Reorganizing, Part 2: Fall Cleaning

Margaret Riley


By Margaret Riley


Part 2?? You mean there’s more? That’s probably what most of you are thinking! I am humbled at the wonderful responses we have received about cleaning your studio or even creating one! After putting my brain gears in full speed, I shared with you in past articles how I (plus friends) have built a studio. Hopefully, you have cleaned up your studio since my last writing of doing it. Now it is time to REALLY get organized.


I put my head down in shame! My hubby and I moved into a house in southwest Florida with the intention of having the larger of the two spare bedrooms to be transformed into my studio, which we did. We added a Murphy bed so the studio could be a guest room if the other room is full. (When you live in southwest Florida, you never know when you are going to have a northern visitor escaping the brutal cold and snow!) We added built in cabinets and put nothing but shelves in the closet…floor to ceiling. Four years have passed, and after writing the multiple articles on studio creation and organizing, I suddenly realized how my organized studio was bursting at the seams! For two weeks, I worked HOURS in the studio reorganizing! I knew that there were things I could improve. It is a lot easier to find an empty space when you receive or purchase something and place it there. You think that you’ll find the exact spot when you have time. Shaking my head….where has four years gone?! My cabinets were STUFFED!!!


I made removable fabric panels for all four sides of my kitchen cart that I have for my ironing board (small table top ironing board). It will keep things “out-of-sight” and minimize dust on items on the shelves of the cart. I love the fabric panels! For years I have pained with everything being “just right,” and this will keep some clutter filled baskets on that cart out of my sight! (Yes, I am slight OCD!)





Now for paints….I went online to find the paint companies I have paint for and put my paints in the order they listed on their site. I labeled the ends of the bottles that were missing labeling when the paint arrived. (I put on the top the name of the paint, year received, and paint order number). While I was at it, I made a list of the paints I had….kind of like an inventory listing. If you go paint shopping, this list will come in handy!


Every bottle of paint I placed in my hand was noted on how full it was. Since I have the year on most paints, I knew those that were 5-7 years old needed to be checked. If I couldn’t stir them or shake the separation (binder) into a pigmented solid, then good-bye to those! While I was using the company’s website, I noted any paints that were NOT listed and put them in a box to donate to a senior citizen location, a pre-school, or a painting chapter near me. Duplicate paints I donated to a painting chapter for a door prize or present to a first-time painter to help get them started.


Surfaces are going out of the studio in a very large garbage bag, either donated or tossed! I am now organized enough to realize that I should have put a copy of the pattern with a project surface. Those that did not have a pattern went into the donation bag….let someone else wrack their brain on what was to be painted on that surface! It is a great idea to tape a piece of paper on any unfinished surface with a photo of the finished project or a sketching of what you intend for it to become! While going thru the cabinets and drawers, I put all unfinished projects in their own space. Yes, I will start with those first and maybe achieve an empty space! I was reasonable in knowing that I would never, ever get all my unfinished wood surfaces done and am giving away many, many items!


I try very hard to put things back where I found them and to keep things orderly. But I still went thru every container to check if “age” had deteriorated it. I have a ton of plastic bins, drawers, fabric bins/boxes, and dividers that I use to keep things more organized, plus they are handy to pull out of a cabinet rather than taking everything out. I label storage containers with the content plus I label the shelf so I’ll be sure to put it back exactly where I found it. I feel sorry for my sons when I die as they will have the backyard FULL of storage containers for the estate auction! It’ll only show how organized I was! LOL!!! Oh, they will be so proud!




Brushes found their way into a drawer in plastic individual silverware storage containers putting all the flats in one, liners in another one, etc. (Or you can bundle all the same sized brushes with a rubber band). Old brushes were placed together. I sometimes will use an old brush to do a project and just throw it away. Oh, I can hear seasoned painters gasping at this! But at some time in that brush’s life, it has to go into the trash! I used to have a liner with only three hairs left. It was one of my favorite liner brushes, but alas it had to eventually take its death in the trash can!



Don’t forget to do the file cabinet! I sorted thru the pattern files and have put them in labeled files (Santa, snowmen, Easter, flowers, animals, etc.). I have a file drawer with supplies in it…graph paper, graphite, etc….in file folders. All have been labeled and organized, no more bursting at the seams!!! I threw away outdated catalogs, too. I am sure in 4 years that I will have to reorganize the file cabinet again!


Another thing you don’t think about are CD programs. My laptop computer doesn’t even accommodate a CD! I’m going to purchase an external CD player so I can at least view all these CDs with photos, painted projects, and recipes on them. Many programs are so old they won’t even work on my computer. Those “Dummy Books” are gone…take them away Mr. Trash Man! Also, go through your photo and document files on your computer. Do you store your project photos on there? I have about eight years (plus!) of photos on mine and ended up deleting many of them.


It is amazing how I found an empty shelf after unloading art treasures, thus I found room for my office supplies (extra pens, copy paper, file folders, etc.), getting them out of the guest room closet. I know I’ll have more room once I’ve painted the unfinished wood surfaces.


Sigh…I sit here now and look around. Tile floors are scrubbed, cabinets washed down, paints in racks and ready for use, everything is labeled, and all has a place. Do I really want to do anything and disturb the neatness? You bet ‘cha! Can’t wait to finish a project and get a brush in my hand! Happy fall cleaning to y’all!!

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  • Margaret Riley on

    Attention Marcia Crossman! Thanks much for your kind words and so thrilled you enjoyed the articles. Things sorted? That’s a thought! I always appreciate suggestions to get my gray matter stimulated! Best of luck with your downsize. It is always a challenge but so refreshing once it is all done!

  • Marcia Crossman on

    Just read pts. 1&2 of your craft space re-order. It was just great! We just moved from a large house to smaller new house. I really related to downsizing. I bought 3 chests of small drawers 5 ft. A dozen or so drawers in each to accommodate hobbies. Big help. The best laugh I had in long time was about poor sons having to get rid of it someday. Me too! Maybe you could write short articles for the magazine to keep things sorted. Thanks for your time to write a much needed article. Marcia Crossman, Arkansas

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