Thursday, July 17, 2014

39 Studio Update: DIY Built-In Bench

The studio is moving forward as planned and I am really happy with how things are evolving.  Last week I shared our revised plan and a tutorial for the new over-sized workspace we built {and I am LOVING on a daily basis}.

With the layout of our home, we have been a bit limited in where we can carve out a place for me to work.  And after I shared our planned changes, I received quite a few suggestions for alternative options such as moving the studio to our guest room or swapping out the space with the playroom.  All definitely things we have considered, and as the boys grow out of their play space down the road, we can always re-evaluate that option at that time.  Until then, we really want to work with what we do have, because at the end of the day, I feel blessed to have a nook of our home to use for crafting and projecting and blogging.  There are so many features that I love, such as the abundance of storage and the under-stairs organizational systems.  I am a believer that rooms always evolve and grow and am OK that I have had to reassess and take steps back in order to move forward.  I have learned so much from the process and have also realized it is not worth getting down on myself for not getting things right the first time, or second time or even the third time. 

As a reminder, we built in a wall desk a few years ago, and I tried over and over to love it.  Some days I really did smile while using the space, but a few days in a row of using it and I realized more and more that it just wasn't working.  I found myself using our kitchen table because I could spread out and use my planner and make lists and manage paper piles.  So, we made our own oversized desk/table in the studio to solve that problem and so far, so great!  I love facing out towards our family room which either offers natural light flowing in from the playroom or a view of the television.  And I just don't feel so confined.  It is fabulous.

But that meant we no longer needed that small desk surface any longer.  If you recall, it was actually made from an old bi-fold door we had in our storage room, so I wasn't all that distressed about removing it.  But I had to put some thought into what would take its place.  Having so many hard work surfaces felt redundant and unnecessary and brought in a lot of hard lines into the space.  This nook needed softness and textiles, thus the idea to build in a bench was born.

Only this time, live and learn right?  We weren't going to actually build it in, just give the illusion without having to live with a permanent decision.  So consider this a floating built-in bench tutorial.

The construction of the bench was primarily out of simple 2x4's and a piece of 1/2" plywood, which allowed us to keep the cost of the project quite low.  The foam was the most expensive part, but if you watch JoAnn for sales it occasionally runs for 50% off, which is when we pounced.  The batting was also 50% off and I was able to use a 40% off coupon on the fabric.  The total cost of the project really depends on the amount of foam and fabric needed, as well as the type of fabric selected.

To get started, we created the base of the bench from the 2x4's.

It was a super simple construction and essentially looked like this when we were done.  42 1/2" wide by 18" deep.

Not very pretty, but super sturdy!

Bryan also added two small strips of scrap wood to the back legs to attach the back of the bench down the line.  The seat was made from plywood, foam and batting.

The rest of the plywood was used for the back of the bench.  I wanted to add a small curved detail, so we traced a lid from a round storage bin.

And then cut with our jigsaw.

We used 3" foam on the bench seat, and 1" thick foam on the back piece.  To attach the foam to the plywood back, we used a few strips of carpet tape and it worked like a charm to hold it in place until we could get everything stapled in.

I didn't want any wood showing when the project was said and done, so we also wrapped the base of the bench with batting.

The upholstery process was pretty straight forward, the only tricky part was managing those curves at the top of the backing.

Here we did a size check, and you can see where I was heading with the project.  Sort of a bench meets headboard affair.

I am planning on leaving the underside empty to allow us the option to add roll-in storage down the line, but definitely wanted to hide those bare wood legs with a skirt.  To keep the project as simple as possible, we grabbed a roll of hem tape for the bottom of the skirt.  Easy peasy.

We then stapled the unfinished top edge of the skirt to more pieces of scrap wood, which was then screwed into the base.

The final touch was to add some nailhead detail to the top edge of the backboard.  We have done nailhead before, and took the long route.  This time, we went with a simple roll of trim which was much, much easier!

Then the back was attached with a few more wood screws.... and done!

Remember that gray wall that I loved but didn't work because it made the room feel super choppy?  I missed the deep gray, so I used it on the bench.  It seems to work much better in a smaller dose, and I really love that I can update the look with happy colored pillows.

The second the boys saw the bench, they were excited to cozy up and lay where mama works.  Which I totally love and welcome.  And that softness I was after in the space?  It was definitely achieved.

It is not a space for napping (unless you are a little boy with a name that starts with P), but a place to take a mental break.  I love that I can pull up a pouf or kick my feat up with a good book or magazine.

I just collected a few pillows from around the house to soften all the gray, but I really love how the colors play with the rest of the neutral space.  In fact, you see that little floral throw pillow?  That fabric is coming into the room next, in a really big way.  Enter evil laugh here.

Now, to get that table stained!  I think I have settled on the color and am ready to tackle it next week.  Thank you for all of your suggestions and for helping me find a finish that I am really excited to try.  I will be sure to share 1,001 more shots of the room when the table is done (since that is the final project for now), but until then... you will find me here!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

84 Fun Ways To Organize With Washi Tape

Calling all fellow Washi Tape addicts!  Today's post is for you! 

A few weeks ago I posted a picture of my recent Washi Tape delivery on Instagram, and it sparked quite a few questions.  What is washi tape?  Where can you purchase it?  And what in the world do I use it for?!

First, Washi Tape is essentially a thin decorative tape which can be used for just about everything and anything your heart wishes.  The part of the appeal is that not only is it colorful and pretty, it also can be removed from most surfaces at any time without leaving any sticky residue.

As far as where I purchase Washi Tape, it really depends.  I am finding that it is becoming more and more available at both small boutiques and at large retailers.  I also purchase online from WishyWashi and CuteTape as well as from numerous Etsy sellers.

But how about the fun stuff?!  Ready to see a few shining examples of how you can incorporate Washi Tape into your everyday organizing projects?

Labels!  The easiest way to label just about anything, is by tearing a piece of tape and pairing it with a marker.  Done and done!  So easy!  I use Washi Tape to label shelves, boxes and even my cleaning bottles.

Keep a roll of Washi Tape near the fridge and freezer and place it on containers of leftovers to indicate the current food freshness date.


Wrap a piece of Washi Tape around your electronic cords to identify the item that the cord should be paired to, or which member of the family the cord belongs to.


Pair a piece of Washi Tape with an old magnetic strip to create a decorative way to display notes and photos on the side of your fridge or filing cabinet.


Purchase inexpensive pencils and notepads from the dollar store and cover them in Washi Tape to turn them into a pretty addition to your daily workspace.


Wrap a few pieces of tape around boring hangers to give them new life.  You can also do this to identify hangers that belong to specific members of the family or that serve specific functions.


Tape out a grid on your wall or corkboard to create a monthly calendar, which works well when combined with colorful Post-it notes.


Upcycle soup cans and food containers as storage by wrapping them in a mixture of tape colors and patterns.  


Pair Washi Tape with everyday clothes pins and you have instant decorative clips which are perfect for sealing bags of snacks in the pantry, or add a magnet to the backs and use them to pin up important messages to the family.

One of my most favorite uses for Washi Tape is to label the tabs of my file folders.  A strip of tape across the tab paired with a label printed from my label maker and work just got that much happier.

I also use it to create tabs which mark pages of scribbles within my notebooks.  Now I can quickly find all of those random thoughts I jot down each day!

Wrap old prescription bottles with Washi Tape and toss them in your purse or handbag to corral small items such as a nail clippers, safety pins and hair ties.

How darling is a calendar with the addition of a few pieces of Washi?  I use it all of the time within my daily planner to give me a visual of appointments, travel and commitments that last for a duration of days. 


Use Washi Tape to mark your keys by type, which will give you quick identification of house key vs. file drawer key vs. shed key, etc....

Last but not least, add a piece of Washi Tape to butterfly clips to lend a playful vibe to daily paperwork organization.

And if you are looking for ways to actually organize the rolls of Washi Tape, I am still loving the dispenser I created here.

OK friends!  There are fifteen super simple and darling ways to utilize the oh-so-popular Washi Tape within your daily organizing projects.  Do you see how the fabulous colors and patterns just make everything that much better?  Everyday envelopes, boxes, containers and office supplies become cheerful in a jif!

How have you used the trendy tape within your organizing projects lately?

Monday, July 14, 2014

18 UHeart Organizing: Crafty Font Organization

Whether you are creating a digital file or a scrapbook page, fonts are a huge piece of any design process.  I know I personally love playing with different fonts and have a select that are considered my "go to", but easily forget about the other 101 that I love as well.  And if you are looking to keep a consistent theme over the course of your crafting, journaling or scrapbooking project, having a font reference will be extremely helpful.  My dear contributor, Sarah, loves integrating organized systems into her scrapbooking process to ensure she is making the most of her crafting time, and I just adore her solution for managing her font collection.

Confession: I’m a font fanatic. I love to have a wide variety of fonts at my disposal when creating scrapbooking pages and cards so that I can match the style of my journaling, captions and titles to the theme of the project.  Back in 2012, I visited Ms. Jones’ fabulous blog to share my ideas on organizing letter stickers, but for me fonts go well beyond stickers.  I can frequently be found exploring free websites for unique new fonts and I have a ton of font cartridges for my die cutting machine.  But as with any scrapbooking product or tool, I run the risk of not making full use of either my computer or die cut fonts because I can’t remember what I have.  That’s why I’m so excited to share my most recent craft organization solution.

For my computer fonts, I created a Font Catalog that I keep tucked in the front of my letter binder.

This somewhat tedious but super easy project took me about an hour, a great task to complete while watching TV.  I created a three-column table in Word.  In the first column, I repeated the phrase “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” for each of my fonts {this phrase contains all 26 letters of the alphabet}.  In the second column, I identified the font name.

Since I went through the fonts alphabetically, this was pretty easy to complete.  Once I had documented all the fonts, I went down the list and filled in the third column of my table with the category for each:
  • Cursive
  • Script
  • Serif
  • Sans serif
  • Theme
  • Shapes
{For those of you who aren’t quite the font nerd I am, a Serif font is one that has little feet on the letters, like F and I, such as Times New Roman.}  Once I had everything categorized, I then saved a new version of the Word doc and reorganized the fonts by category {keeping the alpha version will be a big help later if I ever need to re-create the categorized version}.

Again, this was not a super sexy step, as it involved a lot of cutting and pasting, but it was quick and well worth it: now I can flip right to the category of font I need and pick out the exact right style.

But my die cut fonts are a bit of a different animal.  While I can look at them in the font booklet or on the computer, nothing compares to looking at the cut out version.  But it’s a waste of time, paper and cutting blades to cut out a “test” version for each project.  So I wanted a solution that would allow me to quickly and easily look through all of my fonts, be durable and easily portable.  Then inspiration hit.  What if I cut out one sample letter from each font {I selected A} and created my own booklet?  I have to say, the finished product is even better than I expected!

The first step was obviously to cut out each of the letters.  I wanted each letter to be large enough that I could see all the detail, so I sized each to be approximately 2 inches high, though the width obviously varied.  Since I was using my Cricut and Gypsy, I created a new project in my Gypsy, went through each cartridge one-by-one {in alphabetical order} and added the letters to the mat. This way I could cut out my letters in a bit more of an assembly-line fashion.  But this first step will vary based on what type of die cutting machine or tool you have.  Once I had everything laid out the way I wanted it, I cut out the letters.

As I removed the letters from the cutting mat, l carefully stacked them in the order I cut them out.  This helped me when it was time to label each letter, because I was able to refer back to my Gypsy and determine which cartridge each letter came from.  Once all the letters were cut out, I needed to add adhesive so I could mount them on cardstock.  Bring on the sticker maker! {I actually have the Xyron sticker-maker in three sizes – all of which get a ton of use – and this largest one did double duty on this project as a laminator}.

If you don’t have a sticker maker {though if you’re a paper crafter, I highly recommend you run out and buy one right now – some of the best money you’ll ever spend, I promise!}, you could use Mod Podge or any other adhesive; this step might just take you a bit longer.

I originally planned to punch a hole in the letters themselves and string them on a ribbon, but I realized this would make it difficult to flip through the letters and much more likely that the letters would get damaged over time.  So I mounted each letter on cardstock instead.  I first determined the size of my cardstock mats by using the tallest and widest letters {which were not necessarily the same letter} to determine the dimensions.  I decided on 4X4, which left extra room around the edge for labeling the font.

Because the booklet will hang in my craft room and be used often, I wanted to make it fun and visually interesting.  I picked a deep shade of solid pink {one of the accent colors in my craft room} for the letters.  I originally planned to cut the letters from patterned paper, but I realized that would make it difficult to see all the details of the letter.  Instead, I used a variety of double-sided papers for matting, selecting patterns that are simple and symmetrical on both sides to avoid overwhelming the letters.

As a general rule, each sheet of cardstock got one letter on each side.  However, if a particular font had a complementing shadow font, I included both.  And while for most of the fonts I cut out only the uppercase A, in some cases the lowercase version was distinct enough that it needed to be included, too.  To help with categorization later on, each cardstock square got similar fonts on the front and back.

As I added each letter sticker to the mat, I also labeled it, indicating the name of the Cricut cartridge as well as the specific font name and any other detail that might be helpful.  I hand wrote my labels to make this step quick and easy.

Once all the letters were matted and labeled, it was time to laminate.  I’ll be flipping through these frequently, so I wanted to make sure they were durable.  If you don’t have a laminator or want a less expensive alternative, you could use Mod Podge to seal each one.

After laminating, I cut each mat out with my handy paper trimmer, leaving a little border of lamination around the sides to protect the edges of the paper.  The final size of each measured just over 4 inches square.

Similar to my Font Catalog of Word fonts above, I wanted to categorize my die cut fonts, so I sorted my laminated cards into the following categories:
  • Cursive
  • Serif
  • Sans Serif
  • Letters in shapes
  • Themed
I created divider cards for each of the sections to make it easy to flip to the right font.  I cut solid yellow cardstock into in 4 X 4.75 sheets and used my corner rounder punch to round the corners on one of the longer sides.  I then hand wrote a category label on each divider card.

The final step was to laminate them.

With all the font cards and dividers created, I could finally put them together.  I punched a hole in the first divider card, then used it as a guide to cut holes in the font cards and remaining divider cards.  Once all the holes were punched, I selected a coordinating ribbon and tied all the cards together.

I made sure to tie the ribbon securely enough to keep the cards together but loose enough that I can add new cards in the future if {okay, let’s be honest, when} I get new fonts.

I’ve even set aside some pre-cut mats and divider cards so they’re ready to go when I need more.  The final step was to hang my lovely new Font Portfolio within arm’s reach on the craft cart next to my desk.

I simply attached a binder clip, left both prongs up and looped the ribbon around them.

This little beauty has already been a big help with my crafting projects and I’m definitely making better use of my fonts.

Now I’m pondering other ways I can use this idea.  Hmmm… flash cards for the nieces and nephews? Do you have other ideas on how to use a cardstock booklet?  Do you have a great solution for organizing your computer or die cut fonts?

"My name is Sarah Eelkema and I live in a suburb of Minneapolis, MN with my husband of almost two years, Eric, and our two adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Hermes and Brontë. I am a Communications Consultant by day and by night/weekend/any spare moment, I indulge in my passion for writing, crafting and organizing. I am honored to share with all you dedicated iHeart fans my tips, tricks and secrets for organized crafting, which will not only help you get control of your craft clutter but also allow you to make more efficient and productive use of your precious crafting time. While I am blessed with an entire craft room, I promise to explain how all the solutions I share can be tailored to your specific situation, whether it be a dedicated room, a small storage space or mobile crafting. In the meantime, Happy Crafting!"

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