Monday, June 8, 2009

Organize Your Stuff Challenge - Week 3 BONUS - for my overhaulers

Welcome to the Organize Your Stuff Challenge - Week 3 BONUS! This post is specifically for those of you who have chosen to go off the deep end with me and are going to completely overhaul your space. You're just as crazy as I am - hallelujah, there are others out there!

Today I want to cover some of the basics of room design and space planning. If you have a blank slate to work with and don't know where to start, I hopefully can offer some pointers that can get you going in the right direction. This is called a bonus because it's not part of the main challenge. If I included it in the challenge, people would likely egg my house. Do not look at this post and completely flip out and grab your meds, thinking this has to be done in a week. That's insane. This is a just a guide - a collection of things I've come across in designing MY scrap space. It took me months to plan my space, with most of it done sitting on the couch in the evenings while watching TV. So many people have said that they don't know where to even start when designing a scrap area. Well, now you do. Take your time with it, take it step by step, relax, have fun, and it will get done. It's no different than if you were to remodel your kitchen. It's just another space in your house, but with a lot less silverware.

So, step one - if you haven't already done so, start a design file. These are the things you covet. They don't have to be the actual pieces that will go in your room - you're not ready for that yet. But these should be pictures of spaces, styles and storage options that make you truly Happy. What I did - I saved every picture that I loved to my computer, and when Walgreens had their cheap $0.10/print sale, I printed them out. I then filed them in a 3-ring binder by topic. So all my photos of workstations I loved and paint colors went into my Room Design section. All my pictures of neat ribbon storage ideas went under Ribbons. You get the idea. You can also save a little money and keep it digital - I'm a hands-on person tho, so I needed the photos. Don't limit yourself to only scrapping spaces - any color combinations you see that you love, non-scrapping furniture that would work, etc should go into your file. This can even include rooms in your own home! If your home is a black hole for inspiration, feel free to try some of my favorite sources - Target, Ikea, Umbra, West Elm, Land of Nod, Pottery Barn/Teen/Kids, Company Store/Company Kids, Exposures, Grandin Road, Crate and Barrel, Ballard Designs and Pier One. All have lots of fun ideas you can check out online.

Now, to get your design file filled with scrapbook-related things, it's a little more tricky. Most Peas know to do a search for "scrapbook room" in the Gallery and it will turn up a gazillion and a half rooms. You probably have a ton of those bookmarked already. So I'm not going to spend my time on those - if you haven't found that goldmine yet, scurry on over and check it out. My list below is from other sites I've found over time. I'm always on the lookout for spaces to drool over. Do a right-click and save picture for any ideas you love. It's long, but hopefully it will help you out.

Now if that won't keep you busy for at least a few hours - other good print sources include interior design magazines - Metropolitan Home, Traditional Home, House & Garden, Renovation Style, Interior Design, Architectural Digest are all great for ideas. There are also a few scrapbook organization books out there that have room ideas - check out your local library, free is good!

On to the planning. Now that you have some idea of what you want your room to feel like, your space design needs to encompass 3 basic things. First, it needs to function. Which means that it needs to fit YOUR style of scrapping. A standing island is useless if you sit to scrap! Second, it needs to be thought out in advance. PLAN this thing. Where will your main scrap area be? What tools need to be close by, which ones can be stored further away? Do you have kids - your sharp tools need to be out of reach then, maybe closed storage with child locks on it. How about workstations - one for stamping, one for die cuts, etc? These stations can be mobile as well, if you have a small space to work with. Keep these things in mind when setting up your zones. Finally, this is your creative haven. It needs to be uplifting, inspiring and a wonderful place you want to be in. Don't stick yourself in the damp, moldy basement just to have a large room, if you want to be with the rest of the family. A corner armoire can be just as functional in the dining room, where your kids are at. Find a space with light, one that you can add color and personalization to. If you're tight on space, get creative - even a small closet has wonderful potential. The key is to find a place where you will be happy and want to stay for a while so you won't have to go through this horrid planning process again.

So at this point, you should have a binder or file of sorts filled with things you love, and have chosen a space in your house where you will set up your scrap area. See how much progress you've made already? Yay! Now it's time to combine the two. Before any supplies go into your space, you need the basics - paint and furniture. Color is easy - go through your file. You should start seeing a trend in colors you've pulled. Maybe it's blues, or greens, or the black and white look. Start making decisions on the color scheme - treat your space like you would a layout. Choose your main colors and then have some accents (like embellishments!) that will pop.

Furniture is a little trickier. You first need to decide what you're going to do - use what you have, get a few new pieces, or get all new furniture for your scrap area. If you have a dream for your space but your budget doesn't match, then focus on the most important pieces and save up. If you do have the budget and are considering specialty pieces or built ins, then make sure you know what you're going to store where before making final decisions. I had my supplies mapped down to which drawer my paints were going in before I bought a single cabinet. Otherwise - what's the point of having a custom space if you have to tailor your stuff to fit in it? Design really is basic - figure out your method of organization first, then find stylish pieces that fit your space. If you have general ideas for all your supplies, wonderful. If not - hang in there through this challenge, and we'll figure it out together.

Once you have an idea of how your supplies will be stored (it doesn't have to be exact - like you want your ribbon hanging on the wall, but you don't have a hanger in mind yet), you need to get a room plan. Measure your space out with a tape measure, making sure to note any door and window locations (obviously you can't put a bookshelf behind a swinging door, but you CAN put one under a window!). Now, transfer these measurements to grid paper. Choose a scale - maybe a grid block on paper equals one foot of room space. Now you have your room drawn out, it's time to go to furniture. Measure the furniture you intend to use in your space (or if buying new, find the dimensions online). Draw them in the same scale on a separate piece of grid paper. Cut these pieces out, and you now have paper dolls of sorts to move about on your room diagram to see where things will go best. You can do this if you're doing cabinets as well - you can find the dimensions online. This is a cheap and easy way to plan a space - make sure you allow for movement, however. Usually 30" for aisles is a good start, and 36-40" behind chairs to allow someone to scoot back from a desk. Also keep in mind cabinet doors that open or drawers that pull out - that's important. Finally, make sure you take into account lighting and outlets. If you are planning on adding additional lighting, then you're set. But outlets are trickier and you don't want to drag an extension cord across your space for your sewing machine or tools, so set up your stations accordingly.

If you have a very small space to work with, it might be easier to draw the space in profile instead of in plan. Maximize your area by going vertical - in my old house, I had a small corner, so I used a computer hutch and stacked those 3-drawer Sterilite drawers about 4 high on top of that hutch. It rocked! I had to use a stepstool to get to the top drawers, but I only put my seldom used supplies up there so it worked out. I had 5 boxes across for a total of 20 drawer units - not bad for a small space! Closets are great areas - take out the clothes rod and you can go floor to ceiling with shelving. And it doesn't have to be all in one space either. If you have a small armoire unit in the dining room, you can have storage under the bed in another room, or a mobile cart or 2 in the closet - things like older photos, reference materials and completed albums can easily be stored elsewhere. Go on a house hunt and see what unused space you can find, you might surprise yourself. Make note of these little hidden gems on your space plan. You don't want to forget about them in the future.

At this point, all that's left is to put it all together. Get your paint colors on and your furniture in. Get each of your supplies in their appropriate containers and in their proper space in your room. Don't rush things. And if you get stuck, feel free to ask any questions - heck, you can even post your floor plan and I'll be happy to help you arrange things.

Have fun with this one!



  1. I just wanted to add a little tip here about the graph paper planning stage. I've done this for all our moves and redecorating times. Dig out your repositionable adhesive and use it on the pieces that represent your furniture. It works like a charm and you don't have to worry about a sneeze messing up the perfect furniture placement!

  2. Your instructions on designing a craft room are excellent. We are building a home which will be ready in October. I am gathering all of the information I can for my hobby room.

    Hugs, Jan