After building two new closets in the basement during the basement wasted-space-to-guest-suite renovation, I was able to repurpose our two upstairs closets into workspaces.
Even as a kid I was aware that in order to be crafty, one has to have a crafty place to work. I remember my mom getting frustrated with having to use the dining room table as her sewing space, and I feel the same way. Except we don’t even have a dining room table. We have one place to eat in our house and when I use it to sew, that one table ends up drowning in fabric, thread, a cutting mat and my sewing machine, not to mention the tripping hazard created by my electrical cord stretching out across the kitchen. And when the kids would work on a crafty project like painting or embellishing headbands or wrapping presents, their projects would engulf the dining room table.
But no longer.
Enter my inspiration photos. Or Pinsperation photos. Once I completed the new closets in the basement, I went looking for inspiration for a craft closet and a sewing closet. It appears that I am quite blessed to have not one, but two closets available for craftiness, since most of my inspiration photos combined crafting and sewing into one space. Here are some of the spaces that inspired me.
I pinned many, many inspiration photos before I went after my closets and then last week, this Pinterest Challenge came up. While I’d already done the work, the real challenge was in finally photographing and posting about the spaces. They don’t feel totally finished to me, and maybe they never will but it’s about time I post them! So, thanks to Katie, Ana, Erin, and Sherry for the challenge!
Here is what I came up with for my craft closet. It’s a bit over eight feet long with probably six feet of work space in a room we now call “The Slash Room.” No, not Slash as in Guns n Roses. Slash as in “office slash exercise slash craft slash Angry Birds” room. The craft part is for the girls and me. The rest is all for Scott. All I bought to make this happen was one $40 sheet of formaldehyde-free plywood and some dowels. Everything else I had on hand.
I managed to combine wrapping, painting, play-doh/clay, card-making, mat-cutting, and anything involving sequins, glitter, and buttons into one closet. I’m still toying with the idea of adding a breadboard-style extension to the front, which is why I didn’t add a 1×2 or 1×3 face frame to beef it up. It would be nice to give the workspace some extra depth, but that is another project for another day.
The closet is painted with leftover Sherwin-Williams floor paint from the basement in Restoration Hardware’s Silver Sage. All of the wood is finished in General Finishes water-based (and no odor) Espresso covered in two coats of glossy Polycrylic. Next time I’m at Ikea I’ll pick up a few counter-height stools for us to sit on while we craft, although the lack of seating hasn’t deterred Brynn. She was in there working before the Polycrylic even cured, leaving an indelible memory of her handwriting on the table. I suppose I could sand it out and recoat it if I really cared, but I’m thinking of it as the first of many projects that will leave permanent reminders on that shiny work surface. I’m okay with it, really. It just took a while (and a few grumblings of of “THIS is why we can’t have ANYTHING NICE”) for me to get over it.
Oh, and by the way, props to Scott for adding two new electrical outlets to the craft space for us. Gotta be able to plug in the hot glue gun, right? My husband is a fantastic electrician and I am SO thankful for that.
Okay, now onto the sewing space. One component that all of my inspiration photos were lacking was a sunken space for the sewing machine. I have a hard time sewing straight if my fabric has to go up and over the base of the machine, so I knew that above all else, I must figure out a way to make the sewing surface of my machine flush with the table. Here is what I came up with:
For this space, I had to purchase two pine 1×3’s and one 1×6 which I ripped to be exactly 1×4 on my our table saw. I used the same floor paint on the walls in this closet and the same General Finishes stain on the work surface. The work surface is built out of old shelves from this closet. I joined them using my Kreg Jig to create a deeper work space (they were only 16 inches deep and I needed about 28 inches), sanded them, stained them, and gave them two coats of dark brown Briwax. I love the sheen that Briwax gives and I especially love the instant gratification of applying wax, buffing it, and the wood being essentially ready to use.
The cabinet above the workspace is from our old kitchen and has now been installed in at least four different places in our house. The oil-based painted finish I put on it in 2004 is, by the way, holding up unbelievably well.
The stool is an original piece by yours truly. The legs came off of an old, junky, beat-up vanity that a friend and I found on someone’s trash pile during a walk one day. The legs were the only solid part of the piece so I removed them and trashed the rest. For this application, I attached them to an old shelf from this closet that I’d cut to size, trimmed it out using some scrap 1×2, and painted the whole thing. For the seat, I upholstered a second piece of old shelf from this closet and dropped it in place. Couldn’t have been simpler, really. And it was free. Scraps, found items, leftover foam from a friend, leftover batting, and leftover fabric. I love leftovers.
And here is the piece de resistance, the sunken sewing machine. This took some figuring out, but eventually I used my our jigsaw to cut a hole in the shape of my machine and the quilting table that goes with it. I’m not a pro with the jigsaw — I normally leave the jigging to Scott — but when the man’s at work a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And with enough sandpaper, it all came out okay. Then I ripped some more of that old shelf wood on my our table saw to make two strips exactly three inches wide which was exactly the height of the surface of my sewing machine. I attached them to the bottom of the work surface using lots of glue and my Kreg Jig. For the final piece of the puzzle, I cut another piece of old shelving to fit under the sewing machine, screwed it onto my three inch spacers and then held my breath as I dropped the machine in.
Miraculously, it fit.
You can see in the background one project I’m working on right now. I’m putting together a bunch of rice-based microwaveable heat packs to sell at a craft fair this weekend, along with some doll furniture if I can get my rear end back out in the garage long enough to put those pieces together.
I have to say, sewing at this new table is such a pleasure. Once again, Scott came through with a new outlet (there was already one near the floor, but I needed another accessible above my new work surface. I can sit at my machine and watch TV on Hulu or, my current obsession, the Edible Education 101 lectures at UC Berkeley, without killing the battery on my laptop. My machine is actually more stable now that it is sunken into the table and it is quieter and definitely easier to work with. Let’s just hope this machine never dies, right?
These projects are so ridiculous on one hand — I mean, TWO crafty spaces? Seriously. But on the other hand, they solve so many problems for me, make me more likely to craft and to support the girls in their craftiness, and for a total cost of under $100 it would have been silly not to make these spaces workable.
Psst…I eventually made a thread board for the sewing closet, to keep my spools of thread organized. See it here.