Craft Room Makeover:Ditch Plastic Bins for Vintage Containers

chipped mug holds pretty rocksI don’t yet keep my craft room as green and organized as Lenore does, but it is one of my New Year’s resolutions to decorate my house more nicely (along with learning to sprout seeds, exercising every day, and getting a book contract), and it is part of our family ethic that anything we do must be done as green and thriftily as possible (per my green crafting manifesto), so Lenore and I are going to be craft room buddies pretty soon, I think.

I work almost entirely with found and recycled materials, so one of my biggest problems is the storage of…stuff. Old postage stamps, orphaned game pieces, costume jewelry, wrapping paper, comic books, beach rocks, buttons, and tinsel–you name it, and it finds its way into my work, and if I can’t see it and access it, I can’t use it.

Yeah, I’m tempted every time I wander into some big-box store, 40%-off coupon in hand, by all those clear, organized, neatly-portioned craft bins they always sell. Look, a different compartment for each kind of bead, and I can see them all! Look, slide-out drawers for each different kind of paper!

But I also want my craft room to have character, to not only contain the things that inspire me, but also, itself, BE an inspiration to me. So I have not bought those clear, organized, handy-yet-bland plastic bins. Instead, I try to find vintage, thrifted, or otherwise recycled containers for all my storage needs. Here’s part of my collection of vintage containers:

mason jar holds beadsA mason jar that used to hold some of my Aunt Pam’s delicious salsa now holds some of the beads I found at my mother’s house one vacation. My daughters string these onto cording while I do my own wire-wrapping and beading.

mug holds pencilsA souvenir mug from the summer camp I went to as a child (Yep, I’m a nerd. I went to Space Camp!) holds my pencils.

lockers hold big stuffLockers formally from the IU Wrestling Team’s locker room now store projects in the works, such as clothes to be mended or remade, the organic cotton I’m (slowly) binding for towels for my family, my button maker, quilt blocks, and the fleece I bought for making mattress covers.

 Pyrex holds essential oils

A Pyrex bowl I found thrifting holds the essential oils I use making soap and cleaning supplies.

glasses hold painbrushesAnd one of the glasses that my mother registered for when she got married in the 1970s now sits on my desk, a loooooong time after both the beginning and ending of that marriage, and holds my paintbrushes.

I still have a long way to go in my own personal craft room makeover. For intance, I share this creative space with my girls, so more separate storage is need for materials they may use independently, materials they must use with supervision, materials we share, and materials only for my own use. I also plan to do some painting (low voc, of course) and, ideally, put in separate work areas for my separate creative pursuits–sewing, writing, jewelry-making, etc.

Can one tiny room even be asked to do all that?

We’ll see…

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Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.


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  1. I think this is such a cool idea. I am using an old teacup that I bought at a yard sale to hold rubber bands. I have a tiny cake container from Princess House that I broke the top to, so it holds paperclips. My husband’s Drexel Heritage chest-on-chest is perfect for all my fabric. Well…okay. Truth be told, it holds most of my fabric!! I am also in the process of getting my craft room set up and looking to reuse things I already have or I will try and pick stuff up at yard sales so it doesn’t end up in the landfill.

  2. I so desperately need to organize our craft room. For the past couple of months it’s been the only place to hold the Christmas decorations that still need to go in the attic and anything else I haven’t had time to deal with. But February is craft room month on my To-Do list, so these ideas are just in time.

    I’ve used baskets found at thrift stores, metal oatmeal jars, etc. But I really like the mason jar idea for visability.

    Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂


  3. My craft area (I no longer have a room, only a section of the living room) is more or less organized, but honestly most of my stuff is in a closet or under our bed. I love the idea of using vintage containers. Somehow that never occurred to me. And, man, did you luck out with those mesh lockers.

    I think the jar idea is the most useful for me. I can just save pasta sauce jars after we’re done with them.

  4. I can honestly say that the only two rooms which charm to me in any way are the tenth one as well as the last one. The rest look like a marshmallow vomited on them. Stereotypical and kinda disgusting.

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