Projects,  Sewing

Another Sewing Room Makeover

During the month of December, I worked on not one, not two, but three projects that I did NOT want to do. Two were urgent and out of necessity (a broken toilet and a broken countertop). The third was another sewing room makeover. Did I want it done? Yes. Did I want to work on it? No.

Honestly, I had been putting off this project for a long time. Partially because I thought it would be expensive to do, and partially because I knew it would be a really big project. It ended up being a much bigger project than I had even anticipated, but I actually picked the perfect time to work on it. We all came down with a cold the day after I started to work on it, and the kids were too under-the-weather to do anything, so I was able to work for a week straight, uninterrupted. (And yes, it was a cold, NOT covid.)

The cost of the project wasn’t too bad, all things considered. I bought 3 cabinets, a sheet of plywood, 7 boards for shelving, a bunch of shelving brackets, some fabric bins, paint for the white in the room, and a few other odd organizational supplies. I mean, it added up, but I was able to do everything I wanted for significantly less than I had initially anticipated. I was able to make use of most of the things that had been in the room (including the lumber from the old closet I tore out) instead of starting from scratch, and it worked out perfectly for my needs.

A small fraction of the wood ripped out of the closet that was re-used for the new set-up in a different location.

As for the size of the project, it was a much, much bigger undertaking than I had anticipated. I knew it would be a large project, but thank heavens I did not know just how large it would be, or I may have never gotten around to it! Seriously, the kids being sick was my saving grace…this project would have taken ages if I had to try and stretch it out over a longer period of time to keep up with school work and such.

There were two big obstacles… The first was that in order to make the room work for my needs, I would have to rip out the built-in closet (check out my post of the first makeover to see “before” pictures). The second was that this room is a multi-purpose room. It houses a lot of different supplies and tools, and there wasn’t a good place to go with any of it. I had to keep most of my stuff in the room, and work around it. As the room progressed, I had more working space, but after emptying the closet, there was very little room to work.

However, despite these obstacles, I was able to get the room done in a reasonable amount of time. The bulk of the work took place over the course of the week while everybody was sick. The remainder of the work took place the following week as I had free time in the mornings or afternoons, working around our homeschool schedule. As I said, this could have dragged out MUCH longer had I not been able to give it a solid week of hard work!

There was one big demolition project and one big building project for this room. The closet had to be torn out, and the materials from the closet reassembled to make a working storage area on the opposing wall.

The layout of the room was decided after having tried multiple arrangements of the room since having moved in. Things I learned were that: A) I can’t have my back to the kids while I work on the bills/the computer. B) I need a long, continuous workspace. C) I need lots of open floor space. D) Since I no longer sew professionally (I used to do lots of formalwear alterations), I do not need my sewing table to have lots of open room for things like big dresses. E) If I leave my ironing board set up at all times, it gets covered in STUFF. And F) I needed a bigger computer desk/table.

Keeping these things in mind, I was also aware of the fact that I needed to somehow create more storage space, clear out any clutter, and above all, the room would have to be an inviting, comfortable place to work. After all, it is my work space.

Considering all of these factors, I decided to rip out the closet. The wall that the closet was on was the only continuous wall space in the room. The other three walls all have windows or a door. If I wanted continuous work space, it needed to be in one straight line. I had done a sort of around a corner work space with the previous set up, and it did not work well for me. So the closet was ripped out.

Ripping out the closet was actually a very difficult decision for me to make. I still needed every inch of storage space that I could get! But there had to be a better way to get it without impeding the flow of the room. And there was. The east wall is somewhat useless because it has two side-by-side windows that take up a good portion of the wall space. The windows in the room are low to the ground, and it doesn’t leave a lot of space to work around.

Yikes! That’s not pretty! But most of this pile came from the closet that is just out of view on this picture, to the right.

The north wall, however was perfect. I was able to take out the semi-dresser that the closet had and create a bigger dresser with counter space, surrounded by shelving. This gave me a much better setup for the drawers, making them functional (four drawers were constantly blocked by “stuff” before, and I couldn’t access them, so I never used them).The shelving is also more accessible than it was before, making life a lot easier for me!

As for the south wall, the wall where the closet had been, I installed cabinets on the floor as sort of countertop “legs” and a thick plywood countertop. I added two additional large braces for support underneath. I wanted something that wouldn’t prohibit where we can put chairs at the work space. I want to be able to work anywhere along that countertop!

Above it, I installed some peg board that had previously been elsewhere in the room. One is for sewing tools, another for basic hand tools. Then I put shelves above each of those boards to hold varying supplies and materials.

Most of the things you see in the pictures are things that were in this room prior to me working on it. Most of the little bins and containers were obtained gradually over the years or in my previous attempts to clean up the room. I bought pink fabric bins to match some of the other containers I had purchased in the past and I purchased some smaller off-white fabric bins. The other white bins were from several years ago. The hanging light cages were found in a bunch of antiques we collected for free this summer, but I bought the light cords and bulbs for them so they could be used in the room. I purchased some mason jar lids to match some baskets I had in the room, and I also got two “in boxes” to match as well.

However, I think the best purchase I made may have been the cake boards. They are just pieces of cardboard (one side coated to protect against grease for bakers to put cakes on), but they were all uniform and pre-cut, and I used them to wind up my larger cuts of fabric. This saves a surprising amount of storage space and makes the fabric much more accessible. (All of the smaller cuts of fabric are in the small off-white bins, sorted according to color.)

Where my fabric had been spilling out and slipping off of shelving before, it is neat and tidy in bins sorted by colors, and wrapped on mini “bolts” made from cake sheets.

Oh, and I purchased and iron hanger and hung it up next to my sewing machine. Since I do not use the ironing board that often these days, I decided it would be best to have it hanging up when not in use to help reduce clutter spots. And now the iron is also out of the way, and it won’t get knocked off the ironing board and fall onto the floor!

I put my computer table on the west wall. I had a computer desk here once before, but I didn’t have the layout of the room right at the time and I decided to try something else. It was a mistake, so when I was figuring out where I wanted to put things, that was actually the one thing I was completely certain of. My computer table had to be right next to the door. I need to be able to listen to the kids while I work, and I feel like that’s harder to do if I’m turned away from the doorway. (They also feel like they can get into more mischief when I’m facing away from the door.)

I actually had the two lower shelves in that location prior to putting this table there, and I liked their position, so I kept it. I added another shelf above them, and that has bins with all of my yarn and crocheting/knitting supplies on it. With the way I set up the table, I can keep my printer and scanner set up at all times, I have room for an “inbox,” space for my computer, and desk space to work. This made doing Christmas cards much easier this year, and paying bills is much less chaotic now.

I used two plastic drawer sets that I’ve had for ages to store my “office supplies.” Paper and envelopes, odd scrapbooking supplies, plus the random desk goodies like a tape dispenser, stapler, scissors, and birthday cards fill the drawers.

There were two metal cabinets and a large filing cabinet that I decided to keep (at least for the time being, possibly forever). I didn’t want to spend more money on the project this year, and since they seemed like they’d work for my needs, I decided to make it work. The filing cabinet is a mix of paperwork and odd fabrics (leather, fleece, and upholstery fabric). One of the metal cabinets holds my glass work supplies (stained glass, glass painting…), and the other holds gift wrapping supplies (ribbons, tissue paper…). Above those cabinets, I have some plastic crates, and they have an odd assortment of craft supplies for projects I do with the kids.

There are two places in the room where the kids can go and get supplies (with my permission) and I don’t have to hesitate if I want them to use it or not. One of the cabinets under the new countertop has bins of the kids’ personal craft supplies. Some of them own special markers or fabric or things along those lines, and this keeps them separate and safe. I also have three fabric bins on the lower shelves next to the dresser drawers. They contain toilet paper rolls, felt, yard, and fabric scraps. I’ve been trying to give them their own stash of supplies for years, but I could never make it accessible enough without it causing problems.

But the thing that will probably help the most with my sanity and keeping this room in check is the fact that we added a padlock to the door. (Old doors, hard to change out the door knobs.) It has already made a noticeable difference! The kids weren’t supposed to go in the room whenever they wanted, but they would anyway. Three of the kids were becoming quite skilled in terrorizing the room, and it was wearing quite thin!

The east wall still has a pile of wood and a few odds and ends to be cleaned up, but I haven’t had the time to think about it much. But there’s a big open floor in the middle of the room where I can set up the ironing board or an extra table for craft days, or a playpen for when my nephew is over.

The best part of this project, however, is that I actually want to use the room now! And we have used it quite a bit already. I’m still trying to keep myself in check, because I still have a few loose ends to tie up (I don’t want to do too many new projects until I clean up everything), but the room is working great. I successfully filled out all of the Christmas cards at my desk and did the bills, wrapped Christmas gifts on the floor, had a couple of craft days with my mom, completed multiple unfinished projects, worked on a project with Miss Lady fixing up some old china dolls, had a friend come over because she needed the space to work on a Christmas gift. The list goes on…. In the last three months, it’s been used more than it was probably for the previous two years combined.

I am so grateful I was able to even do little things like sort my buttons by color, because it makes this space so much more functional. I can find what I need readily now, and everything has a place!

And I just want to put this out there for anybody wondering… First of all, this room is an accumulation of tools and supplies over the greater part of the last 30+ years of my life. I’ve been painting and sewing for years, and crocheting and doing odd woodworking since high school. The stained glass started in high school, but I only took it up again a couple of years ago. My collection has largely grown as a result of gifts over the years…. birthdays, anniversaries, and various holidays. And I used to sew for a living, so the investment into sewing has been pretty large.

Second, since we homeschool, I really appreciate being able to pass on these hobbies and skills to our children. We don’t currently do music lessons, or any sports, so I appreciate that they are getting something “extra” right at home.

Third, it has always been in the back of my mind that someday, I might make some extra income from doing these random things. I don’t know if I will ever be able to or not, but even if I don’t, perhaps the kids will, and that makes having this space and these tools worth it.

Fourth, I feel incredibly blessed to have this space in our home. I felt the weight of this room when I was working on it. To have so much, it’s an honor, a privilege, and I hope that we can use that space in ways that will honor God. That might sound silly to some of you, but I know others of you will understand what I mean. I look forward to sharing with you the things that happen in this room!

Do you have a craft or sewing space? Or maybe it’s something you dream of having? What would be your dream set-up?

Love and Blessings~Danielle


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