It's a huge financial and design commitment but it is well worth it if it meets your needs and helps you live more efficiently. For us, it was a no-brainer given my crafting obsession, our cozy (read small) New York apartment, and the curious itty bitty fingers wandering around. Here are the five steps I took to designing and organizing my small space custom craft closet:
1. Take stock of tools and supplies. Minimize when and where possible.
The same organization rules you've come across in the past for a tidy home are the same ones for your craft closet. If you haven't used the item for over a year, it's time to share it with someone who will make use of it. Or take an adapted KonMari method, and ask yourself, "does the item spark creativity?" Will it be used to create a project in the next few months? If not, again, share it!
2. Organize supplies and tools by frequency of usage.
Once I cleared up all of the supplies into just the essentials that sparked creativity, I started organizing by frequency of use and access. Organizing by usage gives essentially forces you to distinguish between storage and everyday supplies. This is an important distinction.
Take for example, you have a huge supply of acrylic stamps, but you tend to use just your Project Life stamps on a daily basis while all of your seasonal and holiday stamps are only used once a year. In order for you to create efficiently, you'll want to keep the Project Life stamps in a place that is more accessible than your seasonal and holiday stamps since you won't need those every day. You can probably put your seasonal stamp stash at a higher level towards the back of your closet, so it doesn't get in your way while you're creating.
You may be tempted to organize by use or type of craft as that makes more sense for you, but you'll still want some semblance of organization by frequency of use. For example, out of all of my supplies, I use my acrylic stamps and stamping-related tools the most. So that's taken a full two drawers in my closet. I organize by manufacturer but I also have a section of frequently used stamps that I keep in the front of the drawer, so I don't always have to open the drawer all the way to the back. It also makes cleanup easier because I don't have to reach as deep into the drawer to put things away.
3. Measure stash and space. Sketch out a rough drawing with measurements.
This is the fun part because you get to bring your visualization to life by putting pencil to paper. But it can also be hard because if you're looking for maximum use of every inch, then you'll also want to be very accurate with your measurements.
Start with the sections that are at working surface and eye level. Envision what you need closest to you based on your most frequently used items. Then go up and down.
4. Research custom cabinetry makers.
Before calling anyone up, research on widths and thicknesses of different types of materials. Also research the type of closures you want, whether they be drawers or pocket doors, etc. The best way to find a cabinetry maker that's a good fit for you is to really talk to them and learn what is their process and what is included as part of their services. Trust your gut! Questions that helped me determine the maker for my closet:
- What is the process? Do you render 3-D drawings with clear measurements of each piece of the unit? Can you build the unit flush to the wall including measuring all floor and ceiling moldings? Do you measure the location in person prior to locking down measurements of the custom cabinet(s)?
- What are the terms of the agreement? How much is the deposit and accepted terms of payment? How many installments and by when? Is balance due upon arrival?
- How long does it take to make the unit and have it delivered? Does the unit arrive completely installed or will it be built on location? What type of insurance do you have?
- Do you have references to speak about the custom unit you've built for them? Do you have floor samples of the quality of your work? Do you have floor examples of heavy-duty drawer units and pocket doors (or any other kinds of fabrications you're hoping to have built as part of your unit)?
5. Produce an at-scale drawing, complete with all specifications. Sign off.
This was probably one of the most important parts of the process for me and I really appreciated that this was part of the service. The at-scale drawing is an exact blueprint of your unit and you'll want to make sure you account for every detail. Look for where all of the pieces will be connected and where all of the rails and hinges will be placed. Lastly, look at all of the measurements and make sure they meet the specs of your original measurements. This is important for you to review before you sign-off.
Then comes the hardest part... the wait. But once it arrives, it's back to happy organizing again!