Once your kids start leaving for college, you do go broke, but there are pluses as well. Namely an extra bedroom yearning to become a craft room slash sewing room slash art studio (depending on my mood). The recently-vacated bedroom in my house is located right next to the kitchen (an awful place for a bedroom, by the way), and no self-respecting teenager wants to listen to little kids slurping cereal on the weekends, so I claimed it for myself. I love that it’s still right in the hub of the family room and kitchen area, but I can shut the door when it’s dinnertime instead of reluctantly cleaning everything off the kitchen table which is what I’ve been doing for the past twenty years.
So let’s take a walk through the evolution of this room from yucky teenage boy’s room to craft room that is my dream come true. This post will be about the size of a novel when I’m done, but I know that when I was planning my craft room I couldn’t get enough details when studying what other people had done, so I shall include all the details.
The “before” shot (my son had moved out and my crafts had started to move in):
Although Iet me pause to toot my own horn and say that I can paint a crisp and pristine stripe on a textured wall like nobody’s business. It pained my heart a little to paint over these stripes. But I was overjoyed to rip out the grody carpet. And the Straight Outta Compton posters.
And the “after” shot:
First, I painted the walls white. The color is a concoction of my own making, but White Dove by Benjamin Moore is pretty similar. It’s quite creamy, not a stark blue-ish white. Before I started all this I had seen a picture on Instagram of a kitchen with wallpaper that had a white background with yellow ovals on it. I fell instantly in love and knew that was what I wanted in my craft room. Mister is not a huge fan of the color yellow but the most wonderful thing in the whole world is that this room is mine, MINE, MINE and I didn’t have to take anyone else’s tastes into consideration when I planned the decor. To an opinionated girl like me, that’s heaven. I knew I wanted this room to feel cheerful and crisp. Normally I like a lot of stuff going on in a room and I like everything to feel vintage-y and old, but here I wanted a totally different vibe; something more modern and clean.
I tried to find the wallpaper I’d seen on Instagram to no avail. So then I tried to find a stencil. Apparently ovals are not au courant. But when you’ve got obnoxious textured walls, stencils don’t really work anyway. So that left me with one option: painting the ovals myself. When I have a bee in my bonnet, I will make it happen.
I made several different-sized ovals out of paper until I found one that I thought looked like the right scale. Then I cut it out of chipboard with my Silhouette Cameo to make sure it was a perfect oval (what would I do without that machine??? If you don’t have one you should go buy one, like, yesterday). This became my template. I platted out the wall using a plum-bob and a level and traced ovals up and down the wall. Then I painted the outline of each oval.
Doesn’t that sound so easy and straightforward? I simply painted the outline of each oval. That doesn’t communicate the trouble of buying the paintbrush that would be the right thickness, then painting each oval with the identical, perfect pressure on the paintbrush, hour after hour after hour. It also doesn’t communicate the pain of realizing that the shade of yellow I initially picked was too bright and ugly and several ovals had to be repainted (the original shade was Honey Locust from Behr. It looked like an electric school bus. I toned it down with some pale yellow left over from painting my bathroom. So yet again I have no specific color name.) Let’s just say that the story of my life is breezily stating, “Oh that should be easy!” and halfway through, realizing that it’s anything but easy.
Once I had finished one wall I realized that it was quite a loud and busy design and I’d really rather have calm white on the rest of the walls. So thank goodness I could stop with those infernal ovals after just a few days.
And then came the floors. As I said, the old beige carpet couldn’t get ripped out fast enough. Because my budget for the whole room was $0 (according to my husband which I interpreted to mean $500-$700), my flooring choices were, shall we say, limited. Plus I knew I wanted something colorful, not neutral. So I settled on Armstrong Vinyl Composition Tiles (or VCT as they’re usually called.) These are 12″x12″ vinyl tiles that you’ve seen a million and a half times. They’re in most school cafeterias and hospitals. They even have them on the floor in Hobby Lobby, I noticed. They’re indicated for used in “commercial applications”. Whatever. I ordered a bunch of free samples from the Armstrong website and found my perfect combination: Lemon Yellow and White Out. Most white VCT have flecks of different colors, usually black. White Out was the whitest of the white tiles without being solid white and thus being prone to show every sneeze and speck of dust. It has flecks of different shades of white. From far away the tiles look solid white but close-up they have blobs of white and off-white. The Lemon Yellow tiles have similar-looking blobs of various shades of yellow.
Because the wall was so busy, I decided that I wanted a larger-scale pattern for the floor. I made a checkerboard pattern out of four tiles of each color. VCT tiles are really quite easy to install once you realize that the glue used is quite possibly the stickiest substance known to man. I had the entire floor installed in a day and a half. If you look at the size of the wall plug in the photo, you get an idea of how big the checkerboard pattern is.
Thank heavens there is a walk-in closet in this room. Once I gathered all my craft/sewing/art junk from various stashes around the house, I ended up with so much stuff. I ripped out the clothing rods and built shelves instead. Here is what I knew about saws and building shelves before I started this project: Zero. Zip. Nada. But I just looked at the shelves in the other closets in my house and tried to do the exact same thing. I now know much more about shelves. At least enough to know that I don’t like installing shelves. But here they are. And everything turned out just fine. (I did not paint the walls to match the rest of the room and I did not rip out the carpet. I don’t care that much.)
Then it came time to furnish my craft room. And you all know where this is going: Approximately four hundred trips to Ikea. Fortunately there is an Ikea in Austin, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done.
Please welcome the Alex drawers from Ikea! These come in a short size which theoretically fits under a desk if you are a tiny pygmy and has five measly drawers. And then there are the tall Alex drawers which come up to my chest. But I wanted a work surface that was somewhere in between. Counter height, I suppose.
So I bought three tall Alex sets of drawers and cut the bottom two drawers off of each one (You know how I was mentioning my penchant for saying, “oh, that should be easy!”? Yeah. That happened a lot.) This required the use of a table saw (scary!) and drilling a dozen new holes of various sizes to attach the bottom piece of the drawers.
All the pawer tools were a fantastic pain but I pulled it off and the drawers turned out just how I wanted them. I still have six extra drawers kicking around and will eventually cobble together another set of drawers from these leftovers, I hope.
At this point you might have figured out that I do all the things inside my house. Mister is just brilliant if something has a motherboard, but otherwise, he’s not super handy. If I want something to happen inside my house, I’m going to have to do it myself. And as I don’t know how to do lots of things, I watch many YouTube videos and try to figure things out on my own. Plus when you rely on someone else, particularly a husband, all sorts of nagging and pestering are involved and I have so many other things to nag and pester about. I’d rather just do it myself. He can make dinner while I do the home improvement things. It’s all good.
Once I had all my drawers arranged, I labelled them with words I cut out from vinyl with my Silhouette. I wasn’t originally going to label the drawers but after opening five different ones every time I was looking for a pencil, I thought some words on the drawers might be nice. (Yes, I have en entire drawer full of tape. There’s lots of kind of tape, OK?)
Some of the drawers were too big for just one type of item so I made drawer dividers out of foam board, cut with an exact knife. It’s cheap and works super well. I used my glue gun to hold everything in place and I’m pretty thrilled by how nicely it’s working out.
For the counter I bought some sort of tabletop thing from the scratch and dent reject section from Ikea for $60. I knew I did not want a surface that was only 24″ deep like most countertops and desks are. I need to spread out when I create, man! And that means 36″ deep. This countertop-type thing ended up being 36″ x 98″ long which fit my room pretty well. Because the Alex drawers are only 14″ from back to front, I put a couple of table legs along the back of the counter to keep things steady. The Olov legs are adjustable so I could raise them to be exactly the right height. I got another tabletop for the other wall and, voilà, there is my huge area to make all the things.
I happen to have a decent-sized stash of fabric that I planned on storing in this room. I got rid of the ugly stuff that I would never use in a million years and decided to put all the remaining yardage on bolts. I used these cardboard backing boards that were originally designed to display Life magazines. They work totally well to store fabric!
I stacked the little bolts on my Fjälkinge Shelves from Ikea. Also on these shelves I have my Ikea magazine holders that are full of card stock, as well as my collection of cut wool felt. I keep my felt in this clear bin so that I can see its rainbow loveliness but it won’t get dusty. (Amazon has them for $12 cheaper than the container store, FYI)
(I always have my knitting bag handy so I can grab it on my way out the door. Gotta be able to knit on the go!) I hung my felt sample cards up on the wall so I can tell at a glance which colors I have or might need for a project. More rainbow-y goodness!
Another really great thing I have on these shelves are Kuggis boxes from Ikea. They’re quite nice-quality plastic with a snug lid. These are for projects I’m currently working on. I don’t always have time to finish a project and I don’t like to leave them around for more than a day. If I have something I’m working on–some embroidery, for example–I can work on it then put it, along with the instructions and needed supplies, into a box to keep organized for later. When I’ve got time to work on it, I can pull the box out and get busy; no lost pieces or misplaced instructions. Everything is perfectly kept together. I’m here to tell you that it’s one of the greatest ideas I’ve come up with. (By the way, Kuggis boxes and the magazine holders I bought come in solid white. I thought mine would look a little cuter trimmed with green washi tape, though.)
One of my favorite features of my new craft room is my wall organizers. I did a separate post on them because they have several features that require lots of explanation. But basically they’re a godsend for organizing all my thread which was previously an utter nightmare. They also provide a handy place for my jillions of pencils, paintbrushes and glitter jars.
I have a separate wall board for storing my gift tags and greeting cards, along with a handy dandy paper towel holder. These are made by Wall Control and are metal–a big step up from flimsy particle peg board. They’re so great!
Don’t forget a place to store all the washi tape and the rotating carousel of pens!
To decorate this room, I wanted to keep things to a minimum. I made a pennant bunting out of quilt fabric.
Then I added a few sensible things like a clock and an H, in case I forget what letter my name starts with. I also whipped up this Texas artwork. It’s a canvas with scrapbook paper arranged in the shape of my fair state. It’s one of the few projects that actually turned out as cute in real life as it was in my imagination.
In this nook I keep my white printer (I just could not use a black printer in this room. It was so ugly. Mister heard my complaining and bought me this canon printer instead. It’s pretty groovy and even prints wirelessly from my iphone and ipad. This model also comes in gold but that’s a little too swanky for me). I have my serger thread close at hand as well as my Cutterpillar Crop. Have you used a Cutterpillar? It’s only the best paper cutter known to man. Guillotine cutters are so 1900’s! It’s got a light along the cutting side so you can see through your paper and know exactly where you’re about to cut. And then a smooth blade slides right along and cuts your paper perfectly, even the skinniest little strips. I saw these recently at Hobby Lobby. I’m so surprised more people don’t have one.
My daughter Arabella came in and set her knitting on the counter a couple of weeks ago and I loved the pop of color from the orange yarn and the painted knitting needles. So it’s going to stay here until she gets around to finishing it. And if she’s anything like her mother, who knows when that will be.
Here’s the rolling desk chair I bought on Amazon. You’ve got to get a chair with a seat about 25″ off the floor if you want to sit at counter-height, so a regular-height chair won’t cut it. Since the chair I bought online came in hideous beige vinyl I was forced to recover it. I found a nice oilcloth that worked much better.
And there you have it. My dreamy craft studio that makes me smile with happiness every time I walk in. And even better than being pretty is the fact that everything has a place. What a joy it is to clean up when every item has it’s own spot.
I hope you enjoyed the very thorough tour!
I paid for all these products with my own money. But if you buy anything through my Amazon links I will instantly become a millionaire and be showered with confetti. No, not really. I get a little pittance. But I would like a little pittance, if you would be so kind.