The Making of a Craft Studio (VI): The Final Reveal!

A few weeks ago was moving day. With the help of hub’s brothers, all the heavy equipment was brought over from my old studio in my Mom’s basement. My craft studio is still not totally unpacked and done, but I couldn’t wait to show you the reveal. Here is what we started with in the basement….

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… and this is what the same vantage point into my new studio is like now! It’s the only expanse in the house that’s long enough to view the paint chip portrait I did of hubs. I think it’s only fitting to be displayed on the drivers side of his beloved beetle!

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Those cabinets with the VW beetle on the face started out life as temporary storage in our old kitchen. We never even got around to putting faces on the drawers! Luckily I saved them when we renovated the kitchen with the intent to repurpose them elsewhere. The transformation has made it my favourite highlight of the work we completed in my craft studio!

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The graphic is a picture of a VW beetle that hubs restored almost 30 years ago. A friend kindly helped us format and mount it on the drawer faces. Now it’s a real showstopper in my studio and amazing storage for my stash; repurposing at its finest!

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Repurposed kitchen cabinets + the old door from our cold storage room repurposed as a counter top make this storage unit a one of a kind piece!

The counter top had humble beginnings. It was also the utmost in upcycling because of its several lives before its final use!  You may remember it as the makeshift work top we fashioned out of sawhorses when we tiled the backsplash in the laundry room. It was originally the hollow core door to our cold room and we really put it through its paces when we renovated the basement. It turned out so well as a counter top that hubs even purchased another hollow core door and cut it down for the desk top right beside the storage cabinets.

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Old door from our cold room got upcycled into a countertop – but not before we used it to tile our laundry room and build the rest of the basement.

Here’s where the door was located in the basement originally. You can’t see it in the picture, but it even had a huge hole knocked into it (which I would assume the kids of the previous owners of the house did). The hole got cut off when we repurposed it.

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My studio is adjacent to our laundry room so there’s overflow from my craft room into that space too.

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Hubs just finished hanging our custom glass doors on the upper cabinets this weekend. It was so exciting to see it finally finished.

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The glass has a beautiful flowing pattern called everglade. It’s the same glass I used to create a new thermopane panel for our front door when we revamped our staircase. We cut the glass ourselves and installed it with a painted backing to match the walls. It’ll give me something pretty to look at when I’m not busy crafting – and hubs is doing the laundry!

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Speaking of pretty things to look at, I decided to display all my threads in a vintage oak glass display cabinet. I still haven’t unpacked all my fabric, so I’ll likely add some of that to the bottom shelf.

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The shelf beside the glass cabinet beautifully displays my collection of old irons and a few other vintage cast iron finds.

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I found the perfect glass jar to store my buttons on top of the glass display cabinet:

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The little card catalogue sitting on top was the very first one I ever owned. I loved it so much that I got a bit carried away and now I have three card catalogues of varying sizes. One of the larger ones is in the sewing room as you see later.

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The picture you see leaning against the wall won’t be there long; I just finished framing it for hubs’ man cave and ‘borrowed’ it, so I’ll have to sub in a different one.  I took the picture in the distillery district several years ago when I was taking a photography course.

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I have about 20 different pictures I’m in the process of framing and will likely rotate them between the man cave and my studio whenever I feel like a change. Here’s how I’ve already changed it:


Across from the thread cabinet is an old metal sewing machine base hubs and I found on one of our antiquing excursions. Hubs  painted it and I paired it up with an old wooden board (I’m not really sure what it was in its former life, so if anyone knows, please do tell!).

For my last birthday, hubs repainted an old kerosene heater and commissioned a friend to paint a scene from our back garden around the front. I’ll be spending a lot of time in my craft studio during our long winter months, so it’s nice to have a reminder of our back garden to look forward to.

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I have a few old sewing machines to display also. I may mount them on individual shelves right above this on the wall if things aren’t getting too crowded.

Across from the laundry room is where my cutting table is located. The peg board shelf that’s leaning up against the wall was a vintage shelf upcycle project that hubs and I did a few months ago.

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I was planning on hanging the shelf above my serger, but it didn’t work out there because of the hanging pendant light. It’s a shame because now I’ll have to find another place for my upcycled clock that I found for only $1.50 and added my logo to using vinyl film.

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The perfect spot for the clock was on my pegboard shelf, but sadly I have no room to hang the shelf where it will be easy to access!

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We found the shabby chic highboy in the garbage and brought it home. It didn’t have any drawers, however it’ll be great flat storage for works-in-progress. I have a few print press letters and trinkets in the old printer drawer shown on top of it that I’ll eventually fill in as I unpack my things.

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Right beside the highboy I have an area for a desk which is simply the other hollow core door hubs cut down and painted for me (as you saw above). Underneath it, I’ve stored my air compressor.

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I’m still working on a vintage chair for the desk area. I’m also working on a drafting stool that used to belong to my uncle; I’ll use it for the cutting table. So far we’ve stripped the vinyl off the seat and painted the metal a tropical blue:

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I have plans to either upholster the seat in leather or strip off the foam and restore the wood underneath. Either way, I’ll be painting it with my birds of a feather logo (just like I did with the clock).

UPDATE – Nov 2016: The chair makeover is done! Check it out here.

When seated at my cutting table, I can see into the sewing room. I love having the feeling of open space instead of staring at a solid wall.

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The sewing room houses my card catalogue and there’s task lighting in addition to the potlights to light up the sewing and serging stations. The pendants are on a separate switch and are dimmable, but you can never have too much light in a craft studio! I was originally going to install some vintage green pendants but they weren’t wired and buying these RANARP ones from Ikea was the quick solution to getting it done fast. The beauty of it is that I can easily swap out the white shades for the green ones whenever I want to give me a winter/summer option (the shade is just held on by a clasp)!

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The card catalogue is from a local university. I’m so lucky to have it to store my smaller items.

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For larger storage, hubs built me an expanse of Ikea cabinets that runs the full length of the sewing room. If you’re interested in how I planned this storage solution, you can also see all the details of how I designed it specifically for my craft room using Ikea’s Pax Planner. Hubs also built me pocket doors to close off the sewing room which backs onto his man cave.

Above the doors is a vintage street sign we found on one of our antiquing treks while in the U.S. Where it hangs faces north and it just so happens that my MIL grew up on North street so the find was a perfect fit on so many levels – not to mention that it just looks great!

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I’m still undecided about what colour to paint the pocket doors! I’ve narrowed it down to four colours.  The orange is more ‘burnt’  than shown below and the blue is a historic colour with grey undertones. The other option is to paint them white to match the Ikea cabinets or maybe even a soft black, but those might be a bit too neutral for my taste! The colour has to work with the man cave too; any of these colours would work. Let me know which colour you’d choose in the comments section.

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I’ll likely add in a few throw rugs here and there; I might even have one custom made for the sewing room so I can freely roll the chairs around without dinging up the wood floors.

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Well, the craft studio is still a work in progress but Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was my studio! I’m sure there will be some updates down the road as I finalize my storage options and unpack the rest of my things from the move.

At least now I can move my crafting off the dining room table and restore the rest of the house back into a somewhat better state of order!

If you’re interested in how I organized the craft room once all my stuff was moved in, click on the picture below for ideas on organization (or click here). Check out my new craft blog, Birdz of a Feather Craft, while you’re at it too!

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Now to finish the man cave, which is also a work in progress, so we can finally sit back and relax a little. The basement has been almost two years-in-the-making in total between the laundry room, craft studio and man cave. Hubs deserves a long break after all the work he’s put into turning it into a finished and usable living space! It’ll be nice to do nothing but sit on the couch in the man cave and eat popcorn this winter (with a little crafting thrown in for good measure).

If you’re interested in reading previous posts in the Making of a Craft Studio series, here they are:

  1. The Making of a Craft Studio– Calling All Crafters: Help Me Decide the Best Layout for my New Studio
  2. The Making of a Craft Studio (II)– Design Your Space Using Ikea’s Pax Planner!
  3. The Making of a Craft Studio (III) – If You Build It, She Will Come!
  4. The Making of a Craft Studio (IV) – Progress Report!


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The Making of a Craft Studio (IV): Progress Report

This is the fourth in a series of installments on the making of my craft studio. In my first post, I reached out to fellow bloggers and readers on Hometalk to help me decide the final layout of my craft studio.  The jury is in and I thought some of you might be interested in what I decided – even though it’s still far from being finished.

All I can say is that packing up my old studio and moving to the new space has been eye opening:

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It’s taken me so long to finalize the layout of my studio because every piece of storage was a previously loved item that was either given to me or I already owned.

Coming up with a functional layout with mismatched pieces is way more challenging than starting from scratch, however, I get satisfaction in seeing whether I can make it work – and saving perfectly usable items from the landfill!  I’m going to figure out a way to make them all cohesive (started with refacing), but for now, installing them is priority #1 – once the final electrical inspection is done.

Here is what I’ve decided for the final layout:

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I have not one, but two card catalogues to keep all the smaller stuff organized! We’ve already got the first one in place in the sewing room under the window (between where my two industrial machines will go).  I made some fresh number cards, so now I have to create all my lables.  I have 40 drawers in this one to play with, but if it’s still not enough all the overflow will go into the second card catalogue if I need it.

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I’m having some fun styling the top; my husband surprised me one day with the big letter ‘S’, but instead of hanging it, I like the way it looks on it’s side.

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The second card catalogue is made of walnut. It was stored out in a garage for many years so it’s in rough shape as compared to the oak catalogue (you can see them both below). It has the exact same pulls, however they are silver in colour as opposed to brass – and they’re a mess.  It’s going to take a lot of TLC to whip this one back into shape.

We were originally going to cut it down and make two pieces (like this blogger did) because it’s so heavy and it would be difficult move it down to the basement. However, I don’t really have enough floor space for two pieces, so it will likely remain intact.

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We had to take all the drawers apart and remove the pulls so we could give them a thorough cleaning.

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Here’s what one of the pulls looked like before and after it was restored; a big improvement, don’t you think? Only another 59 to go 😦


Once those are done, we can look forward to sanding 60 drawer fronts and the rest of the cabinet!

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For the office area of the studio, I’m planning on upcycling the door that used to be on our cold room into a floating desk — as well as a floating shelf.  Some of you may have noticed in a previous post of our basement reno (Ultimate Guide to Tiling a Laundry Room Backsplash) that we’ve been using this door as a table (with the addition of some sawhorses):

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The door is 80″ high by 32″ wide. We’ll cut it into two pieces along the length and use a 20″piece as a floating desk. I may use the remaining 12″ piece as a long floating shelf – as shown in the rendering below – or I may use it under the window shown on the right side. You can also see where I’d like to put the second card catalogue.

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I’ve been mulling over whether I should  top off the ‘desk’ with some left over plank flooring. I don’t like the leather flooring shown below, but I’d like to add in a herringbone pattern somewhere.  For some reason, I just love herringbone, so the desk top may be the place to experiment!

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If you read the DIY I posted recently on this paint chip portrait I created of my husband, you may recall that I wanted to relocate it to my studio. Where I propped it below will be a great sight line as I enter my studio.  What could be better than being greeted by my husband’s smiling face!  He’s always been my inspiration and that’s just what I need in my craft studio 🙂

The only fly in the ointment is that I planned a long floating shelf there (as you can see in the rendering two pictures above). Another option is a really cool shelf we found at an auction that would fit perfectly into the space between the upper cabinet and bulkhead. If I install either shelf though, I won’t have room for the paint chip portrait because it’s too big 😦

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The Paint Chip Portrait needs to be positioned a good distance from where it’s viewed to ‘blend’ the pixels and be fully appreciated

Did you spy the green light fixture on the pass-through window ledge above? I have a pair that we’ll be installing over the sewing machine and serger. When we first found them, they were rusty and crusty – just waiting to be resurrected.  They’re a nice vintage addition to the studio that I can’t wait to hang!

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Here’s that other shelf I mentioned earlier; it used to be part of someone’s hutch. I bought it at an auction for only $5 because it was so sad looking that no one could see the potential. Hubs didn’t like it either, but he still stripped and refinished it for me! Should I use it instead of the paint chip portrait of hubs or elsewhere?  Decisions, decisions!

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The shelf would also look good in the sewing room over my serger where I can arrange some of my serger threads on it – so that might be a practical solution for where to place it.

Here’s a rendering looking into the sewing room where the shelf could be positioned over the serger.

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For now, the shelf is sitting on the floor in the sewing room while I try to imagine how it will look and decide where it will would look best – or even fit into the space!

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Until the lower cabinets are installed and the sewing machines moved from my old studio, I’ll probably defer the final placement until then.

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I used pegboard in the space where the mirror once so I can hang some of my essentials – scissors etc.  Hubs painted the pegboard orange to match the colour of accent paint I may use for my pocket doors (seen below).

Thinking of the bottle green and the orangey stain on my maple cabinets, I chickened out from my original plan (as you’ll see below) and changed my accent colour from teal to orange. I figured orange would be a great complimentary colour to the green shade of the light fixtures and base of my pattern table.  Hubs painted up a scrap of the pegboard for the shelf so I could carry it around with me and determine if I like it enough for the doors:

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It’s funny how I have no problem choosing paint colours for everyone else, but when it comes to my own projects it’s so hard!

There are so many variables to consider in selecting the accent colour: the flooring, the colour of the hand-me-down maple cabinets (which could be painted, but I like the wood), and the color of my card catalogues (again, I don’t have the heart to paint over the wood). They all have to work with whatever I choose as an accent colour.  In retrospect, I really should have started with an inspiration board and stuck with it – even if it meant painting things I don’t want to!

The neutral space really needs a pop of colour and I’ve always loved this teal that I found adorning the doors of a retailer in a U.S. mall. The picture doesn’t really do the actual colour justice! I’m not even a huge fan of teal, but in real life this particular teal is the best balance between blue and green that I’ve ever come across.

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I’ve been wanting to use this teal from the get-go, but it would have to be custom mixed and I was nervous about how close to my expectations it would turn out. It also clashes with my bottle green light fixtures and pattern table base, which I didn’t want to paint because I like the enameled /powder coated finishes of the metal.

The orange you saw above on the pegboard was supposed to be more crimson and have more depth. Strangely enough, even though I chose a pre-formulated colour and had it mixed by a paint expert,  it didn’t even come close to the colour on the paint chip. The paint store tried to fix it, but it still isn’t quite what I wanted. Since my husband bought the base coat from a different supplier, I thought we’d be stuck with it. Turns out that the other supplier happily provided a new base – free of charge – even though they had nothing to do with colourizing it. Phew!

Now that I have a second chance I’m wondering whether I should reconsider the teal again.  I know it’s only paint, but I don’t want to make a career out of painting – or repainting – stuff either!

I’ll have to give this accent colour some further thought! Leave me a comment and let me know if you would stick with the orange or change the accent to teal… or another colour altogether!

For more storage, I’m adding these two drawer units into the craft studio/office area. They used to be a temporary storage solution for our kitchen before we renovated:

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The drawer cabinets will add additional storage space

Our contractor would’ve thrown the cabinets into the dumpster but I couldn’t let perfectly usable storage go to waste.  We never did put drawer faces on the two units, so that’s something we’ll have to get around to doing for my studio! I have something very special and incredible planned for them that no one else has ever done! You won’t want to miss my final reveal for that alone!

I also designed, and my husband built, this amazing pullout for our kitchen that never got used. It’s a more upscale version of the pullout we built in our new kitchen. One side has metal pegboard, so I can store my tools, and the other side has baskets for craft paints and such! Again, we’ll have to add a face onto it to match what we’re doing with the rest of the cabinets.

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Lastly, if I have any floor space left over after all this, I’m thinking about using at least one, if not both, of these metal retail racks. These were a real coup when another bro-in-law moved retail locations and he kindly let me have them. They were handy in my old studio so I hope I have room for them in my new space 🙂

As you can see, the craft studio is still a real work in progress.  We have to get our final electrical inspection done before we can do much more.  I can’t wait to lift all the cardboard off the floor and show you the outcome when it’s done.  Until then you might be interested in catching up on my previous posts in the Making of a Craft Studio series:

  1. The Making of a Craft Studio– Calling All Crafters: Help Me Decide the Best Layout for my New Studio
  2. The Making of a Craft Studio (II)– Design Your Space Using Ikea’s Pax Planner!
  3. The Making of a Craft Studio (III) – If You Build It, She Will Come!

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The Making of a Craft Studio (Part III) – If You Build It, She Will Come!!

In part II of The Making of a Craft Studio, I showed you how to use Ikea’s Pax Planner to design a storage solution for your craft studio (see Canadian version and US version here).

Today, I’m going to highlight installing the cabinets, some of the indispensable tools we used in the installation, installation tips specific to drawers and how we adapted an Ikea pullout to work at the bottom of one of our cabinets. I’m also going to show you how I’ve started to use the cabinets to organize all my craft goodies and tools!

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Craft studio of dreams; if you build it, she will come!


Ikea’s instructions are quite good so I’ll just hit on some of the highlights to be aware of when putting your units together.

The first thing is to be sure you have enough headroom to build it on the ground and then stand it up. For the 79 1/4″ high units that we built, you will need a minimum ceiling height of 80 3/4″. If you don’t, Ikea provides instructions for building it upright too. The front of each cabinet has adjustable feet in case your floor happens to be out of level.

When you’re hammering on the backing, Ikea provides a great little gadget to prevent you from missing the nail and hitting your fingers instead. I don’t know about you, buy I need my fingers intact to craft!

Insert a nail into the holder, squeeze the sides then hammer away stopping just short of the top of the plastic so you still have room to pull it away before you finish hammering the rest of the nail in.

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Once everything is built and placed where you want it, now is the time to screw each cabinet together. This is where it got a little frustrating for us and where you’ll want to heed the following warning:

In Ikea’s instructions, the diagram they provide for where to screw together the cabinets is somewhat deceiving. We actually misinterpreted it which called for a complete do-over when we discovered our error! Looking at the picture below, we thought you could screw the cabinets together any where along hole 1 through 5. However if you look REAL close, you can see the number 5 is slightly enlarged and the drill is pointed at that hole. Hole #5 is the only place you should be using to screw the cabinets together if you are using doors! We used hole number 3 which interfered with the hinge placement for the doors, so we (meaning my husband!) had to take EVERYTHING apart, re-drill, clamp and screw….. again.

Wouldn’t it be better if they put an X through numbers 1 – 4? I don’t know about you, but I can barely read these days and I had to squint pretty hard to to count the actual number of holes once we realized we did it wrong. I actually got on the phone to customer service to suggest that the pictorial could be improved, but it fell on deaf ears – they felt it was fine as-is.

Use clamps to keep the cabinets stable as you drill and screw them together.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, once your cabinets are screwed together, you MUST also secure them to the wall at the back. My cabinets are going to be fully loaded and HEAVY; the last thing you want is for it to come crashing down on yourself or a child because it’s not fastened to the wall.

Ideally you should screw the cabinets into a stud. Because we were building the room from scratch, and knew the cabinets were going against that particular wall, my husband inserted blocking at the correct height along the full length of the wall.

Here’s how you fasten the cabinets to the wall: put a screw through the middle of the metal bracket at the back of the cabinet. Slip on the keyhole plate as shown, then tighten the screw until it’s tight against the plate. Then snap on the plastic cover…. wash, rinse and repeat for the rest of the cabinets (so to speak) and your cabinets will be safe and secure!

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Don’t miss the step of securing cabinets to the wall!

Before we installed our cabinets, I made the decision to install baseboard in the niche where they would be placed. I didn’t want to leave the baseboard off: in case we ever sell the house in the future and take the cabinets with us, that niche would be nicely finished off like the rest of the room for the new homeowners.

By installing baseboard all around, it prevented the cabinets from being able to be pushed in so they are flat up against the back wall. We might have been able to notch the cabinets out on the bottom at the back so they would clear the baseboard, but they are over 5″ high and I didn’t want to cut that much out. My husband thought when we installed the screws, as shown above, that the cabinets might rack and twist a bit if we over-tightened them. To prevent that from happening, we cut and installed  spacers in between each cabinet (mounted beside, not directly in back of where we were screwing) to hold them out from the wall the same distance as the baseboard. We made sure to mark the strapping behind the drywall on some green tape.  Then we pinned each block behind the cabinet so half of it was sticking out to support the next cabinet beside it once it was put into place. The photos below show the blocks going in, then a side view showing the consistent gap and then all four cabinets installed.

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Installing a spacer against the back of the cabinets to prevent racking when you have baseboards

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From upper left: first cabinet in, side view showing consistent gap to accommodate baseboard and lined up side-by-side

I should mention that we could have trimmed everything out with baseboard and/or crown molding, to make it look built-in, but I didn’t want a built-in look. I intentionally left a gap between the cabinet and the wall on the right side so I could store tall rolls of paper, which I frequently use. I also wanted to add some additional hanging space outside the closed storage unit with this Komplement Valet Hanger so I could hang patterns-in-progress and keep them accessible while I work.

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Once the shell is built, the doors can be attached and the fun part begins; building and installing all the interior components! It might have been easier to leave the doors off while we were installing the interior, but I preferred being able to see where the door hinges would impact the final placements. This is what the unit looked like a few weeks ago after my husband finished off the doors:

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He also finished off this little beauty in a niche that’s covering up one of the support posts holding up our house. It’s a nice way to display my vintage iron collection.

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Lack shelving unit

Indispensable Tools

The things we found most useful to help with assembly were the clamps you saw above, a battery operated drill (with a light), drill extensions, and plastic sleeve (see Installation Tips below this section). Be sure to set the drill at the lowest setting (#1 in our case) so you don’t drive the screws too deep or strip them.

Another thing to be mindful of, when installing the Ikea lack cabinet in particular, is that you will need a looooong screwdriver extension.  Because the hanging plate is located right at the top of the shelf, you’ll be installing it close to the ceiling (especially if you’re installing it in the basement where ceiling heights tend to be lower).  Access, and being able to actually see where you’re drilling and attaching, will be an issue unless you have drill bit extensions. This is where it’s also helpful to have a drill with a guide light on it – or a friend to lend a helping hand by  shining a flashlight into the gap between the shelf and ceiling.

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A long drill bit extension is needed to reach the wall in the gap between the top of the shelf and ceiling

Installation Tips – Drawers

Ikea packs their drawer glides in two different coloured plastic sleeves: blue and clear, which is great for figuring out where each one goes! The colours differentiate between which side of the drawer the slide will be installed – blue indicates right and clear is left. Ikea makes it SO easy to get it right!

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After dropping a few screws while trying to  install the drawer actual glide, we used was a plastic sleeve over the drill bit. It prevents your screws from falling and getting lost as you attach them! My husband was raving about it; it’s a real time saver.

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Plastic sleeve to prevent screws from falling

When you’re installing pull-outs, don’t forget to put on the plastic caps – before the screws. It helps to have all the attachments in one spot before you start working (we forgot to install one pair and had to unscrew and reassemble because we weren’t as diligent about keeping our parts together)!

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Even though I printed a detailed plan from the Pax Planner (which even shows which holes to use!), I made sure I had some of the actual items on-site that I would be storing. As we were assembling, we could double check the heights of these items to make sure things would fit. Here you can see I’ll be storing some plastic bins on the roll-out. Before I installed the solid drawer directly above,  I place the bins on the rollout to see if I would have enough clearance. Better to do it once and do it right!

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Have items on-hand you’ll be storing to judge clearances!

Here is the progress so far. The glass front drawers are great for storing all my sewing thread and spools of yarn for my knitting machines. I can easily see what I have and keep these items dust free! Compare that to clutter of the pegboard I was using in my old studio; I’m so thrilled at how it turned out!

The first solid drawer below the glass ones will store all my sewing patterns. I’ll likely design some kind of DIY divider system to keep them neat and tidy. Then I’ve got closed storage at the bottom with covered bins on a pullout that can easily accessed when needed.

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Yarn and thread storage comparison

Ikea has these great felt trays for the large drawers – they come three to a pack.


I didn’t see them in the Planner, and I missed them online  before I went to purchase my items, but I immediately snapped some up when I saw them in the store! They’re perfect to keep my sewing hams and yarns (soon to come).

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Easter ham 🙂

The pullouts shown below are PERFECT for storing all my tools. I’ll have separate pullouts for stained glass tools and various other tools I’ll use on a regular basis. I’ll be customizing these pullouts even further once I’m more organized (tutorial to come!)

You’ll notice that I’m still missing a few pull-outs; when we were ready to purchase, everything was in stock when we printed our shopping list in the morning, however Ikea was sold out by the time we got there mid-day…drats! Hubs has a mission this week to scout them out at another location, so I’ll just have to be patient until then 🙂

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A place for everything and everything in its place!

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Tool storage and close bins; glass shelf keeps the dust off my tools while still allowing me to see what’s there!

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Hanging room for cardboard patterns

Customizing an Ikea Pullout

As mentioned in my previous post, the second-hand glass doors we bought for the two end cabinets had  hinges that were located too low on the door, which meant we couldn’t install an Ikea pull-out tray using the hardware supplied.

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With a little finagling, we discovered that we could still use the pullout!  However we needed to find different hardware and modify the pullout in a way that it would clear the hinges and slide in and out without a problem.

Here’s what we did to customize the pullout: using our own bottom-mounted full-extension hardware (purchased at Lee Valley), we dry-fit the drawer in place to insure it would clear the hinge.  In case anyone is interested in doing the same, the drawer glide is 22″ and full extension; below is the product code of the drawer glide hardware from Lee Valley: Ikea for the Studio 555_bof.jpg

With a piece of cardboard used as a spacer on the left hand side (opposite the hinges on the door), we had plenty of clearance to get by the hinge on the right side.

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Figuring out where to position the pullout with new bottom mounted hardware

We measured the placement of the hardware where we wanted to position it in the cabinet (sides, front and back) and transferred those measurements to the underside of the pull-out. There’s a lip underneath the pullout that has to be filled in so the hardware can be attached and slide out properly; so we cut two pieces of wood to act as spacers to be attached onto the underside of the pullout to make it flush.

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Positioning the runners

We transferred our measurements to the back of the pull-out tray with pencil so we had a guide to position our spacers.

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Measurements transferred to bottom of pull-out tray and straight lines drawn for location of wooden spacers

I didn’t want to screw into the underside of the pullout because the material is so thin, so we used double sided taped to attach the wooden spacers onto it instead.

If anyone reading this knows of a faster method of getting the plastic backing off this stuff without struggling with it for more than five minutes, let me know in the comments! Double sided tape is great but it’s the bane of my existence when it comes to time management!

Pullout 2_bof

Double sided tape gets applied to the spacers and then the spacers are attached to the underside of pull-out tray

We drew a line right down the middle of each wood spacer to centre our screw holes, then we separated the two pieces of hardware. We put a small piece of double face tape at either end of the solid piece of metal (the one without all the bearings as shown below).  We lined the hardware up with the centre line we drew, then pressed it down firmly to hold it in place.

Ikea for the Studio 562_bof

We predrilled in three places along the length of each spacer; to prevent yourself from pre-drilling the hole too deep, wrap a piece of green tape around the drill bit at the depth you want to drill to. Once the drill bit reaches the top of the tape, it’s time to move on and pre-drill the next one!

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We installed the screws where we predrilled. We then reattached the piece of hardware we removed, flipped the whole thing right-side up again and positioned the pull-out tray in the cabinet against the cardboard spacer, ready to be screwed down.

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Re attach the mechanism you removed earlier

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Flip the pull-out tray right side up once hardware is put back together

Slide the sliding mechanism out from the pullout at the back part way and line both ends up against the back of the cabinet.  Make sure that it’s also tight against the cardboard spacer (seen on the left).

Ikea for the Studio 504_bof.jpg

Once the pullout was positioned exactly where we wanted it, we then predrilled and screwed the back end into place. Hubs wanted me to pass along to you that pre-drilling the hole actually strengthens the bond of the screw because you’re not ‘ripping’ the fibres apart.  There was only one exception where we didn’t pre-drill, which you’ll see below, to prevent sawdust from getting into the ball bearings.

You may notice that the cardboard spacer is on the right side in the picture below; that’s because we’re doing another pull-out tray here on the opposite side of the cabinet, so everything is flipped around.

Ikea for the Studio 603_bof

Vacuum up wood debris as you go and pre-drill the middle of the drawer glides through the bottom of the cabinet (we used three screws – at the back, middle and front for each side – for a total of six).

Ikea for the Studio 506_bof.jpg

When the back and middle are screwed in place, it’s better to remove the tray from the hardware and finish off the front, then remount it when you’re done. As mentioned previously, hubs didn’t pre-drill the front holes because he didn’t want to create sawdust that might get caught up in the ball bearings and clog them up. He simply screwed in the front without pre-drilling.

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Screw the runners at the back, move to the middle and then finally finish at the front

Here is the adapted pullout all done; now it houses my glass grinder.

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Ikea for the Studio 522_bof.jpg

Custom pull-out for glass grinder

After the first pull-out tray was done, I wanted another one on the opposite side of the cabinet too so we placed the two drawers side by side and repeated the same steps (allowing us to transfer all the original measurements as a ‘mirror’ image):

Ikea for the Studio 546_bof.jpg

Here is how the other side of the cabinet looked before we installed the pull-out tray. Notice that it’s hard to reach into the back to get the plastic bin (even for hubs who has long arms, unlike me!):

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And here is the completed pull-out tray before we put the glass shelf back in place:

And here is the completed pull-out tray before we put the glass shelf back in place:

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Now the bin at the back is MUCH easier to reach

Now that the pull-out trays are done, here are another few shots of the completed interior organizers. Now I just have to fill it all – which WON’T be a problem 🙂

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Not an inch of space will go wasted. I even have a stationery shelf that will hold larger flat items such as my cutting mats and tissue paper:

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If you’re wondering how much my Ikea storage solution cost in the end, I would like to answer priceless; I wish I had done this in my old studio! However, below you will find the breakdown in Canadian dollars, taking into the account the 15% discount (Ikea was running a Pax promotion at the time I bought), sales tax and the fact that I purchased my doors (and three drawers) second-hand for only $200. I  honestly thought I would have to budget around $4K in order to pack so much functionality (and beauty) into organizing my new studio!

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Grand total

Well, that wraps it for now — until I’ve transferred all my stuff from my previous studio!  I hope you’ve enjoyed playing ‘Pax-Man’ (or in my case Pax-[wo]Man) as much as I did!

Ikea store layout_Pax Man_FINAL_BOF_FINAL

If there’s a craft studio in your near future too, tell me about it in the comments. If this project has inspired you, please pin and share on Facebook.

Here’s a sneak peak of the final reveal of my craft studio which you can find here.


UPDATE: Now that my craft studio is done I’ve launched a brand new blog – Birdz of a Feather ~ Craft Rehab – that’s dedicated solely to crafting. Check it out and you’ll not only find cool (and sustainable!) crafts, but a post on how I finally organized my craft studio.

Here are just a few of the projects I’ve done on Craft Rehab:


At Birdz of a Feather, we’re feathering the nest… one room at a time. Follow my blog here or on Bloglovin’ to see other DIY projects, in and around the home.

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The Making of a Craft Studio (II): Design Your Space Using Ikea’s Pax Planner!

We’re almost at the finish line with the installation of Ikea cabinets to help corral what was once a messy eyesore in my previous craft studio into an organized storage solution for my new space.

In part two of The Making of a Craft Studio, I’m sharing how I used Ikea’s Pax Planner to design the storage solution for my studio (see Canadian version and US version here). Then, in part three,  I’ll show you how we built my storage solution and how I organized my craft room using Ikea Komplement interior organizers to customize each Pax Wardrobe! My step-by step tutorial (with tips and tricks) will guide you through how you can do it too!

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But first, where we last left off in Part One, I was still undecided about the layout of my studio. Thanks to all you fellow crafters out there in Hometalk-and-Blogger-land that gave your input! I’m still mulling over all the options, so there’s still time to put in your two cents worth to help me decide!

In the meantime, there’s plenty to keep us busy as we put the finishing touches on my Ikea storage cabinets. These cabinets had a huge challenge to fulfill; they needed to store over 20 years of accumulation from my old studio, which was built in my parent’s basement. Not only that, but my current studio is an nth of the size of my old one, with no room to expand (I’ll be sharing a portion of the basement with hubs who’s building a mancave for himself too).

Below is a picture of my previous studio at its ‘best’ (the worst scenario was too scary to post). As you can see, it’s full of clutter. I didn’t build in any storage solutions, other than a walk in closet that shares space with the water turnoff for the house, so storage space was at a premium. Everything literally landed where it fell and pretty much stayed there!

I have so many diverse interests: stained glass, knitting, pattern making and sewing, marquetry, crafting… the list is literally too long to type! The challenge with storage, of course, lies in all the tools and gadgets that come along with those interests!

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‘Achoo’ is appropriate given all the dust covering the stuff in my old studio! It was much bigger; the full length of the basement from one end….

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…to the other end

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Industrial sewing machine (looking into the cutting room) is in a separate room with the serger

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Serger and sewing machine are back to back in their own space

I loved my old studio space (if not for the size alone!), but I can no longer stand the visual distraction of having everything out in the open. Ikea Pax wardrobes are just the ticket! I can hide away all the clutter behind closed doors, but still have everything organized and accessible. On the interior, glass fronted drawers will ensure that I can quickly see and find what I’m looking for.

When I designed my new studio space, I included a niche that was big enough to fit two of the largest and two of the smallest width Pax cabinets.  Of course, they are supposed to be used in a bedroom as a wardrobe, but with minimal customization I think it will work perfectly for all my craft and tool storage.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Ikea has a fantastic on-line planner that allows you to design the placement of all the components, then print out a list that you can take to the store to make your purchase.

What’s great about this tool is that you can’t place a component where the hinges and any other obstructions are, so you can’t really go wrong……. UNLESS you buy some older style doors on Craigslist, like I did! I got all six doors for my cabinets at an amazing price; a pair of glass doors and four solid doors (+ three solid drawers!) for only $200 – vs. over $800 with tax for new doors at Ikea. The glass doors are no longer available at Ikea and, as we discovered when we were putting in our drawers, the hinges are in a completely different spot than currently available doors! That resulted in me having to adapt my original plan – and modify an Ikea pullout to get the result I wanted (more about that later).

Immediately below is  How to use Ikea’s Pax Planner to Design Your Storage Solution. Following in the next part of the series (The Making of a Craft Studio – Part III), you will find Installation,  Indispensable Tools, Installation Tips for drawers and finally Customizing an Ikea Pullout.

How to Use Ikea’s Pax Planner to Design Your Storage Solution

Here is how I planned my studio storage with Ikea’s Online Pax Planner ( Canadian version and US version):

I started from ‘scratch’, as shown below, since I wanted to customize each component. I selected the room dimensions suggested (the dimensions for the Canadian planner is in metric, while the U.S. planner is imperial). If your room plan is larger, you will need to select an appropriate room size. Then I selected ‘frames for hinged doors’ from the top of the add product list on the right-hand side. If you are planning on putting doors on your cabinets, do it now before you start adding the interior organizers – that way, the program will automatically tell you where the hinges are and you won’t accidentally add a component that you can’t use! Before you select your door style (if you don’t choose a sliding door), you’ll be asked whether you want slow close or regular hinges. I’m assuming each one could impact the placement of the interior organizers differently, so make sure you choose what you will actually be buying. I had regular hinges on the bargain doors I bought online, so made that selection.

Planner 3_bof.jpg

I chose the height and width of the cabinets that I determined would fit my space and simply  dragged each component into the ‘room’ one at a time and lined them up side-by-side.  Now you have the shell in which you’ll build out the rest of the storage!

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Now would be a good time to save your plan before you get too far along and forget!  You have a choice of  saving all your plan(s) to your personal computer or opening up an account and storing it on Ikea’s servers. I would recommend that you sign up for an account; when you save your plan on Ikea’s servers, there are two advantages:

  1. You will be able to access it at the store and make changes there with the help of an Ikea associate if you need to; and
  2. You won’t loose your plans, like I did!  I ran into issues when I saved to my home computer; all of my plans kept disappearing (it was probably and issue with my own computer, but who knows?). Luckily I was also saving pdfs and printing as I went, but it was still an inconvenience to have to start all over again in order to continue planning online.

I’m not positive, but think your plan stays on Ikea’s servers for up to a year.

I saved several different variations before I finalized my plan and purchased my components.  Each time I saved, I could either overwrite the file or save a new version. When saving a new version of the plan it’s a good idea to add a ‘description’ to differentiate between older versions (below, I’ve simply typed ‘draft 1’). Once the plan is saved, you can close it whenever you wish then come back anytime and open it again to continue working on it.

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By highlighting the cabinet, the interior fittings for that size will be available to choose as you ‘virtually build’ the layout

Once the door style is selected and in place, highlight the cabinet you want to start fitting out, then click ‘interior organizers’ on the right side. This will open up the selection of ALL the components that will fit the particular cabinet you have highlighted (and the doors will temporarily disappear so you can drag-‘n-drop the organizers you want).

As you can see below, I’ve added in a divider frame to the third cabinet:

Planner 8_bof.jpg

Now it’s just a matter of adding in the rest of the components. Just remember to select the cabinet you want to work on so the appropriate choices on the right hand side are made available.

Another nice feature of the tool is that you don’t always have to drag and drop from the product list. If you have multiple items of the same product, you can highlight the item then click the duplicate button as shown below.

Planner 9_bof.jpg

When you click the duplicate button, simply move to where you want the item positioned. Before you place it, you can adjust it up and down with a ‘ruler’ that shows the height and how far it is away from other items. If that item can’t be placed, you will see a red indicator warning you that you are too close to another item (see below).

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Planner shows distances between components and a red indicator warns when you run into an obstruction that will prevent placement of an item

Don’t forget to save your plan as you go (especially if your computer is prone to crashing, like mine is!) You’re only limited by your creativity – and budget, of course! The nice thing about the planner is that you can see the cost of each component as you place it. You can also see the number of items and a running total as you can go (just above the tab where you add products as shown below).

Planner_running total final_BOF.jpg

When we were ready to purchase, Ikea happened to be running their Pax wardrobe sale so we got 15% off our entire purchase; our timing couldn’t have been better!

When your plan is finalized, you can print a list of everything you’ve chosen; it will give you an itemized list with a grand total! That way, you can pare back if necessary.  Best of all, before you print, if you select the store where you intend to purchase, the itemized list will also indicate whether the item is currently in stock and the location in the store where you can pick your items up (aisle and bin).

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Aisle and bin location of item

Knowing where an item is so I can get in and out of the store faster is a feature I REALLY appreciate in the Pax Planner; shopping at Ikea can sometimes feel like getting lost in a maze! Maybe one day someone will create a computer game where you score big points if you can figure out how to make your way through each level of an Ikea store in less than two hours! They can call it “Pax-Man” – lol (I hope the good people over at Ikea have a sense of humour)!

Ikea store layout_Pax Man_FINAL_BOF_FINAL.png


But I digress! One of the best advantages of using the print feature with the Pax Planner is that it will give you a detailed printout of the hole location for each piece you’ll be installing – no guesswork!

Hole location_bof.jpg

I went through several iterations of my design in the Pax Planner.  After finalizing my plan, this is ideally what I wanted to end up with:

Planner_Final Storage Solution_bof.jpg

However, as you can see in the plan above, when you have doors on the unit, you can’t put a drawer on the bottom. And remember those glass doors I bought second-hand that were too good to be true to pass up? Well, as it turns out, the hinges on those doors are too low in order to install a pullout on the bottom; ay carumba!

The only other option available for the bottom of a cabinet is to install either a basket or a pullout. I didn’t want  either one of those for the third cabinet, so I’m thinking about routing out a channel at the side where the drawer binds so it can slide in and out freely. I’m just not sure if that will compromise the structure too much, so I may end up putting the drawer in the end unit and replacing it with a pullout after all. I’ll have to see what happens as I load it up with all my stuff.

Here’s a picture of the four drawers in place in the third cabinet; you can see where the green tape is on the bottom drawer that the hinges are impeding it and pushing it away at the side which will render it nonfunctional 😦

Ikea for the Studio 360_bof.jpg

I REALLY wanted pullouts on the end cabinets (where the glass doors are going) so I could store my glass grinder and some covered plastic bins. In order to get a pullout in the two end cabinets, we were going to have to put our thinking caps on. We came up with two solutions: 1) re-drill the hole for the hinge on the door and move it up to clear the pullout hardware or 2) purchase new bottom mounted drawer glides at a hardware store so the pullout could be mounted directly on the bottom, which would then clear the hinges. Option 2, while more expensive, was the best option for me because I didn’t want to compromise the integrity of the door by putting another hole in it. As it happened, we had a spare pair of drawer glides to test out whether it would even work, so we didn’t have to shell out any extra money for the first one :).  To see how we installed our ‘custom’ pullout, see Customizing a Pullout in the next section.

I plan to use the configured storage shown in the Pax Planner below as follows:

Cabinet Numbers_bof.jpg

Cabinet #1 houses all my cardboard patterns (I used to professionally design clothing) and will be primarily hanging space with some plastic bins at the bottom. We installed a glass divider in case I change my mind and add another pullout for some tools.

Ikea for the Studio 448_bof.jpg

Cabinet #2 is a mix of hidden storage (solid drawers) and glass fronted drawers. We installed a pullout drawer in the bottom of this cabinet for more plastic bins. In cabinet #3, we installed a divider at the bottom so that we could fit two more columns of small glass fronted drawers. I figured it would be more practical to load up a lot of small drawers with heavy stuff, rather than fewer larger ones so I don’t have too much trouble getting the drawers open! The only drawback of doing this is that the small glass fronted drawers are almost as expensive as the larger ones, (but only 1/2 the storage; $40 vs $50, respectively).

At the very bottom of the divider on the right side of cabinet #3, I’m going to store my table top sewing machine so I can pull it out when I need it. It’s an old Kenmore and it’s made with metal – not the cheap plastic they build them with today! It’s a workhorse and I’d never part with it. Even though I also own an industrial Juki sewing machine, since it only sews straight it’s nice to have a machine that can sew a variety of other stitches too!

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Glass front drawers are ideal for seeing what you have!

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Pullout for sewing machine

The last cabinet (#4) bookends the first one with another glass door. I thought I might take advantage of the glass and have my Birdz of a Feather yin/yang logo printed up on an adhesive sticker (below I taped up a black and white paper printout to see what it might look like). What do you think? Yay or nay?

Ikea for the Studio 388_bof.jpg

Inside the last cabinet, (as you’ll see in part 3 of this series) there will be more hanging storage for shorter patterns, a few glass-front drawers and a pullout on the bottom for my glass grinder. On that note, check out the Making of a Craft Studio (Part III) – If You Build It, She Will Come, for the tutorial on how to build and install your Ikea storage solution!

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