The completion of a craft room, part 3

At the end of the last FoF we left the new craft room filled with all its components parts – desk, bookcases, storage towers, boxes, fabrics, threads, tools – and, frankly, in a mess. Time to get organised! One thing that got added which wasn’t absolutely necessary was a new lampshade; the old one didn’t fit the light fitting very well and wobbled precariously, but I suppose strictly speaking it was still serviceable. Nevertheless, a shiny new craft room deserves a bright new lampshade (with a daylight bulb), and I couldn’t resist this cheerful red one with poppies on the inside which shine through to the outside when the light is on – magic! The desk has a craft light, my lightbox, felt boards and other odds and ends; the album was a Christmas gift which I was about to fill with some small projects that had so far been languishing in a box. The cat was allowed in one last time to see what all the fuss was about, before being banished forever.

A bright new lampshade The poppy lamp illuminates the newly organised room, with desk and cat

Behind the desk and chair are the two rainbow storage towers, holding most of my fabrics, some finishing materials, and my stock of scissors, squissors and coasters. The coffee table has the Millennium frame and lapstand plus my doodle cloths and anything in the process of being kitted up, as well as a useful lap tray. Underneath are more storage boxes (large pieces of fabric plus wadding), and next to it a CD tower holding my audiobooks. Not really craft-related, but they used to live underneath that coffee table and I needed the space there, and the CD tower tucks in nicely behind the door when it opens. The bookcases hold all my thread boxes, embroidery books, and kits, and on top sit various decorative thread boxes, one with a tapestry cover, the others with some of my embroidery.

Storage towers, coffee table with boxes underneath, and CD tower Filled bookcases with decorative storage boxes on top

The left-hand bookcase holds threads which ideally should be shielded from the light, as the boxes in which they are stored are transparent or at least translucent. The few boxes in the right-hand bookcase hold mostly beads, gems and shisha materials which are not light-sensitive, so a solution was needed for the one bookcase only. “Needed” might be putting it rather strongly – when I’m not in there the curtains are kept closed, and the bookcases are on a north-facing wall, so the amount of light getting to the boxes is probably negligible; still, I knew I’d feel more at ease with some sort of curtain or cloth in place. Now I can’t really work a sewing machine, so a ready-hemmed piece of material would be ideal. Did we perhaps have some old curtains somewhere in the attic? Well, yes, but they were rather heavy and unlikely to be the right size. Then I remembered a couple of sarongs I had been given a few years back by a friend from Kenya. Could one of those… yes it could. A bit of engineering wizardry by Mr Mabel and my threads were protected!

The sarong in place The thread boxes accessible but protected

And so here, finally, is the craft room – complete, organised, and in use.

The craft room in action

Now all it needs is a small conservatory smiley.

The completion of a craft room, part 2

As I was cleaning the old bookcase ready to be propped up against the other wall and filled according to my “shelf document” my husband, who had kindly offered to repair various bits that had fallen off or got damaged, remarked that even with quite a lot of work it wasn’t going to be a very satisfactory bookcase. For one this, lacking a back it wasn’t particularly stable. “Why don’t we do this properly and look for a suitable bookcase at Ikea or something?” he said. So we did.

The old bookcase ready for some surgery Calculations

Now some time before I had drawn a floor plan for the craft room, and on it, as some of you may remember, there was a small Ikea filing cabinet. Desk height, six drawers, and just the thing for large bits of fabric or anything fairly bulky. Available, unfortunately, in black, white and bright green only. As we got ready to pick up the bookcases (two together would provide about the same amount of storage space as the old double one) I had another good look at the filing cabinet online and decided that really I didn’t need it. With the slightly larger bookcases, the three under-the-bed-boxes and the rainbow storage tower I had oodles of room already. So Helmer stayed at Ikea, and two Billies came home.

The Craft Room floor plan A possible filing cabinet

A scrub and a hoover (or rather a Henry) to clean the room while it was as empty as it was going to be, and then the next step was to build the bookcases. Not a problem, I’ve assembled flat packs in the past and none of them has collapsed yet, so armed with two screwdrivers, a hammer, a mug of tea and a speculaas sandwich (made with two slices of bread and some Dutch biscuits – and let no-one who comes from the nation that invented the chip butty cast any aspersions!) I set to. Oh, there was a helpful feline assistant as well.

Cleaning the room Assembling Billy the Bookcase A little help from Lexi

Ta-dah!

The two finished bookcases

Time to get the desk in (originally kept in the storage room, where it just got cluttered), put some pictures on the wall, place the rainbow tower in its permanent position and fill the bookcases.

A desk to work at The bookcases are filled

This was beginning to look very promising! Until the dining table was cleared…

The dining table is visible and usable again But the craft room floor isn't...

Back to square one? No, not quite. But there was clearly a lot more to do, and one important step was to realise that there was no way I was going to get all that into the available storage. Not even the originally-planned filing cabinet would do. A second rainbow storage tower was needed! And a sarong. Of course.

A second rainbow storage tower A sarong for the craft room

The completion of a craft room, part 1

Some time in February last year I FoFfed about the Craft Room To Be. Just to remind you, this is what it looked like shortly before that post – and that was after getting rid of the giant CRT telly!

The telly room, window side The telly room, door side

That post closed with the line “If everything goes to plan, I should have a fully furnished craft room some time this year!”

Ha. ha. ha.

Some progress had been made by the time I wrote that, in the sense that I had gained a rainbow storage tower and three storage boxes, but with The Den still filled almost to capacity it was all I could do to squeeze them in, inaccessible except by some serious mountaineering. After our trade fair in September at least the trays of Austin Seven spare parts went one by one, so I could see some floor space, but there still wasn’t a lot of room to manoeuvre. As Christmas came ever nearer, I decided Something Must Be Done. Stuff scattered along the window sill and other surfaces – much of it made or collected or won by the boys in days long gone – was boxed up ready to be handed over to the proud owners to display in their own homes (or not, as the case might be). I went through the boxes of documents and photos and keepsakes from Mum’s house, and (with my husband, as it was a combined collection) through the stacks of videos, CDs and DVDs in and on top of the bookcase. What we wanted to keep went in boxes to the storage room for the time being. There was a distinct sense of not-quite-so-cluttered-ness about the ex-telly room!

No more trays or videos

Except, of course, for that sofa bed. The biggest obstacle (in every sense) in the Craft Room project, it was inherited decades ago from my husband’s grandmother. No-one in the family wanted it, no-one else was willing to come and take it away for free (not even after we discovered that it was a Vono sofa and could be described as vintage/retro), and the charity shops wouldn’t touch it because it didn’t have the required fire safety labels. I suspect people weren’t that fussed about furniture fire safety when this was made. Finally, in desperation I asked Eldest and fiancée whether they really wouldn’t like a sofa bed for their spare bedroom. They came over to have a look at it, and decided that yes, they would like it after all. Victory! “When can you come and pick it up?” Not until 2018, as it happened, but on the first Saturday of the new year this was the state of play:

No more sofa bed

All it needed was some cleaning and a bit of work on the bookcase, which was already in the room when we bought the house nearly twelve years ago, and which was definitely showing signs of age. Don’t we all. A bit of TLC and I’d be able to start populating the shelves!

The old bookcase ready for some surgery

Or perhaps not…

The start of a craft room

After a couple of years of empty-nesting we have had both fledglings back temporarily (though not simultaneously), something which could have meant an indefinite delay to The Craft Room.

The Craft Room has existed in concept practically since we moved into this house 11 years ago. It has, you see, a small downstairs study, just the thing to be turned into a little nook for the lady of the house. One day. Because with two teenagers in the house it first became The Telly Room, a.k.a. The Den. Their need was greater than mine. I could wait.

And so my various bits and bobs got distributed around the house, in a chest of drawers, a wall-mounted bookcase, a specimen cabinet, a drawer under the bed and a blanket chest, as well as The Temporary Craft Storage Shelf, a.k.a. the dining table.

The present craft storage, a.k.a. the dining table

But Youngest (the fledgling currently at home) has generously said he can now do without The Den, and so the transformation is in progress. The old telly has been taken to the local charity shop, my hi-fi (brought with me from the Netherlands but rather superfluous as my husband already had a better one) has been claimed by Youngest as it has a record player and he is into vinyl. Several other items which had made their home in that room for the past decade have been returned to their respective owners, to be stored in their own room/flat. The Craft Room To Be is getting emptier.

The telly room, window side The telly room, door side

Of course when I say “emptier” I use the word in its loosest possible sense… That blue behemoth is a sofa bed which we hope someone will want to come and collect, the boxes and stuffed animals on it are things from my mother’s flat waiting to be sorted out, and the trays of Austin Seven spares in the middle of the room are part of our trade fair stand in need of re-organising. But we’ve made a start!

Eventually, when the room is empty apart from the bookcase and the low coffee table, it will be time to start filling it up again. I’m sure things will get re-arranged more than once, but this is the provisional layout:

Floorplan for the craft room

The bookcase (minus the video tapes and DVDs it holds at the moment) will be moved to the opposite, north-facing wall, so that even with the curtains open there won’t be too much light falling on whatever is stored there (probably all my thread boxes). The coffee table will remain where it is, and a very tall unit for CDs will snuggle in beside it and hold my audiobooks. A desk that is at present in our storage room will go by the window, with a small Ikea filing cabinet (not bought yet) by its side. The desk has three drawers which I think will be just the right size to hold my hoops, including the sets of workshop hoops.

The light grey rectangles drawn inside the desk and table are plastic storage boxes; they are the sort advertised as under-the-bed storage, but there is no reason why they shouldn’t sit quite as comfortably under anything else on legs smiley. By the way, one of them has now got a dark lid – when I got them home I found one of the lids was cracked, and although Wilko were happy to replace it they didn’t have any transparent ones. As they’ll be hidden away anyway I wasn’t too bothered.

Under-the-bed boxes

The rectangle between the desk and the coffee table is what the shop called a “Really Useful Rainbow Storage Tower”, which is as good a description as any. It did need a little adjusting, though – originally the pink drawer at the top was positioned between the red and the orange drawers!

A rainbow storage tower

Now I know that it’s really silly to start filling boxes and drawers when I haven’t got a place to put them yet, but I couldn’t resist. And so the rainbow tower and one of the storage boxes now hold all my fabrics. (I’ve since changed my mind about the other box with the hoops – as mentioned above they will probably go into the desk drawers instead.)

Beginning to fill the boxes A fabric tower

Until I have sorted through Mum’s boxes, and we’ve got rid of the sofa and moved the trays of spares, any further Craft Room arrangements will have to be made on paper, so I’m happily occupying myself with measuring shelves and drawers and boxes and seeing what will fit where.

Calculations

There are a few other things that aren’t on the floorplan yet – the sewing machine which is to have a permanent place on the desk in the hope that I will actually start using it, the wall-mounted cupboard/shelf unit which my mother used as a coat rack and which used to be my grandparents’, and possibly another wall-mounted unit if I can convince my husband that our storage room doesn’t really need it. If everything goes to plan, I should have a fully furnished craft room some time this year!