Monday, February 17, 2014

The Storage Swagger

Once Megan completed her artistic stenciling masterpiece it was my turn to swagger in and build some storage space. Swagger…storage? I consider myself a bit of a pro when it comes to maximizing a useless space, and this closet was no exception. The job required some basic wall mounted, floor supported and hanging storage solutions.
Left side of closet before
Right side of closet before
I started with the hanging solution in mind. We want the kids to be able to grow into this space so our first concern was to make the distance between the hanging bar and the first shelf tall enough that as their clothes got bigger I wouldn't have to go back in and build something new. Because I can never be pleased by what a store has on their shelf, I decided to build my own bar hangers using bit of 1x4 shaped, glued,and screwed together.  I needed three for the length of the pole.

A 10’ 1x12 cut in half made for the main shelving unit supported by wall cleats and a scrap 1x4 ripped in half made for some more than adequate floor standards. I could have just screwed this vertical support right to the face of the shelves but that would have been tacky, and I always have to make projects more difficult so I cut out notches in the bottom shelf to blend in the mating pieces.
My helper
A little glue and Kreg pocket holes later I was dusting my hands off with that unit.
Shelving and trim painted with a semi-gloss white and hanging bar painted with leftover dark grey

The other organization plan for the space was a single shelf on the right side of the closet.  I once again measured and drew up all the pieces I would need to cut and headed back out to the shop. Wall cleats, main shelf top (this time made from ½” leftover birch ply) face frame, etc. My extra time spent in the frigid shop was repaid when all the parts fit right the first time. Woohoo I proclaimed silently, as the kids were sleeping just down the hall, and set about caulking all the joints for that absolutely seam free anal retentive look I strive for in all my projects.

Our final organization system plan was to move a great dresser that my dad built for E when she was born and now has graduated on to F into the closet under this shelf. Our current plan is to keep F’s room as non-cluttered as possible because sooner or later he is going to learn he can just throw a leg over his crib and be free. Megs is convinced his first order of business will be to tip the well-built dresser on top of himself in triumph of his first escape. I am less convinced in the nature of his first action of freedom to be defiance, but it does make the room really nice and clean looking. The dresser also fits perfectly in the end of the closet, almost like it was made for the space.

Megs and I have got a pretty good routine underway over the last couple of projects. We have found it much easier to have Megan prime as much of the raw wood as possible before I set about cutting it all up and installing. One, it is much easier to paint a slab of wood at working height with a roller than it is on ladder or hands and knees, any more times than your have to. Two, Having primer on it ahead gives Megs the opportunity to change her mind at the last second and paint the project whatever color she wants after she sees it in the space, which happens… a lot.


Megan (wrapping up the post since Andy is in China now):  After I finished all the final painting (shelves and trim in semi-gloss white and clothing rod in dark grey), I went to organizing all the closet chaos into bins.  Mostly these bins house wrapping supplies, next size up of kid clothing and extra diapers and wipes.  I would have really like to get new bins/boxes that were all matching and coordinated with the new stencil colors but luckily my insanity passed and I used bins I had around the house.

 The final result is fantastic.  It is pretty crazy how joyful I feel every time I walk into this closet but thinking back to where it started at:
 I think my giddiness is justified.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Containing the Craft Madness

I know at the end of my last post, I promised a wrap-up of F's closet makeover but, in keeping with how projects actually get wrapped up around here, I am bouncing around.  We are sticking around with the upstairs theme though which I started last week with the stenciling project I completed in F's closet and Andy continued with the quilt table build he completed.  Today, I am branching off of the quilt area to the computer table/craft area.  So here it goes...

We have been struggling with the layout and organization of our upstairs hallway space since we moved in. 
Upstairs layout
 One of the first things we did during the summer we moved in was enlarging the doorway going into the planned craft room and bring a full wall from the staircase into a half-wall. 
Original wall dividing stairs from bedroom hallway
Original hall leading to E's room
New half wall and painted floor

We also tore out a useless cave closet which was at the top of the stairs creating an open nook.  
Original wall layout with closet

New unfinished opening
Completed computer nook with larger doorway to quilt area (yes, all the trim still needs to be painted!)
These minor changes gave the space a ton of light and made it less like an old attic with bedrooms.  Over the last year, we set up an office space but other than that haven’t had the time to put more energy and thought into it.  It was the one constantly embarrassing space in the house- in a constant state of clutter and madness.   
This is often what the "quilt area" looked like... pure chaos
While tackling F’s closet, we decided we would tackle the spaces right outside his room and finally have an organized upstairs!  We had decided long ago to use the nook as a mini office (we mostly use the iPad downstairs so we don't need much space) and kiddo craft center and the larger room off the bathroom as my quilting area.

I found this photo a while back and used it as my inspiration for the craft center.  E has really gotten into crafting, so she got 2 IKEA bin systems and tons of crafting supplies for Christmas.  Andy set up the storage systems and I went to town organizing into categories.  

For smaller things like paintbrushes and crayons, I used old wipe containers for storage and taped labels on the outside.  

E has firm rules not to get into stuff without asking first and has been pretty good about following this rule.  Next to the craft center is an old IKEA computer stand.  

This was first purchased (probably 9 years ago) for my quilting table.  (Which is why I desperately needed Andy to build me a real one).  We pulled it out of storage and it fit perfectly in the space.  We are hoping to purchase a laptop in the future so when that happens, we plan to use the table as a crafting space instead of always using the kitchen table.

With crafting comes product- lots of product with no good place to put it.  I decided to use the hall from the craft area to E’s room as an art gallery.  
Hallway before
E got some fantastic art frames from Christmas which each hold up to 35 pictures so you can keep adding to the frames.  The system (called My Art Gallery) was originally set to be used vertically but I wanted the pictures to be at kid eye level so I used poster tape to stick the frames to the walls.  

I found some extra trim in my sewing supplies and nailed it to the wall above the frames.  

Using clothespins, we can hang the kids’ artwork that is more unusually shaped.  

E is super proud of her new art gallery.
Naughty girl supposed to be sleeping...
The adjoining space to the office/craft area is my quilt area.  Andy finished building my quilt table last week and I had the best time organizing everything.  My label maker was smoking after this little endeavor.

I started with storage that I already had from previous areas and worked from there.  All sewing supplies and adult craft supplies (like glitter, paints etc) are housed in IKEA paper storage boxes.  

I had Andy build in skinny shelves which are perfect for my cutting boards and rulers.  

The wall behind the sewing table houses a small bookcase, Rubbermaid drawer set and file cabinet.  

All office supplies like pens, computer paper and our permanent records are stored here.  To add a little pizzazz to the room, I hung four vintage pictures- three are old 30s-50s pin-up pictures which I collected about 15 years ago and the fourth pictures houses 4 postcards of fashions from the Victoria Albert Museum.

Our new spaces are fantastic and Andy and I marvel how clean and organized the space is every time we go upstairs.  A far cry from what we saw for the past year and a half.  We still have to find some lighting for the three ceiling fixtures in the space but as long as I can walk and not trip over piles of craft/office supplies, I am thrilled!