Our New Craft and Activity Area! | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Our New Craft and Activity Area!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Our New Craft and Activity Area!

As part of trying to have a balanced summer, one of my goals is to create an area for our craft supplies so my kids can let their creativity flow while they're at home for two months.   I've seen some BEAUTIFUL craft rooms and wonderfully organized craft supplies on other blogs.  I've never really been a huge crafter and we do not have the space in our house for too many craft supplies, so I'll tell you up front, this post will NOT be one of those dreamy craft room posts.  But, I'm pretty excited about what I managed to put together and I think it will work well for our level of craftiness and our limited space. 

We've never really had a dedicated craft area in our house.  Typically craft supplies have been stored in multiple places around the house:  the desk drawers in the basement, the activity drawers on the main floor, the kids' bedrooms and in random containers/spaces in the basement.

It was overwhelming having these items all over the house.  Any time one of the kids or I wanted to do something, it always involved a scavenger hunt in multiple places for all the supplies they needed (and my kids are not great hunters!). 

After working so much on purging and organizing our basement, I had the space available now to create a craft desk.  We previously used this corner desk as an entertainment unit, with a TV, DVD player, VCR, and the Wii. 

It also was home to a bunch of Wii games, Wii accessories, videos, DVD's, and plug & play games.  We kept some toys on the bottom too.  But after setting up our new entertainment area in the basement, this corner desk is free to be used for our craft area.

It's not the most beautiful desk in the world, but it will work just fine for this.  Please ignore the cords underneath the desk - they used to be hidden by the 2 metal file cabinets underneath and I haven't figured out the best way to organize them now that they are exposed!  {On a side note, I purged most of the contents of the cabinets and then freecycled both of them to give us more space under this desk so the kids can actually sit at it.  Yay for purging!}

One modification I made to the corner desk was to take out the plastic CD holder since we were not going to need it and it was just collecting dust behind it.  This gave me more useable storage space.  Here's what it looks like now.


I gathered all the supplies from their various locations throughout the house and figured out what containers I needed to group them and keep them organized.  Then I just set everything up on the corner desk the way I wanted it.

So without any further ado... here's what it looks like now!

I think it looks pretty good!  The fun part was organizing everything :)  Here's a tour.  The left side of the hutch is for craft supplies that require parental assistance (paint, glue, and oil pastels). 

I grouped all the paint supplies together in little baskets and put them on one side of the hutch. 

We're nearly out of the finger paint stage but we still have some to use up and my daughter seemed interested in it still so I'll keep it a little while longer and then purge any that is left in a few months. 

I had this cute old Dutch cookie tin available and it was the perfect size for our paint brushes and it fit perfectly in the space under the shelf, beside my son's paint by numbers set.

I know I can make better use of this cupboard space at some point, but for now it's a good place to hide the oil pastels and glue (in another cute old Dutch cookie tin!).

Moving over to the middle of the corner desk, I put this Spiderman lapdesk here.

It opens up to provide a solid writing surface as well as a small whiteboard which they love.  My kids don't always want to sit at a desk to do activities (who does?!) and since some of what I'm storing here are activity books, I wanted to leave this out for them to use.  Plus it makes the craft/activity area a little more boyish so my son doesn't feel like it's all for my daughter :)

On the right side of the hutch, I put activities and supplies here that the kids can use without any adult supervision (usually anyway!). 

I had the plastic magazine holders already so I used them to contain activity books, construction paper, and doodle paper.  {I really wish the 4 of them fit side by side, but only the left most section was wide enough for two beside each other...sigh.}  So I put my daughter's Spinaroo and a Mosaic sticker set between them to take advantage of those tall narrow spaces.

The perfectionist in me would like to redo the labels on the magazine holders since the holders are actually narrower than the labels so I had to fold the labels over the edges of the holders and now you can't see the whole oval on the labels from the front.  {Reminder to self: MEASURE before you create!}.

I'm choosing instead to listen to the voice in my head that says "It's OK to not be perfect.  It's better to have this project completed and be useful than for it to be perfect."  And hopefully I'll learn from this and make sure I don't make the same mistake again.   Besides, I think it ended up looking kind of creative, which is appropriate for this area :)

I had an extra purple box that was perfect for some markers. {Yes, I know there are snowflakes on the box but it's purple so I'm OK with that :)}  And, do you recognize the shape of the scissors container? 

Yep, it's an empty Nutella jar!  We go through a lot of that in our house and I love that these plastic jars have such a wide mouth.  Perfect for holding things like scissors!  Beside the markers and scissors are two art sets with an assortment of water paints, pencil crayons, markers, pastels, etc.  There are pencils and erasers in the big desk that's just to the right of this corner desk, so I didn't put them out in this craft/activity area. 

Under the shelves I put a stack of various character themed colouring sets.  They are such an assortment of sizes that there was really no way to contain them but they fit perfectly in this flat space. 

The bottom shelves were the exact size for two fabric covered bins!  I love these bins and was so happy when I measured the space and realized I could use them here.  I couldn't find very exciting colours at Dollarama this time so I ended up with black and brown.  Not very creative for a craft area... I may switch them up sometime and use these somewhere else, but for now they are great for containing everything I've put inside each of them. 

On the left side I put all our Playdoh stuff.   I'll write another post sometime about how I store our Playdoh and accessories.

On the right side I put some craft kits/sets and our craft supplies.

Here's a peek inside the Craft Supplies bin.  Not a ton of stuff but enough that we can make some things.  If we get really crafty then I can always get more!  I collected various beads in yet another pretty Dutch cookie tin (so glad I kept all these!) and lots of coloured popsicle sticks in another purple box (yep, more snowflakes... but it's purple!).  There's also some glitter glue in a cute little plaid fabric desk organizer, and some modelling clay, pipecleaners, stamps, foam shapes, and a few other things.  Oh, and a wooden rod that I want to make something with (any ideas?). 

This is a look inside the Craft Kits bin. 

Just a few kits or sets to create wonderful projects.  {I just noticed in the picture that the fabric is coming loose at the top of this bin.  Guess you get what you pay for when you buy it at Dollarama!}

Oh, and I have one of these in this bin.  Does anyone remember having one of these?

I have NO idea what it's called but you weave yarn in and around those pegs on the top and it goes down the hole in the middle and comes out the bottom in a sort of woven strand.  I used to make bracelets with it when I was a kid and I kept it all these years.  I came across it recently when I sorted through some old memory bins.  I do not remember how to do it (or what to call it to search online!), so if anyone knows how to use it please let me know.  I'd love to show my kids!

Underneath the corner desk I put this wooden chest.  It used to be my grandfather's chest.  I used it as a "hope chest" for many years when I was growing up and have stored various things in it the last few years.  I really love it and it holds a lot of sentimental value. 

Right now, I'm keeping some crafts or activities that my kids have received as gifts but didn't have time to do during the school year as well as some that we bought for them as treats for this summer. As they work through the ones that are in this craft/activity area I'll replace them with some from this chest to keep things fresh. 

On the very top, I put the craftiest thing in my house.  It's not something I made, which is not surprising because I'm really not all that crafty :) 

This beautiful bin was a wedding gift, made by a friend of mine to put all the wedding cards in at our reception.  She took a plastic bin and cut a slot in the bottom and then decorated it.  So creative!  Since our wedding I've kept all our wedding cards and a few other sentimental wedding items in it but I've always felt bad that I never had a good place to display it.  I think this is the perfect spot for it!  Isn't it beautiful?  There's even purple flowers on it :)

Well, that's my new craft and activity area.  Normally at this point in a post I'd show before and after pictures, but since this area didn't exist before I can't really do that.  So, I'll just leave you with one more picture of the new area. 

I'm so excited for the kids to be able to have everything in one place!  I completed this project earlier this week and already my daughter has spent time painting and working in a phonics activity book.  We just pulled the big desk chair over here and she put her feet up on the wooden chest and felt like a big girl at work :)  My son was away at camp so he hasn't made use of this area yet but I think he'll like having a place to work on his paint by numbers set. 

Our craft supplies and activities went from scattered locations around the house (overwhelming!) to once central, usable location (organized!) and it feels great!

How do you store your craft supplies if you don't have space for a separate craft room?  Do you keep kids supplies separate from your own or combine them?   I'd also love to hear from you if you have any ideas for what I can make with that little wooden dowel, or what that little weaving guy is called or how to use it! 

Happy organizing!

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