Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lessons Learned: Ideas and Tips for Your Budget Friendly Craft Room Makeover

Hello everyone! 

If you've stopped by for the Sketches4All Challenge Celebration, click here. 

Grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and relax with some ideas and tips for taking your craft room from drab to fab!

If you're on a tight budget I may be able to help you move more easily through the process. You don't have to have a large craft space, in fact what I'm sharing is all about using what you already have.
 
Since posting my Craft Room Makeover in July, the pulse of activity and all the wonderful comments tell me that there are a lot of people looking to, at the very least, get organized and some wanting to completely redo their craft rooms. One particular question has popped up time and time again with a few repetitive questions right behind it. So today I would like to address them and share some of the things that I've learned along the way.
 
If you haven't viewed my video yet and would like to you can click here or find it at the top of my blog sidebar :)

Question:
"How did you make such big changes to your room and spend under $100.00"?

The simplest answer to why I didn't have to spend a lot of money is,
I didn't make big changes, but rather many small changes that made a big impact. 
 
Instead of buying new furniture or repainting the entire room I focused on what I already had and how I could change it to make it work for me. As much as the improvements I made were about the need for storage and organization, I also put my energy into working toward a room that was light and bright for taking photos and comfortable to be in.
 
There are many simple fixes and little details that can make a world of difference and require no money.

Preface:
I did not have an actual plan for redoing my room, but more of just an idea of the look that I wanted. So to save money I took the things that I already had or bought very inexpensively (such as my chair and clock) and made them fit that look.


After completing a couple of projects and knowing that I was not going to be repainting my grayed-green walls I realized the picture below encompassed the feeling, color and look that I wanted. So I used it to inspire and lead me. Having an object that you can build a room around is definitely a bonus. This was a picture that my daughter no longer wanted in her room. You can see how the green on the wall can be found in the painting and you will see the other colors in the painting used throughout my room.

My craft supplies remained in my craft room as I worked since I had to continue to craft and blog. For the makeover to go smoothly I did one area or piece of furniture at a time.

The total time it took me to redo my craft room was two months. If I were to count in days how long it took me to paint my large pieces of furniture, arrange them and make the table skirts, I would say it didn't take any longer than two weeks. All of my small projects such as shopping at yard sales, painting my mirror and chair, and spray painting small containers is what drew that timeline out, aside from trying to live life too.

My Learning Curve and answers to other questions  
1. Hidden storage can really impact the look of a room
2. Make some things stand out cohesively so things you don't want noticed fade into the background  
3. Paint can become your new best friend
4. Good furniture arrangement is a must, getting it right can make your furniture look more impressive
5. Little added touches have a big impact too 
6. Not everything needs to be exposed to remember you have it. In fact it's a bad idea.

In the photo on the left you can see that I started out with a very similar layout to what I have now. At the time of the first photo I hadn't thought through everything. I had storage and convenience on the brain instead of seeing the whole picture that would include, making the most of natural light and making my space comfortable and feel good to be in.
 
To add storage I brought in two bookcases, but after finishing I was not happy with my room. It felt cluttered and uninspiring. There was nothing pretty to look at and nowhere for my eyes to rest.
 
Even though my materials were organized, my containers themselves weren't organized and they didn't match. This made my shelves look very messy.

At this point I realized what was wrong and what I needed to change.
My room lacked cohesiveness and a focal point.
The numerous colors, textures, shapes, sizes and styles of my containers, furniture and craft materials overwhelmed my room.  
 
1. Making hidden storage is easy and can really impact the look of a room.
    The storage area under my desk was ugly, but necessary. I don't sit at this desk, but just use it for cutting, die cutting, scoring and filing.
     
    Covering the open area was a small change that made a huge impact, because it not only hid my storage, it also softened the harsh lines of my desk and brought color into my space. This one change was very motivating.
    Start small and it may help you along.
    Money saving tip: I took curtains and material I already had, plus picked up at a yard sale and cut them up. This is not one solid curtain, but rather random-sized strips hanging beside one another. Strips make access easy. I hung them on a dowel that sits in plastic closet bar cups and it can be easily removed, also making access easy. I like the look of the mixed materials and patterns.
     
    2. Make some of your craft containers stand out cohesively so the things you don't want noticed will fade into the background 
     
    You don't have to throw everything out and begin from scratch. All you have to do is trick the eye.

    I didn't have to do a lot to the shelves of my desk to improve them.
    They are the first thing the eye goes to when I enter my room because they are straight ahead and at eye level.
    The way I had my materials stashed just added to the dreariness and confusion of my room.
     
    First I removed some of the containers that didn't need to be on the shelves. To improve the look of the upper shelf and draw the eye I added some embellishments to the front of the jars and placed them in the center (pictured below).

    Embellishing the jars helped me in four ways; it gave me an attractive focal point, somewhat disguised what was in the jars without blocking my view of the contents, allowed me to bring the colors I wanted to an area that was very drab and the added embellishments united the jars with the rest of the room.

    Choose what you want to stand out and then make it special.
    The cream and light turquoise colored baskets were purchased at Family Dollar for a total of $12.00.
     
    Since I found new places (hidden storage) for some of my ugly containers I added a few pretty baskets to the lower shelf to finish off the look. The brown basket in the middle was an old basket of mine which worked nicely with the burlap on the jars, so I just added some lace and a bow to make it blend in a little and emphasize the colorful, textured baskets on the sides of it.
     
    By making some things stand out, the not-so-great things fade into the background.
     
    I didn't have to do anything to the plastic sandwich containers because they're sitting right next to a focal point.
    Did the sandwich containers draw your eye or were you drawn to the embellishments of the jars and the colorful baskets underneath?
     
    My shelves also lacked a pleasing arrangement and in the new design there is balance.

    NOTE: I know finding a container to hold craft materials can be exciting. Especially if it holds those materials perfectly. The issue is whether that perfect container works perfect in your craft space
    and if it doesn't, can you make it work? If not, don't use it, or at least don't display it.
    If you need to have it out, you can put it somewhere by itself like I did with my vase of colored pencils.
     
    The next two things I learned go hand-in-hand
    3. Paint can become your new best friend.
    A can of spray paint, a couple small bottles of craft paint and a partial gallon of paint leftover from a home improvement project can go a long way
    . That's all I used in my craft room. If you need to buy paint you can find it at Walmart or a store like it inexpensively.
    &
    4. Good furniture arrangement, is a must, can make your furniture look more impressive and is free 

    I spray painted the containers I already had and added some of them to my desk. By having the color around the room, it balanced the color scheme and the room felt brighter and cheerier.

    The dreaded furniture!
    I had mixed pieces of furniture that did not go together AT ALL.
    A simple white shelf on it's own can look fantastic, but place it next to a tall, massive, wood-stained desk and the shelf looks small and cheaply made.
    Place a thrown together desk made from filing cabinets, a bookcase-headboard, and slab of wood for the surface next to a beautifully lined Victorian piece and the desk looks hideous. In fact the Victorian piece looked horrible too next to these other things.
     
    Pay attention to the style and scale of your furniture and make any needed changes in the arrangement of them.
     
    To bring the look of my furniture together I needed the bookcases to look bigger and heavier with more details and to tone down my massive desk. Most importantly since they were the largest pieces in the room I wanted them to be similar and neutral in their overall appearance.
     
    I did not want to spend money on molding to make my pressed-wood bookcases look better. So I came up with a couple of solutions to get the same feel without having to spend the money and break out the power tools.
    First I painted stripes on the back of the shelves to give them some interest and disguise the cheap looking back panels. I used two craft paints and sponged the color on so very little paint was used. Since this is not an exposed area that will get a lot of wear, I didn't have to do any priming. No money was spent to do this. 
     
     I arranged the two bookcases close together and made them look like one large piece of furniture by adding an old wine cabinet between them and then two long pieces of wood as shelves above them that I painted white.
     
    To give my bookcases even more weight and interest I used a white window valance along the top to make them look a bit fancier and to soften the lines. This took the place of using molding. I also painted the underside of the wood to bring color to the nook.

    An old medicine cabinet was added since it has a curvy shaped top that breaks up the straight lines of everything around it. This was not absolutely necessary, but a nice added touch. The mirror (once cleaned, haha) helps spread light throughout the room by reflecting the sunlight from the windows across from it.
     
     I painted all the parts of my homemade desk white to make it look like a real desk, work with the shelves and brighten and lighten this massive piece of furniture.

    There is a noticeable difference in the amount of light 
    in my room now with all my large furniture pieces painted white.

    5. Little added touches have a big impact too 

    I wanted hints of pink in my room so I placed some pink and white striped wallpaper on the back of the desk. I used two-sided tape to adhere it so it can be easily removed down the road if I wish.
    I got the wallpaper from Goodwill about a year and a half ago and finally found a use for it, but you can use anything to add some color or pattern to a piece of furniture, including fabric, scrapbook paper or stencils. Goodwill often has brand new wallpaper rolls for around one dollar. I paid $0.86 for mine.

    I also added pink bows and labels to some of my cloth bins.
    I got the bins at Family Dollar for a total of $24.00.

    To be able to use the nightstands and not have to do anything to them I placed them together on the other side of the room between the windows. I liked their antique look with the painted flowers on the drawers and did not want to paint over them.
    Although I would have preferred to have them in separate spots, they work nicely together with a board on top to make one continuous surface. I even added a small shelf to the back to add another level. The drawers hold holiday themed embellishments and odds and ends that didn't have a place before. I can store my large plastic jars of flowers on top and this gives me a little area to decorate.
     
      To detract the eye from the fact that I used a window valance to cover the board I layered doilies in different patterns and colors.

    To give the area height I added a stylish mirror
     to the wall behind the stands that I painted white, (the mirror was an ugly fake looking gold before). This helps bounce light around, as well, for taking photos. 
     
    My furniture looks better together now and by building up I made the most of my space. I also have a lot of hidden storage, hence all the fabric. :) Now the shelf unit and my desk look like they belong together. 
    The white curtains on the bottom of the shelves match the curtains on the windows. 

    Money saving tip: To make them I took one large curtain and cut it in half. Then I measured the length I needed and cut the tops off both halves leaving room to make the hem for the rod.

     6. Not everything needs to be exposed to remember you have it
     
    A recurring statement I read/heard online was,
    "If I don't see it, I won't use it".

    These were crafters speaking about how they need things to be exposed so they don't forget about what they have. It's a misleading statement if taken as advice. The only way you will forget about something is if you're not well organized. In fact that is a great queue that you need to improve when you're forgetting you have something. Being truly organized means you know at all times, exactly what you have and where it is.
     
     If you live in an "organized mess" like I did, you probably will forget that you have it.
     
     So what did I do the first time I "organized" my space? I took what they said as advice and exposed everything I could.

    That was a HUGE mistake!!!
     
    In reality it really doesn't work well that way.
    A bunch of different and exposed craft materials together not only make a room feel cluttered and closed in, but displaying everything can actually have the opposite effect. 

    You may end up seeing nothing, at least nothing in particular.
     
    All of those new punches I got were so cool! I just had to see every one of them. All of those embellishments (buttons, beads, ribbon, lace, etc.) were so colorful and pretty I just had to keep them in view like decorations. 
     
    And what did I end up with? This. 
    Not very pretty at all when you put it all together.  
    My room looked more like it belonged to a hoarder than a crafter.

    Now your reason for having everything out may not be exactly the same. I mean it was also convenient to have everything out. At least that is what I told myself, until I was looking through my "organized mess" and couldn't find something that was right in front of my face.
     
    Think about it this way. You may have piles on your office desk of bills, junk mail, passwords, and so forth. When someone says something negative about it (spouse), you say you know where everything is. You have an "organized mess", 
    BUT who wishes for an organized mess?

    Isn't it much nicer when you walk to your desk and the surface is clean and free of clutter. When you know just by opening a drawer all of your bills are ready to go and you don't have to stare at them or worse, shift them around to get to things. The same applies to a room. Organized messes don't invoke any kind of feeling other than wanting them to go away and they certainly aren't inspiring.
     
    I craft because I like the creativity in making things that attract the eye in a positive way. I like to make pretty things and my room was not pretty.
     
    Solution:
    Only keep some of each item displayed.


    Lets use my paper punches as an example. I don't have a lot of punches, but you can substitute anything here.
     
    I display only the ones I use most often and place the rest in a storage container that is easily accessible and labeled.
     
     
     Instead of my eye randomly searching, it goes right to the labels and now I don't even have to look at the labels when retrieving a container.
     
    Having your craft materials put away removes the "organized mess" and makes it easy to find and retrieve the things you need. It also makes the area more pleasing to look at and be in.
      Crafts you no longer do and extra things you haven't used in ages can be placed in hidden storage.
     
    I went through each item I had until everything had it's space and therefore I knew what I had and where to find it.

    So to everyone watching craft videos for ideas like I did, keep in mind that the individual ideas are great, but together they may create a monster.

    The little joys of finding just the right container and furniture pieces with little to no monetary expense can cloud your judgment if you don't have an overall plan in mind.

      Side Note: I use fabric to cover one of the areas I use often too.
    I use my inks and rubber stamps at least a few times per week, but when I'm not crafting, as my room serves other purposes as well, I don't want to have to look at them and I don't want the inside of the cabinet collecting dust. Just my personal preference.
    My solution was to hang a curtain on a cafe curtain rod that sits in cup-hooks. This way I can easily remove it completely when I'm crafting and cover it up when I'm not. I used old fabric I had. You can repurpose an old tablecloth, bed linens, clothing, whatever you can find or even stitch some different fabrics together to make your own unique cover.
     
     
    Choice is a big deal. Give yourself choices.
     
    I hope answering some of the questions I've received as well as sharing some of the things that I've learned have helped you. They're things that I did not think about initially and I wish I had as it would have saved me the time and energy of doing it wrong the first few times.
    It's not the easiest process to decide what you want and figure out how to make it happen without a lot of money sitting in the bank, but it's very possible with a bit of creativity and it's an exciting and very rewarding experience that will make everyday afterward a good craft day. So put your creativity and eye for great things to work for you and make a space that you love.

    Happy crafting!
    post signature