After Kimberly Shilling upgraded to a larger house, she found herself with a lot more space to play with.
“I had all this room and all these blank walls,” she says. “I’ve always liked to scrapbook, so I decided to make one of the bedrooms into a scrapbook room.”
Shilling, a 28-year-old graphic designer, is among legions of Americans devoting space in their homes to arts and crafts.
“We get a lot of requests for craft rooms,” says Carolyn Allman, ASID, owner of C. Allman Design Group in Medford. “People love to do crafts. For the last five to eight years especially, we’ve been doing a lot of craft rooms.”
Allman is a crafter herself—she has a long background in sewing—so she brings insight to the task of helping other crafters design their space.
Professional organizer Terri Beverley, owner of Spacesprit in Dallas, says the first step in designing a craft room is to collect everything that will go into the space and organize it.
Paints should go in one pile, fabrics in another, and so on.
Once you know what materials you have to work with, and in what quantities, you’ll know how much room you need and what kinds of shelving and storage to buy.
“Fortunately there are a million storage options, so you can find anything for any budget,” Beverley says.
The room will be different depending on your craft. If it’s a messy craft such as pottery or painting, Allman recommends a connection to the outdoors, and your flooring will need to be durable. If it’s sewing, where you’ll be dropping pins on the floor, you’ll probably want hard floors.
In a condo or starter home you anticipate selling at some point, buy trollies and bins you can take with you, Beverly says. If you’re a retiree and it’s your last home, it may be worth it to invest in built-in shelves and cabinetry.
Allman is a believer in the utility of islands. The nature of your craft will determine whether it’s a portable island on wheels or stationary. The island can incorporate pull out storage bins, it functions as a work space, and provides open area where friends or fellow crafters can pull up a stool. An island on wheels allows freedom of movement, but if you’ll need electricity for a glue gun or other tools, you may opt for a stationary, hard-wired island.
Lighting is important, too, for a number of reasons. When working with paints or fabrics, color looks different under a fluorescent light than it does in sunlight.
A combination of natural and artificial lighting is always best, Allman says. She’s excited about a new light from Herman Miller called a leaf light that is perfect for crafters. The leaf light uses chips, not bulbs. The light contains 20 light-emitting diodes, 10 that are cool blue-white, 10 that are warm yellow-white. You slide a finger along a groove in the base to adjust the cool-warm balance.
“It’s a really cool, free-standing light that has both warm and cool lighting in any degree you want, and you can snake it around,” she says.
Shilling read magazines and watched interior design TV shows to gain inspiration for her scrapbook room. “That’s a great place to get ideas,” she says.
Tera Leigh, the author of "How to Be Creative If You Thought You Never Could," (North Light Books, 2003), has a craft room in her home for painting, mosaics and paper crafts.
She based her design on furniture she already had, including a bookcase and an armoire.
“For me, I need a staging area where I can gather up all my supplies,” she says. “I wanted a big table where I could put everything I was working on at that moment.”
An organized storage system was critical, she says. “I can’t work in a messy room.”
“The major advantage to having an organized craft room is that you have a chance to enjoy your craft instead of always cleaning,” Allman says. “You use a space if you’re comfortable in a space.”