I’ve been a knitter since the mid-90s, but I hadn’t set foot in a Michael’s craft store until I had kids, when I started messing around with popsicle sticks, and fulfilling my daughters’ need for stickers galore and glitter glue by the gallon. Around the same time, coincidentally, I became friends with several other crafty types and my repertoire of projects grew.
As a consequence, my collection of craft supplies expanded exponentially as well. That’s putting it mildly. The room where I keep everything was a frightful mess, not to mention an offense to the tenets of good feng shui. I felt overwhelmed and paralyzed by indecision about how to organize and where to start digging out. A normally fearless Nadja found herself hesitating before entering the room. (You can see that even the canvas is crooked.)
To help me get a grip, I availed myself of the advice and counsel of professional organizer and owner of Tidy Up, Laine Hardman. Laine came by and assessed the situation, which is this: I want to contain my craft supplies in the left-hand side of a large armoire in the master bedroom. But notice how it’s all helter-skelter in this before photo.
Apart from the attempt to shove as much as possible in that space, rather precariously, I had been stacking some blank canvases and upcycled strips of tshirts (for upcoming project), as well as a basket of yarn against the wall opposite the armoire.
I also had random supplies in storage containers stacked on the floor of my clothes closet.
Laine hardly thought the situation was hopeless. She outlined a plan for me to undertake, which in fact would work for any craft supply organizing effort – for a large or small space:
1. Take everything (every last thing!) out of the current boxes and organize according to type. Ana eagerly helped me with this task. We threw away any dried up markers, old glue, and set aside duplicate tools (3 bags worth). As Laine said, “when you’re not organized, it’s easy to go out and buy a duplicate of something because it’s easier than finding it.” I had several containers of Mod Podge for just this reason.
2. After sorting everything, she recommended I label the boxes. She also liked that many of my boxes are clear so I can see inside and know what’s there at quick glance.
3. She measured the space in the armoire and the width of my current boxes and found they would sit side by side. She recommended I pull out the metal set of drawers, and use it for clothes storage in the main closet, and instead stack the boxes there.
I put some canvases in the armoire, and others under the bed. Eventually, I’d like to add another shelf at the bottom to add a bit more stability, but I’m very happy with these results. As Laine said when she saw my progress, “It looks so much better but, more importantly, it looks like you can get to your supplies and know where they are!”
DIY or Hire a Professional?
You may be seeing a pattern in the advice we’ve offered for organizing messy spaces. To DIY a decluttering and organizing project, the three main steps are as follows:
- Take inventory. Spread everything out and sort by what to keep and then type within that category, what to throw out or donate, and what to store elsewhere.
- Acquire appropriate bins. Reuse ones you have or buy some clear bins that are the right size and shape for the space and type of supplies. For example, giant bins are not great for storing craft supplies because everything jumbles together, unless you create dividers within the box, like freezer bags and shoe boxes.
- Label the bins. Use sticky labels and a Sharpie or a label maker.
Sometimes, you need help with the big picture, like I did. Having Laine spend some time with me, looking at my space and “stuff,” and talking out loud with her about my needs, helped a ton. It helped me get unstuck. I would have never pulled the metal rack out of the armoire as she recommended. But, the rack was a big inhibitor. Her calm presence, positive can-do attitude, and encouraging advice gave me the oomph and confidence to get started. I hope I can channel her when I tackle the laundry space next.
To get inspiration from other organizing projects, take a look at these posts: