There was a terrible, suffocating feeling every time I walked into my sewing room. Every time I started to work on the room to get it cleaned, I’d end up getting interrupted, and before I’d have time to go back and finish the job, life just seemed to get in the way. It was beginning to feel eternally frustrating. As the Christmas season was reaching it’s climax, I was becoming more and more tense. With projects accumulating and wrapping up, presents being packaged, waiting to be given, and the room filling to brimming, I knew I really, really needed to deal with the chaos . It was time.The chaos is no joke. My sewing room isn’t just a sewing room, it’s a craft room, my office, and my homeschooling headquarters. That’s a whole lot of stuff to fit into 4 walls, even if the space between them is a decent size. When we moved in, I got first choice for my sewing room. Sewing used to help pay the bills, so this is more than just a hobby that I dabble with. After carefully considering the placement of the different rooms throughout the house, I ended up picking the former master bedroom. There were enough bedrooms upstairs to have us all sleeping on the same floor of the house, and the only room that was suitable for our classroom supplies was sort of a hallway to the master bedroom. It just made sense to put my sewing/craft room/office/homeschooling headquarters in the room that could only be accessed through the classroom.
Yes, the room is big, and it even came with two closets. So with all of that space, you’d think it would be easy to set up my special space. But it wasn’t. For starters, setting it up was LOW on the priority list after we moved. The rest of the house needed to be dealt with first. And seeing as we homeschool and our kids are home 24/7, every time I would start to work on the room, I’d inevitably end up interrupted by something more pressing, like fishing lego builds out of the toilet or feeding a pack of hungry wolves. I mean children.
The pictures I am about to show you represent what the room looked like before I worked on fixing it up this last go ’round. I had cleared out the chaos of Christmas, but now I had to deal with everything else. There are things in the middle of the room that weren’t normally there (like a filing cabinet or a printer) but I remembered after I began cleaning to snap some pictures. Sadly however, these pictures are a fairly accurate representation of what the room looked like AT ALL TIMES. Can you see why I was a bit stressed?
Cleaning up the chaos wasn’t going to be enough. The chaos was happening because I didn’t have a great work flow or a plan or a place for everything. Previous attempts at cleaning up did provide me with a few organized sections of the room, and a layout that was close to being good, but there was still a whole lot of room for improvement. So I cleared just enough space on the floor for me to sit down, clear my head, and think of the best plan. I had to attempt to picture the room empty (difficult considering…), and then think about how the space was being utilized already and if there was a better possible layout. It occured to me that while there were minor changes that needed to be made to the layout, the real issue was actually storing all of my supplies for all of my many different projects. Well, my budget for this room was non-existent. I really needed to figure out a way to make the space work for me without spending money.
But how do you add cabinet space to a room when you don’t have money for cabinets. Well, lucky for me, we had helped a friend move a few summers ago, and in the process, we accumulated a lot of different things that we knew would be useful to us, but that we didn’t have time to fully deal with… yet. I remembered that there was an old dining room table that he had used for some kind of painting projects, still disassembled up in the granary. And I was pretty sure there were at least two metal cabinets out there that weren’t being used for anything at the moment. After consulting with Scott, I brought in the table and not two, but 3 metal cabinets. It was all exactly just what I needed to get some organization going in this room. A cabinet for party supplies/gift wrapping, and two cabinets for tools and/or projects in waiting. And one of those cabinets could double as some extra counter space. Win win!
The first winter after we moved in, I found some time to paint the room and work on setting things up. I hadn’t completed the room, but I was able to get a good start on things. I found this sign at Hobby Lobby around that time and it served as inspiration for the future color scheme of the room.
In my previous attempts at organizing, I had set up some shelving for certain art supplies and tools, and hung a peg board for easy access to all of my frequently used tools like my hammer, screwdrivers, and tape measure. And there is a built in dresser that has drawers that are slightly difficult to open (they are heavy and don’t slide easily) which was perfect for keeping little hands away from supplies that could create total disaster. Like my collection of different paints (finger paint, craft paint, fabric paint, spray paint…), or my collection of patterns (everything from doll patterns to aprons to pajamas and formalwear). For the most part, these parts of the room have stayed as is since almost two years ago, though they require a bit of maintenance from time to time.
One of the areas that was especially problematic for me during this time was underneath my craft table where I stored gift wrapping supplies, party supplies and gifts yet to be given. Ever once in awhile, the kids would come in the room and make birthday presents for somebody and basically tear this area apart. It was all stored in an old laundry basket, a clear storage bin, and a cardboard box, which was fine, except that it was too visually tempting for the kids and too cluttered looking for me. Thankfully, two of the cabinets that I brought in solve the problems I was having with this area. The gifts yet to be given can be stored in one cabinet, and the other was the perfect size for holding the party supplies (like balloons and streamers), and gift bags, boxes, tissue paper, ribbons, bows and cards.
The closets for this room have been an area that need general tidying from time to time, but considering the vast amount of supplies they contain, they just look cluttered ALL of the time. I had taken off the frustrating sliding doors not long after we moved in (it was next to impossible to access what I needed) and used the doors to build shelves for better storage. It helped, but it was dark and still looked, well, cluttered. I realized that the only way to keep the closets from driving me crazy was going to be to cover them with something. Doors were impractical, but curtains would actually be okay. They’d be easy to move when I needed to access my supplies. But I didn’t have curtains, and I didn’t have money for curtains. Thankfully, my sister-in-law just so happened to have some extra lace curtains that she didn’t need, and they were absolutely perfect for the space. They were surprisingly good at hiding what was inside the closets, and they brightened up the room significantly since the white reflects more light.
The third cabinet was perfect for storing some of my larger tools (like the glass grinder), and projects yet to be completed. And it is tall enough to be a counter, wherase the other two were perfect for storing underneath the table. With the added table space, I was able to turn this counter into my cutting table. I’m sure I will end up moving my cutting mat from time to time, but this is perfect for general use. The jar that the rotary ruler and cutters are stored in is one of those glass pumpkin jars you can get at Walmart every year during autumn… the lid on mine broke and I didn’t want to toss the jar, so I painted it and decided I would use it for something!
Painting the furniture took a few days, because I painted ALL of it. The green on the filing cabinet got painted white, all cabinet doors and drawers got painted pink, and their bodies got painted white. The sewing table, the table that once served as our dining room table (back when we only had 4 people in our family), has served me well all of these years, and I had a hard time painting those legs, but boy, do I love how they look in white!
Once the furniture was painted and the room generally organized, I was able to focus on putting in the “finishing touches.” For my birthday this year, I was given a few things for my sewing room, including a sewing machine cover and a mat to put under my machine that has pockets for my most commonly used tools (like scissors and a seam ripper), along with a pin cushion that ties onto the machine. My mom also embroidered a pillowcase that I found in a bin of second hand items awhile back, and gave me the completed project. It was too pretty to use on any pillow in our house, and fit too perfectly with my display of fun vintage finds over the years for me to actually use, so I put it in a frame and hung it up on the wall. And one of my other birthday gifts this year was a gift card to Hobby Lobby, which I used to buy some very pretty fabric for re-covering a pair of chairs from the 40s or 50s that were left behind with the house when we moved in.
And here are my “after pictures.” First of all, sorry that they aren’t better. This room doesn’t have the best lighting for photography, and it’s winter, and most days are a bit cloudy. Second of all, I know the room still looks a bit…hmm… busy. BUT, it’s much, MUCH better than it was. And I have a few in-progress projects going at the moment, plus a couple of Christmas gifts I have yet to be able to give. Not to mention, I love it. My favorite part is the display of vintage items I displayed above my desk. A map of a city in Japan brought back from WWII, an old calendar found in the basement of our old house with our last name written on it sometime in the 1960s, an aerial photograph of our farm back in the 1950s, and a few other meaningful knick-knacks I have collected over the years, all finally with a place to be displayed and admired 🙂
The final touch I’ll point out to you is the drawer that holds my keyboard. I found some pretty contact paper at the Dollar Tree and used it to cover the tray instead of painting it, since I knew that any paint I put there would very likely end up scratched up. It’s just another one of those small, girly things that puts a little smile on my face when I see it.
To get the room completed, I used the gift card to purchase some fabric for the chairs, and I spent less than $25 for things like contact paper for the key board, a second tension rod for hanging the curtains over the closet, and some artificial cherry blossoms to adorn the glass bottles on top of my desk. (I’m not big on fake flowers, but this was the right use of them for certain!)
What started as chaotic and stressful space has now turned into a light, airy, fun and exciting sewing room for me. I’m hoping to have a lot of great things come out of this room in the future. Goodness knows I have enough of a backlog of projects to keep me going for a long time, so I don’t think there will be a shortage of things for me to write about in the future! (Not that there really ever has been…) How about you? Is there a space in your house you just can’t quite seem to make work for you? What are your plans for changing that? If you have a sewing/craft room, has it ever looked as bad as mine?