The PaperMint Studio - Lessons Learned

After 10 years of living in our home, my husband Joe and I decided last Spring to finish our basement, providing a new space for my Crafting Studio. Below is the story of that journey told in a series of lessons I learned along the way and wanted to share in the hopes that it could spare you some of the pitfalls I stumbled into.


THE PROBLEM:

In the last 2 years I had grown out of my 12' x 12' office/crafting room, my crafting goodies lurked in dark corners, burst out of coat closets and attacked guests as they walked through the house! Worst of all, I could no longer organize my stash or readily access it, because it was crammed into every nook and cranny. As a result, the unthinkable happened...I STOPPED CRAFTING! The horror.

I'll let the pictures below speak for themselves.

Stuffed to the Gills

Crammed to the High Heavens

Stretched to Infinity

The Last (Organized) Frontier

My Ribbon Runneth Over

THE SOLUTION:

Finish the basement and use the space with the windows for a craft room.

OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, INTO THE FIRE

I was determined to use our modest budget to achieve a polished, well-thought out space with little "pops of wow"...yes, that's a thing, I just made it up. That quest proved arduous, frustrating, time-consuming, and amazing.


However, before I got to the "amazing", there was a whole lot of "frustrating and arduous" going on. For that reason, I want to share the lessons I learned along the way if it can help another crafter build their own dream space.


KEISHA'S 12-STEP PROGRAM FOR MAKING A CRAFTROOM

1. MAKE A WISH LIST AND ORGANIZE IT

I tried to organize my thoughts about HOW I work and WHAT I had and made a list to categorize them into Storage Needs Workstations that I had for the room. To accomplish this I did two things:

  • I literally sat on the floor in my old craft room and looked at all the stuff I had an then went through all of the drawers and storage boxes around the room to ensure that I was not leaving somethin out.

  • I hauled all the product I had accumlated from the craftroom floor, closets, corners of rooms etc and organized it into labelled transparent storage boxes, so I could appreciate the extent of the madness.

In the Closet of Shame - Part I

In the Closet of Shame - Part II

In the Closet of Shame - Part III

The LIST!!!

I kept going back to this list throughout the project to try to ensure that I was addressing as much of this list as practicable.



2. GET PROFESSIONAL HELP

This is something my husband says to me often, but I digress. I had a lot of ideas and wishes, but I had a stream-lined organized vision in mind that I knew I would need a lot of help to pull off.

  • My friend Nerissa Jemmotte of Cadeom (Architectural Consultancy Services), helped to articulate and maintain a consistency in my vision for the entire basement project, and a was a patient and knowledgeable ear in focusing and refining my ideas.

  • I found Artisan Custom Closets in a local circular and gave them a ring for an appointment.

  • I stumbled across Stamp N Storage online while searching for custom storage solutions for Stampin' Up products.

  • Through Vicky, I was able to find my contractor Alex Bite (Alex the Craftsman, (404) 402-7777)).

  • Rounding out the Dream Team, was Amy Parker, an Interior Design Consultant who walked through the unfinished basement, with Alex, Nerissa and I and helped us figure out the finishes - colors, paint, stone, hardwood etc.


I then used The LIST!!! when I first met with Vicky from Artisan. She interviewed me in my home and took a concerted interest in all my crafting doo-dads and how I envisioned using the space. We sat around my dining table with a sampling of some of my crafting products for which we would be creating customized storage - punches, ink pads, refills, markers, paper etc. She actually took a look at my existing craftroom and stash...all of it.


My vision for the space was copious storage and a personalized workspace where pretty items could be displayed for inspiration and access. In addition, other goodies would be concealed within arms-reach but also allowing the space to breathe and me to think. I printed out photos and diagrams from the Stamp N Storage website of their crafting storage products around which I wanted Artisan to cabinetry.


#1 on the wishlist was a huge island as long and wide as the room would allow. The island was to be surrounded by as much cabinetry and shelving that the walls and windows would allow. One wall would be dominated by a large paper storage unit for both 8.5x11 and 12x12 paper. Custom drawers would be built for punch storage units and I needed to figure out where to put several stamp pad storage. And did I mention I needed a sink, and space for prospective students to sit, and....


After relaying my vision to Vicki, it was turned over to Artisan designer Rachel Barich to make sense of all my ideas, incorporate the storage pieces from Stamp N Storage and to figure out where it would fit it into my modest budget. About two weeks later, I had my first peek into my craftroom in 2D and 3D renderings.

3. PAY ATTENTION

To quote an old craftsman's adage, "measure twice, cut once." After receiving the first designs, I pored over each and every nook and cranny of the new space, cross-checking against my original list of ideals and venturing back into my old space to ensure that I had left no man behind. My tape measure, ruler, and painters tape became my friends as I checked dimensions and laid out the intended design on the floor of the unfinished space to get a sense of how it might take shape.


It was worth it, I found mistakes in my vision, items I neglected to find storage for, and changed my mind about flow in the craftroom as I better understood how it would come to life.



4. BE INSPIRED BY OTHERS

Throughout the entire process from planning to building, I scoured Pinterest and Houzz for ideas and sometimes to test a thought that I had for the space. Responsive search terms yielded pictures that gave me a real life visuals about how "white cabinetry and dark floors" looked together, and even calmed my anxieties about the finishes. Another lady who had drawers with glass fronts displaying her pretty things convinced me that I had to have them for my own craftroom.


5. GET A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS

Or a lot of help from your friends. I got lucky, my friendly opinions came from my BFF Nerissa Jemmotte, the aformentioned Atlanta-based Architect. Your friend need not be a professional, they just need to have an interest in your project and heaping helping of honesty when you are going off the rails.


My friend of 32 years, Nerissa does both commercial and residential spaces for local and international projects. For the last 10 years since I have become a homeowner, she is my "design conscience", voice of reason and regular reality check. She did the blueprints for the entire basement space, but without her, the craft studio would not have ever come to life in the way it did.


I tend to become a little obsessive and can easily get lost in the details without a guide to help me filter out the hare-brained ideas and other complete wastes of time. Aside from helping me pick my finishes, "shades of white" paint, and ensuring that the workflow in the craftroom made sense, one of her biggest areas of influence was helping me achieve the right lighting plan to illuminate the room.

6. PRIORITIZE, COMPROMISE, AND SOMETIMES SACRIFICE

Does the phrase "Champagne tastes and beer budget" mean anything to you? I am pretty sure it is the story of my life. You can't have everything, and you don't need to. You just think you do, or maybe that is just me. The windows along the exterior wall in my craft studio ate up a lot of potential cabinet space, but in turn are needed for natural light - no real question about what is more important to me.


Remember those awesome cabinetry ideas on Houzz? Well some of them can be SUPER pricey, and all that means is that I needed to find a cheaper solution or bury my latest obsession.

I saw vertical drawers on Houzz and wanted to replicate them in a 6-ft tall cabinet that I would use to store my stamp sets in these huge sliding vertical drawers with shelves. Well the mechanism for making each drawer slide in and out was abominably expensive, well beyond my budget. I elected to use them only on a much small scale to store my flat punches in Stamp N Storage Punch Shelves (seen below):

7. MAKE IT YOURS

For me, this meant designing a customized workstation at the island. I have a bit of a crafting stash/hoard/mini storeful of crafting supplies. It is not practicable/possible to stack it in front my workspace for easy access. Also, as a slow crafter that tends to work on marathon projects, I have developed a habit in recent years to "shop my stash" as I start a project, pulling all the paper, tools, stamps and embellishments etc. that I think fall in line with the project theme. In the past I crated these in shallow baskets and laid them out on my desk as I made my scrapbooks, mini-albums or cards.


Taking a cue from Stamp N Storage's Roll-top desk, I decided to design one side of the island with drawers thematically dedicated to different crafting items that would be pulled for a particular project. After putting pencil to paper, I came up with the crude designs below:

My Personal Workstation - Layout of Customized Drawers in Island

Design for Customized Drawers - Page 1

Design for Customized Drawers - Page 2

I then called Rachel Barich at Artisan Custom Closets to update the island to reflect this and Brett Haugen at Stamp N Storage to build the custom inserts for the drawers in the island. We collaborated back and forth with Rachel to ensure that our dimensions were accurate and would fit seamlessly into the drawers.

The finishing touches came from my painter Carlos and voila, below is a photo of drawer number (1) Color:

8. K.I.S.S. - KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID

I spent countless hours trying to figure out the color scheme for the room. In the end, it is white, walls, cabinetry, countertops, all white. This created a blank canvas upon which I could layer color. By accident, I found apple green Martha Stewart fabric storage boxes in the clearance section at Home Depot, which I used extensively in and on top of the cabinetry to hold all my bits and bobs. These boxes act as the dominant color accent in the room and nicely leverage the green theme color of my little business, The PaperMint. Crafting supplies are inherently colorful, so placing these items in the open shelving and glass cabinetry becomes a decoration in itself, while giving you visual access for inspiration and convenient utlization of the product.

9. BE FLEXIBLE

I would stress myself out trying to find a single storage solution for a particular type of product, wafer-thin dies as an example. After a great deal of trial and error, I left behind my "one ring to rule them all" approach and let myself be flexible and creative about storage. Thus my dies are stored in drawers or on magnetic sheets in plastic binder boxes or Stamp and Storage Wafer Die Storage wooden Boxes. I even designed nifty little covers for the binder boxes, with images of the product inside.

Plastic Binder Boxes (Crafter's Companion) & Wafer Die Storage (Stamp N Storage) - Covers On

Plastic Binder Boxes (Crafter's Companion) & Wafer Die Storage (Stamp N Storage) - Open Sesame

10. DESIGN WITHIN REACH

Though lots of stuff as is concealed behind doors and drawers in my craftroom, stamping is a big part of my what I love about papercrafts so I wanted them on display and at my fingertips. Originally my Stamp N Storage ink pad holders were slated for the desktop by the window. Though they would be on display, I remained unsatisfied with this solution as they would take up my limited deskktop wall space and would be out of arms reach of my main workstation in the craftroom island. Around 2AM on a "school night" I found my solution of combining the paper and ink storage into a single unit that I had initially dedicated to just paper. to balance it all out, I added some narrow drawers along each side for stamping related supplies.


Naturally this meant another call to Rachel and Brett to make this a reality. Rachel definitely worked her magic on this piece!

11. LEVERAGE YOUR CREATIVITY, THAT'S WHAT GOT YOU INTO THIS MESS

In the wee hours of the morning one day, as I was again poring over the layout given to me by Rachel (Designer at Artisan Custom Closets), I realized that I had a problem. I was comparing the storage solutions in the layout against the list of storage needs that I had for my studio, and i had made no provision to house my ribbon. In my prervious craft room I had six plastic ribbon shelving units that I loved, but the wallspace in the new studio was filled up with cabinetry, so there was no opportunity to reuse these shelves.


After about two hours of sheer panic and sweating, I decided to reconfigure the island and add a custom Ribbon Holder Shelf that woudl be built by Stamp and Storage. This naturally required a great amount of collaboration between Artisan who whould fabricate the island and Stamp n Storage who created the Shelf unit. The end result (below) was entirely worth it, in my humble opinion.

12. EDIT RUTHLESSLY.

First, don't get lost in your design. Remember and preserve the things that you deemed important when you started planning your room (The LIST!!!). Sometimes, when trying to figure out how to set up your room or in trying to find a creative storage solution in your room, you may find yourself flooded with ideas from Pinterest, Houzz, and your favorite blogs. These ideas should inspire you, not weigh you down. If that happens, set them aside and return to your original plan of what you wanted to achieve. Make your decisions about what to cut and what to keep according to that plan.


Second, apply that same logic to your stash. Sure, you like all that stuff, but you can't store it, find it, or use it. Remember, that's why you bought it in the first place, to use it! That is never going to happen if you can't readily access it. So sort your stash, purge it for the items that you can store and use, and share the casualties with others (Ebay, Etsy, Happy Mail - whatever works for you).


That being said, some of my crafting goodies will be displayed for sale on this side following the great crafting purge of January 2015 :-)


Thank you for taking the time to view this post. I hope that you were able to find something helpful or inspiring. Please know that these are the choices that worked for me, and some of you who have different crafting challenges or options to resolve them will not find them useful at all. I have a big place in my heart for memory-keeping, and what is crafting if it isn't sharing. Thanks to every reader for allowing me the opportunity to share these experiences with you.

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