Scrap room organization

My husband says I like to organize my scrapbooking supplies almost as much as I like to scrapbook.  He may be right.  I’m a bit of an organizational nerd and find that I’m far more creative and productive when I have things “just so”.

Having done a major purge of my scrapbooking area in the past 6 months, as well as simplifying by moving to pocket scrapbooking, my stash is staying far more organized.

Our spare room in the basement doubles as my scrapbooking storage space.  When I’m ready to work on my albums, I pull out a folding table and set it up in the living room area of the basement, so I can spend time with my husband and watch TV, a movie or hockey game.   It’s easy to go back and forth to the spare room to get things that I might need.

I use Recollections modular cube storage system available at Michaels.  I originally purchased these when they were made by Jetmax, and I can really tell the difference between the Jetmax cubes and the Recollections ones.  My Jetmax ones are going on 5 years old, have been moved and reorganized numerous times, and they are holding up great.  The Recollections ones are barely a year old and are already starting to show a lot of wear and tear, warping and just generally not as sturdy.

There may come a time when I ditch these shelves for another form of storage – I’d love to go with an Expedit bookcase or Raskog  cart from Ikea (might not roll well on my carpet), but for now they do a great job.  I downsized from 16 cubes to 9 in the past year with my de-stash, and it’s my goal to use up supplies rather than keep adding.  If I find I need another cube, it’s time to take a good hard look at what I have and what I can sell off.


On the top, you’ll find my desktop organizer with my most used tools – pens and a pencil, post-it notes, corner chomper, date stamp and ink pad, adhesive and scissors.  My Ott light  is here, which is handy since I scrapbook in the basement and the light isn’t great.  Finally, my fantastic Christmas present, a Silhouette Cameo.  It replaced my Cricut and I’m so glad that I did.  Love not having cartridges and being able to buy one design as needed.

The left and middle cubes of the top row of cubes contain empty 12×12 D-ring albums.  The right hand cube contains 12×12 D-ring albums with most of my pocket page protectors sorted.  Everything except Design A and D, which I have a ton of, are in these binders.  I keep my binder of printed Card Design Reference sheets and printouts of ideas and material from classes I’ve taken on this shelf too.  There’s also envelope pages for memorabilia, idea books, my planner and notebooks, and my 12 inch paper trimmer.

In the middle row, the first 3-drawer unit contains memorabilia and pages that are in progress, tools and spare parts for my Silhouette, and coloured pens, stamps and inks. The middle 3-drawer unit has stickers and chipboard letters, tools that I don’t use as much such as punches, other adhesives, and extra post-its, and my acrylic paints which I’m debating what to do with.  I love the look of painted chipboard, and will likely cut more embellishments in chipboard with my Silhouette.  But these paints are old and some of them are really goopy.  I need to see if anything can be done to rescue them.


The end 2-drawer unit contains some of my pocket scrapbooking cards.  One drawer has all my packages of coordinating cardstock.  I started out buying both the 3×4 and 4×6 packages for each kit, but I don’t use it as much as I thought I would, so I’m limiting myself to buying 4×6 and cutting a sheet down if needed.  The other drawer has my blank cards – grid, ledger, lined and plain white, as well as small photo cases which contain my Project Life themed card packs.

The first two cubes of the bottom row are obviously paper.  I sort my cardstock by colour, and then I have a section with a paper organizer in it.  This is for the Project Life coordinating papers – I have dividers in the organizer to label the paper with the corresponding kit name.  I have a small section of 12×12 patterned paper, then there’s my chipboard and plain white paper for printables.


The 2-drawer cube contains my pocket scrapbooking cards.  Each kit is labelled in its own section of the drawer.  One of my projects for the next bit is to cut pretty dividers with my Silhouette! I have mostly Becky Higgins kits, but have also branched out into WRMK and Simple Stories recently.  There’s getting to be a huge variety in the marketplace thanks to the popularity of the pocket scrapbooking system, and it’s getting hard not to BUY ALL THE THINGS!

I love having 95% of my stuff in one place, ready to go.  The only other storage I have is for my photos that are printed and waiting to be scrapbooked, which are in plain photo albums on a bookcase in the living room.  As well, my stash of extra Design A and D page protectors are in boxes in the closet of the spare room.


Making Project Life your own

I’m in a few Project Life Facebook groups, and one thing that frustrates me is when I see people stressing about whether they’re doing Project Life the “right” way  or what is the “best” way.


Whatever works for YOU is the best  way.  Make Project  Life fit your style of photo taking and scrapbooking, not the other way around.

Do you take pictures of events and then scrapbook them?  That’s what I used to be before having Miss A.  The camera came out for Christmas, birthdays, trips, or other big events.  If that’s when you take pictures, then continue to do it that way.   Scrapbook the events in 12×12 pocket pages, or do mini albums.

If you want to start documenting more of everyday life, do it.  Do a weekly approach a few times a year, or all year, do monthly pages, or take a photo a day.

Combine the two.  Do everyday layouts and then add more pages whenever there’s a big event.

Do you want to stick with one core kit throughout the album or do you want to mix it up with different core kits, mini kits, themed packs or different brands?  Do you want to use one orientation of page protector or a variety?  Embellish or not – it’s up to you.   What WORKS FOR YOU.

Personally, I need variety and would get bored with one core kit so I have several that I’m using.  I’ve even started mixing cards from different core kits.  Recently, my online supplier started offering We R Memory Keepers Albums Made Easy products and I’ve bought a few of their card kits.  On the other hand, I don’t embellish much at all.  I’ve used a few stamps, some solid cardstock and stickers here and there.   If I want to do up a page a bit more, I will but it’s not my style generally.

This hobby is supposed to be fun, and that part of it got away from me for a long time.  I have enough stress in my life between a demanding career, and balancing work and home life.  I’m at the point where if something adds stress to my life, it needs to go.  I’m back to enjoying scrapbooking rather than being stressed out about it.  Although I have certain goals laid out for myself in 2014, I reserve the right to go back and re-evaluate them, change them or toss them out altogether if I need to!

My scrapbooking goals for 2014

In November I watched Scrapbooking With Project Life on Creative Live – a three day class that Becky Higgins hosted which was all about Project Life.  A lot of the concepts she talked about would be just as applicable to a traditional scrapbooker, including journaling prompts, documenting the everyday, theme albums, etc.

One of the things she suggested on the first day was doing an assessment of where your scrapbooks, supplies and photos were in your house and then trying to get things into a central area.

After the assessment, she suggested you create a list of your goals and priorities for scrapbooking.  Whether it was only one album, a few over time, focusing on the future or doing everything, it would help to get it down on paper and then spend some time prioritizing your goals.  I enjoy writing lists so much, it’s really ridiculous, so this was totally up my alley.

My assessment surprised me, because I really thought all my stuff was in two places – completed scrapbooks in the bookcase in our office and my supplies, work in progress and pictures in my scrap area in the spare room.  One of the things I realized was how many of my pictures were scattered over my house, either stored on CDs, still on our cell phones, on the camera’s memory card, or only on my computer.   This changed a lot of what I thought my goals would be – they ended up not just being about completing Layout X or finishing Year Y.

Some of the other concepts she discussed also ended up influencing my list of goals.  These were ideas like ensuring you are backing up photos, how to edit using Photoshop, and the big “ah-ha” idea for me – batch processing – which I’ll talk about in another post.   The general idea is that there’s 4 steps – going through photos, printing them, inserting pictures and cards into pocket pages, and then journaling.   You work on one of these steps in one sitting.

So here’s the goals I’ve established for myself for 2014:

Taking pictures

  • Take more pictures of our everyday lives, not just the big events.
  • Make sure I’m in more of our pictures, not always the photographer.
  • Get more photos of the three of us.
  • Take pictures of non-kid related things in our life.

Photo Organization

Right now, I organize things when the urge strikes me.  Whenever Costco has a print sale, I upload hundreds of pictures at a time, with no attempt to go through and delete the really crappy ones because it’s too overwhelming with that number of pictures.  I print them all out, and then I get mad when I throw out hundreds of prints because they were fuzzy, or not a good picture of someone, or I printed 30 of essentially the same thing and only needed one or two.  It’s the downside of digital photography!

My new goal is to schedule time monthly  to organize the pictures I’ve taken in the past month.  I’m tired of uploading hundreds of pictures, waiting for a Costco print sale, then only using a small amount.  The plan is:

  • Ingest: download all pictures from both our phones and the camera.
  • Organize: rename my files using my batch renamer program, save into the month’s folder, and decide which pictures I’m going to actually use.
  • Edit: use Photoshop Elements to edit any pictures that need touching up.
  • Print: upload to Costco to print later or order prints at that time.
  • Archive: back up pictures to Google Drive and our external hard drive.

In addition, I need to go back and find all the CDs of pictures I have lying around, get them on the computer and backed up to Google Drive.


My daughter is only 2.5 years old and already I’ve got a file box with art projects from daycare that’s getting out of control.  I don’t need to keep every single scribble drawing or piece of paper that she’s put stickers on because my house will be overflowing by the time she’s done school.  I want to get a system in place to control the memorabilia now.

  • Go through the files I already have and categorize the items:
    • put the originals into my albums
    • scan the originals to put into my albums
    • photograph the originals to put into my albums
    • determine if I want to keep the original in my file box
  • Schedule time to do this monthly as well to stay on top of it.


I’ll touch on this in a different post, but there’s all sorts of ways to “do Project Life”.  A lot of people do the picture a day or weekly approach, but that’s not for me.  What I plan to do for my 2014 album is work on monthly spreads.  Some months might only need 2 pages, some might need 20, and I’m totally OK with that.  I don’t want to stress myself out by attempting to fit my style into what Project Life “should” be.  That defeats the purpose of me moving to this style of scrapbooking.

Ali Edwards has done a neat project the past few years called  A Week in the Life.  You take pictures of your everyday life every day for a week.  You document things like what you ate, what you wore, the weather, or anything you want to remember about that week in your life.  I’ve decided to take this one step further and do this four times a year – once per season – February (winter), May (spring), July (summer), October (fall).  Our lives are very different in each season and I thought it would be fun to capture the differences.

Of course, I’m also still behind on scrapbooking my daughter’s pictures, and I have a couple of loose ends I’d like to tie up in my (mostly) completed albums:

  • our wedding – finish typing out our engagement story, print it and put it in our album
  • my pregnancy pages – finish journaling on them and do the month-by-month layout I’ve planned
  • our cats – create the layouts and insert them into my 2012 album
  • catch up from July 2012 to December 2013
  • put the newborn  and 4 month professional pictures we had done of Miss A into her first year album

Whew, seems like a lot when I get it all down but I actually feel like it’s very manageable.

My scrapbooking history part 3

So there I was, floundering with too many supplies, no inspiration and pictures continuing to pile up.  I didn’t know what to do – ditch it all and just make photobooks online?  Continue with traditional scrapbooking?  Find something in the middle?

I needed to get the mountains of stuff I had under control first.  I started getting a monthly newsletter from Scrapbooker’s Inner Circle which helped me declutter and purge tons of supplies that I no longer needed.  My daughter’s daycare was thrilled with the stash of paper I donated to them!   Things began to feel more manageable when I wasn’t overwhelmed with piles of stickers, stamps, or embellishments that I wouldn’t use. 

The last “scrapbooking secret” I got from this newsletter was about using Project Life to simplify your scrapbooking.  I had a couple of core kits sitting on my shelves at the time, and I was feeling inspired to work on an album for the first time in ages.  As my daughter was almost turning two, I thought I’d start working on her first year album.  I’d googled and found a few really good suggestions about how to set up a Project Life baby book, so I made a few notes, pinned a few sites to Pinterest, and then decided to dive in.  I took the Baby For Her core kit, some photo pocket pages, my album, a pen and my pictures and sat down to scrapbook.

It felt weird to be sitting there with basically no stuff surrounding me, and it took me a few pages to get into the groove.   By the end of the first night, after 3 hours of scrapbooking, I’d finished layouts covering her family history, the story of us, my pregnancy, a time capsule of the day she was born, my labour and delivery, her arrival, and her first few days of life.


The simplicity was exactly what I needed.  No spending half my time hauling supplies out of my craft area and setting them up and then putting everything away.  No stressing over what paper to use or what embellishments looked right.  I could have scrapbooks that were done, focused on the pictures, but still looked nice.

There were more overhauls of my craft area, keeping only the basic supplies to do a 12 x 12 page when the inspiration hit me.  I went from 16 of the modular storage cubes you can buy at Michaels down to 9.  I got my hands on more core kits, because I like to have variety in my supplies, and a few extra items like matching patterned paper and cardstock for times I might want to embellish Project Life cards or create a 12 x 12 page that coordinates.

By mid-October, having only had a few hours here and there to work on my pages, I had my daughter’s first year album finished.