Attics often become repositories for memories -- a much-loved chair, a box of baby clothes, an old trunk. To Martha, however, the top floor of her 1925 home in Bedford, New York, had the potential for creating memories, not just storing them. She turned her attic into a crafts room.
The long, low-ceilinged space, which measures 43 by 14 feet, was "useless when I bought the place," Martha says. "It was only accessible by a ladder. But I could immediately see its potential." She transformed it with the addition of eight dormer windows, which brought both height and light to the room and gave it architectural presence. She sheltered the ceiling bulbs with mercury-glass domes, which cast a gentle light over the walls, and covered the floor with a durable rug. The final touches were the addition of a Shaker-style staircase and elegant moldings, which "made the space seem much more important than it was." And the window seats, she happily reports, immediately began to serve as favorite cat beds. "The cats love it up there."
Once she built out the space, Martha set about organizing it with custom-made Shaker-style work desks for each kind of crafting she enjoys: sewing, embroidery, knitting, paper crafts, photography, and printing. A center table provides space for cutting fabrics and papers, which are stored in flat files beneath it. A large-screen television allows her to keep up with the news as she works. It's a long way from how she crafted growing up, at the kitchen table. "Eight people had to come in and eat meals, so it was, 'Hurry up. Finish your sewing,'" Martha remembers. Now, with a private room where she can craft at any time of day or night, she can respond to inspiration whenever it strikes.
Lacquered wooden cubbyholes provide storage space for many supplies. All of the crafting materials were measured before the drawer and shelf sizes were finalized.
Martha pulled these fabrics from nearby flat-file drawers, which were custom painted at an auto-body shop to match the desks.
General Work Station
The ample work surface, adapted from a table Martha once designed, is ideal for measuring and cutting paper or fabric. A shelf below houses scrapbooks.
Martha uses glass jars to store spools of colored waxed-linen twine, a basic acrylic box to dispense seam binding, and small galvanized buckets to hold colored pencils.
Fabric-covered boxes contain a variety of scrapbook papers. Martha stores the boxes in a row on a bookshelf.
Slice-and-fit acrylic dividers keep scissors and other small tools in order. A graduated spice rack organizes the many jars of glitter.
Organizers for Paper and Fabric
Flat-file drawers house fabrics and papers sorted by color and type -- in this case, cotton fabrics, both vintage and new, which Martha buys whenever she spots ones she likes.
Thin metal shelves slide out easily on old-fashioned bird's beak supports (the small notches on the sides), giving Martha easy access to papers in a range of colors.
Linseed Work Surfaces
All of the desks are topped with a pressed-linseed material that's soft enough to absorb nicks and scratches.
Tools of a Kind
Similar items are stored together. In the drawer are, from left to right, stencil paints, stencil brushes, and graining tools used to create faux-bois paint patterns.
Martha's sewing machine is hooked up to a computer, which reads a CD-ROM of patterns that she purchased and translates them into thread, as on this set of napkins.
Each desk in the room is fitted with a vintage metal office chair that Martha had stripped and reupholstered with gray leather. Their wheels make moving around the space effortless.
A wooden spool rack holds rayon machine-embroidery threads in a full spectrum of colors. Prewound disposable bobbins are stored in nearby jars.