The Big Craft Clean-Up

I’ve been reorganizing my craft stuff.  That may not sound very exciting but it has been a MAJOR project that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time.  Now it is nearly done.  I could not be more pleased with the results.

We have an oval papasan wicker couch and a group of boxes, bins, baskets and bags has been stacked haphazardly at one end of it  A variety of craft supplies were stored in the stacking bins to the far left.  It was a spacious but awkward arrangement and difficult to use because getting to the lower bins meant taking the tops bins completely off.  A basket on top held my address book, envelopes, stamps and a few cards.

Card stock was in hanging files in heavy white cardboard file boxes under a large. heavy, square basket packed with zippered plastic bags full of paper scraps, templates, cardboard shapes, tags, sheet music,  and printed papers.  To get to the card stock, I had to lift the basket out of the way. A small trunk holds memorabilia (including family photos and cards from Rem), and is topped with a leather box of cards I’ve made and a few knick-knacks. On the right is a portable plastic storage bin that I take when I go crafting with a friend.  It is topped with a canvas bag with even more supplies for other projects.

A shelf behind the couch held smaller plastic tubs with dusty. unused journals, old cards, projects from workshops and out-of date newsletters from Stampin’ Up who I used to demonstrate for.

A pair of bar stools under the counter made a convenient place to stack books, drape sweaters and jackets, and set down mail.  We never actually sat on them.  Several boxes of canning jars, some empty and others with chutney are stacked on the floor.  Wire bins with a variety of candles, candle holders, boxes of envelopes and bottles of wine are in the corner.  Rem had just cleaned the unit out so it looks better than it has in years. Yeah, that IS the “After” for those bins.  I wish I had a picture of the “Before”.

This dresser was full of supplies for rubber stamping and crafting cards.  Completed and half-finished projects and the various papers, sticky tape, colored pens and other supplies got stacked to one side on the table so we could eat and them moved to the dresser or in piles on the floor until I put them away.  The piles usually grew before I got around to cleaning them up.  Sometimes the dresser was buried under an archeological dig of craft stuff.  On top is the most recent holiday, in this case green paper from St. Patrick’s Day.  Go down a layer and you’ll find Valentine’s Day, then Christmas stuff.

The drawers were loaded with boxes of rubber stamps, ink, punches, ribbon, glitter, embossing powder, buttons, brads, jewels, scissors, twine, a crimping tool, an embossing heat gun and more.

I had given away and donated a bunch of rubber stamps about 6 months ago but I was ready to say goodbye to other stamps I knew I wasn’t using.  The more I could donate, the more space I would have to play with.

More bins lurk in the bedroom.  Perfect for a kids room or garage or maybe storage closet.  Not my favorite look for our bedroom.  You get used to things but when I really looked at these bins I could see they needed help. The drawers had become jammed with supplies.  I didn’t even know what all was in there because the bottom drawer sagged so badly, it wouldn’t open.

I knew the first step was to get rid of some of this mess mass of stuff.  I completely sorted through all of my craft supplies.  ALL of them. Even the ones in the bottom drawer I couldn’t open.  Turns out, it was mosaic supplies.  I had completely forgotten WHAT was in there.  I had to work my way down through the drawers sorting and emptying bins until I could actually open that bottom drawer.

I’ve collected things I might use in a future project.  But haven’t. I’ve completed projects, had leftover supplies and saved them because they were still good.  I had materials from crafts that I’m not longer doing. I had duplicates of some items because things had become so cluttered and disorganized I didn’t know what I had and bought more.

I love printed papers and I often buy packs that have many different designs.  I don’t always like every page in a pack but the price is usually good enough to buy it with those few I don’t love.  Over years of crafting I’ve ended up with a container of dud designs that I didn’t want to use.  I would dig through the box looking for something fun and new and see pages of designs I either had grown tired of or didn’t like in the first place.

Another issue that bothered me was crafting in our little apartment meant working on our one and only table.  Most of the time that was ok but it meant whenever I was working on a project and had it spread out on the table I either stacked it up in a disorganized pile so we could eat dinner at the table or eating dinner from plates on our laps on the bed.  Not ideal.

I was so ready to get rid of things I wasn’t using.  I thought if I could actually clear out enough stuff I might actually be able to fit a crafting desk into our small living space.  That was a huge incentive.  I also wanted to be able to actually open (and close) all the drawers and to sort through and keep only the paper I found beautiful and pass along the rest to someone who would use it and enjoy it.

A few days off from work scattered over several weeks helped me to really focus my energy on this Big Craft Clean-Up. I called a friend who I knew volunteered at several schools in the area and who worked with disadvantaged kids and women living in a homeless shelter.  I learned she would be thrilled to take most of my discarded items and I was delighted to pass it along to be used and enjoyed.

My mom was inspired by my project and donated some scrapbook paper and craft scissors she wasn’t using.  She had decided that she was happier putting together photo-albums than creating scrapbooks.

At first, the project created chaos. Drawers were emptied, bins were moved, I filled a kitchen trash bag with hardened glue sticks, pens that no longer wrote, crumpled, musty paper and dried-out markers.

A friend at work was happy to take the stools for his dad’s backyard wood-shop.  Rumor has it they actually sit on them!  The canning jars found a home in our storage space under the apartment.  My sister, who has a very large storage space, wanted the mosaic supplies.

I started sorting out the items I wanted to keep and stuff I was ready to donate.  I found fabric scraps, fake flowers, decoupage medium, jewelry findings, pens, brushes, raffia, cotton balls, flat glass marbles, magnets, coloring books, brown paper bags, excelsior, pliers, colored pencils and more.  I wiped dust off of bins and filled another bag with garbage and two with paper to recycle.

The stacking bins were loaded with bags of craft supplies still in good shape.  A turning rack of ink pads was bagged and ready to go, I’d kept the colors I use most often along with a set of colored markers and said goodbye to the rest.  A big boot box was roomy enough for scrapbook paper, card stock and other flat items.  Smaller boxes held what had been treasures for me at one time but had become trash.  For my friend and the women and kids she works with I hope they will be treasures again.

Now I was ready to shop for a desk!  I measured the (limited) available space and after searching online and a preliminary look at The Container Store, we headed to IKEA.  We looked at several combinations I’d seen on the computer but in one I didn’t like the way the drawers were open at the top and though it would have fit, it was really small.  A rolling file cabinet ended up being too wide to work.  A call to the Container Store to check the measurements of a file cabinet on sale and a mental rearrangement of my set-up and we made our decision.  We came home with a set of drawers, two table legs and a desk top.

I have previously put together a bedside table with drawers and a book shelf from IKEA.  As long as I’ve got plenty of time, Rem’s support and the use of his power drill with screwdriver bit, I find it fun and satisfying to assemble their furniture.  It suits my skill level.  The directions are all pictures.

I count out all the bits and bobs and make sure I have everything I need.  It isn’t really building but it is fulfilling to go from these pieces:

To this:

Or more importantly, from this:

To this:

I had a bit of panic when I saw what had seemed like a very small desk top while in IKEA hulking rather largely in our limited space. But once everything was assembled and pushed into place, once all the big packing cardboard was taken out to the recycling bins, and once I started putting stuff in the drawers I started to get used to it.

Now I can sit at my desk (oh, that makes me happy) and open a drawer…

and use the adhesive or scissors or bone folder and then put it away.

The drawers have the supplies I use the most often, right at my fingertips.

The dresser has been organized and the contents distilled to what I really want to keep and use.

With less stuff everything has a place.  Not a stack on the floor. Or piled on top of the dresser.

I had hoped for paper storage in the desk but when that didn’t work out, I decided a small file cabinet on sale from The Container Store could replace a file box that had been in the corner of the bedroom.

These books look better here than on the old stools.  The green fabric bin from Target is a nice replacement for the old basket holding my address book and stamps.

Best of all, all my colored card stock (that survived the paper purge) is in the bottom drawer with plenty of room in the top drawer for (boring) files.

The space under the counter is still a work-in-progress.  I will post a picture when I  get the storage unit I have my eye on to replace the wire bins.  For now, it is fine.  I will align the new unit with the trunk/basket combo and fabric “drawers” will keep things neater looking.

In the bedroom I still want to replace the stacking plastic drawer bins.  For now they have been sorted out and all the drawers open.  When I find something that fits in the space that I like, I’ll get it.

I love sitting at the table to eat without needed to pile up a craft project I’m in the middle of.  A few portable boxes with handles sit under the window and I don’t expect to get rid of them.  Going out crafting with friends is still something I enjoy.

All of this cleaning, sorting, reorganizing, shopping and assembling has kept me from doing much crafting or blogging lately, but I know the energy and effort I’ve put into this big project is very well spent.  I will be creating in this space for years to come.

Thank you for stopping by.


Filed under Crafts, Life

16 responses to “The Big Craft Clean-Up

  1. Wow! I am impressed. I love the new desk and how you now have the drawers filled witb organized supplies for crafting-at your finger tips.
    Your dinning area looks cool and inviting. Nice to have that area back just for eating and to relax and enjoy the separate space, yes? I like the Container store file cabinet too. It looks good in your room. I am so happy you finished your project. You inspired me to clean out my closet upstairs….filled with unfolded towels and old makeup and prescriptions, etc. Big mess. It feels better to get the unused stuff out. Really nice of you to donate so kids can enjoy crafting with stuff you no longer use. Thanks for sharing. Everything looks great and I look forward to seeing the one area left to finish. Curiious about who got the stools.

    • Marco got the stools. Thanks for the great comments and I’m delighted to know you were inspired! It really does feel great when you aren’t dealing with chaos.

      Another way to put it is: this is one area in my life I can control and it is so much more peaceful, calm and pleasurable to sit at my craft desk being creative. When I didn’t have a place for everything, every craft project added to the clutter so the delight was often colored with frustration. This is so much better! Yes, it is also great to have our dining table for dining.

  2. Cleaning up and organizing is always the worst made into the best! Looking Good!

    • You said it! Thanks. I’m a terrible procrastinator and it feels great to finally have this done. I don’t think I was really excited until I thought of putting in a desk.

  3. It looks so nice now! I’m not a stranger to the craft messes that seem to lurk around every corner in my house. It always feel so good to get things organized and see what you actually have. I hope it stays this way for you!
    Happy Saturday!

    • Thank you! I love it every time I go into the living room and see it. I should do a check-in a few months from now and we’ll see how it looks then. Happy Saturday to you too, thanks for the comment.

  4. Julie

    Good Job! I have those same wire bins under a tall Ikea art table/desk!

  5. Oh dear.

    Now you have just made me feel guilty


  6. I love it and am so glad you finally found yourself some space devoted just to your crafts, you totally deserve it. I can’t wait to see all the crafting goodness that explodes from your stress free workspace. The desk looks great!

    • Thank you, thank you! I feel so happy to have it and it really does feel much calmer and more peaceful. The table looks so nice without the piles of crap I mean craft stuff. I went to Scrapbook Territory in Berkeley today with Margaret (to round out birthday month – after all, my birthday is on the second of March – that makes today the last day of birthday month, right?) and she was treating for part of the goodies I brought home. Mostly paper but some ribbon and yes, more washi tape.

  7. Wow that’s ambitious! I have to do the same thing…SOON!. I have craft space.. tons of it in fact.. but right now everything is just all over the place and piled up. Right now that area is taken up mostly with things to get rid of at a yard sale that we never got around to doing in the fall. (mutters) Your area looks great! Glad you got a niche carved out for yourself. It makes such a difference.

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