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Adding a Bit of Shabby Chic to the Bitty Craft Space

Updated on February 9, 2014

With Genuinely Shabby Items!

It was a writing challenge to "move one thing" that motivated me to finally get the old spice rack that I had painted in distressed ivory mounted and off the floor...not onto the wall, but onto a walled-up door. The craft space and day bed together make up one wall of a very tiny studio apartment that was evidently parceled from a larger apartment here in this 1920's building. (That is, after all, Seattle you see outside the window, and I can't afford even 200 square feet of Seattle.)

Well! Moving that one thing freed up floor space, and the corner looked at least as good as it had with a lone picture frame hanging there -- possibly a little better. Then hmmm...

It looked like adding a few decorative items would help it reach 'critical mass' and go from cluttered to a (more) properly shabby chic. How about sitting a little teddy bear atop, and a little box,and a couple notecards...

So, yes, I moved more than one thing. I did quite a bit of rearranging with (mostly) the items I already had.

It was too much for me to get the larger cabinet with the faux verdigris finish onto the wall, but I did manage to move it off the floor. I cleared out a couple drawers of a small plastic organizer and moved it into another part of the apartment. Then I set my cabinet atop the larger organizer and piled on gift boxes and such. The end result? More natural (though slightly mismatched and sometimes old) storage and decor.

The decorative boxes mostly come from the dollar store and the thrift store. I bought a three-pack of decorative gift bags once and used two for trinkets for my little nieces. Now the third gift bag is holding my paint brushes. (It does have a fake jewel on the tag, but I don't think it quite carries me beyond shabby chic and into 'Fancy Nancy' territory.)

Evolution of a Spice Rack

Here is a look at the spice-rack-turned-paint-storage at various points along the way. I painted it distressed ivory and attached the decorative plaque long before I mounted it. The second to the last picture shows what it looked like sitting on the floor near a pretty little stool (a stool which at some point garnered some fake ivy for atmosphere).

The little fridge you see off to the side gives some sense of the scale of the space I'm working with.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Storage for Some Hard to Store Items

I have a wicker and metal letter holder from the thrift store holding my wood veneer. Some of the molding is now housed in a decorative cylindrical box from the dolllar store. (The lid to the box is on a cabinet shelf -- it's holding my miniature tiles.)

Beautiful Boxes

There is one downside to getting your pretty little boxes at the thrift store. I recently got a beautiful round one on a sale day. I discovered the inside was dirty. I ending up re-purposing an old Tupperware lid to line the bottom of the box.

Now here are a couple nesting boxes that are reminiscent of my new... er, not-so-new one.

Round Nesting Gift Boxes Floral Design - Set of 2
Round Nesting Gift Boxes Floral Design - Set of 2

You can also get rectangular boxes to (more or less) match.


Before: Sectioning off a Craft Corner

Below are images of the craft space at different points along the way. (Oh, and there's that fridge, mugging for the camera again.)

I am no home decorator. The wall with the craft corner may have already been the best laid out in the apartment, even before it got dressed up. It was quite functional. A piece of office furniture sits at the end of the daybed and serves to section off the craft corner. The exterior of the dollhouse and the back of the shelving unit both face outward, toward the main part of the studio apartment. A lot of the clutter -- and the bitty little things -- are hidden.

If all the furniture was against the wall and all the bitty things facing outward -- wow, that would be a lot of clutter. It seems obvious to me now, but for years, this sort of thing was not obvious. I have improved my awareness of the physical space around me since I began writing online (and taking pictures). I can recognize clutter in a photograph. In 3-D space... not so much. I depend on photos to tell me how things look.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Against a Seattle Sky

More or Less There

One more picture (for today): The fan atop the door frame was my mother's -- likely from the days when she was an airline attendant, traveling between New York and Mexico. It belongs.

Now some might say this craft corner is too much. Maybe it's the way I took this picture, but I'm thinking something's still missing. It's not quite there yet. It could become a shabby chic confection yet. I mean, look at that long architectural thing-a-ma-jig there in the corner between the walls. It wants... What does it want? More picture frames and mementos? More ivy trellises?

Sometimes, you know, more is just... more.

Thoughts to Share

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      4 years ago

      I think this is awesome and what you did with the hat box was a great idea and you still didn't have to spend a lot of money. I like using items like spice racks, book cases and the such to hold things other than what they might have originally been for, that using your thinking cap...:) Great work, you should be very proud of what you accomplished. :)

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      4 years ago

      This is great and gives me some hope. Nice lens!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Wow, what a difference!


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