The Craft Room Redesign Project: Help!

Ladies, I truly believe this to be true. I think most of you would agree that on some level, this is important. So, I’d like your help to create this kind of space, and maybe we can help each other in the process.

I work out of the converted garage behind my house. This is my office, my craft room, my sewing room, my writing space, and where my husband works out (note: I don’t work out, ha). I know I am lucky to have a space like this, as many prudent mamas work out of closets, dining room tables, garages, or on the floor. Rather then continue to treat it like a scene from Hoarders, I’d like to embrace my good fortune and honor this space with the organization and care it deserves.

While I have made small improvements over the past few years (biggest improvement: cleaning it before I took these pictures), the space is inefficient and not-pretty, leading me to avoid entering it (i.e. doing my work). It is time for a super-prudent redesign, and I’m planning on taking you along with me as I make small, cost-effective (yet hopefully stylish) improvements. There are specific needs and challenges, so I am hoping you can make some suggestions and we can work on this project together. Maybe we will all learn something from each other about making space in our lives for our work.

I’ll ask you my questions after the jump. Please leave comments with your thoughts, and bonus: our favorite comment of the week wins a yard of Dan Stiles fabric from Fabricworm!

The Craft Room Redesign Project: Help!

Here are some before pics and commentary.  The first thing I did was install an ELFA storage system along one wall. That is not going anywhere, because I can’t deal with disassembling, and also because it is working fairly well.

I added a cutting table from Ikea and a desk made for me by a friend.

This is the area where I do most of my sewing. I also need lots of storage for my tools (power tools), craft supplies, and fabric.

This is the area where I do my writing and other computer-based work.

On the opposite side of the room by the entrance are some old shelving units and my husband’s workout bench, along with the ironing board and my air compressor that I use mostly for upholstery projects. I’d like to make this area a sitting area, with a piece of furniture that folds out into a bed. That way I could actually have humans come to my office, and also when guests come, my husband and I can sleep out here and they can use our bedroom, since we don’t have a guest room.

One of the biggest challenges in the space is the floor. It is painted cement and has some stains from who-knows-what that make the space feel more industrial than cozy. I have tried to use a variety of rugs, but with all the fabric scraps flying around it became a mess to try to vacuum a bunch of loose rugs. Also, we rent this house so a big investment in flooring doesn’t seem prudent. What do you suggest?

Another challenge is the lighting. Even on bright Southern California days, the space feels dark because it only has a few recessed overhead lights and a tiny window. This also makes it hard to take pictures of DIYs, as I need to stop for each step and go outside to set up a shot, or alternately I need to spend time photo editing images so you can see them (like i did with these). You can see the light sources here. What kind of general lighting and task or photo lighting set-up would you suggest?

Because I need a cutting table at waist height and a desk to work on, I have placed my sewing machine and serger on the ELFA storage system wall. I love that they fit so neatly into the unit, but as you can imagine, it makes it hard to sew large items. It also makes the entire storage wall vibrate quite loudly while I sew.

Also, the walls are white, which is great for not clouding up the sensibilities when trying to create, but not especially cozy. The suzani along the back wall is going to move into my bedroom, so that space will be bright white. Should I paint the walls? Or use my fabric collection to adorn them? Would a specific color combo brighten up this dark room but allow for great picture-taking?

So, to recap: I’d like to use this 15’X18′ space to have a work desk (computer/printer/office), a cutting table, a sewing area, a seating area with space for a fold out bed that is cozy enough to feel like a guest room, and it needs to be kid-safe. I’d even like to squeeze in a small craft area for Scarlet, so she can “work” with me. Do you have an idea of a better way to lay this space out or suggestions for improvements? I need great flooring, good lighting, and style.

Impossible? You tell me.




So many possibilities! First, paint the floor, there are tons of concrete paints out there and ones you can add sparkles to, which I've seen look really nice. Wall color, a light silver grey will add class but still be warm and homey. Lighting… call an electrician and get some track lighting in there stat! (or DIY if you have the skills!) Plenty of light that you can reposition easily! orrrr call one of those home shows where they do makeovers, maybe they will pick you!

Mrs. Fischer

Whew, I'm overwhelmed and it's not even my room! Seriously though, your space is awesome and you have tons of great ideas from many clever ladies. My prudentest (real word?) advice is to hit up Goodwill and Craigslist often. I always find great organizing trays/bins/totes at my local Goodwill. Plus you could probably find some good stuff to use for Scarlet's space.


So many comments I didn't read them all so if I'm repeating someone, my bad! When I was in photography classes in college, we used painters' lights when we needed bright light/spotlight (it's amazing what you can do with these plus posterboard). The great thing is, they clip easily so you can put up and put away as they aren't the prettiest things out there. For backdrops, we used plain bed sheets that we'd hang on the wall. That way, it didn't matter what color walls we had. I know this isn't decorating help as I'm hopeless in that department but thought it would be useful so you don't have to stress so much about lighting.


I don't have many suggestions because I'm not very good at this spatial-visual things but one thing I've seen that is great is painting a rug on the floor. You could style it as much/little as possible and then wouldn't have to worry about vacuuming BUT I also thing some soft rugs for little ones to play on is essential.


In order of mood priority:

Lighting: gotta have it, and the brighter the better. I've found sunny windows sometimes compete with room lighting too much, so maybe some diffusing curtains? or move your task area to take advantage of the brightness. Also, no matter the strength of the light, you'll find it cheerier and feeling more well lit with both overhead and eye level lighting.

Color scheme: nothing pulls together a room, esp a messy one, like a theme palette. Pick one or two brights and one neutral, then make as much as possible fit that palette exactly. The upholstery, the paint, the floor, the outside of baskets and containers, the curtains etc. Don't use too many patterns as they will compete with the jumble.

Lines: the more uniform and clean-lines you use to contain and direct the mess, the more neat the room will look, and the more mentally appealing. If you love keeping things visible, then it's even more important. You have a great start with the cubby and shelves. As much as possible clear off tabletops. Match up your bins. Print uniform labels if that's your thing. Put up square clean frames around your artwork and inspiration boards. Take time to fold or hang your fabric pieces into uniform lengths and shapes. Make dividers for catch-all bins.

my vote is a good quality futon with a cover matching your theme. cheaper than sleepersofas, modern, clean and the good ones are extremely easy to convert.


How exciting!!! I love creating new spaces out of old! For your sewing machine, serger, and storage space why not buy an Expedit desk, or something similar) and Book shelf I'm not positive, but it looks like your sewing machine and serger can fit into the bookshelf; along with other projects you do. When you need one, just simply pull it out and use. (I'm planning on going to Ikea to take a look for my own crafty area). I know you wanted to keep the system you have in place already but this might add more of a home feel to it vs. a garage feel.
I do also think if you are taking pictures to leave the walls white and maybe move your crafty area to the front of the room and have a foldout couch at the back wall with a mirror above.
Just a few ideas.


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