Friday, February 24, 2012

Bead room makeover, part 1: the plan

Craft closet design idea from the Container Store
(Apologies--this is a very long post. Go ahead and get some coffee. I'll wait.)

A few weeks back, I posted that I was in the midst of transforming my home office into a, well, "bead studio" may be overdoing it, but let's just say it will be a place where the beads will finally have a proper home and I will have a proper place to work with them.

What with my job plus grad school--and dealing with the mess the space had become--the makeover is taking longer than I expected, but it is coming along. I decided I should at least milk the project for several blog entries, so this is Part 1. My hope is that what I learned along the way might be useful to others contemplating a reorg.
Rolling cart from HSN

From Workplace to Respite
A little background: For about 15 years, up until 2006, I was a fulltime freelance writer/editor. My home office was a tiny bedroom in our house that held a desk with computer, two very tall bookcases, a printer, a file cabinet, a tiny closet stocked with office and computer supplies and not much else. It was a space dedicated to paper.

In the six years since I returned to the life of a regular paycheck and health benefits, this office has become transmogrified. For a while it was overrun with yarn, knitting supplies and knitting books. I remember thinking a couple of years ago, when I replaced knitting with beading and jewelry making, "Well, at least this hobby will take up much less space." Har!

Alex drawer unit from Ikea
(a taller, skinnier version
is available, too)
Into the small office I somehow managed to cram a six-foot-long table that I used for beading. I began destashing books from the bookshelves so that I could stack bead storage boxes there. I ran out of shelf space and began storing beads in shopping bags and shoeboxes on the floor. The bead table got heaped with half-finished and abandoned projects and objects I just simply didn't know where to put. (Oh, and did I mention the table with lightbox that somehow got squeezed in by the window?)

The weeks before crafts fairs, as I was trying to churn out pieces, it got especially crazy-lady, call-up-Hoarders bad.

I Dream of Drawers
Sauder craft armoire with
foldout table from Target
In November, I realized it was time to seriously rethink the space. I told myself I would tackle the reorg between Christmas and New Year's, when I was off work. Realization #1: bookcases are for storing books, not beads. I needed drawers, and lots of them, so that I could stop sifting through--and knocking over--perilously piled up bead boxes and jewelry trays trying to find what I was looking for.

Realization #2: A nice long beading table is not necessarily an advantage if you are someone, like me, who tends to just pile stuff up on every horizontal surface.

So I started shopping online. I checked out Target, Ikea, Container Store, Bed, Bath & Beyond and a bunch of sites I stumbled on just by Googling "crafts storage."

I came very close to buying this multi-drawer unit, below, from Best Craft Organizer:

crafts storage triple unit
from Best Craft Organizer
What I liked about it was that you could customize the drawer inserts--getting any combination of shallow to deep. But I was leery of buying something online, without ever having seen it, touched it, test-driven it by pulling out the drawers, etc. (The company apparently tours bead and crafts shows, but none I had been to.) I just couldn't judge the quality, and the product is not cheap.

It was right around Thanksgiving that I was doing heavy online shopping, and on CyberMonday, Best Craft Organizer offered a sweet discount. I don't remember exactly how much, but I wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger, and I assumed that a similar deal would be offered after Christmas.

Well, Christmas came and went and no discount. I was kicking myself--you know how you can't bear to pay full price once you've seen something on sale? But my procrastination paid off, because it was suddenly January and time for the Container Store's annual Elfa sale!

I have bought Elfa shelving in the past and admire its quality and design. It is also not cheap, but taking 30 percent off took a bit of the sting out of it. I liked the flexibility of the units, and the fact that I could go to the store to inspect the pieces in person. I spent a lot of time poring over the designs, like the craft closet configuration at the very top of this post. I measured and re-measured my small room and the limitations that the placement of windows and closet doors wrought.

The Container Store now offers a service in which you can order online, have it shipped to a local store and pick it up there, without paying shipping charges. I took advantage of that, and it was a pleasant experience.

I'll talk more about the storage solution I bought in Part 2, as well as the new work table I ordered.

I wasn't on Pinterest at the time, but I'm sure I would've wasted endless hours there looking. Here are some design inspirations for you.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest

Source: via Lori on Pinterest

Source: via Tina on Pinterest


  1. Can't wait to see the result! Of course, the real challenge for me is not in setting it up, but in KEEPING it up. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. I love seeing and reading about studio space. And your research is great! I have one of the little drawer units from Best Craft Organizer, and I love it. It has 10 one-inch drawers and 3 two-inch ones. I use it for gemstones and lampwork beads mostly, plus tools and stuff in the bigger drawers. One of the wheels came off but it was easy to fix. I can't wait to see what comes next in the plan here. Excited for you!!

  3. Hola yo tambien quiero tener un estudio de trabajo pero los mueble con cajones pequeños sale bastante caros.Estoy a la espera de ver como te queda todo.Un saludo desde España.

  4. Hi:-)
    Nice propositions of a beading studio's arrangment.
    I can say-in my workplace I have some fine shelves,a comfortable,simple and modern desk,but my all beads are contained in special boxes,divided into'squares'-space for each color and kind.I like this system,the boxes are clear,the beads are divided and selected by colors and size,so I can see at once,what kind of them and where I have.The currently used box is put on the desk and the beads are used in the current project.It prevents me from having the place messy.
    I like all those designs,but the most important thing is if they really can be useful in practics.

  5. Welcome, De quita y pons! It always amazes me when I get followers from far-flung places. And yes, All Fired Up (a/k/a my friend, Patti), it's a challenge for me to keep up it up, too. But the first step is having a home for this stuff, so that I can EVENTUALLY put it away. Right now, I don't even have that, which is why the chaos got so bad.


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