A Surprise Craft Room Before & After Story

Every once in awhile you hear a story that really hits close to home.  A story that does some tugging on your heartstrings.   The kind of story that fills you with emotion and all you can do is wish there was a way to help.

That is what happened to me.

I apologize in advance for the lengthiness of this post, but it is a story I just had to share...

I offered to keep the family's identity private, however, I was granted permission to share the amazing outcome that the love and kindness that a set of friends gifted to another friend.  And my husband and I were fortunate enough to be a part of it all!

A local family has been managing through the recent news of an illness.  They have been incredibly strong through their recent findings, however, as you can imagine, it is never easy.  Knowing what this family has been going through, a few close friends wanted to give the Mrs. an extremely happy surprise.

The Mrs. is an avid scrap-booker.  It is her hobby and passion to document all of the cherished moments in her life.  She loves taking photos of her family and creating endless books of their stories and memories.  With all of the supplies that have come with this hobby over the years, she has grown an extensive collection of papers, tools, embellishments, etc...  They had the room in their home to give her a designated place to work on her scrap-booking with her children and friends, and her husband installed some built in furniture to give her workspace and storage.

The room gets lots of love and over the years of being used, it has slowly lost order.  I think it is so wonderful when a mom has a special place to call their own, one to find quiet time within and to take a moment to enjoy a hobby.  However, I also know, being a mom myself, that there is limited time to work on our hobbies, so when time is up, Time. Is. Up.  Things get left out and unfinished until those next spare moments come around.  I also know, that moms have a tendency to put their family and the rest of the home before themselves and their own personal spaces. 

So when the Mr. and Mrs. had to travel out of town, a few of her friends stopped by to clean their home.  And what they saw was a neglected room that needed a little bit of organizing and tender loving care.  They wanted to give their friend a room update, a place to go to smile.  To enjoy her hobby.  To feel relaxed.  And that is when I got the call.

I was asked to help them give the room a little surprise makeover, and in an instant I said in a single word, "Yes-please-I-can't-wait-to-get-started!"

We decided to let the Mr. in on the surprise since we would have to take over the room at times when they would be away.

The project started out with a quick visit to the space.  I just needed to get an idea of what we were working with and a scope of the project.  I used my phone to take a few photos of the room {which are now the oh so fab, "before" shots}.

What I noticed right away is that the Mrs. sure has great taste.  And loves bins!  Which of course, I can totally appreciate!  She had working systems in place, and some that needed a little bit of attention.  She also works on the side as a Thirty-One consultant, and the desk is intended for that business.

After the initial visit, I had a few ideas swirling.  I knew that I would have limited time, the help of two amazing gals {her dear friends initiating the update} and the my hubby.  And that is when fate stepped in.

Sometimes the craziest of things happen and the second I said yes to this project, I also received an email from The Original Scrapbox.  They wanted to offer me a product to use in a blog project.  It didn't take me long to connect the dots and ask if I could use it for this specific project, and gift it to the Mrs. we were helping out.  The kind friends at the Scrapbox smiled and said, "Absolutely!"

So while we waited for the Minibox to arrive, we also waiting for the Mrs. to head back out of town for a few days, so we could takeover her space!

And then the time came.  The Mrs. was heading out for a week, the Mr. would be home during the week and leaving to meet up with her over the weekend.  We figured we had two "after work" nights and one weekend day, to get the room completely done.

Day 1

The girlfriends and I started out by completely emptying the room.  I always love to start with a blank slate, it seems to make the process a little less overwhelming.  By emptying out the room, we would be able to assess current storage {which I knew she already had plenty of} and be selective about what came back into the room and where it would get sorted down to.  When emptying the space, we made sure to keep all of her current "in process" stacks together the best that we could, and be careful to maintain any systems that she already had working.

We gave the room a quick cleaning, and while we did that, the boys were busy in the garage assembling the new Minibox {which totaled two and a half men and two and a half hours}.

Once the room was emptied, cleaned and the Minibox was assembled, we started the process of slowly bringing things back into the space.

The Minibox comes with 40 {yes 40!} canvas bins and we started out by spreading them around the room and giving each one a category.  As we started bringing things back into the room, we matched up the item to the necessary bin.  Easy peasy!

And that is how the room looked at the end of day 1!  Job well done guys and gals!

Day 2:

Day two consisted of getting the rest of the belongings into the room.

I thought it would also be fun to line the back of the built in bookcase, with fabric, to divide some of the blue on the walls and add a little backdrop to all of the cute storage she had.  To do so, without damaging her walls or bookcase, we wrapped cardboard, which was cut down to size, with the fabric and stapled the fabric in place.

Sorting, sorting and more sorting, was the name of the game on day 2.  The Mr. had already left and one of the two gals couldn't make it, so it was down to me, the hubs and friend C.  The three of us managed to get the entire room sorted and everything put into its place.

Since this wasn't our personal space, we made a pile of anything we didn't think belonged or had a home within the room.  We saved the pile for the Mrs. to go through when she returned and after the room was revealed.

Here is how the room looked at the end of day 2:

Crazy amazing eh?

Day three was the final day intended for the finishing touches.  This is my favorite part!  Label making, accessorizing and giving the room one last sweep to get it ready for the big surprise reveal!

I started out by labeling everything on the bookcases....  I added my favorite Martha Stewart bookplates to anything that didn't already have a label holder:

I could tell from the items that were already in the space, that the Mrs. loves fun colors and patterns.  So, I pulled out the Washi tape to spice up all of the labels on the bookshelf!

I also labeled all of the bins we had sorted out in the Minibox!  I even added a strip of Washi tape to some of the bins to give them that pop of color that I and the Mrs. both seem to appreciate!

While I labeled, friend C added decorative paper to the fronts of the plastic drawer carts...

Ready to see the final "after" photos?  Here is how the space looked after just a few short hours on day 3!

Here are some of the other details to this new, super fun and organized space.

I dedicated the bookshelves to hold anything that she may want to grab at while working at her counter.

This also included larger, heavier items, such as all of her scrapbooks and her stacks and stacks of scrapbooking magazines, all of which were sorted down by type.

While sorting, we found a lot of special moment items.  Ticket stubs, important papers from school, etc... Those items went into a few drawers that I labeled, "Memories".

The goal was to keep both of her work areas, nice and clear.  Nothing but a large cutting mat and a caddy to hold all of her printed photos, remained on the built in counter.

I didn't mess with the contents of her cabinets or drawers.  They were already all divided out by categories that made complete sense.  {Cutting tools, adhesives,  paper punches, etc...}

Since she often scrapbooks with her kiddos, it will be so so very great to have two work spaces!  I topped the Minibox with some pretty, "Welcome Home" accessories set out on a portable tray.

Above the Minibox, to balance out the single frame, I spray painted two of these super fabulous metal trays we found in her room {her Mr. gave me the OK}.  They now act as memo boards for her favorite family photos.

But let's take a moment to chat about the inside of the Minibox.  See how nice and compact it is?  When not in use and all closed up, it is only 37" wide.  However, not only is it on casters that make it easy to move around the room, the all of the doors are open, it can span up to 9 total feet!

All of the doors are on hinges that allow the doors to continue to open and open again for more storage.  Unfortunately, this room didn't allow it to span the entire 9 feet, however, even when opened as far as the room would accommodate, she still has access to all of the storage it boasted!  And when I say it boasted a lot of storage, I mean it!

It comes with 40 bins which range in multiple sizes.  We opted to mix and match in some of the storage she already had, with the new bins that came with the Minibox.  Of course, she can always update that as she pleases once she gets settled in the space.

All of the shelves are adjustable, allowing you to customize how you want to use it.  We divided out the colored paper onto open shelves, since I thought it would be easier to just pull the paper straight out, vs. pulling out a bin to sift through.  However, all of her "in process" projects, each got their own large bin.  The bins are large enough to fit 12x12 paper, embellishments, stickers, etc... and now she can just pick which project she wants to work on, pull out her bin and pop it up onto her workspace.  When she is done, back into the bin things go, and back into workbox.  So simple!  Hopefully that will help her to maintain a clear workspace each time she wishes to project.

In the smaller bins, that is where we sorted down different types of stickers, brads, embellishments, borders, etc...

I was even able to leave her a couple of empty bins!  There was just sooo much storage in one, space saving cart.  It is pretty incredible!

Oooh, and just to show how much the Minibox was able to hold, check out how many empty bins we were left with after this project was over!

The Mrs. will never have to purchase another bin again! {You're welcome Mr.}

On top of the workbox, inside the workbox, and on the wall above the workbox, lives her entire stash of ribbons!

And to mix function with decor, we also put some categorized embellishments in simple mason jars.


As I mentioned earlier, this gal is a Thirty-One consultant.  She needed a place to manage that side business, so on the other side of the room, I gave her a Thirty-One desk.

We installed a dry erase board, where she can put down party dates and order deadlines...

Used a clear storage divider to hold her thank yous and catalogs...

Found this super awesome little spiky thing to hold some of her business cards...

Made a rubber-band ball for her desk... and organized the drawer too!

And that completes the tour!

But here is the best part.  The part that I am sure you had to be there to fully understand and comprehend the awesomeness.... The REVEAL!

The Mr. came home a day before the Mrs. and turned the doorknob around, locking the Mrs. out of her new room and hiding the key.  The kind friends, myself and my husband all met back at the home after work.  Her friend wrote the Mrs. a letter and left it on the door, explaining the reason for the makeover and why we all felt she was so deserving of her new space.  We all stood outside of the door, waiting for her to open it and see her new room.  Goosebumps my friends.  I had major goosebumps.

And then she saw it.  And the tears came.  Tears of happiness.  Tears of joy.  Tears of relief, of love, of gratefulness and gratitude.  It was one of the most amazing moments I have personally experienced and one so hard to put into words.  It felt so amazing to be able to completely surprise someone with a new space that they can just come home and enjoy.  This is why I love to do what I do.

So lets just take one more minute to look at the before and after photos of the incredible new craft room:

A huge thank you to the gals that invited me to be a part of this incredible process!  It was so much fun to get to know you and to be able to do this for such a wonderful woman and mother.

Disclosure: The Original Scrapbox provided me with one Minibox to review and share within this post.  I am committed to sharing only products that I feel my readers will benefit from and enjoy, and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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