Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

March 20, 2013

AE Projects In Progress | The Office

Big things are happening here in the office this week.

Katie and I are moving everything out in anticipation of new laminate wood floors being put in early next week.

August marks three years of living in this house. Last January (2012) my Mom and Katie helped me paint the walls white (here’s a look at it before it was painted).

I still love the white walls but there’s a lot I don’t like about how I function in this space. It seems to be more an issue of space allocation since the room is definitely big enough. Right now I really only use about 1/4 of the space for actual creating – the space between my computer desk and my stand-up table where I usually work on pages. Right now there are things covering every surface and nothing feels very functional.

That said, we’ve haven’t been keeping the office very organized or even picked up lately because we knew we were going to be moving everything out and most likely not bringing it all back. We’ve been making plans for ways to re-arrange the space to make it more functional and I’ll share more about that as we begin the process of moving things around and back in once the floors are done.

In the meantime, here’s a look at what it looks like right now – before everything is moved out – with a bit of commentary about things that have/haven’t worked:

This is looking into the office. It’s basically a bonus room that sits above my garage. There are four main “sections” to this space, each with storage options: (1) Katie’s desk/computer, (2) a couch/tv, (3) the kitchen island where I stand to make stuff (this includes a bunch of different storage spots like shelves, lockers, and a bakers rack), and (4) my computer desk.

Initially I liked this sectioned set-up but now that I’ve been in the room for a few years I know there’s quite a bit of wasted space – especially over by the tv. I’m also not using my storage very effectively – evidenced by way too many piles on the ground.

A look at Katie’s current working area. Her table is just big enough for the computer and when she scrapbooks she sits on the ground.

Across from Katie is the couch/TV area. The kids hang out on the couch. We store things on the shelves below the tv. The white drawer unit next to the tv is from Ikea and it was missing pieces that we had to order.

Now that I have a guest room/tv room downstairs I’m not sure I need this little hide-a-bed couch in my office anymore. I do want to still have the tv but we could move that around and get a bunch more usable space at the same time.

Shelf unit that currently divides the space between my work table and Katie’s desk. Love the look of it but it’s holding things that are longer term storage (less-used stuff). On top of it are paper trays from Display Dynamics that hold pattern papers arranged by color and type (embossed, etc).

The top of that shelf unit would actually be a great work space to hold something like Project Life out in the open. Considering that as we decide how to arrange things this next week.

I’ve done lots of different styles of organization over the years. Most of the time I end up back at some sort of open organization – such as baskets – seeing things helps me remember I have them. As you might notice though, there’s more stuff in piles on the floor than there are on these shelves.

And even though I love those red drawer units from Ikea, once something goes in there it’s like it never existed. I forget to check there.

Having the sewing machine out and available is key for me. I will definitely create a station for that in the new set-up.

One thing I’ve continued to use from close to the beginning of my scrapbooking adventure is this kitchen island. I’m still a stand-up scrapbooker and that’s not changing anytime soon. My plan in the office re-do is to sell/share/or use this one somewhere else and get two new kitchen islands from Ikea that can be put back to back to form one large work surface that will be in a similar space in the middle of the floor.

I like that I can work on either side of the table. I don’t like that the work surface feels so small and I also don’t like that I’m prone to piling things on this table too. I end up with this tiny working area in this nice big room.

I still love the lockers and they will come back in here for sure. They are great for holding paints, ribbons, cards, inks, etc.

The other big piece I added this past year was a baking rack.

I first saw this idea in an issue of Better Homes & Gardens Scrapbook Etc. magazine. I thought it was genius. One tray for each project in progress. I still think it’s an awesome idea but lately I’ve just used it for storage vs. part of a working system of in-process projects (or projects-in-waiting). I’m hoping to use that more in the new incarnation of my working space.

I purchased this locally at a restaurant supply store that delivered and brought it upstairs into my office.

Looking from the kitchen island over towards my computer desk.

The spot where I sit and do most of my work. Small metal shelves hold printers, hard-drives, etc.

And this is looking towards the door of the office that leads to a small room before going out into the main part of the house. The shelves that hold all my albums were built by my friend Kim’s husband right after we moved in to the house. Across from those built-ins is an “under-the-eaves” storage room that currently holds luggage and a bunch of canvases that are just waiting to be used for something.

Moving all this stuff out is going to be a major undertaking. I’ve got some ideas about purging and making decisions on what to keep and what to donate that I’ll share in another post this week or next.

Here we go!

Two weeks ago I purchased Totally Rad’s Rad Lab and I’ve used it on just about every photo I’ve printed since then. It works in Photoshop or Elements 7 and higher.

It’s so easy because all I have to do is open the photo, click a button to launch Rad Lab and then click once more to select an adjustment/filter for the photo. My favorite right now is “lights on” which seems to lighten and brighten just enough.

Lightroom presets and their original actions are also on sale now.

You can also enter the code “totallyrad” and you get an extra 15% off.


  • 1.
    Diane said…

    Hi Ali!
    Thanks for sharing your before photos of your room. One thing I’ve always wondered is how you organize your supplies to keep track of their source for credits at the bottom of your posts? Once stuff comes into my room, it’s out of the packaging and there’s no way I can remember for credits.
    Looking forward to seeing the transformation in your space!

  • 2.
    Toni from said…

    Thanks for always being real. I am organizing my craft space this month as well. Here’s hoping that we pull through.

  • 3.
    Dawn Ritchie said…

    The very first thought I had when I saw the tv area was “mount the tv on the wall”. We mounted ours and it’s been a big difference. We got rid of our tiny glass tv stand and put in something more substantial that works for us to store books & movies. Really love it.

  • 4.
    Jen said…


    THANK YOU for sharing your space and life and creativity. I have stuff spread out all over the dining room (I have no dedicated space) and often feel defeated before even starting by all the mess. Just need a new perspective.

  • 5.
    orange gearle said…

    Ohhhh! I cannot wait for the after photos! How wonderful that you have this space (I have a VERY small section of the basement, but I’m not complaining). I also love that you “keep it real”. ;-)

  • 6.
    Kris said…

    Glad to see we all have scrap rooms that look like this every so often. Cant wait to see the after photos as Im working on cleaning up and organizing mine too.

  • 7.
    Sue said…

    I have always felt that this is such a ïtem/product heavy” hobby! I love it but it does consume lots of space for many small items. It was refreshing to see that I am not the only one struggling with how to organize my stuff so that I have maximum space and access to all it. I really need to purge and reorganize my space and you have given me the motivation to begin that task! Thanks so much for sharing Ali.

  • 8.
    Lisa W. said…

    THIS is always ALWAYS a work in progress for me as well. I have a nice room, but I have outgrown it. BUT with that being said I too need to purge big time. Many things un~oraganized and not in use. My friend Kendra (awesome beuatifully talented scrapbooker) and I often discuss “our rooms”…I think one of the biggest things for us is cute…we love to make it cute! Special things on the wall, ya know if it’s SO cute you got to have it. I trualy think its ALL part of being creative. And if you don’t feel good in your room to “create” then things just won’t happen. Even as messy (and its terrible messy morst of the time) when I go into my scrapbook room it just simply makes me feel good!!! Ali, I cannot wait to see this transformation, nothing my gets my heart pumping than re~doing/re~decorating a room, and a scrapbook room makes it even sweeter:) Thanks for sharing, looking SO forward to the posts to come!!!

  • 9.
    linda said…

    thanks for sharing, as it’s interesting to see peoples’ scrap spaces. i certainly change things around in my space as my habits morph and as my process dictates a change of some kind. you have to live in a space a bit to know if it works, because sometimes everything can be perfectly organized and pretty, but then not be as efficient or useful as you use the space!

  • 10.
    BARB T said…

    Oh my goodness, you have such an awesome space in which to work! I too am in the midst of organizing my creative space. DH gave me built in cabinetry for my Christmas gift. Then surprised me with an early anniversary gift of a semi custom island. The cabinetry and laminate wood floor have been installed. The walls are being painted, and the island should be ready this week. All of my supplies are currently living in the living room awaiting their new home. I am purging and organizing while I wait to get into my new room. I am anxious to see how you organize your enormous space. Thank you for sharing.

  • 11.
    Cathy L. said…

    Very fun to see your space, thanks for sharing! I also stand up to scrap, and I end up working in a very small space because I pile stuff everywhere! The new flooring will look great, enjoy!

  • 12.
    Terri said…

    “I end up with this tiny working area in this nice big room.” Most.accurate.sentence.

    Thanks for posting this thought-provoking article, Ali. I have a similar space in that it has zones and tons of room but my creating area is the smallest part of it. Your words made me reconsider what my priority should be in my craft room. Will I be more productive with a more useful and efficient WORKING area? Absolutely.

    Looking forward to the next installment of your revision/re-seeing of your crafting process.


  • 13.
    laura g. said…

    good luck on the re do!! it will be great once it’s done! this makes me want to clean out my space and re-organize it. keep the red drawer unit, but label the drawers…it’s cute and you like red! (me too!)

  • 14.
    Elizabeth said…

    My space is the most organized it’s ever been right now but it’s all about to get thrown out the window when we move again and I go from a full room to carving out a corner somewhere for a year. Ugh. But! Don’t give up on that red file drawer from IKEA… I have six silver ones all lined up and they hold all embellishments except letter stickers and ribbon, which I keep in baskets. I’m a rifler so I love that I can rifle through, even pull the drawer out and set it on the floor, and then put it back when I’m done. They are the perfect size for dividing things up into categories… might be something to consider–getting rid of some other storage for more of the same kind! If you decide to ditch it for your stuff you could save it for Anna’s craft supplies–one of those is perfect for keeping a kid organized.

    • ….
      karen c said…

      If you keep the red drawers you might label them. I too have to see everything and I have a dresser with labels on every drawer; the labels help me see what’s inside.

  • 15.
    Megan Anderson said…

    Love the idea of the baker’s rack! I’m getting ready for Organizing FUNdamentals this week, and I’m really trying to reflect about what’s worked and what hasn’t in all of my different scrap spaces.

  • 16.
    alexandra said…

    I am trying to find my own balance of what to have out in the open and what to have hidden in storage boxes, drawers and cupboards. Lately I’m feeling the need to have lots of stuff put away and just a few key things out… trying to streamline my life and my environment but it’s certainly a process.

    Your studio/office is going to be fabulous when it’s all done… can’t wait to see how you and Katie transform it.

  • 17.
    MichelleS said…

    I have been reading your blog for years and love posts like this one. So real and honest. I have those red cabinets too and although they are cute, I don’t find them very functional. The drawers always seem to stick. I’ve been simplifying my house for the last year and the big changes happen when you get ruthless with purging. Good luck! Can’t wait to see the changes.

  • 18.
    Pidgen said…

    I love what you said about the red drawers – “once something goes in there it’s like it never existed.” lol. I have realized that I’m the exact way. Although it was a bit frustrating {I’d love to close everything off} it’s made my organizing and activity level so much greater!! Loved this tour! Can’t wait to see what you do.

  • 19.
    Lisa Cole said…

    How about a wall mounted tv stand in the upper left corner from where it sits right now (removes the shelving unit from below – put a Wii or other game console downstairs) and then just have a few fun and colorful bean bags that the kids can pull out to hang with you when they want?

  • 20.
    Amber said…

    We so often see all the beautiful things you create in this space, we don’t get to see the beautiful mess you create through this process! So glad to see you’re just like the rest of us, constantly changing snd trying to find what works best. Thanks for sharing Ali!

  • 21.

    I love seeing your space. We moved into a home in September that has a bonus room that we made the craft room as well. It still has tennis racket wallpaper up, so needless to say, a redesign is coming. Love seeing your mess because it reminds me so much of my space – ha! xo

  • 22.
    Sue said…

    Just a question put out there to all you wonderful crafters!!..When you purge your ëxtras”-what do you do with them? Lots of my things aren’t meeting my needs now but are still in good/new condition. I just don’t want to throw them out. Any ideas?? Thanks!

    • ….
      J3SS1C4 said…

      Do you have any kids, or nieces or nephews you can pass it on to? I have a 9 year old cousin who loves my crafty hand-me-downs, and gets so excited to show me her albums she makes with them each time I see her (usually only about twice a year since she lives so far away). I also have my partner’s neices who are 4 and 5, although they don’t get as excited about it!

    • ….
      Rebecca said…

      I took a lot of my “dated” stuff that I didn’t love to the NICU of our local hospital. The nurses told me that they use it to make stuff to put on the walls of the baby rooms or make small (simple) layouts for parents of their children. This is especially important if the child dies.

      The other thing you can do is donate the stuff to the Pediatric unit of the hospital. Our local hospital collects things to give to the kids while they are in treatment; having something quiet to do helps the time pass more quickly.

      As a mom who had a kid in the hospital for a very short time a little over a year ago, I can unequivocally say that this stuff helped us. (My son was 3 at the time, and the toys that the nurses brought from the toy closet really helped encourage him to follow through with their directives. And kept him in that darned bed.)

      By donating my scrapping stuff, I paid it forward. :)

    • ….
      Angel said…

      You can check with any schools in your area to see if they have craft/scrapbooking clubs. I donated a bunch of stuff to my kids’ school and they were VERY appreciative.

    • ….
      Becky said…

      I also donate to our local hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit, so parents can make momentos of their children.

  • 23.
    Marsaille said…

    Man would I love to come in there and organize!! First thing is out with the couch (Daring Greatly can go to your nightstand though)-and in with bean bags! The kids can keep them in their room until they come into the work room with you. Unless you don’t want that area to be a relax spot. Oh the possibilities!

  • 24.
    Iara said…

    You will have a wonderful blank canvas to start next week :) you probably have tons of stuff you will never use so this is the moment to let it go. That’s what I did this past week. Today I finished a major purge and re-organization of my Studio. When I see your wonderful large room with all those straight walls (my room is under the Roof) I can only think about two large expedit Units, side by side, with those wonderful clear boxes, everything labeled and organized :) I would let the Couch and Tv go. If you have an extra room for TV you can sure use the space in your studio better. have fun organizing :) can’t wait to see the “new” space!

  • 25.
    Janice said…

    I always seem to be in a perpetual state of organization and I love seeing what works for other people.

    I have learned that out of sight is out of mind for me personally and can be frustrating when one has many, many supplies to contend with.

    I also realize that I am a “piler” not a “filer” when it comes to my craft room–so I tend towards more open style storage.

    Also, an item which I absolutely LOVE from Ikea and that has been working very well for me is the RASKOG trolley. It is very well built, super sturdy and rolls/moves really well. I store supplies in it that I need access to every day. I have several of the RASKOG carts now and I treat the trays like desk drawers and keep desk supplies in the top of one. When I see it I use it. I can also roll it out of sight and they fit under several work tables. Sometimes I even pick them up and move them from one level of the house to the other to work (this was great for Christmas gift wrapping and crafting when I still wanted to work and be around everyone in the house). HIGHLY recommend the Raskog!

    Here is a link:

    Can’t wait to see the “after” pics.

  • 26.
    Judi said…

    Love the baker raks – might have to look into those – thanks for sharing

  • 27.
    Sandi said…

    Just got a Container Store email highlighting their new Elfa products – saw the Deluxe Arts & Crafts Center and made me think of you. Pricey, but wow!

  • 28.
    Anita J. said…

    How exciting! It is nice to read/see how others organize their studios/offices … I have learned a lot from viewing others spaces. I am lucky to have a room of my own … not very large, but it is mine! :-) The process has evolved over the past few years and I feel like it is finally getting there. LOVE the Ikea Expedit shelving I have one 5×5 squares and one 2×4 squares. I also just got a kitchen island; the Stenstorp. It has a wood top, two stainless steel shelves on one side and a place for barstools on the other side. Under that side I have two Raskog kitchen carts, in a beautiful aqua color. They roll very easily & can be rolled over to my desk or pulled out so I can work at my island. I feel like I am finally getting there. Need to purge too, but can’t seem to part with ‘things’. Thanks for sharing the before with us. Good luck with your redo and will look forward to seeing it all when completed. You are amazing … have learned so much from you.

  • 29.
    Patti L said…

    Interesting process. I saw the baker’s racks at a local artisan/craft flea market, used for their displays, pretty cool. I love Rad Lab. I almost forgot about their sale! Thanks.

  • 30.
    lisa truesdell said…

    i am going through a similar process. painting. organizing. reassessing how i use my space. i’m working in baby steps, but it’s paying off. i spend too much time in here to work in a mess, and i’m sure you feel the same way!

    thank you for the radlab code.. i’d been pondering it with the sale, and you pushed me over the edge!

  • 31.
    Carolyn HP said…

    Love that you are so open and honest in about what works and what doesn’t, can’t wait to see the next progress shots. Love all the light you can see in the photos. Nice that you have Katie’s help in taking care of such a big cleanup project as sometimes it can seem overwhelming.

  • 32.
    Jane said…

    I just reorganized all my craft supplies – I don’t have a dedicated craft room, so it’s extra important for me to keep things organized! I have some of those red IKEA drawers too and I’ve found that what works best for me is to use those drawers to store tools and things that I’ll have forever and won’t forget about. My “supplies” (paper, fabric, yarn, etc. – anything that can be “used up”) needs to be out where I can see it or at least in clear plastic tubs that I can scan easily when they are on the closet shelf. I always have an open container out on my craft desk (read: dining room table) of my recent supply purchases so that I’ll be more likely to play with them and use them. I’m too out of sight, out of mind, to do it any other way!

  • 33.
    Donna said…

    I love your office, can’t wait to see the progress and your new floor! I love that you share things like this on your blog. I would so re-use your little kitchen island to hold your tv (in the tv corner) hope you don’t mind me saying that :) and I hope Katie gets a bigger desk, lol

  • 34.
    mindy said…

    we are redoing our office right now as it has become a “catch-all” room for the last four years (yikes!) my house look like an episode of hoarders when we emptied it out to do the floors. still organizing, but feels so good to get it cleaned out!!

    love rad lab! did you know that they have an iphone app ? pictapgo
    looooooove it!!!

  • 35.
    Christine Edwards said…

    Looking forward to seeing what you do in the room. We’re selling our house and my new space will be about a third of what I have…with no room for stashing things in other spots. I can definitely use some inspiration for purging and reorganizing, so hopefully I can glean some ideas from your room re-do. Thanks for sharing!

  • 36.
    marge said…

    Thank you so much, Ali, for showing us your space, and I can hardly wait for the ‘after’ photos! I also am fortunate enough to have a small space all my own for scrapbooking. It’s in what was designed to be a loft upstairs, not big, but I do have a nice sized window. Most of my storage and work surfaces come from IKEA – I love that place! For me it’s almost as much fun rearranging and organizing my work space as it is to create – seems like I’m doubly inspired in a new and improved environment. I’ve designed homes for others, and love the challenge of fitting certain requirements into limited space, so your room just looks like a totally fun project! Have fun, and show us soon!

  • 37.
    Angela said…

    Thank you for sharing the details of your current space. I’m looking forward to seeing the new island desks you choose, but I will miss seeing your old one in photos :) Also, I really like that baking rack idea – can you share a measurement on the length and width if you have the time? Thanks so much and good luck with rearranging everything!

  • 38.
    lindsey said…

    oh i am loving that you are working on organizing your space. again always so real. my space is piles too, so i look forward to your thoughts and inspiration as always.

    also how long does the code for radlab last? thanks in advance!

  • 39.
    Wendy Goundrey said…

    It was so much fun to sit comfortably in my living room and still get a thorough tour of your craft room! Good luck with the renovation. The new floor will be fabulous. Can’t wait to see the “after” tour!

  • 40.
    J3SS1C4 said…

    Thank you for sharing your space! I’m super excited to see your finished space! My OLW action task this month is clearing out my craft room and finally getting it sorted as well, since it’s the one task that gets put off at home all the time, since this room is also a storage room. So far I’ve gotten rid of a box of rubbish and a full crate of stuff is ready to go to be donated, and there is so much more breathing room! I’m still working at clearing off the desktop though, and also with going through a few more of the storage crates in there, but I love it so much more right now! Now to come up with some awesome storage ideas! Can’t wait to see how you organise it all and to hear how it adjusts your workflow!

    Also, thank you for the rad lab code, I’ve been debating getting that for quite awhile now!

  • 41.
    Liz said…

    Always feels good to get organized! When I recently straightened up I found multiple things not even opened yet! Check out this build it yourself craft table. It might do the trick and is inexpensive to make.

  • 42.
    roberta said…

    great to see you get messy too! just an FYI on the radlab promo, they told me today that you can not combine promos so promo can not be combined with the sale prices :(

  • 43.
    Peggy said…

    Hi Ali!! I am so happy to see that you work like I do and that your studio looks like mine does. I thought I was the only one that works this way!! I also have my studio above our garage with the slanted little walls, which I LOVE but very limited to going verticle! I have one question for you….the blue computer desk….WHERE DID YOU FIND IT??? My dad made one just like that and it was painted EXACTLY the same color. My mom got rid of it and I just wonder????

  • 44.
    Kathy L said…

    Love the Baking Rack idea. I might just look into that. Nice to be able to have projects in progress and not constantly putting everything away to only have to pull back out again. Looks like there is a great deal of space between the shelves so you can really keep a bunch of things on the shelf.

    Having a separate station for the sewing machine for me would be key. Mine is stuck in a closet and therefore never comes out.

  • 45.
    Jill said…

    Love this process! Wish I was there to help! I love organizing and changing things around! Love the lockers and any “fun” unique things to organize all your stuff! Super fun project, enjoy! Can’t wait to see it come together!

  • 46.
    Deb said…

    The baking rack would be great for painting or things that need to dry. I need to rearrange my room as its just storage right now.

  • 47.
    Lisa Bee said…

    Thank you Ali & Katie for sharing the before photos, I can hardly wait to see the after photos! You two are surely going to have much fun & many laughs as you take on this re-do studio project. It will be so worth it! Hang in there!

  • 48.
    Patricia said…

    Hi Ali,

    I am lucky enough to have a dedicated creative space also–not as large as yours, but thn I don’t have to share it. I have lots of hobbies each with its own materials–paper crafting, sewing, knitting, etc.

    The only way I stay organized (and use my stuff) is to sort stuff by type and label everything–especially closed storage (like your red drawers). I like closed storage for “back up supplies like adhesives, thread, interfacing, etc. stuff I like in the open–paper in trays like yours, fabric on open shelves, etc.

    Can’t wait to see your after photos.

  • 49.
    dawn said…

    I’m so excited for you both and can’t wait to see what it will look like. Thanks so much for this awesome before post!! Good luck and enjoy the process, it will be soooo worth it!!

  • 50.
    April Antonio said…

    Thank you so much for sharing your space, I enjoy seeing how others organize. Also, I love room re-dos, I am constantly organzing my scrap space and seeing what works and what doesn’t. I also tend to use my supplies more if I see them so I utlize a lot of clear containers, baskets, open jars, and see through drawers!

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