I once thought craft rooms were the sanctuary of someone like my eccentric aunt, whose once-spotless home has slowly transformed into a disorganized workshop of glitter, glue, popsicle sticks and pinecones. She makes a mean Christmas ornament, but I never wanted my living space to look like hers.
The craft room hits home
My wife, however, is an avid sewer whose space needs outgrew the corner she claimed in our small second bedroom. She came to me with a grand plan to annex the living room.
I was skeptical, but – after hearing her plans – agreed to try. We bought a pair of small, matching writing desks for her sewing machine and serger, a simple Ikea Kallax shelving unit, a 24” x 60” utility table for cutting and measuring and moved our heavy, wooden dining table into the room for additional surface area.
My wife added colorful floor containers to hold and organize her supplies and decorated the walls with inspirational posters and fabric designs. She placed her dress form in the corner with her latest project as both an eye-catching addition to the room, a conversation starter and a reminder to get back to work. We are lucky enough to have a floor-to-ceiling window in this room, which offers natural light and an ever-changing streetscape for inspiration.
- Our once-dull living room is now a bright, active workspace.
- Our dining room became a functional home office, and we can still take meals or entertain guests at the wooden table in the craft room.
- Our second bedroom is a comfortable entertainment space.
We were also able to complete a thorough decluttering process, eliminating tons of old paperwork and unused clothing, appliances and gadgets that had long outlived their usefulness.
The experiment has been a great success, and I learned two key lessons from this exercise:
1. A craft room is simply a convenient name for an inspirational space.
Sewers, knitters, quilters, jewelry makers, sculptors, artists, writers and scrapbookers can all use a room of their own.
2. If you want a craft room, make it happen.
Let’s be realistic: you’re not going to build an addition onto your home. You’re probably not moving in the immediate future. Find a way to turn your existing space into a craft room. Don’t make excuses – find solutions.
With these thoughts in mind, let’s consider ways that you can create your own craft room.
Creating a Craft Room: Tips and Ideas
The first issue – which my wife and I managed to solve — is finding space for a craft room. Cheryl at the Sew Can Do blog had a similar dilemma:
EXACTLY. Waiting for a straight-from-Pinterest craft room to magically appear in your house simply means you’ll be waiting for a long time.
Here’s how to use the space you have:
1. Pick a room.
We picked our living room, but the choice is yours. A recent Real Simple profile of Pennsylvania newlyweds Jenn and Joe Mauras focuses on their craft room transformation of a second bedroom. HGTV.com offers a stunning look at an empty nester’s refurbishment of an adult child’s room. In a pinch, even dedicated space within an existing room can work.
“Fortunate are those who have an entire room to devote to creative pursuits,” Marie Proeller Hueston of Country Living writes. “But even a corner of a room or an elegant armoire can function beautifully as long as it is a place dedicated to making your ideas come to life.” Hueston recommends selecting a spot with natural light that is removed from the hustle of the outside world and the bustle within your own home.
2. Clear it out!
As you prep your craft room, you have a great opportunity to declutter. “When you first begin to organize your craft room, eliminate old materials, leftover bits of projects, and patterns you are no longer interested in completing,” Marye Audet of LoveToKnow recommends. “By decluttering your craft materials, you will free up a lot more space to be efficiently organized.”
Decluttering tends to have a snowball effect. As you declutter your crafting space, you will need to move items into other rooms in your home – which clutters those areas, instead. Stop shuffling your stuff! Identify seasonal or unused clothes, electronics, supplies and furniture and move these items to Life Storage.
3. Add storage space.
Since we are on the topic of storage, let’s dive a little deeper. Even a newly-decluttered crafting space can become a demotivating nightmare if it gets too messy. Instead of a source of inspiration and joy, you’ve added one more room to clean. What a downer.
Make sure you have ample storage space, even in the coziest confines, with these solutions:
- Wall shelving. Bernadette of the DIY Sisters blog nailed it when she recalled her craft room wall shelving “Eureka!” moment:
- Shelving was the most important part of this whole make over. It is where I started my planning. I thought and thought about it. I drew out different ideas. I agonized over choosing the right kind of shelves. I had Tri-City Closets give me a bid on a whole wall of shelving. I looked on Pinterest, the Internet, Pottery Barn, and Ikea for ideas and prices. Everything was so expensive, and I didn’t see anything that fit exactly what I wanted/needed. What if we got something and I found it too limiting.One day I had an epiphany! I had been thinking about a shelving system with cubbies, since we already had a cubby unit up here and really liked it. But what if instead of something closed in and divided, we just had simple, open shelves?Aha! And with that, we could just use (what I call) track and bracket shelving and do it ourselves. So that’s what we did. That’s what both pictures above show. We purchased all of our materials at Lowe’s and Home Depot. For those of you who don’t know, with this system you screw tracks directly onto the wall, and use brackets to support your shelves.Simple, smart and cheap.Judging from the photo above (with Bernadette, right, and her sister, Bridget), the shelving solution looks nice, too.
- Boxes. Boxes are great for craft room storage because they are symmetrical, easy to stack and pack and – when properly decorative – add color to the space, as well. Linda at Craftaholics Anonymous is a big fan of storage boxes from The Original Scrapbox, describing their wares as “drool-worthy.” Alright, then!
- Tables / desks. Your decision may change depending on the type of work you are doing, how much space you have and what you are willing to spend, but a popular option is the craft table with built-in storage. The South Shore Crea Craft Table comes with cubbies, drawers and shelves for a list price of $395. The Sew Essential Quilter’s Design Table includes ample surface area, drawers and wheels for mobility at $269.If these prices seem a little steep, consider a simple utility table – my wife and I bought a 24” x 59” Ikea Hissmon for $60 and it has served its purpose for sewing projects well.
- Cubbies. Cubbies are awesome. They are versatile, space-efficient and look cool. Better Homes and Gardens agrees, noting that “deep shoe cubbies are perfect for storing long, awkward items such as oversize punches, tag makers, paper trimmers, and die-cutting tools and accessories.” Also, it’s fun to say “cubbies.” Try it!
- Closets. Some people actually turn their closets into a craft room. I’m not recommending you go that far, but closets offer crucial storage space for your craft room. Traci from the Beneath My Heart blog shared her excellent craft closet makeover, and – while you may not want to go as hardcore on the reconstruction as she did – it’s worth noting that the efficient use of space, the addition of shelving, the use of pegboard, a new coat of paint and attractive lighting are tips we can all use.
- Self storage. When space is tight at home, a storage unit can be a lifesaver. An inexpensive 5’ X 5’ storage rental can keep unused tools and supplies safe and secure, especially if you have concerns about young children “exploring” your craft room. Limiting your gear by keeping items inside storage units also allows you to focus on single projects rather than dealing with the constant distraction of two or more commitments (and the associated clutter, mess and maintenance).
4. Stay Inspired.
Planning a craft room can be hard work! Your craft, however is important to you – stay focused and keep your inspiration level high with regular visits to Pinterest, sites like Houzz.com and MarthaStewart.com and your favorite home blogs (we’ve referenced quite a few in this post).
As a final bit of inspiration, I’ll wrap this post up with a quote from Stuart Kestenbaum (pictured above, left) the director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, who was asked why arts and crafts remain important in the 21st century.
Why craft now? Can you imagine a group of doctors asking “Why medicine now?” or farmers asking “Why food now?” I suppose you could have a gathering of opera companies asking “Why opera now?” or train enthusiasts asking “Why mass transit now?” Perhaps it’s the group that feels that it has more to offer than others want to take that asks the question.
The answer is always in the making. The answer is in the ancient heritage of humans and materials, and in the resilient and ingenious human spirit, which can carry us into the here and now.
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