Archive for January, 2014

Organizing My Cluttered Craft Closet

So it turns out I’m Monica Geller. I get questions like those pretty regularly:

And my answers are usually all strained and sputtery like this:

But ladies and germs (oh my gosh, I just turned into my dad for a second there), I finally got annoyed enough to do something about it. So here’s how I tamed the previously untamable chaos that was “the craft closet” (*cue the spooky sound effects*). Here’s my shameful but kind of hilarious before shot of the guest room closet. I swear I didn’t mess this up to have a better after, it actually looked like this for months.

And here’s the “how you like me now” after. In the always applicable words of Jay Z… “GET YOUR DANG HANDS UP.” Ok, you might be at work, so I’ll just wave mine around for you.

Why are my craft things in the guest room closet anyway? That room has the prettiest view in the house, along with gorgeous afternoon light – so I’d love to creep in there and sew/paint on Sunday afternoons. I’d also love to eventually bring in a dresser or desk that can accommodate my sewing machine so the room can truly multi-task (we do host guests occasionally, but we love using rooms more often if we can).

Let’s get a little closer to the chaos first though, shall we? Does it not look like The Rolling Stones stayed here and trashed it like a truly fabulous hotel room? Except with more hello kitty.

This is the view if you stepped into the closet and turned right (there’s a little alcove in there that got just as full of floor-covering junk).

Not to mention all the craft supplies that had collected downstairs on the dining table (which actually looked a whole lot messier, so to see the true before shot of this in 3D you can check out this house tour video).

The first step of any organizing project of mine involves chocolate. So I had a few Hershey’s Kisses (dark, don’t try to tell me that milk chocolate is as good as dark chocolate because we’ll get into it) and then I got down to business. First I dumped out the paper bag that had a ton of craft supplies in it since our move 7 months ago. Yeaaaahhh… it was time.

Next, Clara helped me assemble one of my two secret weapons for this closet: a Raskog cart from Ikea. Initially I had planned to buy a bunch of those plastic bins and drawers at Target, but I realized that buying two larger and more substantial (not to mention cuter) items might help me keep things under control better for the long haul. Storage areas like garages and attics tend to spiral out of control for us – especially if we use a bunch of cheap plastic systems that can get overfilled, jammed, and broken, so… know thyself.

Then I took a few days off the project (painting the nursery jumped to the top of the list) but eventually I turned my focus back to The Closet Of Doom and brought in this folding shelf that we’ve had for 8+ years (it’s originally from Bed Bath & Beyond I think) for that alcove on the right. I figured going vertical instead of spreading things out all over the floor made a lot more sense.

The other Ikea item we bought was this white five-drawer cabinet, which I spotted in the as-is section for 25% off. I totally played it cool you guys. Just kidding, I sprinted over and grabbed it like the hamburglar making off with some tasty treats. The fact that it had five awesomely smooth (read: non-plastic) drawers of various heights made it perfect for supplies like paints, brushes, sprays and paint pens – and the already assembled thing was a total bonus. I actually think it’s cute enough to be out of the closet, along with the cart – so perhaps down the line if I get a little sewing desk going on the other wall of this room I can slip the cabinet under it with the cart next to it or something.

The rest of the stuff in the closet are things we previously had – like that hanging fabric cubby thing (from Ikea years ago) and that ceramic planter where I shove all of our wrapping paper and tissue paper. And as for the rolling cart…

The hanging cubbies are devoted to gift wrapping stuff, like:

And the wooden shelf thing that I shoved in that corner alcove is now housing all of my fabric in old Ikea bins from a few years back (yes, I have TONS of fabric thanks to Clara’s photo project, even though I’ve made her a quilt, a birthday banner, a table runner, a beanbag, and all sorts of other random things… so… I smell more projects). Most of it used to be piled in the storage room but it feels so much more organized and accessible right here. There’s also room for the sewing machine to sit on the floor in front of it, but I thought I’d leave that in the guest room for a hot second because I’d love to set it up in there to encourage myself to actually sew with it. So we’ll see if I can figure something out soon. If not, it’s back in the closet for him.

But let’s get to my favorite part. The drawers of our slick little white cabinet. The top drawer is full of various acrylic paints (along with some small containers of varnish/sealant, and some ceramic paint).

The second drawer houses all of my brushes, stamping tools, paint pens, and colored sharpies.

The third drawer contains various test pots of paint (I use these guys surprisingly often for random projects like this, this, this and this) along with a few larger cans of spray sealers.

The fourth drawer has all of my art store supplies, like my oil paints, watercolors, watercolor pencils, charcoals, and a few random things like a small set of markers and clothespins.

And the fifth drawer is where I have stampers, ink pads, stickers, decals, washi tape, and other supplies like twine or string.

Oh and that top shelf of the closet has a wire bin (from Target about 3 years ago) full of fabric pouches. Apparently I have a hoarding problem with those, but I love them for keeping Clara’s toys contained (all of her plastic animals in one, all of her tiny legos in another, etc). They’re also sweet for “wrapping” various gifts for friends in two seconds flat (no tape or ribbon required). And the blue box up there has been my sewing box for years. It has thread, needles, extra bobbins, scissors, a seam ripper, etc.

I’m also planning to add a few hooks on the inside of the door so guests can hang things there since the bar is full (we rarely host anyone with things on hangers, so those should do the trick).

Yes I’m still waving my dang hands around. It’s pretty unbelievable that such a ridiculous mess of a closet is currently home to 0.00 chaos. But you might want to check back with me in a few months. These things can go one of two ways…

Does anyone else have tips for organizing craft supplies, gift wrapping paraphernalia, or tons of fabric? Who else is channeling Monica Geller with a closet full of insanity? Let’s commiserate.



Suckers For Succas

The other day I was working away in the office and Sherry breezed in and stole some paper from the printer. I didn’t think much of it… until a few minutes later when I walked into the kitchen to find this. Well, this and Sherry grinning at me and batting her eyelashes.

I soon learned that these large succulent photographs that she’d been eying for some time from West Elm had gone on sale (boo, but it looks like they’re back to full price now). It’s more than we typically spend on art, but they’re very large (almost 30″ wide and tall) and the price included the big glass frame – so Sherry took the 20% markdown as a sign from the succulent photography gods that two of these should come to live with us. I actually really liked them too, so I was easily convinced. We’ve been wanting to slowly amass more large-scale art over time (other than this yard sale painted canvas that Sherry DIYed and these bike prints I framed, we really don’t have much) so it’s nice to balance out some cheaper homemade stuff with some custom framed professional prints.

Fast forward a week or so, and that big empty wall in our kitchen is no longer empty.

Here’s a much less glare-y view from the other side of our two new additions.

That’s the abridged version of the story. The complete version starts with a reminder that this is what the wall looked like to start with. As in, it had that big awesome non-working intercom in the way.

Although I had sort of grown to love this ugly non-functioning hunk of faux wood grain & dials… it was time to say goodbye. Luckily it only took a few loosened screws to detach it from the wall.

We hoped that we’d just find a tiny patchable hole with a couple of wires sticking out, but instead, we found this. For a few good seconds I was pretty certain it was a bomb and I’d be in trouble if I let this bus slow down.

But since it was not actually explosive (and since I’m most definitely not Academy Award winning actress Sandra Bullock) it was pretty easy to defuse, er, detach. With the power off, I was able to unhook the two power cords (blue and white) and the mess of other connectors that I believe weave through our house to the other rooms with intercoms (again, none of which really work).

Seeing as this wall is on the demolition list down the line (for when we eventually open the kitchen up to the living room), we opted for a temporary solution for now. Translation: we didn’t call in an electrician just yet. The intercom only shares a breaker with the light in our wet bar, which we never use, so we opted to cap and tape the intercom power wires, flip off that breaker, and call it a day. The next time I’m at the hardware store I’m going to look for a big flat metal plate that I can screw in to cover things up. Obviously it’s not a permanent solution, but it’ll do for now.

But the radio wasn’t our only eyesore. We also had a phone jack nearby that wasn’t in use. I did lots of googling and found a range of theories/instructions on how to disconnect one of these. The general consensus was (1) you don’t have to worry about getting zapped by a phone wire unless the phone is actively ringing or in use and (2) you usually can just cut the wires and stuff them back into the wall.

I was a little wary of both, but I was able to disconnect the four pairs of wires from the jack with nary a shock. Rather than leave them totally lose and exposed, I capped them with wire nuts just to be thorough. I capped the matching colored wires together after looking behind another already-capped phone jack in our living room and seeing that someone before me had done the same thing on that one.

With those wires capped, I pushed them back into the box and tested the phone (still worked!). Then I stepped back to admire those two gaping holes. Gorgeous, no?

Well, they now look like this. Notice how I didn’t show any photos of drywall patching? It’s because we haven’t done any. Again, since this wall’s days are numbered we decided not to bother patching either hole (plus this leaves my temporary wiring fixes available for the electrician in the future if we want to get them handled by a pro). So for now, we just put a blank cover on the phone jack (and painted it to match the wall). And the big radio hole, well, it’s behind the green succulent. Sort of like hiding an old medicine cabinet hole behind a new mirror. But I’m hoping that big metal plate cover that I mentioned grabbing the next time we’re at Home Depot will make it a little more… temporarily legit?

I do have a bit of DIYer shame for not following through completely with those two holes, but at the same time I felt kind of silly paying for an electrician now (or carefully patching the drywall) just to tear it out later. So instead I’m just enjoying the new view.

Oh and from this shot you can see that we chose to center the art on the table and the chandelier, as opposed to centering it on the wall (we tried it both ways and it looked a little wonky when they didn’t line up with the table or the chandelier).

Can you guess which one is Clara’s favorite?

Yup, that purple one on the left.

We like that they add a little more color, but aren’t too crazy or busy (especially since we’re hoping to add some window treatments which might have more color and pattern). And since this wall won’t always be here, we’re certain they could work in a ton of other rooms in the future (like the dining room over a buffet, the office over a desk, etc).

I think I may have to send Sherry to a Succulents Anonymous meeting soon though. The photo below doesn’t even include the terrarium she just made.

Man that last picture makes me want to do something about those counters right this second (well, those and that trash compactor). We just want to make a bit more progress in the nursery before we give those Ardex concrete tutorials a shot. And those floors. We’re coming for you, floors. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Too bad we can’t just hide them behind a frame.