Someone asked me the other day where I do all the craft-y things in our tiny condo. The answer to that is: Pretty much anywhere there's a flat surface. This means that poor Alex has to function around works-in-progress that are scattered across the kitchen counters, and listen to me yelp when he moves the coffee table as I'm fabric-penning a baby onesie.
I finally decided that this wasn't fair to him and that it was making my OCD self crazy, what with clutter and the yelling about ruined baby onesies and not being able to find the double-stick tape I knew I'd just bought, etc. I had to do something with all the fiddly little bits of craft things I had, but this seemed to be an insurmountable storage task. In other bloggers' worlds (at least according to Pinterest), they turn to closets as the source of space for crafting storage, but I have no spare closets. I only have the one, and trust me, it's chock-full of clothes and definitely has no room for crafting ribbons and such. I am working on organizing it as well, but it's not done yet.
(In fact, let me go off on a slight tangent here and show you the new shoe boxes I just got from the Container Store -- soooo happy! Those of you who have known me since high school know that I have a Shoe Problem. I have gotten better in recent years, due in no small part to living in 750 square feet and having a husband scrutinizing my purchases, but I still have quite a few. I'd previously put little tags on all the boxes and stacked them up, but they were all different sizes and kept falling on my head and breaking apart and I HATED it. See below (please imagine that that empty column on the left is also full of stacked shoe boxes, I took them down before I remembered to take a picture):
Honestly, some shoe boxes from the store are great and some are just crappy and break down immediately, and this was a problem. So in the spirit of my organization blitz I've been on, I finally broke down and -- after much price-comparison online -- bought some sets from the Container Store. [Side note: That place simultaneously inspires and depresses me. Inspired to think of all the things I could do, and depressed because I have no space in which to do them.] So here is the after -- see?? So great!!
There will be more closet things in another blog post, but I know you now want tiny labeled clear shoe boxes, don't you??
[Full disclosure: This is not all my shoes. There are more on other shelves I didn't take pictures of. But they are now all in sparkly stackable clear shoe bins too!]
Getting back to the craft nook. So, no space. I finally decided to sacrifice the desk area I'd built in the bedroom, which really had become more of a clutter catch-all than anything else. I figured I could still store the office-y stuff in amongst the craft things.
So I spent a few weeks perusing the inspirations online, and one of the main things I came up with was that tiny organizing boxes are expensive, but you can use things from your kitchen and just cover them in pretty paper or fabric (Hello, hot glue and spray adhesive! Welcome back. I'd say I missed you, but you never really leave me...). Thus began my campaign to Keep All Plastic, Metal and Glass Kitchen Items. This has single-handedly made Alex more anxious than anything else I've ever done, because he truly thought (as he came home one day to a stack of drying metal food cans) that I was suddenly turning into one of those people on "Hoarders." I finally convinced him that I really, really was planning to throw everything away that I didn't upcycle, but it took some fast talking. He is surprisingly distrustful of my habit of hanging onto things. No idea why (hi, Mom!) ....
Anyway, after a couple of weeks I had quite a few containers stored up (I cook at home a lot and go through a great deal of things like canned tomatoes and chicken broth), and I finally sat down to seriously sort out the mess that was the existing desk structure. I am SO EMBARRASSED to share this right now, but y'all, it was SO BAD and I want you all to know that it happens to even the OCD people out there. Between work and school, some days I can't manage to pick up more than the main living area, and where does all the extra stuff go that I don't have the energy/time to put away? That's right, onto the desk area that nobody can see. So here it is (please don't judge me):
*cringing* All those boxes and magazine containers were from an earlier attempt to tame the clutter, but obviously I had lost that battle.
So, I spent a solid weekend going through all the paper, the boxes, the bags, MORE paper (dear lord, I think I AM a hoarder, it is SO hard for me to let go of paper....), stacks of craft things, and finally, my (very) old Mac desktop. I offloaded all the files onto an external hard drive (which took forever due to many graphics files... it took me almost 26 hours to move all those files, but the space savings was definitely worth it), and then wiped it and donated it to the Salvation Army. I took a bunch of things to the storage unit. And that all took one whole weekend and then I had to break for a week and go to real work, during which time Alex looked dubiously at the (now sorted) stacks of clutter and the stacks of washed-out plastic containers all in that corner of the room and began to watch me suspiciously for the Next Sign of My Hoarding Addiction. (I mean, you know how when you go to sort things you have to make a bunch of stacks of things that go together, so for awhile it just looks much, much worse? That was this step, for a week.)
This past weekend, I finally put up the rest of the oil drip pans (where the magnetic makeup frame came from) on the back wall of the desk so I had a magnetic surface, resurfaced many of the containers with pretty paper, and glued magnets onto everything I could lay my hands on. I sorted things and labeled things and threw out BAGS of things. And behold! The magic of organization:
Some close-ups (I KNOW, CRAPPY PHONE PICS AGAIN. LIFE IS TERRIBLE):
I did buy some storage things, as you can tell -- those gray wire mesh bins and magazine racks were from the dollar section of Target. (I KNOW, RIGHT?) I wrote out labels for everything (partially for me and partially so that Alex won't call me during class and ask where the printer paper is) and spent forever sticking them on. I hung hooks for scissors (OMG that was the best part of it!!) and stacked pens into chicken broth containers that were the perfect size to cut up and hang on a backboard. Those little round things are cake icing containers, I just stuck magnets on the tops. I put the books that I didn't box up in the storage unit into those large boxes, which are just two copy paper boxes I got from work.
There's a lot of additional sorting you can't see that went into some of the containers and drawers as well. Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. I still have some tweaks left, but I can now find all my paint pens, tapes, glue guns, buttons and ribbon, plus my sewing machine got to get out from under the bed and live a real life on my desk. (I'm hoping that will motivate me to do some hemming and upcycle projects I keep putting off because I don't want to lug it out....)
The far right wall I stuck up corkboard, though it needs another layer to be thick enough for pushpins. Right now it has little shots from various online things that I thought were funny, but I will be adding useful stuff like inspiration photos as I go along.
Now I just need to throw away the extra containers I had left over, but I can't yet because I'm using some of them in my hall closet and pantry cleanups that will be happening next weekend. (Right now, they are sitting just out of the picture frame, still terrorizing Alex. ... On second thought, maybe I will just leave them there an extra week or two for the fun of it.....)