So here, at last, is my craft room reveal, a project I’ve been working on for some time and, for some crazy reason, decided to actually implement in December in the midst of the holiday rush. Crazy timing, but all the work was worth it – the room has met my expectations and more.
Here’s a quick “before” look.
First off, the room is a mess. This is partly because I hadn’t tidyed up before snapping these pictures, but mostly because it was impossible to truly make the room neat and tidy. The room simply wasn’t working – inadequate storage, little work surface, poor organization. Also, it was very dark. I had painted the room grey a couple of years ago when dark colors became the craze in decorating, and had added dark furniture and even though the colors I choose were relatively light, they turned out to be too dark for my taste. I’ve seen rooms where dark colors are used, and they can be quite lovely and I like and admire them, but they just aren’t for me. I am a Spring girl and I like lots of light and white. Life Lesson #1: be true to yourself.
The other problem with the room was that, in the interest of being frugal and using what I had, most of the furniture in the room just didn’t work. I had moved in an old coffee table that was the wrong size and shape and had almost no storage (it had been a pretty bad coffee table too!); used an IKEA dresser for storage that I thought would be quirky and fun but was mostly wasted space and frustrating; bought a small desk in the hopes that small would translate to minimal but just meant there was no where to set anything down; used a bench and boxes to store my printer and paper that meant getting supplies required a fair amount of contortions; and no dedicated work surface. I had also covered the walls with dark pictures in dark frames. Nothing worked for what I needed. It was a nightmare. Life Lesson #2: using the correct tool/furniture is often the best and simplest solution.
So I set about fixing the problem. I did a lot of research, looking through lots and lots of decorating books and magazines (your local library is a great – and inexpensive! – resource), scrolling through dozens and dozens of blogs (Apartment Therapy is a favorite for practical, stylish ideas) and lurking around various lifestyle stores – even if I could never afford to outfit my house in Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware, they have amazing style and often showcase their products in mock rooms which lead to many great ideas on putting a room together. I also kept my eyes open to finding inspiration in unexpected places – museums, movies, gardens all influenced me. Life Lesson #3: inspiration is everywhere – keep an open mind.
I took note of what appealed to me (lots of white, lots of soft, light colors) and even if a room wasn’t perfect (for me) I would study it for what parts and pieces I did like. At this point you could put together a mood board of some sort, either using Pintrest or Evernote or keeping magazine clippings. I was already pretty clear on what I liked, had tracked down some good sources for reference and had settled on IKEA for furniture. This photo on the Fringe Association blog (one of my favorite knitting blogs) became my inspiration and guide. Life Lesson #4: you don’t have to do this alone; find something you admire and adapt it to your own vision and needs.
I also spent some time writing out exactly what I wanted in this room – how it needed to function, what I needed to purchase or bring in, what I wanted it to look like. Notice I included the note “pretty” – just because I wanted it to be a functional workspace didn’t mean it couldn’t also be beautiful and inspirational in its own right. At first I thought writing this out would be a waste of time, but instead it really helped clarify my vision for this room. Life Lesson #5: take time to think about the overall picture.
An IKEA coupon showed up in my mailbox about this time and that proved to be the final push. I measured and measured the room again and again, made a list of everything I wanted to purchase (IKEA has a cool printable shopping list on their website which tells you the location of each item), measured the inside of my little SUV to make sure everything would fit, borrowed my friends iPass for the toll roads and set off. I had a lot of fun on that trip – I listened to Cabin Pressure (very funny BBC radio show – if you can get your hands on a copy you MUST listen to it, although I had to order mine from Amazon.uk), had Swedish meatballs for lunch and filled – to CAPACITY! – the car. It was also a lot of hard work and I was exhausted by the time I got home, but I was pretty pleased with myself. Life Lesson #6: at some point you just have to take the plunge and Do It.
Over the next few days I emptied out the room as much as possible, covered the grey with off white paint, moved the furniture I was keeping back into place and began putting the IKEA furniture together. I wrote out a schedule so that I wouldn’t become overwhelmed and worked on it steadily. The house was a crazy mess, with boxes and piles of stuff all over – not the best situation during an already chaotic month – but bit by bit the room came together. Life Lesson #7: make a plan to keep on track and keep your sanity.
There are still two things that need to be done with the room, neither of which impact its current usefulness. One is ripping out the carpet and getting the hardwood floors refinished. That will have to wait a few years. The other is hanging some artwork, in particular a gallery wall. This will happen in the next few weeks – I have most of the frames and pictures, but needed to stop and catch up on some projects (and Christmas!) that had been on hold. I’ll update you on the gallery wall when that’s finished.
So here it is in all its glory. I love it – it’s bright, light, very functional and PRETTY. The hard part some days is leaving it!
The first view is my computer desk and printer setup. This is where the gallery wall of pictures will go so at the moment it looks a little bare. That will change. The desk and file cabinet are from the Alex line from IKEA; I love the clean, simple lines and how functional they are. The two drawers on the desk have ample room for office-type stuff like paper clips and tape and keeps all that clutter out of sight.
The file cabinet has three narrow drawers – perfect for separating the different papers I use in the printer (plain, photo and card stock) plus a hanging file drawer. My printer fits nicely on top within easy reach. The desk chair is from Amazon.com’s line of Basics; it was reasonably priced and is very comfortable. Best of all, the height is adjustable; I’d been using a dining room chair before and that just wasn’t working (see Life Lesson #2 above)
The next wall is my work table. I have had this table for several months but before it was always cluttered and messy and crowded into a too small space. It’s nothing fancy and I had considered replacing it but now that there are good storage options in the rest of them room I’m actually able to use it as intended – a space to lay out and work on projects. The brown bench that had been used to hold my printer just fit under the work table and is a handy spot for things I use a lot like my Tombow markers and for cleanup supplies like paper towels. The shelves in the corner and the upholstered chair were in this room before.
The third wall has a window that looks out over the garden. A wide Alex file cabinet from IKEA fits perfectly under the window. I absolutely love this piece. The wide drawers hold my speciality papers for lettering and scrap booking, the lowest drawer organizes all my various tools (paper cutter, hole punch, rulers, etc) and the other drawers comfortably hold additional supplies. As a bonus, the top of the cabinet makes a perfect additional work surface. (Yes, that grey orb is a litter box. Toby decided he wanted a litter box in this room and, as is usually the case, he won!)
And finally, the star of the room. This is IVAR shelving from IKEA. This line has many different configurations and sizes so you can tailor it to your space and needs. It can be painted or stained but I’m going to leave it as is. I opted for two of the deeper 70″ high shelving units with five shelves each.
I already had most of the boxes and notebooks you see here, but I did pick up the four white boxes on the lower right at IKEA. They’re made of a heavy, sturdy plastic and are just the right size for organizing like objects together. I also got tray inserts for two of them; these hold and organize smaller items like stamps and notes – they make my organizing heart very happy! I also purchased some smaller boxes from the same line (KUGGIS) to hold smaller, specific collections, so I have one for my calligraphy pens and nibs and one for paint supplies (a very modest group), etc. They all stack neatly too.
I was able to give the old dresser to a friend who is expecting a baby in the spring and sold the desk and coffee table at a consignment store so they didn’t go to waste and I got a bit of spending money.
It was a lot of planning and hard work, but it was also a lot of fun and the results have been so satisfying! Life Lesson #8: something you want is worth working for!