Create an Inspiring, Low-Budget Craft Room

Ever since we moved into this house SEVEN years ago, I have intended to make a corner of the basement into a craft room, where I could keep all my supplies, spread out projects, and find inspiration.  But instead it turned into–well, if you have a basement you know exactly what it turned into–a Subterranean Landfill. In spite of a big table, and plenty of light, I would lug my sewing machine upstairs whenever I wanted to use it, because every surface of my basement corner was covered with junk.  But I finally got motivated.

craft room


This half of our basement was finished when we moved in, with new carpet but also funky old paneling on the walls and acoustic tiles on the ceiling.  We are the only ones that go down there, and so it doesn’t make sense for us to spend the money to really re-do it, and it’s a perfectly decent workspace as is. We put in good, energy efficient windows from a salvage yard to keep the room warmer.  It is a long and narrow space, so we decided to split it down the middle.  Tom gets the back for his Man Cave (yes, he is at this very moment shopping  Goodwill for a Levitz-style recliner), and I get the front for my craft room.

I didn’t buy any furniture–everything in the room I begged, stole, re-discovered, or re-purposed.  For organizational supplies, curtains, and lighting, I coupled all of the above with a judicious trip to Ikea, and spent less than $100 total.

A light curtain divides the space (I don’t want to actually see Tom’s recliner!).  The curtain panels came in pairs (FAR cheaper at Ikea than if I had bought fabric and made them myself), and I only needed three panels, so cut the fourth in half and hemmed it for window curtains.

This nice work table used to be for computer work, so it has a keyboard drawer which I use for easy access to the things I constantly need. Thin, plastic placemats on the drawer and table protect the unfinished surfaces from gluing and rubber stamp projects.


I had to take my own neuroses into account:  I don’t like plastic bins, and I don’t like supplies hanging on the wall from pegboards–though I know people make good use of such things, they make me feel unsettled and cluttery.  So I use thrifted baskets, mason jars from the pantry, and Ikea boxes for storage.  My upstairs writing studio (which I will post about soon) is more girly-pretty with lots of sage greens and rose, and I practically live in that room, so  I wanted bolder accent colors here–the black and white curtains, grass green, orange, sunny yellow.


This little table has been around the family since before I was born.  I used a sample bottle of sunflower-yellow paint to brighten it up.


I’m thrilled.  Let the inspiration begin!!

Do you have a version of the Subterranean Landfill just waiting for recovery?  What will you do with it?


(A few current-favorite craft books on the shelf:  The Black Apple’s unique and wondrous Paperdoll Primer, Esther K. Smith’s How to Make  Books,  and Tracy Whelan’s new Sew What You Love.)



  1. Love the intentional detail and how great to finally have a designated space for the sewing machine! *Really* like the woven sling slung on the side of the bookshelf for tubular storage–creative! Thanks for sharing and I look forward to getting a peek at your writing space 🙂

  2. Nothing compares to having a haven of one’s own, especially one dedicated to creative pursuits! My studio also has curtains from Ikea, in a leaf pattern, coincidently, as well as lighting and shelving…it made for a simple start! I just re-did the room (pics on my blog), and changed my storage techniques a bit. I used strips of molding to make thin shelves for paint bottles, which helps me remember to put them back when done, and have every inch of wallspace covered with artwork (mostly others’). The room inspires and insulates me when stress gets to me. I wish you many happy, creative hours in your new space!

  3. Congratulations on your wonderful new creative space! I really enjoyed reading about your process, and the results look great. (I particularly noted that pretty rug.)

    My own studio, as you know, serves as both writing space and craft space. It’s painted a bright cheerful yellow for these dark days we’re getting so many of. But the best part is the row of bird feeders on the balcony outside!

  4. Patti Gotz

    It’s lovely to have a space for creativity and yours is great for inspiration. Is the sewing machine a Pfaff?? The shape looks right. I own one myself and love it.

    1. lyanda

      Mary–Thank you. The bags you mention were made in a tiny village in Ecuador, where even the twine they are knit from was rolled by hand with local coir. I love them.

      Nici–thanks for the well-wishes. I peaked at the photos of your studio. Beautiful!!

      Trileigh–I love your yellow room, and agree with you about window feeders! I have three on the window behind my writing desk, and they bring the most wonderful distraction.

      Patti–Good eye! It is indeed a Pfaff. Love that German engineering.

  5. kate

    It looks great–I especially love the yellow table and twinkly lights. I appreciate the reference to Brenda Ueland (one doesn’t see her referenced nearly enough).

    Strength to your sword arm!

  6. Mary Thompson

    Thanks very much for this – I needed a lift tonight. Loved the description of the basement as Subterranean landfill. I had my home office/library in the basement for years and moved upstairs when my dogs got older and could not negotiate the stairs anymore. Then two parrot lived there for a few more years and the most recent occupant for nearly two years has been my adult daughter and her pets. Now she is leaving and I can reclaim the space for my own. You have given me inspiration to turn it into a studio.

  7. Pingback: If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland: A beautiful book (and an apology)

  8. I miss having a basement, and not just for the storage I wish we had, but because I love being a hermit and getting crafty! You hear about these huge mega-houses that have big gift-wrapping rooms (gift-wrapping rooms!) but all I want is a basement corner. With twinkle lights.

  9. I’m thrilled! That room always seemed like the awkward stepchild of the house; though we spent a lot of time fixing it up back to a vague 1960’s-ish spendor (matching replacement acoustic tiles to the existing one, for example), it really never seemed to gel towards one obvious, defined purpose. A lightly-divided man cave + crafty space? Perfection. (Not to mention a lovely metaphor for your relationship… 🙂 /d/

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