I took on a huge project recently: overhauling my mom’s sewing room from a cluttered catch-all room to a space where she can escape to craft to her heart’s content. It wasn’t easy.
I haven’t posted much because of personal obligations as well as a big project I took on: revamping my mother’s sewing room!
When we moved to our new apartment this spring, my mom really liked how I set up the sewing side of our dedicated office and wanted a similar set-up in her room. Now that my parents are relatively empty-nesters, they each have a room to themselves. My dad has his room for pop culture memorabilia, some game systems, and a setup to build his models. Mom has her sewing room.
Well, it was a sewing room in theory. The reality was that it was also used to store random things my parents bought at thrift stores that they didn’t have a place for, spare linens, and boxes of school supplies.
My mom is not very comfortable with change. She likes to stay in her lane and is reticent to try new things unless someone she knows is with her. I suppose that’s why she asked me to help her overhaul her sewing room. I’d push her to consider things she hadn’t, and I could see her room in a different light as someone who isn’t in it all the time.
Decluttering (or opening Pandora’s Box)
Since I was spending the week at my parents helping get Mom to-and-from some appointments, I figured it would be a good time to declutter before we did the big redo. How could I have known I opened a big ass can of worms?
In the spirit of Marie Kondo, which is get rid of shit you don’t like or use. I started first with the closet. I wish I had snapped a photo, but imagine 15 pieces of framed art stacked in a small closet, with bolts of fabric and boxes threatening to anyone who entered.
After keeping three pieces to hang in my own apartment and having my brother Isaac review the rest for sentimentality, I brought the rest of the art as well as some baskets and two guitar amps downstairs for my parents to review.
Now here’s Pandora’s Box split wide open. My parents didn’t grow up with a lot, so now that they can afford to, they like to get stuff. We inherited my parents’ love for thrift stores, but not their love for the most random things. Can you imagine their reaction when I asked them to give some stuff away?
It wasn’t pleasant.
I stuck to my guns though and got pretty harsh with them before they acquiesced and chose to keep only a few items.
I repeated the process with the rest of the room, pulling out items that either didn’t belong in a sewing room or items I couldn’t identify. I was nice enough to let Mom review the items marked for giveaway.
As I went along, I noticed that the areas that my mom attempted to organize needed a little work. For example, I found some snaps in her Buttons box, but she already had a Snaps box. She also had six boxes labeled Miscellaneous. That wouldn’t do. So as I’m decluttering, I’m also reorganizing the supplies she has, which means I’m doubling the time it takes to do the job.
In all, it took me about five days to declutter her room.
IKEA really comes in clutch for things like this. We built a custom desk from IKEA’s table bar system with two tabletops, two trestle legs, and a drawer unit in the middle, just like my setup. The only difference is that we had less space to work with. We also added two pegboards that we painted green, a knife strip for those odds and ends like seam rippers, and mounted her TV so she could have something on in the background while she worked.
I wanted to give my mom as little space as possible to shove random things in her closet, so we used the space for sturdy drawer units to store Mom’s fabric collection. We organized by color family and the mesh drawer still allow her to see what she has. I also wanted to leave a little space up top to store her extra machines.
I built this Hemnes glass drawer cabinet for her to store her boxes of notions. I wanted to use the vertical space wisely; she wanted glass drawers. I think we accomplished that!
I know she had been dying for a metal cart like mine, so we also picked up the trusty Raskog utility cart for her paints.
We used a corner mount we previously used in our old apartment to hang her TV. Grandpa’s guitar was mounted with an extra hanger my husband JR had after he sold one of his guitars.
This will be a work -in-progress since my mom BALKED when I told her what we needed to straighten her room. My brother Isaac and I put our heads together to come up with an apothecary / granny chic aesthetic based on items she already had on hand from her many thrift store jaunts. She already had really cute boxes and trunks, some beaded lampshades she scored, handmade doilies from her cousins, and a really old clock.
Isaac ordered some Urban Outfitter tapestries that are no longer in stock to tie together some of the colors from the art she wanted to keep.
She also still needs a curtain, which will only be there for the purposes of color. I told her to get a sheer one to let in light. I also donated an extra curtain rod that was more appealing than her crazy gnarled one.
The decor isn’t necessary, but just a nice little addition to make the space feel more like her own. The more important thing for her is to get more thread spool racks so she can get her huge collection of serger cones and thread spools out of boxes and onto her pegboard so she can see it.
*Whew* You can imagine that I don’t want to do much after that massive revamp. I have a few items in my upcycle / tweak pile, but besides that, I’m taking it easy until I finish an embroidery for a friend and have a better idea of what I want to tackle next!
My wardrobe needs some building and though I have some ideas, I want to wait until my to-do list becomes much shorter!