- Cullman, Alabama

January 26, 2014

Ideas for creative organizing

By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — Last week, in observance of January as Get Organized! month, we brought you an overview of several organizing projects and innovative products for making your life easier. Because crafting is such a broad subject, we have narrowed down our organizing focus this week to include an area crafter’s advice and a peek at a highly organized, multi-functional, storage and organizing area.

Laura Cleveland and her 16-year-old daughter, Anna, are both creative and love having all of their various tools, equipment, scrapbooking paper, jewelry finds, ribbon, paints and threads in a neat, organized and easy-to-find location.

Having everything at their fingertips saves time, keeps things orderly and makes for a much more pleasurable experience when sewing, painting, crafting jewelry, and scrapbooking.

The Clevelands lived in town up until the April 27, 2011, tornadoes devastated their historic home on Highway 278. Fortunately, they had a home on Smith Lake and were able to settle in there, with just a few additions. One of those additions was a craft room for Laura and Anna.

When they moved to the lake, Laura knew that she wanted something where she and Anna could spread out and do their individual crafts. It had to be neat, organized and practical.

She found a Martha Stewart design for a craft room with units that came separately to mix and match. She purchased the island, and some of the storage units.

As she set up shop in her craft room, she discovered little nooks and crannies where she could organize even more. She has graciously offered her tips and advice for organizing a craft room through her own experience.

Laura found that Lazy Susans are a nice supplement to her storage hutch for keeping the smaller ribbon spools. “They came from Oriental Trading for a very reasonable cost, but they could easily be a DIY project by purchasing a small wooden Lazy Susan and three dowels,” suggested Laura.

She and Anna discovered a great solution for craft closets. It’s a wire tower with sections that just fit 12x12 scrapbooking paper. “Since it’s on casters, it’s quite portable and stores a lot of paper. It came from Hobby Lobby,” said Laura.

Another tip from Laura is that placemats are a great way to protect your tabletop. Since the Martha Stewart system was a rather large investment, taking care of it means adding little extras to prevent stains and cuts. “And this is a way to add a fun decorative element,” Laura points out. The placemats match area rugs that were purchased inexpensively from Target.

Jewelry-making is Laura’s favorite creative outlet. “Although finding the most efficient way to organize and store beads and jewelry findings is a task!” she admits. ”My system has evolved over the years. I use clear divided craft boxes with small plastic zip bags so I have the option of pulling just what I need or pulling the entire box.”

One of her most valuable tips is a simple and inexpensive one. Labels, labels, labels! Laura stressed. Labeling clear mason jars, plastic containers and drawers can save countless hours of searching for small items like buttons, staples, paint brushes and other crafting paraphernalia.

“I have inexpensive trays that I use for projects in the works. That also makes it portable so I can work on it in front of the TV if I want,” Laura explained. “I’ve been known to stack some supply boxes and project trays in a large fabric shopping bag and take them on vacation.”

The half-story room is a typical bonus room over the family garage. Accessed from inside the house, the craft room is tucked up under the eaves, overlooking a beautiful view from a double window on the sunny south side. In addition to the overhead lighting, there is task lighting at each station. “We have movable, flexible clip-on lights for task lighting. One table has the matching tabletop lamp, still flexible. They do the job. At my jewelry table is a fully adjustable magnifier/lamp.”

Laura chose Martha Stewart because it is specifically geared toward crafting and very modular. There are other mix-and-match systems, such as Best Craft Organizer (, which is geared specifically for crafters.

There are excellent ideas and before-and-after photos on their site of various craft rooms, cabinets, wall units and desks. The units can be fitted with clear inserts of varying sizes, which accommodate everything from jewelry findings to paper clips, staples, scrapbooking accessories and much more. The adjustable units even come with tilt trays to hold paper. You can actually custom order your own unit, requesting the size drawers, trays or shelves to adjust to your particular needs. You can also find them on Facebook at Best Craft Organizer.

There are several good books on the market which give you lots of tips about organizing for all your craft needs. Check out Organizing Your Craft Space (Paperback) by Jo Packham and Martha Stewart Organizing Crafts;;;;

Pottery Barn has lovely storage units for everything from your laundry room to your pet supplies, including pinboards, chalkboards, wall organizers, office accessories, shelves, ledges, racks, hooks, baskets, trays, jewelry boxes and displays. So have fun and get organized.