Storage Tips

6 Tips for Bringing Order to Crafting Supplies Chaos

Glue sticks, glitter, and paint brushes no longer rule the room.

June  1, 2018
Photo by James Ransom

Have you ever fallen deep into a crafting rabbit hole, fully committing to a project, only to emerge at the end with a whirlwind mess of yarn bits, glue sticks, and washi tape surrounding you?

The key to enjoying any new hobby—from cooking or scrapbooking—is to keep things organized. In Hello Color: 25 Bright Ideas for DIY Décor, blogger and crafter Rachel Mae Smith teaches you how to tackle your crafting area before embarking on a number of fun and vibrant DIY projects for the home. Read on for her best tips to keep the chaos at bay.

A book cover couldn't be more cheerful.

How to Organize Your Crafting Supplies

Nothing slows down a project like a messy craft room. You can’t find the supplies you need or even see what you have. Even worse, disorder can limit creativity. When you’re too focused on the mess, there’s less time to daydream about what you’re capable of making—and that’s no good.

ROYGBIV, am I right? Photo by Rachel Mae Smith

In an ideal world, we would put away all our tools and tidy up as we work, but that’s just not how it happens. Sometimes you have to get a little messy! Instead of forcing yourself to be perfect and neat, try devising a craft storage system that works with you and the way you work.

Here are some tried and true tips that will help you want to clean up after a project, allowing you to spend less time tidying and more time doing the important things, like shopping for shoes online.

1. First and foremost, ditch the clutter.

I know that as crafters we want to save everything from yogurt lids to old candy tins in the hopes of using them someday. But if you don’t have an immediate plan for an item, or if it’s not a material you use frequently, don’t let it collect dust in your space. Trust me, I know that ribbon scrap is pretty, but the odds of ever using it are low. Once your space is full of tools and materials you turn to regularly, it will be easier to organize.

2. Separate your supplies.

Grouping things by type or function will help you find what you’re looking for faster: all the tape in one drawer, all the glues in another, all the brushes in a bin, and so on. This also makes putting materials away easier because you immediately know what goes where without having to find a new place to put it. For miscellaneous items, try grouping them into categories by type of craft if you don’t have enough to warrant individual containers.

Keep like items together. Photo by Rachel Mae Smith

3. When it comes to storage, think outside the box.

I love open containers for organization. They help me access and put away items quickly while allowing me to display some of my prettier supplies. For example, mason jars are perfect for corralling paintbrushes and scissors, and wire baskets are great for showing off a washi tape collection. If you’ve got a small space, consider an over-the-door shoe organizer—you stash supplies in all the compartments.

4. Not so into open storage? Try labeling and decorating boxes instead.

You can paint plain boxes from craft stores, or give an old shoebox a DIY makeover with pretty paper and decoupage.

Crafting nirvana, right here. Photo by Rachel Mae Smith

5. Make space.

You can put your supplies into boxes all you want, but if you don’t have a set place to put everything, it will just end up getting disorganized again. Clear a small section of your home, whether a corner or a closet or a shelf on a bookcase, and dedicate it expressly to your supplies. Not only will things be easier to locate when you need them, you’re also less likely to mix up non-craft-related items with your supplies. Wall shelves and pegboards are a great solution if you’re tight on floor space.

6. Find a way to display your supplies that's as decorative as it is functional.

For example, if you’re storing paints in a basket instead of loose on a shelf, make sure the tubes are tightly closed and stored upside down. You’ll be able to see and grab colors faster, and putting them in rainbow order is always fun to do! Any type of material with a pretty label also looks good grouped together on open shelving.

A basket as colorful as the markers within. Photo by Rachel Mae Smith

Excerpted from Hello Color: 25 Bright Ideas for DIY Décor by Rachel Mae Smith. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.

How do you keep your crafts from taking over that spare corner of the room? Share your tips with us below! (Psst: This post contains products independently selected by our editors, and Food52 may earn an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases.)

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Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.