Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Before & After: Transforming A Spare Closet Into A Secret Craft Room!

For our latest big project John and I've been working on an old friends' home office, which needed a complete overhaul. Sue works from home full-time, but she also needs her office to serve as both an exercise AND craft room.

I can't wait to show you the whole thing - because sweet Stay Puft did we pull off a dramatic transformation - but for today, let's focus on... THE CLOSET:

Dun dun DUNNNN

This closet was a GOLD MINE of under-used space, plus Sue had already purged a massive amount, which helped even more. Since this closet was never going to be used for clothing, I know immediately I wanted to turn it into a crafty workspace.

As always John and I worked with things Sue and her husband Ken already owned, to keep the cost down. And as luck would have it, they were just about to give away a small desk that fit perfectly inside this closet:

Aha! Clearly meant to be.

Now all we needed was custom shelving, which John got to work designing and building out of MDF:

He graduated the three shelf widths from 12 to 10 to 8 inches, and extended the sides to make better use of the corner spaces:

Like so.

I'm ashamed to say we did not paint the entire closet, but we at least added that band of pink inside for a pretty pop of color. The rest of the white walls will be mostly covered, so it won't look this bad at the end, promise.

The lowest shelf is the most shallow, only 8 inches wide. That's so we could install LEDs on the outer edge of the middle shelf to light the work space below.

Hi, John! I think he's running the wire here: we ran a power strip under the right door from a nearby plug.

We tried 3 different types of LED lighting: the first were battery-operated puck lights that died within a few days, and the second plug-in LEDs didn't have a true white setting, so the color cast was too blue. Happily the third LED bar we bought from Lowe's was juuuust right.

Ready to see it all finished?


I should mention there's no chair because Sue's desk chair does double duty, and rolls over to fit neatly in the space.

Most of what you see Sue already had, which is why I discourage folks from buying any new storage containers until after you both purge *and* organize your space. The only things we purchased besides the light and shelf wood were my favorite storage bin set from Walmart, some glass jars & wall racks from Dollar Tree, and cute new door knobs from Amazon. Total cost? About $85. (The bins were $25, and the wood and light were around $20 each.)

Here, let me take you on a quick tour:

Four of the Walmart bins are on the upper sides, holding longer term storage. See how we left room so Sue can slide them over to get them out?  Then in the middle is all of Sue's scrapbook paper and craft kits, organized and labeled.

I also sorted and labeled all the drawers on the second shelf, which has plenty of room to grow. We even have 2 empty bins from the set of 6 that will fit the center there, if Sue ever needs them.

This desk has the shallowest drawer I've ever seen; barely 3 inches deep! But perfect for storing all of Sue's cutting mats. I legit did a happy dance when I realized I didn't need to hang all these mats on the wall!

Some of the coolest features of this closet are on the sides you can't see. Here's the wall to the right:

I used a $1 rack from Dollar Tree here to make a little hot glue gun station. (The thing on the left is a heat gun.) Oh, and did you know most surge protectors have built in slots that let you hang them on a wall? SO HANDY. With the plug this close to the desktop, Sue won't need extension cords!

Here's a look at the packaging of the Dollar Tree wire rack. I highly recommend grabbing a few of these, since I keep finding uses for them. In fact, here's one more on the other side of the closet:

This one holds a few of Sue's bulkier tools and her long rulers. (The big thing is a tape gun.) Originally I planned to hang the cutting mats here, which is what the binder clips were for. So as it is - more room to grow!

The two sides really make the space more functional, and I love how they're both hidden from the front.

You can just barely see the blue Dollar Tree bin I hung on the wall on the lower right: it's empty now, but will hold Sue's Cricut vinyl if/when she buys any. (And if she doesn't: trash can.)

Down below is a 3-drawer cart Sue already owned; we just removed the wheels so it would fit under the desk. The fact that it almost perfectly matches the pink wall was a happy coincidence. :)

These jars from Dollar Tree are the perfect height for storing pencils, markers, brushes, etc. By using these we were able to get rid of a massive organizer that wouldn't fit on the shelves - plus the jars are cuter, and easier to use! All I did was add chalkboard labels cut on our Cricut.

The finishing touch was new handles for the doors, since one was missing. I found a pair of these sweet ceramic knobs for about $8 on Amazon:

Totally optional, of course, but I like how they hint at something special when the doors are closed. 

Right. Let's take one last look at the before and after, since that's the most satisfying


Annnd after:

Ahhhhhh. This makes me so happy.

I genuinely can't tell you how much fun I've had with this entire room makeover; every time I'm over there John has to pry me away, ha. Stay tuned for the rest of the room's before and afters, coming soon!


  1. I like the shelves in different depths. It feels so peaceful too.

  2. This is so satisfying and I didn't even have to do the work!

  3. We are getting ready to move to a smaller home, which was making me a little anxious. THANK YOU so much! These posts are really helping me think outside the lines and be excited about a smaller home :)

  4. You two give me joy with every post! I love every happy dance.

  5. Are the shelves just sitting on that railing? Or are they held in place in any other way?

    1. Yes, only the wooden rail supports underneath - but those are on all 3 sides and screwed into studs, so they are VERY sturdy. I wouldn't recommend this method with thin wood or white wire shelves, because they might bow in the middle, but the MDF is butch enough to handle it. :)

  6. I genuinely gasped when I first saw the after picture. That's just beautiful! <3 You did an amazing job! I've got to clean out my craft space again soon, so filing away ideas.

  7. Excellent! So satisfying when a plan comes together.


  9. I love it! Great use of color: that pink stripe gives it a feminine feel without being too girly.

  10. This is fantastic. ^_^ I love utilizing closets for non-closet purposes. I liked the size and layout of my house when I moved in, except for one thing: the bedroom had *three* closets. Now it has none (I use the hall closet for my coats & hoodies and I don't hang anything else). I have an entertainment cubby + display shelves for my figure collection; a comic book nook; and the third was the perfect size to fit in a behind-the-sofa table and then press the head of my double bed against. Its so cozy and gives me enough space to work out in there & fit the jumbo dog bed.

  11. WOW!! Love it! Thanks for sharing that!
    Maureen S

  12. If you do a Canadian tour, call me please! It's perfect!

    Also: I know it's probably easy, but I'm afraid of simple things like installing shelves in a closet. Could you do a photo tutorial/or video? You guys are so great at explaining things!

  13. Anytime you want to make a trip to the beautiful north GA mountains and do something like that for me in my unfinished basement room I'm calling my craft room, you are welcome to come! And bonus, my name is Sue too!

  14. What...what is this extra closet thing of which you speak?!?

  15. 1) I'm so glad you told us what that "big thing" was on the second inside of the closet, haha. That was the only item I couldn't figure out. I thought it was a mini bicycle seat.

    2) I wish you I lived closer to ya'll since the things you do are so great! :)

  16. Aha! I've been pondering on how to mount the surge protector in my own crafting cupboard. Now I know! Thanks.

  17. "(The thing on the left is a heat gun.)" made me laugh out loud and scare a kitten.

  18. That is fabulous. I love the shelves! How did John do the edges?

    1. He used a handheld router to give them that nice rounded edge - makes all the difference in making them look more professional, right?

  19. I need you to come do this to my house, I'm currently doing chainmail pendants and gifts at a folding card table in the middle of my living room.....

    I don't have a spare closet, but I'll have to re-evaluate the various corners again I think.

  20. Love this! It looks as good, if not better, than the ones in those organization magazines.

    FYI tip for any jewelers out there -- buy a magnetic knife/tool strip for your many jewelry pliers. Just fasten it to the wall aboove your work station and you'll find those round- or chain-nose pliers in a jiffy!

  21. This makes my heart so happy! I wish I had a close to do this in but I am afraid that I have way too much craft stuff!

  22. This looks so great! I love the transformation and the paint colors. I just made over a similar space into an office but I call it my cloffice. It was kind of wasted space that is now super functional!



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