The 5 Biggest Mistakes I Made When Organizing My Craft Space

Get your creative space organized once and for all! Check out the 52 Weeks to an Organized Workspace challenge and/or Creative Space Bootcamp. Happy organizing!

collage of craft room organization photos with text: 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Organizing Your Craft SpaceBy the way, this post may contain affiliate links. which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if an item is purchased through one of these links. For more information, see my full disclosures here

collage of craft room organization photos with text: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Organizing Your Creative Space

We all make mistakes when it comes to our creative spaces. Some of us just happen to make more than others. I’ve definitely made my fair share of them over the years.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Organizing Your Craft Room

I love to shop and I love to organize, which always seems to get me into trouble. Coupons make for some pretty powerful persuasive tools, don’t you think? I mean, c’mon… 40% off? Sign me up!

large wire shelf filled with scrapbooking supplies neatly organized into various containers

Aside from the fact that I almost never leave my house without a coupon and therefore almost always come home with something, there are a few other things that were definitely not the most intelligent choices I’ve ever made when it came to craft supplies.

Are you curious what they were? Here are the five biggest mistakes I made when I organized my creative space. Check them out on the next page.

collage of craft room organization photos with text: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Organizing Your Creative Space

Have you made any of the same mistakes I have?

Using the same type of storage for every supply

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve mentioned this being one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made. And I did it over and over again. I would be somewhere and stumble across an awesome basket or bin and it would automatically come home with me.

You know, because who really needs a dozen pink baskets? I assure you this isn’t the way to go. Think about each supply, how you use it, and what would work best. When it’s all said and done, stick with what makes the most sense for you.

Not creating separate workspaces for different activities

I’m one of those people who needs very clear separation. Too much stuff overwhelms me. Too little space frustrates me. I very much need to be able to spread out. Right now, I have one table for making stuff and another for writing.

Shortly here, I’ll be getting a desk to set up our computers and cutters and making a workspace for Project Life. Do what’s comfortable for you instead of worrying about what everyone else doing. You’ll be so much more productive that way.

Thinking that uncluttered is the same as organized

At one point, I remember going through at least a half dozen baskets looking for something and it was nowhere to be found. Just because a space is clean doesn’t necessarily mean it’s efficient.

If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for in a matter of minutes, it’s not organized and it’s time to rethink things.

Purchasing containers before I created a plan

Sometimes, 40% off coupons are your worst enemy. I have a really bad habit of bringing containers home with me from wherever I go. It wouldn’t be an issue if they were actually the right containers, but chances are they’re not, which is why I have quite a few piles of empty baskets and bins around here.

Not having a system for projects in progress

It’s crazy to think about how many things end up getting shoved here, there, and everywhere. I have boxes and bins stuffed with things I’ve started, but haven’t gotten around to finishing.

One of the things I’m working on for my new space is a 12-shelf wire rack that I’m creating using wire storage cubes* to store unfinished projects – scrapbook layouts, art journal pages, and whatever else I happen to be working on at the moment. If you don’t have a system for these things, they end up getting stashed wherever, and then you can never find them again.

stack of galvanized locker bins
What were your biggest mistakes when you organized your creative space? Leave a comment and share.

If you’re interested, you can find 5 More Mistakes to Avoid When Organizing Your Creative Space.

This post is part of the Creative Mistakes mini-series. You can find the other posts in this series here:
5 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting Your Creative Blog
5 Mistakes To Avoid When Scheduling Your Creative Time
5 Mistakes To Avoid When Planning Your Creative Budget

And If you’re looking for more organizing posts, you can find my top 10 most popular posts here:
10 Tips For Organizing Your Creative Space On A Tight Budget
How I Organize All The Small Things In My Creative Space
Creating Workspaces That Work For You – Part I.
52 Weeks To An Organized Workspace Challenge
Creating Workspace That Work For You – Part II.
The Evolution Of My Space
52 Weeks To An Organized Workspace – Let’s Get This Party Started
12 Awesome Ideas For Organizing Your Creative Space
5 Reasons We Struggle To Keep Our Creative Spaces Organized
The #1 Reason You’ll Never Get Your Creative Space Organized

And of course, if you haven’t already, you’re definitely going to want to join us in our 52 Weeks Facebook group. That’s where we’ll be chatting about the challenges and our creative spaces.

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56 Comments

  1. My biggest mistake was in buying paper racks out of the US (the shipping cost more than the racks!!) and finding my 12″ X 12″ paper from Close to my Heart doesn’t fit because it is actually 12″ X 12 1/2″ due to the zip strip on one edge. The cardstock fits but the patterned paper – not so much.

  2. Oh no, Janet! That sounds terrible! I’m so sorry. Hope you can figure out an alternative. For a while, I used cheap wire racks for 12×12 paper. Hope that helps! Have an awesome week!

  3. Great tips, Cristi! I agree, You can always find a coupon even if you have to wait a week. Having a plan is so important. Also making your space work for you is vital. There are some women who just have a closet, or dining room table… then there are those lucky enough to have a whole room. I just moved and now that I am in a smaller space my entire system is having to be redone. The two biggest tips I would say are most important to me is 1. Take everything out of packaging (it reduces space more than you think) and 2. Keep like items together.

    Your space is beautiful and I love your blog <3

  4. Awesome advice, Taniesa! And I totally agree that like goes with like. That’s the entire basis for my organization right now. There are still quite a few things that are just sort of hanging out on the floor, but at least everything’s sorted. Lol… Have a great week!

  5. Cristi. I’ve just started following your 52 week challenge (missed the first 5 or 6, but I will catch up. I have an advantage in that I just moved into a different room that is totally devoted to my craft/sewing room. Besides having it all for my projects, it also does not have daughters left over furniture in it a was the case in the previous room I worked in. The disadvantages are that the new room is smaller and is encroached upon by roof angles that prevent standing upright in quite a.bit of the room. But my son grew up in this room so I had learned some ways to work around the unfortunate architecture. My husband kept asking how I would be able to get all my stuff in but plenty of nights laying awake gave.me some time to formulate some pretty good ideas. So far I have consolidated all color mediums: stamp pads, colored pencils, embossing powders and sprays into one main area. I purged some books last night which will be donated. Working slowly on converting wood block stamps to cling stamps filing/storing them in thintainers; some stamps, papers and embellishments will also be purged as their time comes. I will provide a picture or two later in week. I think I have decided to switch a table and a desk around which will give me a bigger work surface. I’ll post pictures as it is now and explain what I intend to do so I can get some feedback. So far, family has been impressed with the result, mainly that everything did actually fit and I find it very confortable to work in. As far as this week’s challenge. I have pretty good system for sorting paper. I have small rolling carts that hold 12×12 hanging files so paper is sorted by color. Patterned paper is sorted mostly by color, but there are some themes mixed, such as flowers, birthday & celebrations, school, wedding, baby, heritage, holidays, and so on. Ok, this comment has gotten way long so no more till I get pictures taken. Thanks!

  6. Wow! I can’t wait to see pictures, Cindy! Sounds awesome! I’m glad to hear you’re finding some things that are working for you! Doesn’t it feel great! Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome day!

  7. I so need to follow what you’ve said because I do the same thing! I find a really cute basket or someone gives me a bunch of plastic storage drawers and then I can’t see what’s in them and don’t use my product! I never thought about having a place to put “in progress” projects, that such a great idea! Hmmm, guess I better get reorganizing my craft room (for the millionth time:)

  8. No doubt, Beth! We all do it, though. Lol… Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  9. Mom and I have a small home. And the way Denver’s housing prices have gone insane, we will always have small spaces. Downstairs is the living space, and mom’s bedroom and bath. There’s a small landing at the top of the stairs outside my bedroom. It has a small desk, a tiny file cabinet that my printer sits on, and a chair. And that’s it. I could possibly squeeze in a little cart to hold a few things, like this http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30216536/ but that’s all.

    So whatever organization of what tiny bit of crafting I do (making my planner into a sort of planner/smashbook/scrapbook) is going to have to be super well organized! And small!

  10. I love my Raskog cart. I definitely want to get one or two more. Lol… You can totally make the best of a small space. Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  11. Love the having a plan for works in progress…great idea. But, organized? You’ve got to be kidding, right?

  12. Lol… I hear ya! You can totally do it, though! Thanks so much for visiting! Have an awesome week!

  13. You are wise beyond your years, excellent observations and so glad you took the time to share it. My worst mistake turned out to be built in cabinets. It looked nice but just killed my organization. I found that as I work through the years my projects and supplies and finished goods change. I now use Cubicals and fabric cubes. We are purchasing Art Bins as often as we can. Those with drawer separators, sometimes, work great. They stack well on top of the Cubicals from Target. We just bought bases for the Cubicals and right now I have covered a wall approx. 22 feet long X 8 feet tall. I cannot believe how wonderful it is. I too use separate working areas, they are a must. Good work ladies.

  14. Thanks so much for your kind words, Margo! You know what, I’ve wondered about built-ins too. I wanted them so badly, but they’re just that – built-in. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and hope to see you again soon. Have an awesome weekend!

  15. Hi-
    I just saw this pop up in Pinterest and had to pin AND comment.
    Thank you so much for sharing! I see many pins about organizing but few about organizing mistakes. I especially connected with #2 and #5. I like to work on various types of projects that have different space requirements, so have specific spaces will help. And that supports the work-in-progress idea in #5, where stuffing work away really is “out of sight, out of mind” for me. I work full time, and the idea of designated spaces for ongoing projects appeals to me. I might even use the opportunity to work on projects if they are already set up where I can see them.

  16. Glad to hear it, Becky! And yep, definitely! I love having multiple workspaces. It’s so awesome to be able to have my laptop as well as an album and a canvas project all out at once. Thanks so much for visiting and have a great week!

  17. I have Issue #5 badly right now. It seems to be a thing with me, as I have done that with quilting, cross-stitching, as well as paper crafting and scrapbooking. The good news is I do eventually go back to some projects, so I know it’s not a waste to stash it. But they are just crammed into random boxes here and there making it easy to forget they are there!

    As for space, since I hold workshops I’m constantly having to juggle my space between workshop-mode and creative-time mode. I have 2 larger tables and a smaller one (primarly). All 3 get pressed into duty during workshops, with the small table usually holding the Big Shot and/or embossing (so the powder doesn’t spread to everything else!) During creative-time mode, the table facing the TV is my main workspace with the other large table holding stuff I’ve dragged out but not ready to use yet, and the small table still holds the Big Shot and the embossing area! Works pretty well, but someday I hope to have a room with a separate desk for my laptop and also a comfy chair to do handwork (and an even nicer TV!) Future dreams!

  18. Wow Peg! That definitely makes for a busy space! I hear ya, though! I’m sharing the studio with the little guy and his tot school supplies are starting to take over. Lol… Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  19. I so identify with #4 and #5. I have a Office Depot rolling cart that I take to crops and I try to keep my kits that I need to finish in there, so I can go and grab something, but then other things get thrown in there and all of a sudden, I cannot find anything….and I have WAY too many cute baskets that I cannot see in and forget about things, so I am actually starting to label them and that is helping a lot.
    so I just got a hanging wall file from initials and it is big enough to put kits in and I am going to try to see if that gives me an easier way to find the projects and get them finished in a timely manner….

  20. Too funny, Anne! I think so many of us can relate to these. Definitely the cute baskets! Lol… Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  21. I think most crafters over-buy when we find a good deal, hence the urgent need to organize. Lol! But one mistake I see again and again on Pinterest is open paper storage. What a shame to leave those beautiful papers’ edges exposed indefinitely to fade in the light.

  22. No doubt, Jess! Thanks so much for visiting and for sharing your insight! Have an awesome week!

  23. My biggest mistake is looking at everyone else s storage solutions and believing they will work for me. I like things behind and to the left of me for easy reach and I especially like having a good light and a magnifying glass near by. I also like everything separated and in clear boxes ( strawberries and blueberries come in terrific boxes which hold many things that are easy to find. And last but not least, I like to color code so i can locate what I need from across the room. Hope some of this is helpful….:)

  24. It definitely is, Susan! I love it when y’all leave insight about how you organize your creative spaces. It’s helpful on so many levels. Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  25. Well, I’ve just done the #1 thing you said, lol. But I think it will work for me. My son just moved out ?, leaving me an empty room. I’ve been using my “cloffice” and space has been very tight to say the least. But I purchased three staggered sized shelf units and many matching baskets, but in different sizes to store everything in. Hopefully this does the trick! I’m using this space as a craft room and also I’ve just started keeping my 8 week old grandson (my first!) since my daughter just went back to work, so this room will serve two purposes for me. Does anyone know where I can find some kind of labels, metal or otherwise so I can identify what’s in each basket?
    Thank you so much for all of the awesome tips!!

  26. Love it! Can’t wait to see what you put together! Oh, and enjoy that grandson of yours! You have no idea how much I wish my parents lived closer. Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  27. For years, I’ve looked with longing at all the “organizing craft room” pins on Pinterest and dreamed of blinking like Jeannie to have my craft room magically transformed into just what I need! LOL!

    You are absolutely correct that storage containers/methods should differ by media and that another’s storage solution is not necessarily the one that will work best for you.

    I rubber stamp, paper craft, sew, draw, paint, poly-clay, metal clay, and design jewelry. As my crafting interests have expanded, I’ve struggled to store everything efficiently. I’m converting my 100s of wood stamps into cling stamps to save space and will convert the closet into a mini office to separate that from crafting space. But storage for all of my other supplies (especially embellishments, paper, envelopes, adhesives, pencils, pens, markers, brushes, tools, clay, jewelry components …) was alluding me. I finally had an “A-Ha!” moment about 6 months ago and found the main system that will work best for me. Unfortunately, it is pricey, and therefore, I knew that I’d have to implement it in stages. It now looks like that company may no longer manufacture the desk unit that would become my main work surface (a craft island), and I’m crushed. I may need to have someone build a desk to their former desk’s specs and work from there. That said, their rolling carts & other units (customizable w/ 3 different drawer heights & plastic sorting inserts) are still viable for my needs. I just need to start sorting my supplies into their plastic sorting units first, so that I can order the proper size & number of drawers when I purchase the units. 🙂

    Also, I use Really Useful Box’s 4-Litre (10″x14″x3″) clear storage boxes (found at Staples/Office Depot) for various crafts’ “in progress” projects. Smaller jewelry design projects are bagged in various sized ziplock bags (containing smaller zip bags of sorted components — beads, findings, chain, wire, cording, etc.) all stored together in a shoebox size clear storage box from the same manufacturer.

  28. That’s awesome, Colleen! Love hearing about your organzation! Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  29. Actually, I have a suggestion, not a mistake. You know those large carriers designed to hold 16 plastic containers for photos? Well, I use them to organize my bling, the kind that is on plastic sheets. It’s a beautiful thing! They are organized by color, I placed a single stone on the tops, so I can quickly see what is in each packet. My bling is organized, protected and I can see exactly what I have, so I don’t over buy! The large container is kind of pricey, so the 40% off coupon really comes in handy.

  30. Love this! Thanks so much for visiting and of course for sharing Maureen! Have an awesome week and happy organizing!

  31. I absolutely agree that you need to have separate zones for each type of project! That is one mistake a lot of people make that not only messes up their organization but also hinders their creative process. Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday this week!

  32. This is a very creative series! Finding this part of it about organizing creative space is well-timed, as I am just getting ready to reorganize all my craft supplies! Glad I found it at the DIY & Recipe Linky today. Thanks!

  33. That’s awesome to hear, Susan! And definitely don’t forget to join us for the 52 Weeks challenge if you haven’t already. Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  34. Definitely, Marie! I’ve totally made a point of creating as many separate workspaces as possible! Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  35. No doubt, Candace! Not too long ago, my space was too! It took quite a lot of time to get things to where everything was easy to get out and of course to put away. Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  36. My biggest mistake is leaving my walls empty. I need creative pictures up! Great tips 🙂 Thanks for stopping by the #HomeMattersParty hope to see you back!

  37. So true, Crystal! I’m actually in the process of figuring out what I want on my walls as we speak. Although, for what it’s worth, I don’t exactly have too many actual walls to work with. Lol… Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

  38. Not sure if you have the space in a closet, but I use to have a room about the size of Chris’ now I live in an apartment with a roommate. I have a desk in my bedroom for writing and study and eating and meds and with 2 bookcases in a corner then I made the dining area my craft area 6×8 with an Expedit Ikea to separate the space, a bookcase, and a drafting table I use as a desk. My point is that bc I have so much I keep things in my closet in medium sized clear/off white containers with lids in order to stack and everything is labeled, for example paints, extra adhesives, die cuts. I do have a cart that moves easily to each area. I have 3 Iris carts with wheels, one has office supplies in my bedroom, one has Project Life and one is in storage.

    What I would do over….I like rolling stuff out of the closet to the craft area but the carts do not provide the storage that the plastic containers with lids. I am looking for a tall wood tower sturdy enough to hold some larger items that I can roll into the craft area.

    Take advantage of wall space as much as you can. I am considering putting a shelf above my bed, LOL

    The bedrooms are big and so is our closets and we rarely use the living area

  39. Such awesome ideas, Kim! Thanks so much for visiting and of course have an awesome week!

  40. I have just had a shed built so that I can pursue my crafting projects. I actually have a grotty old galvanised iron shed that sits next to my new timber one where I store and use all my heavy duty mess making tools like sanders, saws and woodworking supplies. This keeps my other area for more ‘dainty’ work. In my timber shed I have divided it into two areas with a comfy chair and a desk on one end and a worktable at the other. i do leatherwork for people so I also have the industrial sewing machine, old singer and an overlocker at the business end. I needed somewhere to store my beloved books so I am building bookshelves into the gables at each end using wall space to keep as much of my floorspace free. I purchased some old leadlight windows at auction which I have had built into the walls to increase the natural light. I hope I can follow your tips with the ‘container conundrum’ as I have gazillions with no purpose! Thanks for your ideas 🙂

  41. That sounds awesome, Alice! I love having separate workspaces! I’m sure you do too. Yep, containers are definitely tough! I think we all have too many of them. Thanks so much for visiting and of course have an awesome week!

  42. I think my biggest mistake has been trying to keep my sewing/quilting and other crafts separated. I realize that i tend to use some of my supplies as crossovers as I try new thing. Why not try some beading and wool applique on that new tote bag? How about some ribbon roses on that new skirt? Counted cross stitch on greeting cards? Why not?

  43. Love it, Kathy! And totally makes sense too! Isn’t it awesome how different we all are? Thanks so much for visiting! Have an awesome week!

  44. Good ideas and tips. Thanks. I’m lucky enough to have a studio of my own, for which I was also lucky enough to specify the layout – the saving factor in the initial setup as I’d have forgotten the need for extensive shelving. Middle of the night “Oh no!!” Followed by, “How am I going to afford all that lumber and do all that building?” I’m a potter first and other stuff for fun later, so those shelves had to be deep and very, very strong. Serendipity struck in the guise of an auction for the building contents of a chain grocery store. Suggestion: be on the look out for these sorts of sales. Was able to acquire both sides of a 75′ long aisle in its entirety, i.e from top to the floor. Not only did we get the width but the strength plus all the uprights and the bases. All for $125.00. Beats coupons all hollow and I’ve used my share. Also got 75 baking trays with their 3, wheeled and tall racks for some minor amount.
    Having had a number of years seriously using, cleaning, using again, etc I’ve found 1. Organization will change as your work progresses. This doesn’t mean you did it wrong, but that change happens, always. Refinements are good. Major changes may be difficult, but can be mandatory. When this happens, your initial statement to Have a Plan is so important. Good for you. I’ll be checking back.

  45. There are so many good ideas out there, I must have missed the clear plastic shoe boxes and a sharpie. I look for sales so what to the color of the tops as long as the bottom is clear. I write the contents on the box and stack them 5 high on a shelf. Yes, like most others, I keep like items together. bigger things go in plastic drawers with labels from a label maker. If one container is to small and I need to expand no problem more shoe boxes, if color codeing is a necessity for you the tops are interchangeable. My rules in buying are; do I need it now, where will it go, is it on sale, what am I putting in it. Are there other options that I already have, do I already have it ( did I look for before I came to the store)

  46. My husband and I just moved into a new home and I have my own craft/ sewing/ computer (genealogy) room. I have separated things in each category as much as possible. We are learning that things in opaque boxes do not exist, so we have invested in transparent plastic boxes and crates. There’s nothing more frustrating than opening a box marked ‘Hanging File Folders’ to find out its more sewing supplies. Two problems: 1) I put things that belong in another room on shelves that I need for supplies. The shelves in the other room are not yet up and I don’t want to repack. 2) I have my own supplies and things I have inherited from my mom. Don’t know how to organize or declutter all the threads, needles, and notions yet. Duplicates by the dozens, memories by the score!

  47. Using height is a great idea, within limits–learned the hard way. A heavy, tall, rolling cart– rolled over breakable flooring–can crack the floor. Wheeled racks move with ease. But w/time, weight cracks hard flooring: ceramic tile, stone & thin hardwood. Throw rugs won’t protect this flooring & wheels scrunch rugs. Would using eclectic containers to carry only what’s needed for your project phase help? I’ve learned shelves filling all walls soak up light. Without visual breaks, inspiring art, pin boards for designs in process, creativity fades. Shelves, whether filled w/matching color/size boxes or with a jumble of fabric, tools, old papers & crushed shoeboxes lead to Nap Time. “Studio Redo 2.1” is now a design, a share-with-others, and a fun project.

  48. I only just came across this. My biggest mistake in organizing was not labeling. I use to waste so much time opening boxes to find out what was in it. Lableing is so helpful.

    Now I need to figure out a way to store all this different boxes, baskets and bins that I also can’t resist buying.

  49. I ran across your website and it is so timely! I moved about a month ago, and I have my own big studio space and am in the process of setting it up. Your tips are very helpful. I will be referring back to this page often, I have a feeling!

  50. i agree, so nice to read comments that make me feel as though I m not alone making these mistakes. and that there are alternatives.

  51. I have been organizing and taking things out of packaged made so much garbage and shrunk my dies and embossing folders neatly into one container

  52. Having just discovered you, I’m like a sponge absorbing all the creative storage suggestions. I have recently moved in with my youngest daughter, so all my stash, stuff and to-be-completed items are currently living in clear tubs, awaiting organisation. What seems a Sunday afternoon job, is quickly becoming a gigantic spiderweb like chore. I have taken under advisement the many helpful hints, and will definitely try to steer clear of the mistakes others have posted.

  53. I have 2 very large blankets in progress. When they outgrew the baskets they were in, I purchased a collapsible laundry basket. Lo and behold, I quickly outgrew that and bought another. This has been the best thing to happen. I live in a motorhome so my poor family has put up with yarn EVERYWHERE! We’re moving into a house soon so I get a room for my crafts so that they can breathe more easily. LOL

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