M Carruthers - Kallax

Today Nerd Nest Creative Team member Mel is here to share her take on this month’s Nerd Nest Challenge Tackle a Mess.

This month’s challenge, to “Tackle a Mess” came at the perfect time for me. Over the summer, my family and I moved to our new home in Scotland after 12 years living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Of course my scrapbooking materials and Project Life albums came with us, but I opted to airfreight them rather than risk any damage in six weeks of the extreme temperatures in our shipping container. To keep airfreight costs down, I had to consolidate my stash and memorabilia before packing it all into three suitcases. It was 3000 miles, and 8 weeks later when we finally found a new home, before I could unpack.

As I organised and set up my new work space, I found it useful to consider each element in turn – albums, pages, cards, embellishments, memorabilia, tools, and the work space itself. I thought about how I used each element and how much of each I had, before deciding how to organise them.

M Carruthers - Kallax (2)

I chose an IKEA Kallax cube shelf as the centrepiece of my scrapbooking space as I love its versatile, easily accessible storage. By keeping as much as possible on the shelving unit, I have been able to leave my actual desktop uncluttered and free as a workspace. I work from home so I need my desk to be flexible – in the day it is my office, and in my free time it adapts to be my craft area. I can easily move whatever I need for my scrapbooking projects onto my desk when I need to, returning them to their “home” when I need to work again.

My Project Life albums fit perfectly into the Kallax cubes, five 12X12 albums to each square. My albums are colour coded – black for family albums, pink for my life before we became a family, navy for my son’s albums, brown for family history, and white for supplies. The white albums are where I keep my empty pocket pages and page protectors, filed by design type. I prefer to leaf through an album of pages when deciding what to use – it’s not so easy when the pocket pages are all stored in the flat boxes they come in.

M Carruthers - card caddy (5)

For the cards themselves, I ditched the boxes several years ago as I found them a little cumbersome to dig out when stacked. Instead, I was thrilled to find the perfect caddy to keep my cards in (from craft storage company Organize More). I store my favourite eight core kits in this caddy, although this changes from time to time so I can easily switch them out if I want to. As I was unpacking, I made some little tab cards and wrote the names of the core kit on each – I wish I had done this years ago as it makes the perfect card so much easier to find!

M Carruthers - Raskog

The cards that don’t make the “Favourite Eight” in the caddy are stored in my beloved IKEA Raskog trolley. I keep the kits that I use regularly for specific ongoing projects here (my son’s albums, my genealogy album, and anything to do with Christmas and holidays), tabbed for easy identification and access.

M Carruthers - cards

The remainder of my cards are in the pink compartment box on the bottom of the trolley. I’d like to get a second storage caddy eventually so that all my cards can sit on top of the Kallax.

M Carruthers - embellishments

Unlike many of my scrapbooking buddies, I don’t use too many embellishments. I keep stickers and die-cuts in a plastic box in the mid shelf of my trolley, alongside papers and letter stickers. I use a cute little cake stand / coloured pots combo to store the die-cuts that match my “Favourite Eight” core kits. There is also plenty of room in here for my stamps, corner cutter, sequins, ribbons and whatever lovely things I find for my albums.

M Carruthers - stickers

Finally, my memorabilia and photos waiting to be scrapbooked are kept in two boxes in the Kallax shelf. Inside each box are a series of envelopes marked with a month and year. My whole family knows that if they want something to reach the family album, they put it in the right envelope. My little boy fondly calls it “The Mummy Museum”! Before leaving Dubai, I radically reduced the size of the Mummy Museum by scanning as much of my son’s artwork as I could and throwing away the hard copies. Knowing that we had a limit on what we could airfreight home to Scotland was a helpful motivation, as I had struggled with the emotions of throwing originals away before.

I also had a huge declutter of scrapbooking cards and embellishments before I left Dubai, and I am committed to keeping my supplies to a manageable size going forward. My new rule is, if it doesn’t fit in the storage I have, I won’t buy it. Having less to choose from has really helped me to focus more when putting a spread together so I hope to be able to keep to this rule. (Let’s see how long that lasts!)

M Carruthers - card caddy (4)

And that’s it – how I have organised this mess of boxes and jumbled up cards into a system that works for me. It’s all about accessibility and order, with an attempt to contain my collection and not let it get out of control this time. I love the way it has turned out, especially as I work from this room too. It’s pretty but functional, with everything at arm’s reach. I am so excited to be able to scrapbook again, and can already feel the benefits of my newly organised space.

Mel is an organiser and memory-keeper, who is passionate about helping families record their memories and get their photos off their phones! You can find her at www.moreorganised.com, Instagram @more_organised and Facebook.

Mel Carruthers
10 September 2017