We’re hoping that we didn’t drill through our neighbors wall or puncture anything that shouldn’t have been punctured.

The doors are back on and I’m pleased with my color choice. It makes me smile which is what I wanted. I’m looking forward to putting up the shelves next weekend and getting everything off my floor! The paint is still pretty fresh and we don’t want to leave any marks from the shelves or face plates, etc.

I’ll post pictures once everything is done!


Redoing Our Laundry Closet

May 29, 2005

I’ve spent a lot of time the last two weeks working on our fourth floor which is our office/laundry room. I’ve been trying to organize my endless supply of craft items, as well as my books, office supplies and desk. Then there’s Bill’s side of the room and the laundry area.

Yesterday, my side of the room was pretty much done so I tackled the laundry area. I decided that the closet could be better organized and that an extra row of shelves would make a difference. To make sure, I started by pulling everything off the shelves to see what I had, what I needed and what I could get rid of. I determined I needed the following:

  • Above the washer – a lower shelf for all my detergent, bleach, baking sode, oxyclean, etc. (things I use regularly) and a higher shelf for extra supplies.
  • Above the dryer – a lower shelf and a rod for extra hangers and my ironing supplies, other misc. supplies and then a higher shelf for extra things like beach towels.

I took inventory of all my stuff and figured out what kind of containers I needed and then took measurements of the closet. Off to the Container Store, I went (dragging Bill with me)! I’m addicted to Elfa Shelving so we met with a planner and designed our closet. I already knew what I wanted so that made it easier, but the Elfa planners are knowledgeable and can help you if you’re not sure what you need. The other great thing is that Elfa is adjustable, interchangeable and extremely easy to install.

While waiting for an Elfa planner, we shopped for our containers and I broke the news to Bill that I wanted to paint the closet. I batted my eyes a few times and he couldn’t say no. I’ve had it in my head that I wanted to paint a room a fun shade of orange and thought the laundry room would be the prefect place for such a happy color. I am not a fan of doing laundry and I figured that the right shade of orange would make me smile when I opened the doors. When I was picking out the color my dad asked what was wrong with more conventional colors and joke about doing my laundry closet in all Home Depot.

Then last night we started to clean out the closet, taking everything out and removing the shelves and ironing board holder. Next was pulling out the washer and dryer. I can’t even describe the amount of dust. Once the washer was moved we found some serious mold growing. Majorly disgusting and made us realize that the area needs to be cleaned out annually. You never know what you might find. We washed, dusted, patched holes and went to sleep, exhausted.

This morning we woke up, painted the ceiling and sanded and primed the patched holes. I’m waiting for the ceiling and primed areas to dry so that I can paint the walls. I want to get the washer and dryer back in place and then later in the week we can install the shelves and put everything back.


About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

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