Organizing a Kids’ Craft Bar

posted by Jennifer McClure on February 6, 2013 5 Comments

When we moved into our home with 4- and 6-year old daughters, we felt the small bar in our basement would be the perfect place to set up a creative space for them. It had plenty of storage, a sink and great work space. Plus, it’s in the large, open part of our basement which includes our home office and family room areas. I pictured it as the creative hub of our home.

I’m sad (and surprised) to say it’s never functioned like I imagined. In a word, it’s a mess. I invested in large, plastic drawer storage to fit behind the bar and house supplies. The tops of the drawers became a dumping ground. No matter how many times I tried to reorganize and label them so that things could be kept tidier, the area was still a mess. The biggest eyesore has been the top of the bar.

messy kids craft bar

Typically, what happened is something like this: The kids would get some supplies out and start a project. It would require drying or other steps before completion, or they would be called away without time to finish. Because it was not done, it would be left (along with all the other supplies) on top of the bar. Since this is a highly visible area of our basement, the clutter caused a great deal of stress for me and my husband. Eventually, we would give the children a deadline for cleaning off the bar, or else my husband would do it himself. Either way, the result was stashing creative supplies out of eyesight, not putting it away in its rightful place. Bottom line? Each time this happened, we’d have an even bigger mess behind the bar.

I was excited last summer when Aby opened her brand new Organize Your Creative Space online workshop. It was exactly the help I needed! So I dove in, immediately taking stock of what did or did not work. I knew that the drawers had to go, and my sweet husband put in shelves for me so that things could be easier to access and to put away. In the meantime, I purged a lot of supplies, which felt great. I also got inspired to create a sort of soda shop or candy bar vibe, since our creative space is a bar after all. And because I love being thrifty, I began stockpiling containers I’d find at thrift shops, along with containers destined for the recycle bin. For example, the honey wheat pretzels I adore come in a big, clear container that’s perfect for things like feathers or pom poms.

Unfortunately, that’s where my project stalled out. I think it was a combination of things that led to my halt. My biggest challenge was that it was summer, which meant having the kids home from school and having a lot of other demands on my time. It was hard to feel like I had a chunk of time to focus on getting this done, and it didn’t feel like something I could easily break into bites.

I also felt overwhelmed over how to store things. I was trying to envision the end result before knowing what to do next. After a great discussion with Aby last week, I realized this was a huge obstacle for me. Now I realize that I don’t have to have everything figured out in order to keep taking steps forward. That’s so liberating!

messy kids craft desk

Aby has given me a great process to use, and now thanks to her additional motivation and some specific advice on how to set up my space, I’m happy to tell you this project is back on track. Yay! If you’d like to follow along, stay tuned for my pics and progress updates throughout the month.

Have you ever stalled out on an organizing project like I did? Did you resume the project, and if so, how did you get motivated? Are you still stalled? Tell us about it. Maybe we can help.

Happy Organizing!

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  • February 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Love all your ideas! Need a little help with the 12×12 scrapbook papers…I don’t want to use the plastic drawers that we have in the past. any fun creative fun ideas for the girls’ craft room. Thanks so much! And thanks for keeping all of us inspired to clear our spaces!

    • February 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Oh and Jennifer I am right with you, that article could have been written by me…or was it!? lol! It happens to us all the time, the girls start a project, we get called away, and never get back to it. And like you, I want them to have a space to be creative BUT, how do I balance that with keeping it neat. If I sent you a picture of my girls’ space you would feel much better about yours! So I will anxiously await your strategy and I know I will be motivated to move forward in mine.

      Thank you!

      February 7, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Tracy, it does make me feel better to know others run into this exact thing. :) I would LOVE to see your girls’ craft space! You are welcome to email me at jennifer {at} simplify101 {dot} com.

      Maybe we can trade ideas, so feel free to share anything you’ve tried that worked at your home, or any ideas you have in response to the dilemmas I’ll be sharing. Another set of eyes and fresh perspective can bring a lot to a project!

      I’m excited to share some of the solutions I’ll be trying to help strike a balance in keeping things neat and letting them be creative. Stay tuned! :)

      Thanks for your comments!
      Jennifer

      • February 7, 2013 at 12:18 am

        Oh I have many projects that are left undone that I have lost momentum on.
        Some are organizational, some are scrapbooking, some are sewing you name it I have a collection of them. Some of them I don’t feel creative enough to finish and wish I had help and or ideas. See the last 3 years have been extra rough and I feel like the creativity has been sucked out of me. if not the motivation, I think I have a broad spectrum of ideas in my mind of how I have lost focus. Project ADD has affected my completing them and organization. Would love to hear what you and others do!

        February 7, 2013 at 11:28 am

        Hi, April. I think this is a terrific question and one that so many of us have. I know that sometimes when I’m stuck, the key is suggestions or even just a nudge from a friend who shares that interest. Having others to keep you motivated and accountable is so helpful.

        I’m sorry you have gone through such a rough patch. I hope this will be the year things turn around for you!

        Jennifer