Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Great Studio Remodel Video Tour

Stick a fork in my remodel - it is done! 

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Last night I had my "please buy all the stuff that no longer fits in my room" sale, which was extremely fun. I offloaded about 400 individual items to happy crafters and socialized with a bunch of awesome artists & neighbors.

I did sales and studio tours as a bookend to this project. My first sale was on November 1st - and they toured my studio then too. One of them even bought my desk, which really kicked the project into high gear. Then it was time to do demolition.

Demolition was brutal, I'm not going to lie. Taking apart the giant built in desk in there came close to killing us twice, and created huge messes during, which you'll see in the intro to the video.

Emptying the room was overwhelming. Sorting through it was overwhelming.

But I learned so many things I have to share with you.

  • For 12 years I existed in a totally dysfunctional space that just got more and more crowded. I grew to hate it, honestly. For about 8 of those years I whined about needing more space. Then one day last fall I woke up and said to myself "Self - you don't need more space - you need less STUFF." It truly was like a light switch, and then it began. 
  • You MUST empty the room. If I had not emptied the room I would have worked AROUND things I didn't feel like sorting. Because believe me, there were many days I didn't feel like sorting. This is non-negotiable. 
  • On the emptying, I did "loose" sorting. I carried things out to our breakfast area and GENERALLY put similar things together. But as I got deeper into the recesses of my closet that became more difficult because I hadn't had things organized at all in there. Once it was all in a big mountain in the breakfast area - my hand to God - I put tablecloths on it, put a star on top and that was our Christmas tree. The holidays were the best time for me to start this project, and so it just was what it was.
  • I lived in the room for about a month with just a temporary table. I put masking tape on the floor marking out furniture I knew was coming back in the room, and then started investigating what I could and couldn't do in that space. This was VITAL. Had I not done this I would have bought furniture based on aesthetics alone, not on how functionally they fit into the space I was designing. As you will see in the video - I completely maximized the space. I shopped online for items that were precisely the size I needed (Ikea shows you dimensions on hover over, which I love). On my desktop we cut it down to go exactly from the wall to the dresser, as you will see. I'm not one for "perfect" rooms, so I happily collected a series of colorful, fun, functional pieces that came together beautifully. Picking my anchor pieces (the card catalog and the dresser) and then using ONLY size as a criteria for the two work surfaces was perfection.
  • After the furniture was in, it was time for STRICT sorting. This is also non-negotiable. I got many, many boxes and I took everything from the "Christmas Tree" and sorted everything into boxes, throwing away a TON as I did. There was a lot of junk, including an AOL CD, if you can believe that. Our trashcan was full for three months. Nothing was allowed to cross-contaminate a pile - if it wasn't an object that matched other things in a box, it either started a new box or got tossed. This really helped me decide what to put in the dresser and what to put in the card catalog, based on the shape and the quantity of the items. The things in the card catalog tend to be longer, skinnier things: white gel pens, aquapainters, rulers, etc. The things in the dresser are bigger - things like post it notes, stamp cleaners etc.
  • I sold as I went. I started selling small things that were too good to throw away on our neighborhood FB page. If I could sell a storage item for $2 to someone, that was better than tossing it. I sold many things each day as I went through strict sorting. If you have a neighborhood garage sale group on Facebook, I highly recommend joining and participating.
  • After strict sorting I decided what boxes contained things I actually wanted. Many didn't make the cut and were sold or donated. Then I was ready to move in.
  • Through the move-in process I realized that many small drawers are INFINITELY better for craft storage than fewer, larger drawers. This is because when you have a large drawer you feel the need to fill it, which means you stop adhering to strict sorting. You think - well I know this is my hammer drawer, but I am going to put the masking tape in here because there's room. Well what happens is you can't remember that because it doesn't make sense to have the masking tape with the hammers, and that, my friends, is how you end up with 57 rolls of masking tape in 57 locations around the house. Stray from strict sorting even once and that's where you'll end up.
  • I also realized that my floor was the LEAST valuable real estate I had. What possessed me to use the "shove everything against the wall" layout before is beyond me. It's not like I was twirling around like a ballerina in there every day. So after seeing my friend Chriss' studio with a desk in the middle, I moved my desk to the middle. This did several things: It gave me much more storage space in the form of that dresser. It stopped me from facing a wall with my back to the door. I hadn't realized how much I'd hated that and never even consciously knew it until I changed it. I also realized this is the classic corporate America furniture design. And it needs to go away - it's dehumanizing. It allowed me to make good use of my storage bench, both for a cat lounging station and a human lounging station - I was delighted when someone sat down on it last night. - before, my room didn't allow for comfortable seating for a guest. Having my back to my computer while I'm arting is greatly increasing my focus. Similarly, having my back to my art while I'm working does the same. Small change - big difference. 
  • It was not easy. It was four months of really hard work - refinishing furniture, carrying heavy stuff, sorting, painting, sanding, tossing. It's not for the faint of heart. There were times - even a month ago - when I didn't think I'd ever get down to that last box - but I did. And it's amazing. If you're going to do it - do it all the way. I'm so glad I did. I'd say I wish I'd done it earlier, but I don't. I think things come to you when you're ready to do them and I was ready. And I was SO grateful for my Facebook friends, who watched the process, photo by photo, from the very start, and cheered me on the whole way. Thanks for lightening that burden, you silly friends.
I still don't have one piece finished and haven't decided what will go on the wall above my dresser, but I really can call this project done. And I love this space. It is most definitely the happy place I've dreamed about. If you're coming to the retreat, I might even organize a group tour - who knows?  :)

So take a look and let me know what you think. If you can't see the video player below, click here.  Below the video is a link to where I got all the things in the room.

What do you think? :)

Here's a list of the major things you'll see in the video, and where possible, links where you can read more or purchase them.
  1. Card Catalog - purchased from Remember When Estate Sales
  2. CeCe Caldwell Santa Fe Turquoise Paint
  3. CeCe Caldwell Endurance Wax Finish
  4. Dresser - purchased from Tommy's Furniture, Rockdale, TX.
  5. Desk - Micke White Modern
  6. Desk accessories - Poppin Orange trays and pen holder
  7. Refrigerator Cart - Elfa
  8. File Cabinets - Bisley Orange
  9. Art table tabletop - Ikea VikaFuruskog (no longer available), cut to size and refinished with Vermont Naturals Polywhey - natural, no odor polyurethane
  10. Tiny multi-drawer aqua cabinet purchased from Uncommon Objects.
  11. Label Maker
  12. Black labels with white print for card catalog
  13. Offi Punch Shelves (these appear to be discontinued)
  14. Oven liners used as craft mat
  15. Baby Wipe dispenser and homemade stamp wipes
  16. Combo ink/refill/marker holders
  17. Wallmounted ink/refill holders
  18. Embossing powder containers
  19. Embossing powder spoons and clips for spoons
  20. Paper storage towers
  21. Refrigerator cart
  22. Tripod Update - I now use the Arkon Stand - use code UNDERSTANDBLUE for 20% off.
  23. Iphone mount for tripod
  24. Art desk anti-fatigue stool
  25. Computer desk anti-fatigue stool
  26. Japanese circle stickers
  27. Card sending journal 
  28. Card display rack from Displays2Go
  29. Lights and light fixtures for filming videos 

So there you have it.

Worth every second. If you're ready - what are you waiting for?



  1. This. Is. Amazing. What a difference! And I had to laugh at the end, because I just got 9 huge drawers built in to my craft room, but they are perfect for what I use them for. Otherwise, I agree that smaller is better. Well done!!!!

  2. You've done an awesome job on your studio. I love it.

  3. You didn't show us what is inside your mirror cabinets!

  4. My third and final attempt at commenting...oh Lydia I just love you! Your wit and humor along with your soothing voice....will there be a sequel??? Your room is wonderfully eclectic and so happy!!! Like u!! Thanks for taking us on this journey with you!! ( and my card on your shelf gives me such a moment!)

  5. Wow! Thanks for the tour of the finished room. Giving me some ideas for when my son moves out and I take over his bedroom later this year.

  6. Turned out BEAUTIFULLY, Lydia! Love it!

  7. This was an awesome post! I throughly enjoyed the tour of your room. Thanks for all the tips. Enjoy!

  8. It looks amazing. I love the colors. And thanks for all helpful tips.
    I'l be moving in July so I will start on decluttering my room soon. And deciding what to take and what to giveaway/throwaway/orputinstorage.

  9. Thanks so much for the tour - it was great and I learned alot of great tips & ideas that I can use to help make my crafty space more functional. Love the mirrors idea to add more light to your room as well as reflecting the view for you to see. I think you can be more creative when you have a place for everything but also not having things scattered in 4 different places.

    Jocelyn x

    1. Exactly! Stuff in all the different places made me unorganized and over budget! :)

  10. Absolutely loved your post and video! Not only do I love your organized way of doing and explaining things, I love your voice! Keep creating these wonderfully helpful videos and posts!

    On a side note, for filming your videos, could you explain how you do these? You must have a lot of space on your iPhone for doing these? Would love a post about your process.

    Thank you!

  11. Lovely, eclectic, unique, nostalgic, and personal studio...your video was delightful!

  12. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing all the tips you learned during the process. I have an idea how much work this was -- I reorganized after winning my Scrapbox on HYCCT a few years ago. It was overwhelming!!

  13. A great make over. After reading all of your post and watching your video, I have to say you are right on point! I 're-did' my craft room last yr. and I totally emptied, painted, & papered before moving back in. My room is only 10 1/2' x 12' so I utilized my real estate by going up, floor to ceiling. I built (with the help of my husband), wall to wall shelving to hold MOST of my stamps so I could see them. I have found if I can't see them, I don't use them. Anyway, drawers & shelves are your friend when maximizing craft space for order & easy access as you have shown. I always enjoy seeing how someone else has done theirs. TFS!

  14. I rarely watch YouTube videos, but I had to watch this one. FAB-U-LOUS!!! thank you for sharing your tips and ideas. I'd love to know where you got the revolving card stand. I've contemplated getting one of these so that I can better display cards that I have for sale. Maybe I missed the link? Hugs and thank you again!!

    1. Sorry Kay - thank you for asking - I've added the link to the post!!

  15. Fabulous room. Did you have a link or name for the copic marker storage?

  16. Enjoyed your tour and tips! Thanks so much!!!!

  17. Aww, great job, Lydia! Beautiful room. SOMEDAY I will get one. :)

  18. YAY for you, this turned out amazing :)

  19. Be-You-Tiful!! Love your room!! What is in the mirrors? :)

  20. What do you store in the card catalog? Awesome room!

  21. What do you store in the card catalog? Awesome room !

  22. When we moved into our current home just over a year ago I made the decision to purge and simplify even though my creative space is bigger than ever (1 bay of our garage). I wanted to keep the space open so that I could fit tables in it for classes.
    I'm STILL working on the space. To be fair though, my husband had to build a wall, wire it for electricity (there were only 2 outlets), install lighting, and reconfigure previous storage he had built me to work in the new space. After having worked in the space for several months I've decided that I need a bigger desk and still need to get rid of stuff. Wish me luck! The more I get it the way I want it the more creative mojo I seem have :)
    I really love your logic about smaller drawers and it is something I'm taking to heart. Thanks for sharing the details of your space. I think I'm going to go downstairs now and work on mine some more

  23. So fun to see your craft space. Just, Curious how big is your space? I have a really small room too (12' x 11-1/2') and it's also the walk way from the garage. Do you keep your Tripod on your desk all the time? Love, love, Love your card catalog!

    1. It's teeny - 10x11 - so that's why it was so important to mark everything out with tape and purchase by size, not looks.

    2. Oh and yes - tripod on the desk always :)

  24. sigh. I really need to do this also. get rid of stuff that is...too much craft crap! :) congrats on a newly cleaned space! green with envy ;)

  25. are your over the door storage systems from the container store?

  26. I'd love to buy a card catalog to house my beads, buttons, pearls, shells, etc... Upgrading the look of the unit would have to be contracted out...I'm not great at revitalizing furniture. You made yours look so easy that i'd like to give it a try! Love the eclectic look of your studio and the art pieces you collect!
    ~ Rozy :)

  27. I've been lucky enough to come across an old card catalog but haven't decided if I can use it in my room. I love how you refinished yours. But the big question is what do you store in the drawers?

  28. OOoooOoooo how I love your courage and hard work to create your sweet crafty space! Thank you for the tour and all the links. I'm amazed and laughed along the way as you described the new room :*


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