Organizing your craft room (and yourself!) on the cheap Part 3

This is the final part on my series on Organizing on the Cheap. You can see the first two parts below:

The organizational industry is Big Business. You can buy anything you could possibly want to organize things. IKEA is rife with various neat little drawer organizers, boxes, hidden storage furniture. You name it, they have it. A quick Amazon search will yield similar, from companies like Honey Can Do, who has tons of different organizational storage units available.

The problem with these items is two-fold. First, to get everything you need, it can get very pricey. Sure, your office is gonna look AWESOME, but it comes with a big price tag. I don’t know about you, but I am not willing to pay hundreds of dollars, for things I can make for considerably less.

The second part of the problem is finding things that will actually work for what you are wanting to organize. When I started organizing my craft room, I had a few things that needed to be dealt with. I had more gel pens than Carter had little liver pills (thanks Mom), a desk that was always overcrowded and impossible to work on, and tons of DMC Stitch Bows that were in Ziplock bags in a huge clump. That doesn’t necessarily make finding what you need easy.
So now I had specific needs to look at, and I wanted to keep things as inexpensive as possible. Just how does one do this?

Google to the rescue.

Gel Pens, paint brushes, and more!

The first thing I had to do was organize all of my write-withs, as my father likes to call them. I have not only a considerable collection of gel pens, enough to doodle with and keep teenaged niblings (nieces and nephews) busy when they visit, but paint brushes (for acrylics and watercolours), sharpies (I love my sharpies) and various drawing pencils.

I have always just kept them in a box. Or rather, multiple boxes, because I would buy some, put them in a box, and use them for a bit. Then they’d get put aside in a hurried clean job (OH NOES! PARENTS ARE COMING! HIDE THE MESS!) and then forget I had them. So I would buy more, and the cycle would continue.

With using boxes to store art supplies, inevitably you end up with multiple boxes with various tools in them, and you have no idea what you have or which box they are contained within. So the solution to the problem was to bring them out into the open. But in a neat, organized way.

Now you can buy pen and pencil storage units for desk tops. And they are beautiful. And expensive. I am cheap, so I had a different idea.

I decided to make use of things that most people just throw away. I talked to my parents and asked them to not throw out toilet paper rolls for a while. I took a long, narrow cardboard box I had, removed the lid, and then put the toilet rolls in it. The rolls needed to be glued into place, but otherwise it was an instant pen holder. It now stores all my pens, paint brushes, pencils, and more. It sits on my desk, taking up very little real estate. And best of all, all it cost was a little patience to wait until enough rolls of toilet paper had been gone through! At the moment it isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but I am going to ModPodge it eventually. I have a bit of that to do with other items as well. I found wrapping paper at Walmart for $1 and that should make for a pretty paper to decorate with.

But I need my Monitor and other stuff here!

The second big problem I faced in my craft room was desk space. With a monitor, Wacom tablet, paint supplies (above and beyond brushes!), as well as storage for important papers and other brick-a-brack a desk will accumulate, I could barely use the desk for anything beyond storage. But aside from some of the miscellany, most of this was necessary items in my desk space. So. What to do.

The first thing I knew I needed to do was get the monitor off the desk. Now, you can buy monitor stands on Amazon for relatively cheap. But once again, I knew I had to add storage to it, and the stands I was seeing didn’t have what I needed. So what is a crafty girl like me to do?

At the same time I begged my parents for toilet paper rolls, I asked them and my brother to save any good, heavy, corrugated cardboard boxes. My brother has a 2 year old, still in diapers, so that was a great source of the kind of cardboard I needed. Cardboard, when glued together, is quite sturdy, and if you can make it from wood, you can also make it from good cardboard. So, with a trusty box cutter (remember kids, always keep your thumbs out of the way, and cut away from your body! So says the ND Safety Officer!), wood glue, and a blueprint for a wooden shelf I found online (LINK IF CAN FIND IT AGAIN), I crafted a good, solid monitor stand. I will write a post about how I did this later, if people are interested. Once again, it’s not the nicest looking thing in the world – currently covered in painters tape – but some cute wrapping paper, some ModPodge, and it will be a nice addition to any office!

How DOES One store hundreds of skeins of floss?

The final big issue I faced was organizing my floss. Anyone who cross stitches or does embroidery can tell you just how much of an issue this is. I use the DMC Stitch Bow for holding my floss, as I like how simple it is to put a new skein on. It stores somewhat easily, and is good for seeing the colours at a glance.
BUT. While DMC has created storage options for their Stitch Bows, I was not anywhere NEAR willing to pay what they wanted.

My original plan was to do what I did for the monitor, and create a drawer unit from cardboard. However, when helping my parents with a grocery trip to Costco one day, we found a drawer unit for $30. It’s perfect, and the cheapest I had ever seen it’s like for (the Honey Can Do version retails for around $80…). So we bought it.

But I could not just let the floss sit in it without some sort of drawer organization tools. So, Instead of buying drawer organizers (even from the Dollar Store, what I needed would have cost about $1 per drawer.) I needed seven per drawer, and had 7 drawers to fill. Yeah. Not spending that much.

So I save cereal boxes and other cardboard of that type, drew up a template for the drawer, and spent many an evening, feet up, watching Netflix, and cutting and taping together little cardboard drawers. Each little drawer can hold up to 10 Stitch Bows, and is wonderful for keeping my colours all together.

So this is how you organize on the cheap!

I spent very little in this whole endeavour. Knowing what your needs are is the most important step. Once you have that, then you can begin to organize all your bits and pieces! Like with the stitch bows – finding the correct size of unit was difficult, so I made what I needed.

The beautiful thing about these projects are that they are personalized AND they help with reusing items that would otherwise end up in a landfill!

In my opinion, being organized and saving the environment was worth the little bit of extra effort it took to make all these items.

I hope you enjoyed my organizational series. Let me know what you think, and feel free to suggest other ideas for future posts!

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