It’s the more feminine version of the man-cave: the craft room. It doesn’t matter if it is painting, photography, scrapbooking, sewing, knitting, woodworking, stained glass, or pottery — and it doesn’t even matter if you are particularly good at your chosen craft — as long as you enjoy it. And the excuse to create your own private oasis where you can hide away in a room designed only for you? Well, that just makes finally taking up your age-old dream of learning to sketch (or sew or sculpt) even more tempting.
First, you need the space. An empty or rarely-used guest bedroom, small office, sunroom, or den is ideal. Sure, you can create a craft closet or use the dining room table, but if your home is a noisy place complete with spouse, kids, and pets, the ability to shut the door and close off the world for a little while is worth making your great-aunt share the guest room with your piles of scrapbooking paper and stamp kits when she comes for the rare visit.
Clear the space, getting rid of any clutter and unnecessary furniture. If the craft space will have to serve a dual role as a guest room, forgo the standard twin-size guest bed for a day bed or a sleeper-sofa, which can still serve a purpose when you don’t have guests – such as a great place to catch up on that latest novel you downloaded. If you are able to do so, paint the room – it’s your space, so pick any color that suits you. Vivid, neon pink? Lavender? Red and yellow stripes? Why not?
Choose flooring that will hold up under your hobby. If you live in an apartment and you can’t change the flooring, you can cover the existing flooring with a throw rug. If your hobby is especially messy (anything that involves large amounts of paint, dust, or glue), then you may want to go a step beyond in protecting the existing carpet. Measure your work space, then go to the hardware store and get some self-adhesive plastic sheeting. Put that down, extending it beyond your workspace slightly (you can cover your entire rug if necessary). Place a large carpet remnant or inexpensive area rug over the top of the plastic.
If you need something you can pick up quickly (such as when your mother-in-law comes for a visit), try using a shower curtain under your workspace. They are large, inexpensive, and you can fold it up and put it away when necessary (it is also much easier to clean up messes since you can just wipe it off or even take it outside and hose it down). If you want something thicker, a drop cloth will work.
Must-have furniture in your craft room includes a desk with drawers, a chair, a workbench for standing or sitting, a stool for the workbench, a file cabinet, and a bookcase. Depending on your hobby, you may not want to buy an expensive desk. Instead, start looking at thrift stores, second-hand stores, and garage sales. As long as the desk is in decent condition and is the right size, it will work – try picturing it painted in a bold color such as brilliant blue. As for the work bench, you don’t have to buy one – consider making one with two file cabinets or sawhorses and some plywood. You may also want items specific to your craft: an easel, a potter’s wheel, or a sewing machine.
Storage is very important in a craft room. After just one afternoon immersed in your paints, chalks, clay, fabric scraps, mosaic tiles, or bits of glass, your craft room can become a jumbled mess of half-finished projects and leftover scraps. Having ample storage is crucial to getting things tidied up quickly. You don’t need expensive built-ins or custom cabinetry. In fact, a trip to the hardware store and your local dollar store should get you everything you need (and you’ll have plenty of money left over to spend on those craft supplies).
Pegboard is ultra-handy – hang some above your work space and attach S-hooks. These hooks can hold rolls of tape, tools, works in progress, packs of stickers, rulers, and ribbon. You can paint the peg board to stand out (a brilliant contrasting color) or blend in (the same color as the wall).
Look for things that can be used in new ways. For example, a towel bar can be attached to the wall or the side of your desk or work bench. You can use the towel bar to hold a hand towel, but you can also hang grease drip cups from the bar and store buttons, beads, and other tiny craft supplies, or you can use it to store ribbon. Canning jars with handwritten labels are a charming way to hold stickers, beads, buttons, and other supplies. An antique pie safe is perfect for hiding away baskets of fabric and stacks of scrapbooking paper.
Dollar-store bins and baskets are the perfect size for your craft room (not to mention inexpensive) – get several and store them on installed shelves or in a bookcase. Weave a ribbon through the basket slats, leaving enough ribbon to tie in a bow in the front. Use your decorative scissors to cut some fancy tags and add a hole with your hole punch at the top. Label each with corresponding supplies: oil paint, pastels, hot glue sticks, etc. Slide the tag onto the ribbon and tie a bow. Place the basket on the shelf with the label facing out.
Finally, don’t forget about lighting – you’ll want an overhead lamp, a table lamp, and perhaps a floor lamp. Directional lighting is especially important for small projects, such as needlepoint, embroidery, and beading.