Other than this age old post about creating a little wrapping paper station/craft table in our third bedroom, we really haven’t chatted much about organizing oodles of items as of yet. So here’s a rundown of our tried and true approach (this is written specifically with craft room verbiage, but the method will work for any organization project in the house- from your linen closet to your tool box and even your kitchen cabinets):
Step #1. Get Out & About- Take everything that you need to organize and lay it out on a table or bed or the floor so you can see what you’re dealing with. You instinct will be to skip this step, but it’s crucial to truly know what you have and find the perfect home for each item.
Step #2. Be Trashy- Select everything that you no longer want/need and toss it into a trash bag to bring to Goodwill. Don’t look back. If you haven’t used those stickers/ribbons/stamps/decorative papers/fabrics for two years you probably never will. Pare down to the good stuff and you’ll actually use it.
Step #3. Play Matchmaker- Take the remaining items and group them like with like in clusters on the floor or the bed (ex: painting supplies together, paper together, stationery together, scissors and hole punchers together).
Step #4. Take Note- When you stand back and look at all the little piles that you’ve created, it will instantly be clear what type of storage containers/folders/caddies you’ll need to keep everything organized. Grab a pen and paper and write down what you believe you need (big box for ribbons and bows, five folders for stationery, three clear plastic cubes that can be stacked with paint and supplies in them, etc).
Step #5. Stop And Shop- Check the rest of your house to see what type of storage containers you already have. For example, a too-big caddy under the sink could be swapped out for the bulging basket of ribbons that’s no longer big enough. And these glass cereal jugs could also be used to corral ribbons or yarn:
Step #6. Go Get ‘Em- When you’re through shopping and swapping things out in your own house, see which items still remain on your list and hit up Target, Ikea, The Container Store or even Staples to see what types of storage options they offer. Grab whatever fits the needs that you have already established on paper. Resist the urge to get anything that doesn’t as you’ll be creating the very clutter that you’re trying to clean up at the moment.
Step #7. Keep It Common- When you’re selecting containers, folders, boxes, and caddies, you might want to keep a common color or material theme in mind so everything looks cohesive when it’s on display in the room. You could simply go for all white containers or all woven basket-type storage stuff or even with a color theme and pick up all green boxes, folders, caddies, tins, etc. You can even get creative with what you use as a trash can (for instance if you’re going for a woven theme, a big woven basket as a garbage can would be pretty and you can slip a tin or plastic garbage can inside if you’re nervous about the basket getting dirty). A wire basket might look great with lots of metal tins and wire baskets if that’s the material you’ve selected to organize your supplies. Similarly, a large planter makes an excellent garbage can (Ikea sells ’em for around $8) or even a great wrapping paper storage container like our wedding present planter below:
Step #8. Up And At ‘Em- Also remember that you can go vertical with your storage. Be creative and hang storage baskets or boxes (wire, woven, wood, bright plastic, etc) from the wall or add a big shelf (check out the Ikea’s Lack ones) to corral more supplies and really take advantage of the entire space.
Step #9. Work The Room- After you place each group of items in its designated box, basket, bin or tin, try to arrange things in an appealing (and functional) way so you can see and access as much as possible. Stack a smaller box on top of a larger one, or display all of your folders in a wire organizer, basket, or fabric box (see the first picture above for an example).
Step #10. Polish It Off- And since you also wanna feel good in the space, add a few completely decorative touches to make it feel welcoming and personalized (a soft rug, a sculptural lamp, a vase of flowers, a framed picture, etc). Even the smallest (and cheapest!) details can make all the difference, so consider adding a pretty mug in your color scheme full of pencils & paint brushes or displaying your prettiest ribbons or stationery in an open box or basket for all to see.
It may sound like a big project, but the whole thing can really be fun and super rewarding. You’ll sleep better knowing that you’ve FINALLY organized items that you’ve been toting around for a decade, and you’ll actually get a lot more use out of the things that you love (which were buried among the not-so-great things that piled up over time). There’s really nothing like a clean, functional crafting space, and once you get started you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get to the end of the makeover. Before you know it you’ll be sipping tea and writing a sweet letter to a long lost friend at your newly organized desk… and wondering why you didn’t organize your craft corner sooner!
To tour a truly amazing craft room, check out Nicole’s studio from Making It Lovely
love it. i have pretty much all of that stationery myself…hehe. good ol’ target!
Love the blog, and great post. I make these spool stands specifically for craft room organization: http://www.karenelizabeth.etsy.com!
Love this post….just like with your V-day gift to John, don’t forget thrift stores for some super great finds like baskets, buckets, etc.
great ideas! im still waiting on the post about that $2 pillow from a while back… :)
Where is that perfect sized desk from? It would be great for my sewing machine.
The desk is from Ikea! Such a great tiny little thing that fits into any corner. Here’s the link:
We got the 29.5″ one (for just 49 beans). Hope it helps!
p.s. Oh and Amy, it’s in the hopper, I promise. Stay tuned…
I’m an organization freak, so I love your post! Where ever did you find such FUN file folders? Also love the “Merci” thank you cards… believe I’ve seen those at Target :)
where did you get your white metal “holders” (?) with lids? i don’t see them on your room-by-room breakdown!?
Hey Jessie- The white metal storage tins are also Ikea scores. They’re super cheap and they totally help to control the clutter!
Oh and Amanda, the fun file folders were actually from Target- just like those Merci cards. The folders have punchy patterns like swirls and branches and birds (love em!) so be sure to keep an eye out for them. I think we found ’em in the kids’ section next to all the kitten folders. Hehe.
love the great organization, as always! I’m a stationary fanatic and all mine is just stashed in a drawer. I need to get on the organizational bandwagon!
life a colorful life says
This was the most timely post, as I just painted my office yesterday and today I plan on pulling everything out of a shelving unit to “be trashy” and then reorganizing. And you are absolutely right about the advice in #6. First you need to know how you “work” and your organizational needs. Otherwise things can still be unworkable and unorganized, even they are in great-looking containers.
We just moved and my next big project (after I recover from installing hardwood this past long weekend) is to tackle our spare bedroom/craft room. It’s a daunting task that I need to get done and will incorporate some of your tips for sure.
MaryB in Richmond says
You guys can make anything sound fun! As always, though, your advice is right on — and right on target for my house, too!
I just organized our craft (closet) last week. It feels so great to have it all together and organized. I donated the extra scrapbooking supplies via freecycle.org (Check it out!)
Do you know where the planter with your name and wedding year was made? I’d love to find/make one like that!
Thank you! You’ve inspired me to make my modern home a little more light and airy!!
SoBella Creations says
I went to look for “fun folders” this evening, no luck at my Super Target. Sometimes I loathe Super Target because they don’t seem to have as much variety as “regular” Target stores. I’ll have to check on Friday evening. Anything to spice up my work life gets an A in my book!
Tip to others who like fun file folders: Try Dollar Tree, they have lots, and occassionally the Target Dollar Spot will sell some too!
Christine W says
Hi Crafty & Craftyess.. Ha
Ok so I want decorative storage boxes for my open shelving.. similar to the white ones you have above.. Do you know what they are called.. Can’t seem to find them online!
Thanks for the help…..
Hmm, the stacked white boxes above are from Ikea but I would call them storage boxes, which is what you’re calling them too so I wonder why they’re not coming up online? They’re actually white reinforced cardboard boxes with silver accents in each corner and on the label. They’re always in “the marketplace” at the actual Ikea store so maybe you have one near you that you can hit up? Happy hunting!
Cecily T says
Ahhh!!! You guys are killing me with all the Ikea love! Of course I get the catalog, but there’s no store nearby! We would have to plan a baby-free expedition to go check an actual store out; and lots of the smaller stuff they don’t sell online, which is a huge bummer. Also, two Targets are in the works here (one regular, one super) but neither are open yet. I’m dying from lack of Target…I’ve only been there about 3 times in the last 2 years! (It was pretty much a weekly stop where we used to live.)
Okay, sorry, now that I got that whine off my chest…here’s my organizational question:
I just cleaned out my kitchen (scrubbed drawers, bins, etc) and have a pile of stuff that needs other homes. One thing that bugs me about our kitchen is quantity of stuff. We use our fancy ice cream dishes for ourselves probably once a week, so two of ’em are totally worth having in the kitchen, right at hand. But the other eight? Not so much. However, I hate to ‘split’ stuff like that up. Like goes with like, know what I mean? Similarly, I use my regular mixer whisk attachments regularly, but the dough hooks? I’d hate to banish them to the ‘rare and unusual box of kitchen junk’ in the basement, because that’s a surefire way for me to think that I don’t own something and go off buying it, only to find that it was in that box all along.
Your take on this, Sherry and John?
Oh, and I’m dying for a wrapping station. I want to set it up in my hubby’s work-from-home office, but he is not quite on board with the idea yet.
That is a toughie! My instinct is also always to keep like with like, but I can see how it’s a waste of valuable cabinet space- and banishing things to the basement makes them completely forgettable. How about a compromise? Is there a very high shelf in your kitchen that’s not easily accessible where you can put your lesser-used items? If they’re still in a cabinet that you open frequently (even if they’re not directly in your line of sight) you’re probably more likely to remember that they exist than when they’re relegated to the basement. That’s all I got. Hope it helps!
Thanks for posting this. I’m still working on organizing our home office/craft room. Some of your ideas were really helpful! I also found lots of inspiration when I searched “craft room” on flickr. Apparently people are fanatical about their studios!
Laura K says
Where did your wedding present planter come from? I searched your room breakdown and couldn’t find it. I’m dying to have one!
Hey Laura K,
We put in a call to the lovely friend who gifted us with the planter to find out the exact source, but in the meantime we found this link via google. We don’t know if it’s the exact place, but they certainly make a slew of personalized planters so it’s a good place to start!
Laura K says
Thanks Sherry, I’m off to check it out now! It looks like one of your reader redesigns has one too — don’t know if you noticed it before — https://www.younghouselove.com/reader-redesign-penny-pinchin-in-the-kitchin/
You have such an eagle eye! That reader redesign was actually submitted by a relative of the person who gave me the wedding planter! Isn’t it a small world?! So funny that you noticed! She actually got it from the same place too.
Love your blog – in fact, I just went crazy about it on mine!! I would love to know how you store/organize your toiletries/unmentionables. Also, where do you put your laundry…hamper in your room or the laundry area?
Good questions one and all! Here’s a post about how we store a ton of stuff in our house in case you haven’t seen it: https://www.younghouselove.com/how-ya-bin/
And we do have a hamper in the bedroom (a dark brown woven one that matches our platform bed on the wall across from the window that’s rarely photographed because it’s right next to the bedroom door). Oh and we keep our toiletries in the bathroom (we have open storage but use baskets to wrangle everything and even have some extra concealed space under the sink). I’m a super simple girl (and a minimalist at heart) so it’s always about paring down and living simply for me. Here’s another post on that for ya. It’s actually one of our all time favorites: https://www.younghouselove.com/the-simple-life/
Hope it helps!
Are those Anchor glass containers (with the cereal)? I see them all the time in Target, but I’m always worried about getting them because they don’t seal. Does your cereal go stale?
They’re so cute! They’d look fab on my counter!
They’re just like the Target ones (I think ours are from Walmart) and they don’t seal but we go through cereal so fast it doesn’t seem to go stale! If you eat it every morning it’s probably a good solution. Hope it helps!
I just have to tell you that I really love your blog — and this post in particular. I can’t count how many times I’ve pulled it up on my laptop and re-read it. I’ve found it really motivating when I don’t quite have the energy to tackle a project. It’s all pretty straightforward stuff, but the way you articulate it helps me appreciate that cleaning and decluttering is only a chore when the systems you use aren’t working. Challenging myself to create better systems makes me more self aware and deliberate in my choices. Getting organized shouldn’t be considered a burden, but an opportunity to do something for myself. You guys rock! Thank you!
Aw, thanks so much Kate!