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View from door (after)After guiltily reading about so many other crafty bloggers getting organized, I finally gave in and cleaned my room too. For those of you (like Christie) who enjoy seeing others' craft room photos, I've posted before & after pics on my Flickr page. Or you can read on for details (including specs on my new super-duper work surface)!

My craft room also serves as our guest bedroom, and it's never been good at being both. Every time someone came for a visit, I spent at least a day dumping things into hiding spots so it looked decent. I was surprised recently when my mom mentioned how organized I kept my room -- apparently my mad dash of cleaning had fooled her. Truth is, my room was overcrowded & disorganized. The mess felt oppressive & (to quote both Judy D's Artrepreneur & Musings from the Moonroom) "suffocating."

It didn't help that earlier this year, I joined my husband full-time on our home web design business. Now the craft room / guest room also needed to be an office. I love taking my laptop outside to work, so that got me through the summer. But when the weather turned cool, I knew I needed a real solution.

My little cleaning project took me a good portion of the last 8 (!) days, much longer than I imagined. I started by swapping out furniture -- replacing the tiny student-desk with a real computer desk & getting rid of the microwave cart that only really worked for piling supplies (not for organizing them). I got rid of a bunch of things I no longer need (well, okay, I've still got them, but I've moved them to the garage with intentions of eBay- or Freecycle-ing them). I've found real places for storing things, and labeled those places appropriately. And I've had a long talk with myself about how hoarding supplies is not a good long-term strategy. (Hopefully that lesson will stick!)

The payoff? I'm actually eager to go into my room again! I've snuck in there before breakfast the last two mornings, just to admire it.

My Favorite Parts

  • Computer desk (after)The computer desk. I love my keyboard tray, since it lets me conveniently use a real mouse & keyboard with my laptop (especially important for detail work like photo editing). And having the scanner there will help me stay organized. It was previously attached to my hubby's computer, even though he seldom scanned anything. That meant I piled things up & waited for a time when he wasn't using his computer. Now I can keep on top of the scanning & keep the piling to a minimum.
  • Craft desk (after)

    My work surface. Before I got the big green cutting mat, I used to use those big desktop calendars as a work surface. I turned the calendar page over so I just had a big blank sheet of paper -- great for making notes, testing stamps, etc. (I'd put a layer of wax paper on top when I was doing polymer clay work, same as I do with the cutting mat.) When the paper got dirty enough, it was easy to crumple it up & start with a fresh calendar page. And while the cutting mat is nice, I've missed being able to write on my work surface.

    One of the things I had piled in my closet was 4' wide x 200' long paper roll that I bought years ago for $25, thinking it'd work well for creating custom-designed gift wrap. Unfortunately it didn't, so I was thinking about putting it in the get-rid-of pile. On a whim, I decided to try putting it on the floor behind the desk, rolling it up and over to cover my work surface. I was tickled pink when this actually worked! I was originally concerned with how to keep it in place, but it turns out my cutting mat is heavy enough to hold it. I love that my desk is now a giant notepad! The downside is I'll have to clear everything off the desk whenever I want to roll out a clean section of the paper. But maybe that'll encourage me to keep the desk uncluttered...

  • Closet (after)

    Easy access to the things I use most. Part of what took me so long on this was that I was really thinking things through. If I use something frequently, I made it easy to get to. Seems logical, I know. But it was hard in some cases -- like, for example, putting the paper punches I use frequently right there on the shelf, when other less-used punches are stored in a box. The organizer in me really wanted all the punches together, but the practical part of me won out. (At least in most cases!)

    Granted, this was the part that took the most (mental) effort, but it's also the part that's most likely to get outdated. Over time, I'll change which things I use most frequently, but the room will be stuck in today's organizational scheme. I hope I can learn to adjust things on a small level, so I don't end up having to do another complete overhaul in a couple of years.

What's Next

One of the things I'm proud of in this project is that there's not much left. I don't usually take time to finish projects to my satisfaction. I'll do 90% and leave the other 10% to nag at me. But I forced myself to take the time to finish things here, and it makes for a nice feeling of satisfaction. That said, I'm already seeing some things I'll want to work on:
  • Lighting. I got rid of the huge lamp sitting on my craft desk, thinking that since the two desks were closer together, my floor lamp would cover both areas. It's only been a couple of days, so maybe I still just need to adjust -- but I have a feeling I'll need to add some (smaller) task lighting.
  • A Little More Scanning. For me, a huge part of getting rid of clutter was getting rid of paper -- free project instruction sheets from Michaels, sketches I'd made of various ideas, old receipts, etc. While I scanned, filed and/or recycled a huge stack of papers this past week, there's one more folder (recipes mostly) that I need to go through.
  • Color. I've been wanting to paint this room for a while, and was tempted to toss that in with this project. As long as everything else ended up taking, I'm glad I didn't -- it might have been a bit overwhelming. Still, I'll start deciding on the actual color (I'm thinking something earthy -- orange-y maybe?) so I'm prepared to do it when there's time.

If you're thinking about tackling your own room, good luck to you. It can be a big job, but just think how wonderful you'll feel when it's done. I know I do!


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Job well done! I'm jealous, I don't have an acutal room to craft in, so I use the dinning room. I just recently cleaned this up too (just before Thanksgiving - needed the table to eat Thanksgiving dinner on... haha). My daughter, Cassy, would suggest "Atomic Orange" =) but that might night be too earthy...

Thanks, April. It *is* nice having a separate room -- though I imagine a dining room table gives you a nice BIG work area. Even then, I imagine I'd fill it up til I only had a tiny space to actually work in. :-)

Hmm... atomic orange. You're right -- not that earthy. But it'd certainly brighten things up!

You did such a fantastic job! I love your idea about the roll of paper to keep notes on!

Would you be willing to add your before & after photos to the Clutter Cubed Flickr group? It's all about before/after photos of craft rooms and organization, and we'd love to have your photos as a part of it!

Thanks, Caitlin -- will do!

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