Organizing Our Cluttered Craft Closet

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

  • Q: “I was hoping you could tell us how you organize your crafty supplies…mine seem to be spread all over the house!” – Chris
  • Q: “Can you give us a peak at how/where you store your craft stuff? Is it obvious that I’m kind of hoping you have a secret Monica Geller closet?” – Katie

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

  • “Our craft closet is a GIANT mess (and it’s in the guest room so they can peek in there and scream). Everything is piled into a few baskets, and there are even some paper grocery bags going on, so I should probably get on that. I’d love to organize it and share the details with you guys!”

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 top bin has various art notebooks and pads along with a few canvases and a rolled up placemat that I’d love to use as a stencil someday
  • the second bin has wood items (dowels, wood plaques, various pieces of scrap wood, and even a few wood slices for future projects)
  • the third bin has all of my heavier crafting artillery (staple gun, glue gun, various accessories for them like staples and glue sticks, nailheads, etc)

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.


    • cc says

      I got sidetracked a little by a similar thought… and what I’m taking away from this post is a) we may never know where the Stones actually stand on the issue of Hello Kitty, and b) I am going to head to Ikea soon because I’ve been ogling that cart since last summer and this is the fourth(!) time it’s come up this very week. I may even need 2– Ikea should send you guys a sales commission. ;)

  1. says

    It looks fantastic! I love a good organization project, but I have to be in just the right mood. I also love your first step, eating should always be the first step in any process!

    • says

      Yes, the mood thing is critical! It was weird to take a break from this and paint the nursery for a few days too (felt like I was losing momentum) but it felt so good to be done. I wish they could bottle and sell that “rush” at the end. It was such a good reminder to me that it’s awesome to be done with tedious tasks like this. Almost made me want to tackle the pantry. Almost…


  2. Marianne says

    It makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one to have such a craft supply disaster closet. My painting supplies are shoved under the stairs in the laundry room and it’s a mess.

    You’ve inspired me to make a new plan! I didn’t see if you mentioned where you got the white bins housing your fabrics. I would love some of those for my son’s bookshelf for all his random small toys.
    Aren’t those Ikea carts so cute!

  3. says

    A friend of mine uses one of those little carts to contain her craft supplies as well and LOVES it! I’m tempted to get my own so when I am working on certain projects I can just wheel it over to where ever I am and not have to fight with pulling everything out. Although my craft closet/corner of the spare room, doesn’t look like a Monica closet, I’m super jealous of how pretty yours looks! Keep it up!! :-)

    • says

      It’s so funny how many devoted fans that rolling cart has! I posted a shot of Clara and I assembling it on Instagram/Facebook and hundreds of people were like “Ahhh, I love that cart!”


  4. Michelle says

    I love organizing craft supplies! Our local Fred Meyer store had tons of gardening tool boxes (galvanized metal boxes with painted blue/green lids). I fell in love with them and bought quite a few for my baker’s twine, craft bags, stickers/gems, tags, etc).
    Target had some cute organizers last year that were in the seasonal section. They were the same galvanized color and they had the blue/green colored ones too. I think they are supposed to hold paper plates and cutlery. But I use them for my ribbon, scissors, punches, etc. (Actually I have them in every singe closet and they hold all kinds of things — face products/brushes, art supplies, etc).
    I also bought white milk crates at Target to hold my bulkier seasonal decor items.
    I used Mason Jars to hold all of my Washi tape, etc. I bought mini bushel baskets from Hobby Lobby to hold fabric remnants. I lined them up along a shelf at it looks pretty cute :)

  5. Amanda says

    My beau would call that “getting whipped up into an organizing frenzy” which I do on a somewhat regular basis. Our house goes from just a little messy to spick and span & way too organized :) Glad I’m not alone! Sending a virtual hand clapping emoji your way!

  6. Jo says

    I put gift bags in a clear plastic garment bag. It doesn’t take up much space in the closet. I also have the hanging gift wrap organizer too.

  7. says

    I have an entire craft room full of chaos right now! I’m still in the organizing stages, but I’ve already done several projects in there (which has only added to the chaos). I have a few posts up about the room but I’m so excited to whip it into shape for my first official before and after of an entire room!

  8. threadbndr says

    Oh, craft supplies! I have a problem with them, too. I’m a knitter and spinner as well as a needleworker, so there is fiber, yarn, embroidery floss, beads, etc all over the place!

    When we cleaned out my late mother’s house, I appropriated a large antique china cabinet with three shelves behind leaded glass on top and two shelves behind solid doors on the bottom. I’ve managed to cram all of my yarn in there, but there’s still a ton of stuff in random boxes and storage ottomans around the house.

    I’m hoping to set up some proper storage in the basement (which is going to be semi-finished – ie concrete floors and a drop ceiling, plaster walls) once it is done. There’s a long way to go on that project since I’m cash flowing it, so I guess my craft chaos will continue for a while LOL.

    • Kim says

      Our Buffet in our dining room used to hold serving stuff, pizza stone etc. Now it is full of my 3 and 1 year old’s paints, play-dohs, glue, pipecleaners, stickers etc. I also keep some of our adult crafting supplies in there but I am not super crafty so I dont have much. I am making a christmas scrapbook where every year I complete a page with the family xmas card and the santa photo so all those supplies live in one plastic bin in the attic since it is all holiday themed.

  9. Brooks says

    Looks great! But I keep getting distracted by that cute little tray table in the last picture; do you happen to remember where you found it? Thanks!

    • says

      That was a thrift store find a while back. It was just the green base and we attached a leather tray from Target to the top with 3M velcro to make it functional.


  10. says

    It looks great–it turns out that I am Monica Geller and a person from “Hoarders: Burried Alive,” when it comes to craft supples. I went to do my “closet” and ended up an entire art room. I really tried to to cull it down and take the leftovers to the Craft Exchange (a place to swap unused craft supplies) but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of anything….any tips on what you save verses what you get rid of?

    • says

      The craft exchange sounds awesome! I didn’t really get rid of much, except for truly not workable items (like tiny short pieces of ribbon I knew were too small to use, various dried out paint pens, empty paint containers, etc). Anyone have tips for Suzanne (and me, apparently) – it’s hard to get rid of stuff you think you might use someday!


    • KelliO says

      I grew up in a home that is crafter hoarders. :) It’s fun, but I definitely see that it impedes productivity at a certain point. Now, for me, it’s all about recognizing space is limited, and I truly value space as well. I will want to keep everything unless I give myself a strict limit (i.e. one box of paints) and all of a sudden I realize what I don’t want to let go of and other things are less important. Sometimes I put things in a closed box, date it, and if I don’t open it for a while (3 months? 6 months? a year?) then it needs to go. We now have a “one rule,” meaning you can keep one of something you might use someday, but only one until you use it. This helps me avoid what my mother is so good at- always having what you need, by the dozen. :)

    • says

      So funny! My mom is the opposite. So organized and not a duplicate anywhere. Totally Type A! So you can imagine how my messy room drove her crazy growing up…


  11. says

    Jealousy. Pure jealousy. Oh, to have a craft closet, let alone one so organized!

    We have 4 closets in the Little House: two in the master (shocking for a house from 1940), one in the guest room we use to store the vacuum, mop, etc., and the pantry in the kitchen.

    That’s it.

  12. says

    Organizing is totally my thing! One great CHEAP item for organizing craft items (especially sewing stuff) is a fishing tackle box. Small items have their own spaces on top and large items have plenty of space in the bottom. No need to dig through stuff since the layers neatly unfold, and it takes up little space in the closet.
    I also love clear plastic shoe boxes that are labeled and stacked on cheap shelving units. I have about 30 in my craft room and everything is so easy to find.

  13. says

    Oh man, I’ve got a whole craft ROOM that looks like your before picture. What’s funny is that I still know exactly where everything is. Organized chaos… it that a thing? This may be the motivation I need to get my buns in gear and get it looking nice again. It’s the only room in the house I let get that way, I don’t know what it is but after you finish a project, who wants to clean up?! The closet looks great!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *