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Archive | May 31, 2010

Organization Talk: The Big Picture

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Organization Week on Scrapbook Update! This week we will be bringing our readers a whole series of articles on scrapbook organization. Today, we are starting out with May’s discussion on the basic philosophy of how she chooses products and systems to use that are right for her.

I have been crafting for a very long time, and struggling with organization and storage for nearly as long. From pulling supplies out to sit at a TV-table to having my own space, odds are I’ve crafted in nearly every way possible in every home I’ve lived in. This week, I will be sharing a three part series with my thoughts on craft storage and organization.

Whether you have a dedicated room or a shelf in a closet, a small or large stash of supplies, every crafter knows the need for storage and organization of supplies. I have three rules I believe in strongly when it comes to this stuff:

  • Simple is always best. While highly specialized products are visually appealing, the more simple methods are more versatile, and will serve you better over the years.
  • Be OK with change. Over the years, I have changed my style, needs, and way of creating (not to mention the space I craft in) too many times to count. I understand that change, re-organization, and re-prioritizing is not only OK, it’s part of the process.
  • It’s only good if it works for you. I will give a number of suggestions of items that have worked for me, but that doesn’t mean my way is the only way. Items are only useful if they are useful to you. Don’t jump on a bandwagon just so you’re not left out – do it your way and create happy.

To start off, I’m going to talk about the big stuff. Before you get into detailed organization and how you store ribbons and buttons, it’s important to think about how you’ll work, and what pieces you’ll need.

A wheeled tote may be just the solution for all your needs if you have a small stash and need something portable. For crafters who attend a lot of crops, or for those using dining room tables or other family areas for crafting, this can be a great product. I recommend MiMi brand to anyone looking for a great wheeled tote or bag of any kind. I’ve been really pleased with their products.

For a much less expensive alternative, I suggest a plastic milk crate. They can be purchased at any number of stores (Target, Wal-Mart, office supply chains, etc.) and are a great tool so long as you can lift them. I have been using this method for at least ten years, and not only is it budget-friendly, but as a basic container they are versatile and can hold any number of items or smaller storage containers.

What if you are fortunate enough to have space for a dedicated table or desk? My top suggestion is to go for a work surface that is both wide and deep to give you plenty of working space around your layouts, not just space for the 12×12 paper you may have out in front of you. I found the desk pictured above at Ikea, and it’s worked as everything from my scrapbooking table to printer and computer holder to kids’ art table. The desktop is adjustable and can be raised or lowered a great deal – something I’ve taken advantage of over the years to change it from standard seating height to bar stool/standing height. The single shelf above as well as the adjustable square shelf have made this a great piece in my studio.

Remember: A simple design that can suit your changing needs is a good thing.

My second suggestion, when it comes to tables and desks, is to look outside the craft zone. Crafters aren’t the only ones who need work tables. I found this heavy duty workbench (similar to this product) at Costco. Because I needed a long, narrow piece to fit my space, I purchased it. The height, which is great for standing scrappers as well as keeping little fingers off my stuff, is a huge benefit to my needs, and thanks to its simplicity it will work in any number of capacities as needed.

Important to remember: While plastic-top tables may be less expensive, keep in mind that some craft techniques demand a harder, less flexible surface such as wood and won’t work on softer, more flexible surfaces.

Finally, don’t forget to look around your own home, garage sales, and extended family for used items that are no longer needed. I have a desktop set of shelves and my children’s former diaper table both in my studio. I actually purchased the diaper table with a future sewing table in mind, so it’s nice to finally have it to myself!

Shelves like this by Doodlebug are adorable, and no doubt useful to as any variety of supplies can be stored on them. The price tag of such specialty craft items can be unfriendly to the modest budget though, and so before splurging I believe in making sure it’s the absolute perfect item for you. While much less attractive, I’ve found a number of simple shelving units (both wall and floor units) from hardware, bed & bath, and department stores (like Target) for a fraction of the price.

Bottom line: Let your needs, usage, space, and budget determine what you use – not trends or what looks cool!

My studio is in no way magazine perfect, or the vision of vintage shabby chic loveliness that I wish it could be. I choose to be OK with this because it’s the most useful, productive space I could imagine within my limitations of space and budget, and for that reason I am happy. Whatever your budget, style, and space restraints, making the most of existing furniture and purchasing pieces that will be useful to you in a number of ways is the first place to start.

Want to hear more? I will be posting two more organization posts here this week, as well as posts on my personal blog about my studio and organization as well.

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