Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

February 23, 2011

Around The Room | The Office In Progress

This is one of those posts where I grabbed my camera and took some shots of life “as it is.”

As it is around here right now means lots of projects in progress, piles on the floor, and me still simply trying to see and feel just how I want this space to work (while working in it).

As you come into my office you walk by built-in shelves (they were built into an alcove that was already there) that were designed to fit 12×12 albums with extra supports for the weight. The spotlights were already there and that top shelf has become a good spot for some of my larger projects and “A’s” (most found at antique or junk shops).

The yellow walls were here when we moved in – those walls, along with the one window at the far end, make it a bit of a challenge to get the colors in the photos correct. I like the yellow but I daydream about having it all white.

Looking into the office while standing by the shelves this is what you see:

01 | A small couch with a TV for kids and/or husband. I can see the TV from my desk (just in case I need to have the TV on while working on my computer which is just about never).

02 | The area opposite the couch is where I hope to have a sit-down table one of these days. Right now it’s a catch-all for things that need to but put away or hung up (more specifically photos and art that don’t yet have a home in our home). I have a bit of fear that the same thing will happen when I put a table there, but the goal is to have a place for the kids or friends to come over and work on projects. There’s also a little chalkboard for Anna and a small bookshelf along the wall that holds my art/design/craft/scrapbooking books.

03 | My computer table/desk and all my hardware. I just recently turned the table around so I face into the room – much happier with that setup.

04 | My work table – originally a kitchen island.

05 | Sewing machine and typewriter and more storage.

06 | Lockers. I found these at an antique fair a few years back and I still love them. They hold extra adhesive, painting supplies, ribbon basket, embossing stuff, etc.

Here’s a closer look at some of the spaces mentioned above:

My computer table. Along the back of the couch I’ve got a row of wire shelves that hold my computer tower, printers, scanner, etc.

This is what it looks like if you are standing over by the lockers and look towards my computer table.

12×12 paper storage on top of a piece I picked up at an antique shop. There’s nothing in those drawers just yet. The wood piece hanging on the wall is from Pottery Barn.

Here’s what you see when looking from that corner over towards the lockers:

I’m still using the same kitchen island I’ve had since I first started scrapbooking. I have dreams of a bigger work surface – like two of these from Ikea placed back to back.

A layout in progress.

Next to the table is a rolling cart I found last summer at an antique fair. Still not sure I love how I’m using it right now, but it’s working.

Stuff on the floor next to the cart.

And the sewing machine/typewriter/more storage area.

Other things currently on the floor include:

My December Daily supplies. I want to go through what I have left again and see what I might want to use this year and what can be shared.

My 2010 Project Life. A sad thing happened to this a few weeks ago – it fell off the ledge it had been sitting on and exploded onto the floor. My next task is to go back in and attempt to put things back in somewhat of an order.

It’s all a work in progress. The room, the projects, etc.

My dreams for this space include skylights and some sort of hardwood flooring vs. the carpet. Someday.


  • 1.
    Samantha said…

    I love the shelves used to store your completed albums! Could you provide any more detail on their construction? I can’t quite imagine how to provide enough support for a shelf that long.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Hi Samantha – we had a contractor friend put it all together (his wife scrapbooks so he “gets” it). From what I remember the main boards are reinforced all the way around – unfortunately I don’t know much about construction :) .

  • 2.
    Sue said…

    Nice shots of your room Ali! It’s nice to see where people create and get inspired :) .

  • 3.
    Mary M said…

    Love seeing your workspace! Especially in transition. It looks cozy. Love the alcove of shelving.
    So sorry to see the tragic state of your Project Life; that would be SO discouraging. I know you will revive it.

  • 4.
    Krys72599 said…

    Thanks for this peek into your new/current space! Was so excited when you moved into the new home ’cause we’d get to experience your new office again – you explain so clearly when something seems to work and when it doesn’t and why you changed it – it always helps us out here in internetland, too!!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      That’s where I’m at right now – working on figuring out why things work or don’t work in this space.

  • 5.
    Amy said…

    Wow, what a big space! How wonderful that you can have your work area along with a place for a table/couch for the kids to play or do projects. I love the shelving too, that is awesome. Especially the extra support, my shelves don’t hold half as many albums as yours and they all sag.

  • 6.
    emily j said…

    love how you’re sharing your space as it is in progress….very inspiring to see and know that “everyone else” is in progress too with their space. love it! emily

  • 7.
    Sara said…

    Ali, your space looks great. I’m in love with the built in storage and shelving to hold the albums and the collection of As. Wonderful! I have much of the varde system from Ikea and LOVE it. It is so functional and lovely to work with. You won’t go wrong if you get it. It is heavy and takes up a lot of space but wonderful. We actually got the corner “sink” unit too and I use that a lot and its a great fit into our room. The underneath of that corner unit also has a ton of storage (FYI). Looks great, keep sharing!

  • 8.
    Diane said…

    I love how you have incorporated areas for family in your work space! I try to do the same in my studio. Thanks for sharing your storage and work space ideas.

  • 9.
    April said…

    I love your display of letters, the different sizes and colors, where did you find them? Flea markets or any online store versions?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Hi April – they are from all kinds of places but mainly local antique shops and shows. Some have been gifted to me and others have come from ebay.

  • 10.
    Beth said…

    Thanks so much for posting these pics! Very inspiring to see how you use old and new things together! Love the idea of having a place for the kids right along side of you. Mine kids love to “scrapbook” along side of me.

  • 11.
    julia said…

    thanks for sharing your space ali… love being able to peek in your work area! LOVE the shelves that hold your 12×12 albums.

  • 12.
    Brenda said…

    Thanks for a look into your life. I feel so much better knowing I’m not alone. My scrapbooking space is a 12×15 barn in my backyard that my husband built for me some years ago. It has all the comforts of home, but most of the time it looks like a hurrican hit it. Even when it’s cleaned it never looks like those scrap spaces you see in magazines. When I work on projects I’m constantly pulling supplies out then changing my mind. I would rather create than put things back where they belong. This works for awhile, but eventually the chaos gets to me and it’s a few hours spent getting things more managable. I keep waiting for the little elves to come during the night to clean and organize my scrap space, but it hasn’t happened yet. I continue to wait.

    • ….
      dawn said…

      Brenda, how nice that your husband built this for you. I would love something like that to call my own. I have a table set up in the family room and a cart on wheels beside it to hold my stuff. That’s funny about the little elves that would clean up after you. I scrap the same way, if I’m on a roll the mess just keeps getting piled up on the floor for a couple weeks then I clean/sort again. Hoping our little elves show up one day soon,lol.

  • 13.
    Sandy B said…

    I love how you have organized your room. I am jealous of all that space you have in your office!

  • 14.
    Elisa said…

    Always love seeing your workspace, Ali. So cozy!

  • 15.
    Kris said…

    thank you for sharing this! Don’t take this the wrong way, but it is kinda nice to see a room that is not “just so”, where there are things in transition, works in process, and piles on the floor. My scrapspace always has piles of this and that and is never 100% organized!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Yep – this is definitely a working office ;) .

  • 16.
    Noelle said…

    Thank you for sharing this. I love seeing the decor. But I also like that you have some piles around, waiting for your attention. That’s how my office is. It ends up being the catch-all for things I can’t quickly find homes for. Every few weeks I give a pile some attention to disperse it. But it never seems to end. When my infant starts crawling, I have no idea how, or even if I can baby proof that room.

  • 17.
    dawn said…

    Ali, I love your new crafting room. The little alcove is my favorite, would love to have something like that. This house seems like it was made for your family. It’s so great to see that your space is cozy and not perfect but organized at the same time. A nice cozy, inspiring big space for you and the kids. Thank you for sharing this with us. My other favorite is your island table, I hope to have one someday. Can’t wait to see that layout of Simon you are working on!!

    • ….
      dawn said…

      I forgot to mention that my PL2010 is in bad shape now too. My daughter was looking at it last week and it fell off her lap into the floor. The fall wasn’t that bad to me but it made the binder pop open and some of the pages fell out. The problem now is that the binder clip thingy’s won’t close again, so my pages kept falling out. It is now laying open on a shelf till I call Becky’s support number and see if I can get a new album. Hope you can get yours fixed better then mine is.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      That’s the case with mine too Dawn (one of the rings won’t close after the fall). I think I’m just going to put it into a different album.

  • 18.
    Teresa said…

    Thank you for sharing your workspace with us, Ali. It will be interesting to see how this space evolves over time. I know it can take awhile to really figure out how best to use a space when you first move into it. The way my studio space looks now compared to 5 years ago when I moved in is completely different…and its great how it becomes more “me” with each change. Your dreams for your space will eventually happen as well!

  • 19.
    Shelley said…

    Hi Ali,

    I have a question I’ve been wanting to ask you for some time now, I just love how all your albums are the same. I have been looking at my albums of all colors and textures on the shelf and they are starting to make me nuts. I really would like a more cohesive and cleaner look. What albums are you using and have you thought about what may happen if that particular album is discontinued? Did you purchase more than you need right now just in case? Did everything you had in your old albums fit into the new ones? Did you have to do any adjusting? Sorry for all the questions but I’v been wondering for some time now. Thanks for the peek into your workspace, It’s wonderful!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Hi Shelley –

      Back in 2008 I bulk purchased a bunch of American Crafts 12×12 Chestnut albums ( and re-organized all my layouts. You see photos and read about that process in the Album Organization category on my Projects blog:

      I like having the consistency in those main albums. For shorter term projects – like Week In The Life or travel albums – I like to use 8.5×11 albums.

      As of last year (2010) I’m now using We Are Memory Keepers black 12×12 albums ( One of the reasons I switched is because I like their page protectors better. I’m using these albums for Project Life.

      I’m not too worried about the albums being discontinued – if they are I’ll just find something else. I don’t feel like they all have to be exactly the same. I’m happy with the American Crafts albums and I’m happy with the We Are Memory Keepers ones too -

  • 20.
    kelly libby said…

    So sorry about your “project life” album. ; (

  • 21.
    MarieP said…

    Oh, thank you for posting this! It looks so … real! I see shots of scrapbookers workspaces on the glossy pages of a magazine and I hate that my space isn’t pristine. But my scrapbooking room is a real place! I’m really doing stuff in it, not just arranging it for show! So, so good to see your inspiring, functional, at-work space!

  • 22.
    Deirdre said…

    Thank you so much for this peek into your work space. I dream of that IKEA piece too, ever since I saw it in Donna Downey’s space. But I’ve realized I really like digging through my “bits”, so the bins I have now are probably best for now.
    I have a bump-out attic space—yellow too, though our ceiling is lower, and the slanted walls don’t allow for bulletin boards except next to the window. We have a similar low window that makes placing a bookcase or desk under it impossible.
    I can’t articulate how much I appreciate this—seems like most people wait until everything is “picture perfect” and it’s hard to imagine the space in work mode. Love your generosity!

  • 23.
    lkylaurenkay said…

    I love seeing you albums so neatly aligned..Is that a Starbucks “A”? It looks like one.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Not sure where it’s from originally – I purchased it at a local antique fair last year. It’s one that lights up.

  • 24.
    Lori said…

    thanks for sharing – this was a cool post to see everything. i love the antique lockers – really cool. and yeah that ikea workspace looks like fun!

  • 25.
    Lynn Wigren said…

    Thank you for sharing so much of yourself! I appreciate the inspiration you give me. I have a question for you. In looking through your photos of your space while there are projects, piles, etc around the room it is still organized – you know where everything is generally and to me it looks like you can easily find what you need. With all the products out there and all the new ones coming out how do you keep this all under control? I have trouble working in a messy,disorganized space but no matter how often I tidy up my space 5 minutes into a project there’s stuff all over. A good case for learning digital scapbooking? Any advice?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Hi Lynn – one of the best ways I’ve found to keep it under control (controlled chaos) is to bring in less stuff :) . That and I really like to use baskets to sort “like” things together. I have a basket for alphabets, I have a basket for embellishments, etc. But really, over the years I’ve had a lot more product than I do right now and I’ve found that storing all that stuff and working on organizing it takes up way too much time – it takes time away from actually scrapbooking. I’d rather be making stuff than worrying about where it should go.

      I’ve also gotten in the habit of “allowing” it to be messy while a project is in process. When that’s done I clean up before moving on to the next. I like having a clean slate to begin with :) .

  • 26.
    patricia said…

    You have an awesome space. I love seeing how others creative people work. You’re inspiring me to take a new stab at making my space look better. It isn’t very inspiring at this point. Thanks for sharing!

  • 27.
    Sabrina said…

    Thanks SO much for sharing this with us! It is so wonderful to see your creative space with all its imperfection. My space gets completely organized a couple of times a year, but that lasts only until my next project gets started. Since I always have something in progress, it seems to be always leaving a bit to be desired. It gets discouraging to see these “perfect” photos in magazines, but that isn’t real. I moved my space a couple of years ago to our formal dining room — a room that was NEVER used. The table in there was a 40+ year old table with a wood grain formica top given to me by my parents, so I use it for a workspace. I needed to be closer to what was going on in the house rather than in the basement, which also did not have enough light. It would be great to share your “real” ideas as you move forward and get settled!

  • 28.

    What a great and cozy workspace! Where did you get those shelves in the alcove (or if they’re custom – how did you build them)? Looking for something similar…

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Hi – they are custom. We hired a contractor to build them into the alcove. I don’t know much about construction but was able to communicate to him how many pounds I wanted it to hold :) …and his wife is a scrapbooker and friend so he “got” what I was talking about.

  • 29.
    daisy said…

    Thanks for sharing! I like, as do many others, the “realness” of your creative space. We all have these dream spaces in our minds, but we make do with what we have for now. If we wait till we have the perfect space to craft in, we’d never get anything done. Dream of what you want, but work with what you have.

    • ….
      Ali said…


    • ….
      Carla said…

      Wonderful comment! That is a perfect sentiment and this was a timely post for me too. Just finished building and haven’t taken pics to show my far away friends because things “aren’t done” yet. Thanks for the inspiration to do it anyway!

  • 30.
    katie said…

    so nice to see that I’m not the only one who uses a piling system.

  • 31.
    Deb J said…

    Enjoyed seeing your work space and how it is a work in progress just like mine. Love all that space and openness. Hope you get all of it like you want before too long.

  • 32.
    Helen said…

    Ali, it’s so nice to see your space! Actually sort of a relief to see that you also have piles of stuff everywhere! Blogland photos can create stress (feelings of inadequacy) when everything seems so, so, perfect!! So sorry to hear about your album falling down – thank goodness you have lots of photos of it that will hopefully make it easier to put things back in place.

  • 33.
    madeline St onge said…

    Well now I don’t feel so bad about all the stuff I have to step over to get into my room. LOL
    You have a really nice space Ali
    So sorry about your album exploding.

  • 34.
    vee said…

    always love your creative space ali!

  • 35.
    noell said…

    This was probably the best room tour I’ve ever seen! You made it so easy to understand the orientation of your room. Normally it takes me a lot of work to figure out how all the different parts go together. Love your numbered pic and explanation at the beginning to bring it all together right up front!

    It must be so nice to have a big space like that for your different areas where family can come sit and friends can play with you around a table.

    Can’t wait to see it again as you continue to make progress on it. It’s my opinion that the best way to know how to organize a space is to work within for a while. Of course, that could just be what I say because I’m so slow to get on the task of arranging rooms! ;)

    BTW my room is a very bright yellow. I love the yellow but it definitely makes color and lighting tricky!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Thanks Noell!

  • 36.
    Dawaila said…

    This post comes as I am knee deep in making my scrapspace more functional. I have a small awkward space but thanks to a very handy husband it is coming together really nice. fun to see other works in progress.

  • 37.
    cindy b. said…

    Love the peek into your room Ali. Thank you for sharing. Good to know that I am not the only one with stuff on the floor. hee hee..

  • 38.
    Debbie P said…

    Thanks for posting this. I am currently working on redoing my room and this gave me some good ideas! Thanks!!

  • 39.
    heidig said…

    Looks like my scrapbooking room – organized chaos! And I mean that in a good way. I am organized to a tee in my home life but somehow when I’m creating, everything comes out and stays out. Every now and then, I get the urge to put it all away but that lasts only as long as the next project!

  • 40.
    Cynthia H said…

    The built-in shelves for the 12×12 albums are awesome! What a great idea!

  • 41.
    Kendra said…

    YOWZA! That’s a lot of albums!

    • ….
      Ali said…


  • 42.
    Mel said…

    Have been looking forwad to a view of your room. Love the shelves that store the albums what a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  • 43.
    Michelle D. said…

    SO SORRY about Project Life—at least you have your photos of it, yay! for that.

    TFS the awesome room. I know you’ll post again when it’s all tidy :) ! The 12″ deep shelves are my fav.

  • 44.
    Nicky from Canada said…

    Thanks for sharing – and especially love Lily in the middle of all of it

  • 45.
    antiquechase said…

    LOVE seeing your space in detail… Lots of great vintage elements. Didn’t see you speak of the great printers tray on the floor…looks like an oldie! Glad to know I’m not the only one with piles on the floor… although mine didn’t fall off the shelf… they are just piles waiting to be sorted..LOL

  • 46.
    Kim Shimer said…

    Would love more info on your letterpress tray. The link under it in your DIY decor section is not working. I would love to make one of these. thanks

  • 47.
    Jill said…

    I feel like all my piles (that sometimes make logical sense to me, sometimes not after I look through them – what was I thinking with this assortment of things?) are in good company with your piles. And every person’s piles because we all have them – somewhere in our homes. Love the tour. Love all the letters. I need to pick up more “J”S for my home. I was just dreaming about painting white walls in my place last last week. Then thought of the irony of how I couldn’t wait to have my own place so I could leave the white apartment wall look behind. The grass is always greener on the other side. . . :)

    • ….
      Ali said…

      So true Jill, so true.

  • 48.
    Karen said…

    Love your space! It’s the envy of all of us who have to share a space. I have a corner of my bedroom and I also took over my dining room but I find it so hard to create with others and their noise around. Maybe someday I will get a room of my own with a door that locks!

  • 49.
    pidge said…

    Wow, I love how “real life” this is.
    Question: On the board by the lockers is a alphabet thing that looks like laser-cut wood? What is it? It’s super cool!
    Also, how sad about PL 2010!! I hope that it all goes back together quicker and easier than you imagine.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Hi Pidge – I’m trying to remember where that’s from…when I find a link I’ll let you know.

  • 50.
    Christy Harris said…

    Love the work in progress pictures. You can definitely tell that you get a lot done in there and that’s nice to see! I just finished my space over the weekend and I am loving it! If you want to see it go here

    Thanks for sharing!

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