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Crafty Hobby Rooms

Even if you’re short on space, these expert tips can help give your hobby some room to breathe.
by Sarah Asp Olson

When Chris and Marilyn Hull moved into their Minnesota lakeside home, they earmarked a spare room as Marilyn’s craft space. Two grandchildren later, they needed another bedroom, and Marilyn’s projects were pushed out.

“Everything was in bins and put away; if I had a project I was going to work on, I’d put it out on the dining room table,” she says “It was really becoming a space issue.”

It was Chris’s idea to convert a connected shed space to a new home for Marilyn’s crafts. With 112 square feet to work with, organization was key.

“I wanted it to be a funky and a creative space, but function was my big thing,” she says. “We used kitchen cabinetry, so I know where everything is. And it’s easily accessible, but you can close the door, and it looks picked up and clean.”

In addition to organized supplies, Marilyn’s sewing machine has a permanent home on a table-height desk facing the window. Counter-height surfaces line one wall — perfect for standing work like laying out scrapbook pages. She also makes use of several rolling carts — stocked with everything from paper to thread — that fit under the counter.

“It’s functional, yet it’s a fun place to be,” she says.

hobby room closet

Designated workspace in a hobby room for seated activities, such as sewing, is key to ensure comfort and ease of use. Credit: Ehlen Creative Communications photos; Fox Interiors/Sky Flower Designs concept

Whether you’re looking to create a sewing nook in the corner of your guest bedroom, convert a closet into a scrapbook studio or repurpose a basement utility room for woodworking, these expert tips can help you make the most of your space.

Counter Intuitive
No matter the size of your hobby room, adequate countertop space is important.

“The key is having one big, functional work surface — something that’s easy to clean and durable, so it doesn’t get scratched and beat up too much,” says Colleen Fox Slack of Fox Interiors in Minneapolis. From there, think about the type of work you’ll be doing, and customize your surfaces for different tasks — such as cutting, sewing or scrapbooking — to make the space functional and comfortable.

“[Think about] multiple counter heights,” says Carl Cuozzo, a designer at Omaha, Nebraska-based Design Basics LLC. “Thirty-six inches is the norm for work you’ll be doing while standing; 30 to 32 inches is preferable if you’ll be sitting down.”

quilting hobby room

Loft placement of this quilting loom provides enough privacy for diligent work while enjoying beautiful views of the surrounding property from the dual casement windows. Credit: J.K. Lawrence photo

A Place for Everything
“Storage is key to making the space function smoothly,” says Fox Slack, who recommends keeping frequently used items within easy reach and storing other materials out of the way in your hobby room.

Don’t limit yourself to storage systems designed specifically for crafting, either. Scour architectural salvage and vintage stores for organizational gems that also make a visual statement. Horizontal file cabinets that once held large maps are perfect for oversized paper, while the tiny, deep drawers in a library card catalog handily hold sewing notions.

In a recent design project, Fox Slack used the space over a desk to install a slat wall system with trays and hooks. Pegboards, magnet boards and overhead shelving also are good ways to expand storage upward.

“This allows you to have more tools handy while providing a larger, functional work surface,” she says.

Tuck It Away
Can’t spare a whole room? With a little ingenuity, even the tiniest cabins can house a hobby space. “There are furniture companies that make scrapbook armoires,” Cuozzo details. “They have a door at the top, and a table hinges out with legs on it. When you need things put away, it just folds up.”

If you have a closet to spare, it can be retrofitted with a desk surface, shelves and rolling carts.

“You can easily pull up a chair and work when it is project time, and you have more table surface for leaving a project in process than with an armoire,” says Fox Slack.

And don’t forget the under-utilized spaces in your home.

“Under the stairs, there’s that triangle of space that’s left over,” says Fox Slack. “You can build drawers or cabinetry into that space. It’s a way to have all your supplies organized in one zone but you can easily access them.”

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