gaining space & resourcefulness

Marian ParsonsArt, Artistic Endeavors57 Comments

I said I was going to hang the postal sorter on the wall to gain some space on the table, so I did just that!  Well, I say “I”, but Jeff actually did it for me.  I did take everything down, tell him where I wanted it hung, and then put everything back, so I was a participant!  He’s just better at hanging things than I am, given that he’s a perfectionist and, basically, a human level.

It was a small change, but those few inches of table that I gained makes a big difference in the functionality of the space.  I can put so much more on the table now and I have unobstructed access to the cubbies.

I was able to make better use of the lower cubbies, since they weren’t blocked.  So, I filled them with some small canvases, water color palettes, sketch books, etc.

We hung the shelf using L brackets on the top and bottom.  Since the wood is old, and therefore more prone to splitting, this was the most secure way to hang it.

I wanted to hang it high enough, so I could fit my brushes underneath, but we ended up hanging it just a tad too high, so there was an awkward (to me), empty space.  I immediately thought a tack strip or magnetic strip would be perfect.  I could tack up inspiration pictures, small color swatches, etc.  I hopped online and found some white magnetic strips that would work perfectly, along with some plain, metal magnets.  The cart total was only $18, but I hesitated.

I caught what I was doing.

I was ready to buy something before I took stock of what I already had and put good, old fashioned resourcefulness to use!  There was a time when resourcefulness was all I had to make improvements in my home.  That resulted in all sorts of crazy, but pretty great ideas.  Well, some crazy and stupid ideas, but there were things that worked out great!

So, I emptied my cart and went back into the studio to see what I could come up with.  When I scanned the room, the “clothes line” strung along the window caught my eye.  I can do that! 

I just tapped a couple of nails into the wall and strung some blue & white twine between the two.  I used some mini clothespins to clip things up.  It looks much cuter than a magnetic strip and I saved $18.

I was kicking myself a bit, though.  Why was my first reaction to buy something?  I’m glad I had this moment, though, so I can make a point of practicing my resourcefulness and buy something when it makes sense, not as a default.

I still need to move things around, but it’s coming along.

I also made a small update to the cabinet on the back wall.  I put an antique basket up top and a crock.  It just adds some nice texture.

And, speaking of purchasing things, I bought a pastel storage case last week.  I had been looking for one for a long time, because my pastels were all in separate boxes, which was cumbersome to use and hard to even see what colors I had or compare values.  I haven’t bought one, though, because they seem to either be cheap (and cheaply made with lukewarm reviews) or very expensive.  By very expensive, I mean $250 for a small case.  I love art supplies, but I’m just not there, yet.

I found one that looked great, but it was $39 and the reviews were good, so I ordered it.  It arrived and I eagerly arranged my pastels in it.  It looks glorious and there’s plenty of room to grow.

But, the panels that lock into place to don’t hold the pastels in tight enough, so they start to shift and roll around, some even hopping into the next “lane”!

Major bummer.

So, now it’s back to looking for other options.

I have been looking at some homemade box options, makeup storage, cutlery trays, etc.  We’ll see if my resourcefulness can turn up something great (and hopefully not stupid.)

Any suggestions?

gaining space & resourcefulness

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57 Comments on “gaining space & resourcefulness”

  1. Love what you’ve done hanging the postal sorter, great to have that extra room. Re the pastels holder, could Jeff build you exactly what you want at the right price? Don’t know if he has time now, but it’s an idea.

    1. I’ve thought about adding more foam or even bubble wrap, but I think the problem is the hinges and how flexible the holder is. Good thought, though, I could just modify the current box.

  2. Lining the bottom was my first thought too! Or, long strips of foam as placeholders? Tiny dividers? Your great mind will come up with a solution!

  3. I always love the marriage of asthetics and function in any room in the house. Forgive me for prying but when I look at the gorgeous postal sorter I mostly see a “knick Knack” type holder with the type of items you keep in it as opposed to supplies you would use regularly. Would you mind if I asked you to share a little more about your thoughts on this particular choice of storage vs. display in your working office since you mentioned that you are maximizing available work-space right now? Thank you very much!!

    1. Actually, there is a combination of supplies and decorative items! Some of the functional stuff is either pretty as well or hidden inside pretty things. Some of the small ironstone jars, I use for holding water for watercolor, the butter pats are used for color wells, and most of the marmalade crocks are filled with binder clips, erasers, clothes pins, blending stumps, etc. 🙂 Form and function!

  4. Everything looks great!
    And now….can you picture all your loyal readers who have just finished reading this post and are now sitting with their heads tilted to one side while they ponder the Problem of the Imperfect Pastel Box? The thought of that makes me smile 😊😊😊 And here is my idea….won’t solve the whole problem but maybe part of it…. Would it help if the hinges were removed so the two boxes could be stacked? So then foam or whatever layer was between them would be pressed down to hold things in place better? Of course that would still leave the top layer uncovered….and I don’t know what would make a good top for that, or how the two stacked layers might be held together firmly.

    Oh well, we all know you will work out a good solution! And in the meantime I had fun thinking about it 😊

    Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement you give us with your “progress not perfection” mantra while letting us watch your skill with oil paint blossom! 😊

  5. Marian, each time you write about and photograph the postal sorter, I chuckle at how events, even postal sorters, have impact on us. At Luckett’s last spring, I came back to your booth twice specifically to look at the postal sorter. I adored its shape and possibilities. I stood admiring it for quite some time. There was a little voice in my head that reminded me I truly had no where to hang the piece, but I wanted it badly because it was unusual and frankly, just so fantastic in many ways. Of course I didn’t purchase it, and it has become a subject of your posts several times. I love my connection to it…reminds me of a fun day and the possibilities of even postal sorters!

  6. What about bamboo silverware drawer trays or even better… Those antique box/chests that fancy silverware were stored in? They are a dime a dozen in antique stores here

  7. I love how you utilized the postal sorter with lots of the items you use for painting. I am enchanted by your small paintings. Do you ever sell them?

  8. Here is my suggestion for the pastel case, seperate them and add a wood or plexiglass glass lid with hinges and closure or buy another and make lids with them, you can store drawings on the top side or nothing all, or make a sturdier panel.

  9. Love the marmalade jars! I just saw one over the holidays…it was a tad to expensive for me to use in my craft room. I’ve been trying to be more resourceful of things that I have instead of rushing out and buying something new. I don’t make NY resolutions but this is one thing that I’m working on for 2018. So far so good…but it’s still only January!

  10. Happy Day, Marian.
    I am totally connecting to your post today! Due to recently burst water pipes in my laundry room, I had to remove and dispose of the throw rugs and re-arrange everything else. I went right online to find new area rugs and maybe a new set of shelving or some other solution for storage. After two or three days of perusing and comparing, I finally started looking through the house for solutions. (BTW, I resolved to stop spending on non-essentials this year but had felt that renewing this small room was a necessary for me…bad, very bad girl.) Soooo, as you can imagine, I found all kinds of ideas as I moved from room to room, deciding how what treasures would satisfy my current needs. And, it was actually fun. Thank you for the daily inspiration. You are a gem!

  11. What about foam-core board, cut to size? It’s not very thick and would have some “give” to it, but would also be firm enough to keep the pastels in place.

    My mama was the best at re-purposing….she called it “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. It is most satisfying!

  12. hello,
    I just love your overall aesthetic, it makes my eyes happy. My curiosity is getting the best of me here… what is the clear jar with liquid on the 4th row, fifth cubby? At first glance I thought it was dentures! Pardon me for my nosiness.

  13. Everything looks great. How is the white painted floor holding up? Would you recommend it for a work space?

    1. It’s holding up pretty well overall. The easel has “pushed” a bit of the paint, but I think that’s mostly because it wasn’t completely cured. It does have some paint splatters and it’s showing a little wear where I stand in front of my easel a lot, but I really like the charm of that. I think it’s great if you’re not a perfectionist! And, I like knowing I can always throw a new coat of paint on if it starts looking too bad. I don’t think I would do this in my whole house, though.

  14. Shopping at home and I mean shopping by walking around and letting the creative juices flow has resulted in alternative solutions for me so many times. It could also be due to the fact that I have soooo many things, haha. At least, stuff is organized so I can actually see it. I love your little clothesline idea.

  15. Your handmade clothesline gallery suits your purpose beautifully. It’s way cuter than a manufactured magnetic strip would’ve been. I’m proud of you for resisting the impulse to consume rather than create. Your example will be an inspiration.

    Ann’s idea about modifying the pastel box is spot-on. Another approach you might try is to put a shim into the slot at one or both ends of the divider panels for a snugger fit. An extra-long wooden match tucked in vertically might work, with the top trimmed off at upper edge of box.

  16. Actually yesterdays dissertation on your kitchen and shopping at home inspired me. I moved the microwave over to the other side of the kitchen and it freed up so much space etc. That was just the beginning……………… If could I would put it in a lower cabinet, that isn’t possible here. Toured the basement can came up with two vessels to hold kitchen stuff. Even had enough wood ware aka “treen ware” to fill a crock.

    About your foam situation. I can’t think of the proper name but they are sold in the craft section near the felt. Pages that feel like foam and come in colors. Fun foam?

    Thank you Marion and all the people who contribute their ideas to your page. I always said that you learn a little something from everyone.

  17. I, too, think you can come up with an improvised solution to the pastel storage problem. Those boxes that you have them in would work well tucked into some kind of shallow drawer so they could be pulled out and accessed that way. Of course, you need a table or cabinet to attach the drawers to. Anyway, I bet you’ll come up with the perfect solution. Map cabinet that can also hold paper, canvases, etc. Have fun. Love this room.

    1. Yes, I think you’re right! I was thinking the box was a waste of money, but it’s great until it has to be closed. I’ve been thinking through some modifications that would fix those issues, though. Great suggestion.

  18. Nice to see you settling into your new space, it looks great. I don’t have any suggestions for your pastels case but they look like artwork, so pretty!!

  19. The pastels are gorgeous! What about a piece (or a couple layers) of upholstery batting cut to fit? It’s “squishy” enough to close in a shallow space and “sticky” enough to hold the pastels down. Good luck!

  20. Hi Marian,
    I’ve followed and read your blog for years and love it. What drew me to it was your love of antiques and using your milk paint to transform them into beautiful pieces! I miss that! When are you going to do some more of that? I can’t be the only one that misses it. I even searched my town until I found your milk paint to use on my projects. You are a lovely artist as far as landscape painting, etc but it just doesn’t spark my interest and creativity like the furniture painting and decorating. Most of us out here can’t “draw a stick man” much less paint a landscape but we can paint a piece of furniture 😂 Just a thought that we would love to see some furniture transformations in 2018!

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I do have some furniture painting/upholstery project coming up, but the big difference is that I’m just doing them for myself and not to sell. Because there is only so much furniture I can fit in my house, the posts will be fewer and further between.

      I understand that some people love the furniture posts and that is what they’ve come to expect from me, but I’ve been cranking out pieces for years and, honestly, I’m physically tired of doing it at that pace. Furniture is always what I browse for on craigslist and what I’m drawn to in antique stores. I am a furniture-lover through and through, but I want to work on my house and nurture some other creative endeavors during this season.

      It’s not going away entirely, though, so I hope you stick around!

  21. I know this probably sounds crazy but, is there anyway to fix elastic on one side then the other to hold them in, without really seeing it, it is hard to tell. I have been doing the same thing, stopping to see what i can use in my house before i buy.

  22. I’m not sure I understand what I’m seeing in the photo, but are the “lane dividers” removable? It *looks* like they could be slipped out of their slots and replaced with dividers that are custom cut from the same thickness of wood but just tall enough to hold the pastels in place and fit tighter against the cover that clips over them when you close the case. Maybe? JoAnn’s Fabrics sells balsa wood online, in sheets 24″ long by 1/4″ thick by 3″ high, and in 1/8′” thickness also.

  23. I didn’t read all the comments but I’d need to put a white strip of wood under the cubbyhole to cover up the new and shinny brackets. It would bug me just knowing the brackets look so new on a cool antique piece. Otherwise it looks great hanging on the wall

    1. You can see them in the pictures, but they are barely noticeable when you are just in the room. 🙂

  24. the pastels are so pretty and inspiring I’d put a shelf up and lean them back against the wall, ( like you have with your birds picture) with or without a plastic glass cover. or if you’ve got some spare easels, sit them on it. Love your studio x

  25. ‘t it great to have your own place to create!!! Love seeing you enjoying and making it better all the time. For pastels, I purchased a wood three-drawer box for mine (made for pastels)–pastels stay in place really well, and the drawers can be pulled out individually, and when you’re done,they are neatly put away. Another idea,when you have lots out while creating, they could be lying on a tray with rice, which keeps them from rubbing against other colors and dirtying them up.

    1. Which one did you get? I was looking at reviews of those and some of the had issues with poor quality, drawers not fitting properly, etc.

  26. I love it all. Now that you’re in MN, hope to see a nice Red Wing crock in your home one of these days!

  27. I agree with the other reader who said you should make a print of the first photo in this post that could be framed. It really is so beautiful to look at with all those colors next to one another. I would put it on my wall!

  28. Maybe I missed it, but I was wondering about that light you have on your easel. If you have time, maybe you could address that.

    1. It’s a clamp-on easel light I purchased from Blick. I have a daylight bulb in it, so my colors are more accurate (hopefully) when I’m mixing them.

  29. Where did you find those fantastic bird pulls on your cupboard?

    This makes me want to “shop” the house and reconfigure my current studio situation!

  30. Love it all! I recently sold a table just like this (wish I could show you a picture…They could have been twins!)

    I so wish I had a studio like this inside! My 10×10 workshop is in our garage and I just have had no desire to be out there painting lately with the cold temperatures! So for the time being, I am organizing my inside desk area and planning for when it finally warms up to maybe 40’s?

  31. Marian did you see this pastel box with a lid? It fits inside a French easel for plein air work. I have several setups of art supplies, one for in the car on road trips, one for our camper, one for plein air. That way the setup I need is ready to go and I don’t forget something important.

  32. Hi Marion! I am a pastelist and search high and low for storage. I eventually did end up buying one of the expensive ones but if the panels that lock down in your case do not have foam then glue a small layer of foam to the side of the panel that will sandwich the pastels in place. Did that make sense? Board, foam, pastel, foam, bottom interior of case.

  33. So glad I saw this post. I have a very similar set-up with an oak library table and a rustic bin shelf ting. They have been together for years. Today I had the husband attach the bin thingy to the wall and I love the result! Wow! Those few extra inches on the table made quite a difference and I really like the airiness of the space under the bin! Thanks for the idea!

  34. Pingback: Kitchen Nook - Sarah Kay Hoffman

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