Organizing my small space for clutter-free crafting

As you probably already know, The Warren, where I live with The Girl and The Housemate, is a pretty small space. What it lacks in floor area, it makes up for in ambiance – it has several large windows for the cats to look out of, high ceilings, lots of light and air. But because it’s cozy, storage is at a premium. And when you’re a crafter, limited storage space can prove to be tricky. Over the past two months, TG and I spent our time discovering just how tricky a situation it was after finally deciding to move my craft supplies here.

But with a little help from the inspiration boards on Pinterest and tips from fellow hobbyists, I’ve cleared away (most of the) clutter, organized my supplies, and am raring and ready to start making stuff again. 🙂

Sorted pens from IHeartOrganizing

Image from one of the places where I sought inspiration, http://www.iheartorganizing.blogspot.com .
I can only wish my space was that organized.

Seven years ago, when I took up scrapbooking, all my materials fit in a shoebox (size 5) stashed under the bed. In 2010, when I moved back home following The Breakup, I had an entire room’s worth. Just heaps and heaps of stuff loaded into boxes and trash bags, most of which was left to gather dust in my mom’s house when I ended up staying permanently at the Warren.

 

Why’d I let myself go without scrapping for so long? Because, as I said, it’s a teeny apartment, and TG despises clutter. To make matters worse, I’m living proof of the theory that creative people are messy. And besides, when we moved, all we had was a mat to sleep on, a small green plastic cabinet, four monoblock chairs, a two-burner stove, and a fridge. If I brought my stuff with me it would have sat in the middle of the living room in a sad, gory heap. As it was, my old bedroom had looked like a bad episode of Hoarders for months.

This is what it looked like while it was in progress:

OMG what a mess.

The epic mess that was my-room-slash-family-laundry-room. Not for the faint of heart.

Don’t judge me. :p

Anyway, the first thing I did was the most important thing any organized person has to do: sort and discard. I spent whole afternoons clearing junk out. Some old tools and stamps went to a destash sale, while others were donated. A lot of stuff went to the trash, having been damaged by water and heat. The adhesives were the hardest hit. Almost none of my double-sided tapes or adhesive corners made it to the “keep” pile.

 

Amazingly, my paints, some of which are eight years old, are as vibrant as the day I bought them. Even with a bit of crusting around the seal, they’re ready to go after a good shake. Most of the original acrylics and all of the watercolors and gouache are safely tucked away at the Warren as I type. My walnut stain crystals, my first ever purchase from the US almost ten years ago, are perfectly fine, too.

Then I had to find them new homes. In a tiny space, you can’t have a lot of open storage. You’re going to look like a crowded store. So I opted for shelves with a solid door, and a matching shoe cabinet with side shelves.

 

Bim and I have always found great storage solutions at Landmark Makati, and luckily enough, they were having a sale that week I went looking. I managed to get two shoe cabinets and a full-sized one for under P9,000. And that’s including delivery fees, so I was feeling very pleased with myself.

If you don’t have a car or live in a building where there are no elevators and the stairwell isn’t going to allow you to carry a fully-assembled shelf up to your floor, the store offers assembly services. The two staff who stayed behind to but together the furniture were very efficient, polite, and wonderfully patient with Mocha, Nori, and Penoy, who insisted on being in the middle of all this activity.

Landmark staff giveexcellent service

Landmark Makati staff assembled all three cabinets while Mocha supervised.

Just to give you an idea of what I mean by “small space”, here’s a pic of the entire ground floor. To take it, I’m pressed up against the stove on what would be the bottom left corner of our square space. A couple of steps directly to my right are the sink and kitchen cabinets, and from here, you can take a shot of just about the entire space.

 

And yeah, it still looks a bit messy because at the time I took this image, the guys assembling the shelving units were still at it, and all the materials waiting for their new homes were piled on every available flat surface. Occasionally, one of the cats would knock a box or basket over, or tear open a bag. Obviously, it was a stressful morning for all the humans involved, while the kitties had a hay day.

How small is a small space?

It took them roughly an hour and a half to put all three items together, get everything set up, and clear away the mess.

While all the assembly was going on, it was time to bring in the boxes of tools and stuff.  Mocha helped with that, too.

While all the assembly was going on, it was time to bring in the boxes of tools and stuff. Mocha helped with that, too.

Even with the constant on-and-off bouts of organizing and cleaning up, it took me about five days to get everything cleared away and stashed into their respective places. But I did it! Here’s a look at the fruits of my labor:

The printer finally has a space on top of the shelf which stores my cutting dies, paints, some magazines, and my asthma nebulizer. Inside, the shelves are still a bit messy, and we’re all glad that the unit has doors that hide that fact from the rest of the room.

Shoe racks can be converted into craft storage

I love the way the new printer fits perfectly on top of the shoe cabinet.

The repurposed office cube from The Girl’s old Pasig office serves as a place to sketch, now that it’s finally clear. The small plastic cabinet beside the TV holds smaller tools, ribbon, and various documents that need to be easily reached for reference. The red folder propped up has my magnet sheets that hold all my wafer-thin metal dies, which will have their own post soon enough.

Craft storage can compliment appliances

It’s finally clean! The characters from Bones Season 9 seem to be happily surprised, too.

The matching pull-out cabinet is perfect for storing 12×12 papers. I have ordered boxes that will stand upright and protect the papers better, but in the meantime, this is great. Pardon the colorful loot from Divisoria littering the top of the work surface, I’m still trying to find boxes for them. The shallow drawer above the paper compartment holds cat stuff – leashes and harnesses, brushes, medical papers, treats, first aid, clippers, and medicine droppers.

small blue cabinet for 12x12 papers

Whoops, hot mess on top of organized stuff.

The tall cabinet is the most organized. Stuffed with boxes of stamps and materials from Papemelrotti, it’s also the home of my camera and my bag. The Girl is ecstatic that I no longer leave them in her computer chair when I come home from an event or work. My Sizzix Bigshot was the only thing that the cats could not knock over, so it lives safely on top of the whole thing.

Craft storage tall cabinet

5-foot tall, 1 foot-wide, and crammed full of potential art.

Boxes galore! I store my stamps in shallow paper mache boxes, because light can cause yellowing and warping of the clear acrylic ones and the rubber and cling ones don’t do well when stacked one on top of the other. All unmounted ones are stacked two deep at most, stamp side up, to avoid any potential long-term damage.

Utilizing boxes for craft material organization

A close-up view of how I make use of boxes.

The inks are stored foam side down, while all pens, including my copics, are laid out flat. The copics came with their own case, while the other pens live in cute open stackable containers from the 88 Japan Home store. All the pencils in the house, however, are sequestered in a magnetic basket on the ref behind The Girl’s workstation.

A plastic basket on the bottom shelf houses all my cords and electronic whatnot, while the open shelves will soon be home to adhesives and paints as soon as I can get a hold of baskets that will fit the space.

 

And finally, I still have a small space in our built-in clothes cabinet upstairs, but at this point, it’s mostly empty. It is waiting for the embellishments and my ribbon caddy that have yet to make the move from my mom’s home. But my washi tape collection is already all set up among our shirts, arranged on a pants hanger from the 88 Japan Home store, my favorite clutter solution to date.

Washi tape storage solution

Perfect solution for washi and other adhesive rolls – a pink plastic pants hanger.

Now that it’s almost all put away, I can’t wait to start making cards and albums again, not to mention finally getting back to scrapping. Here’s to a more creative, productive, and crafty 2014! 🙂

 

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    posted on by Little Bunny posted in Home life

    3 Responses to: Organizing my small space for clutter-free crafting

    1. Rochelle

      Wow!! I can only imagine how gooood it felt to finally organize your stuff! I wish I had your patience sort and clean up. I think hubby wishes the same thing. Haha Good job! 🙂

      • Little Bunny

        Thanks, Rochelle. It does feel pretty good to have things more or less cleared away, and it’s more inspiring to put stuff away at the end of a crafting session now.

    2. Lyka

      I just caught something , where did you bought that clear stamps ? <3 . <3 I've been looking for that anywhere.

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