Friday, July 10, 2009

Crafty Space Makeover Challenge: Done!

It's been four weeks and as per the challenge I set myself last month, here are the "after" shots and the results of my Crafty Space Makeover Challenge!

Take a look. I'm really thrilled with the results!

I've blogged incessantly about this the last few weeks (if you click on the link on the right for "Crafty Space Makeover Challenge" you can read all of my posts about this). Anyone who's followed me already knows that rather than just being a cosmetic update and an attempt to restore order to a messy corner of my upstairs this was a very real attempt to change how I work and to make my space more efficient!

Let's take the photos from the top and work our way down. For point of reference, take a look at my "before" shot (yuck!).

Starting with the top photo. I swapped desks with our computer desk, which is deeper, giving my beautiful new paper cutter room without having to hang over the edge.

The entire desk is now lit with three Ottlite bulbs (two 100w equivalent and one 60w equivalent -- this might seem like overkill, but I REALLY love working in a bright area). I'll blog about these WONDERFUL bulbs soon, but suffice to say, for now, they make it a joy to work at my desk now -- everything is bright and clear nowadays!

The Rest of the Desk
The cork board is now safely secured to the wall with tons of adhesive foam tape (but notice that I'm too nervous to hang much on it just yet).

I found an unused clock in our basement so now I know the time without having to run over to our computer desk.

Underneath the desk (not pictured) are the plastic bins I rescued from elsewhere in our house that now hold all of my envelopes. They used to be stored on the other side of our upstairs, resulting in a lot of back and forth. Now all my envelopes are close at hand. More of these same bins hold all my card samples and ideas as well.

I replaced the big ugly Adidas bag, which I was using to hold my recycling, with a plain cardboard box. I'd like to find an inexpensive basket but haven't come across exactly what I want yet and this box is really functional (and miles nice to look at than the adidas bag).

Picnic Basket/File Folder Storage
Okay, moving onto the other photos... one of the best things to come out of this challenge was the solution I came up with to house my file folders. I keep all my card parts in separate folders and was actually looking for a small file cabinet for them, but came up with this picnic basket idea instead. It is WONDERFUL! Not only is it cute, but it's also very functional -- I can easily find what I need. There's extra space on the side if I need to store additional items in case I need to go portable, as when I went on vacation.

Portable Crafting Kit
Another simple item that has changed how I work is my apple green tray, also known as my portable crafting kit. As I'd blogged about before, I realized that a lot of times, rather than working at my desk, I prefer to bring my crafts downstairs to work at at our dining room table (this allows me to be closer to the family, etc). Rather than running up and down the stairs for every little supply, I keep the items I use all the time into the tray (x-acto knife, cutting mat, atg gun, etc). I always know where these things are. By tossing a file folder of card parts from my picnic basket into my tray, I'm completely ready to craft anywhere I choose!

The "I Don't Know" Trays
One thing I know about myself: it is hard for me to maintain order. I'm too impatient. Rather than create a system that will ultimately fail, I have to figure out processes that is so easy for me to use that I can't go wrong. One of the things that made me miserable about my old desk was that it was always cluttered. Bits of scraps, unfinished projects, unread articles, etc, littered the surface. If I wanted to work, I would have to first clear off an empty space, not exactly conducive to the creative muse!

Enter the "I Don't Know" Trays! These pretty apple green in/out trays started out life as dark wood but were easily transformed by a can of spray paint (along with my Portable Crafting Kit).

In a previous post I wrote about how having an "I Don't Know" Bin. This bin was first introduced when I was sorting out all the kids' toys into separate bins. Most of their things were quickly and easily sorted (Legos, cars, etc) but to give us an "out" I invented this catch all bin. Now when they are asked to clean, they no longer come across an oddball toy and get stuck trying to find a home for it. They can easily toss it into the catch all bin and continue with their momentum.

The "I Don't Know" Trays serve the same purpose. This is where I can quickly stash all those bits of paper that would normally clutter up my desk. Whenever I have a spare few minutes, I go through the trays and file things away where they belong. They make keeping my desk tidy very easy!

Other Desk Items
A candy dish holds brads and other frequently used tiny things.

A glass vase from elsewhere in the house holds all my pens and some tools.

I redid this thrift store bookcase and am very happy with it. Note the soft green color on its back. It's easy to weigh my envelopes on the postage scale on top. Various glass jars that I've collected keep my supplies in order but allow me to see what's inside, key to my being able to use any organizational system.

Shipping and Mailing Kit
Another idea that came out of this challenge that has really streamlined how I work is my new Shipping and Mailing Kit. Read about it here, but suffice to say that this little basket has save me countless steps and time already!

I didn't blog about this, but my receipts were totally out of control! I didn't even keep them in an envelope, they were literally in a messy pile on the other side of the room. I realized that with a handful of outdated envelopes and my Bind-it-All tool, I could quickly make my own receipt book, with a different envelope for each month. I'll blog about this project in a future post -- I loved how I was able to use things that normally would have been thrown away for this little project.

So there you have it! My entire makeover! This doesn't show everything. I have lesser-used supplies that now live (tidily) elsewhere in the room, but I have all the things I use 99% of the time right there where I need it, plus a work surface that is absolutely a cinch to keep tidy.

I have to say that just LOOKING at my space now makes me so happy. Working in it feels so effortless that it's been well worth the time and effort I put into this (and, honestly, it's been so much fun to try to do this with existing objects and/or thrift store items). I know that I have saved myself many hours of frustration and wasted effort for the future. I highly encourage anyone thinking of doing the same to do so! If you are considering it, a few words of advice:

  • Pick one area and maintain your focus. Don't allow yourself to work on a related area until you are done with your first job -- if you maintain focus you'll see results faster and the rewards are more immediate.
  • Break down big jobs. If you're feeling overwhelmed, break your job down into manageable steps. For instance, look at my basement makes me a little dizzy, but if I set myself the job of reorganizing just, say, the laundry area, this is more doable.
  • Take everything out as your first step. Sort things into logical groupings. In addition, have a box available for things to take to Goodwill, another box to fill with garbage and another for things that belong elsewhere in the house. One last box can be "I don't know" bin. This last box is where you throw things that you have to think about for more than 10 seconds -- it allows you to keep your momentum going.
  • Be ruthless in dejunking. Try very hard to get rid of things that you don't use. I know: it's hard. I'm a packrat, but I can't tell you how great it feels to not be crowded by a lot of supplies that I know in my heart I will never get around to using. Remember that by donating your things, you are allowing someone else to use them... what a good deed!
  • Take inventory. When you have all the things sorted that need to go back in your space, you will have a better idea of what kind of storage you will need for each type of object.
  • Look to your own home first. I don't know if I'm unusual or not, but I was surprised by how many organizational supplies (baskets and things) I already owned. Make sure you take stock and use these before going out and buying more.
  • Consider how you work. Be a spy and watch as you work on projects. I found that I wasted a lot of steps preparing a card to be shipped, which resulted in the Shipping and Mailing Kit. See where you are wasting time and figure out a solution to conquer that!
  • Fix problems. Similarly, think about what causes you problems when you work and try to fix those problems. Sometimes it's as simple as adding another lamp to eliminate eyestrain (worked for me!).
  • Measure all your spaces, including the dimensions of your desk, the spaces between shelves, etc. I kept all these measurements in a booklet that I kept in my purse. This will help you make informed decisions when you come across possible solutions.
  • Keep an open mind. When you shop, shop for solutions, not specific items. For instance, I really needed someplace to store my file folders. Had I kept a strict mental image of file cabinets in my mind, I would never have stumbled upon my idea of using a picnic basket to hold this paperwork. Likewise, I kept looking for pencil holders for my desk and finally found a little vase at home perfect for the job.
Well that's it! Thanks for hanging with me! I hope that you glean a nugget or two of information out of my journey...

For myself, I think this is just the start -- a really great kickstart, but just a start nonetheless. There's still work to be done, but I'll take my time and make sure that it's right.

Now I'm off to Goodwill to hunt up more battered things to revitalize with a coat of paint!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Molly!!! Your space looks AWESOME!! I've been dying to go to the Goodwill store...even though I don't need anything. Although my son really needs a bookshelf-that's a good reason, right?

Great job!!
SimpleXpressions Cards

Molly said...

Thanks Melissa!

I have been OBSESSED with Goodwill during this challenge! It's so much fun when you have an array of things to buy for, but you have to keep going to find the right thing, so it takes a while! It's kind of the thrill of the hunt....

Handmade in Israel said...

Congratulations for all your hard work. Your 'new' space looks wonderful. Enjoy it!

April Ink said...

the room looks wonderful! so organized and you've put such thought into it. you're more than welcome to come finish up my room now.....


Terri said...

Looks great! Thanks for all the tips too. Hopefully one day I can get my stamp room to look as good.

Beth said...

Wow, what an amazing difference!

Jessica Eiden Smedley said...

Looks great, Molly.

Packing up for the move has been a perfect way for me to take inventory.

I'll catch you up once we're settled in.

Adorebynat said...

Great new crafting space, Molly! Love the idea of painting the tray. It's something that I never done but I'm interested to give it a try.

gscrapbooks said...

Awesome makeover, you did great! I love organized and functional spaces! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for listing your link on my WFMW question about craft organization! Lots of great ideas and tips here -- must feel so good to get this done!

I'll have to come back and read some of the related posts when I have a little more time.