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A Simple Curtain

When I showed you my new desk, I mentioned that I needed to make a curtain to hide some of my under-desk clutter. The nice thing about the Melltorp tables is that they have a slightly recessed space under the top, before the support bars, which created a perfect little space for a curtain. I had some old tension rods from a time when I had cafe curtains in the kitchen windows, and one of them was the right size for the 29″ Melltorp table.

This desk with a curtain underneath provided some inspiration:

Curtains under a desk

I made a simple pocket curtain using the same fabric I used with some of my Expedit bins. I started with a piece of fabric that was 32″ long and about 40″ wide. This allowed me to hem the bottom and sides, and create about a 1.5″ pocket at the top for the tension rod. Although the table opening was a 27″ square, I made the fabric wider so that it wouldn’t hang completely flat.

Melltorp Curtain

It didn’t take long, and it looks so much better, don’t you think?

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My New Desk

Melltorp Desk

Back in the spring, I went on a quest for a new desk. It started at IKEA, was thwarted, wandered around lost, and ended back at IKEA. All I really wanted was basically a long table that would give me lots of room to spread out and do everything I want to do on a desk. To answer to my needs turned out to be 3 IKEA Melltorp tables.

Melltorp Desk

I live far enough away from IKEA that driving to get these tables wasn’t really practical. Even with the outrageous cost of shipping, ordering them online was cheaper than picking them up myself. A word of caution to IKEA online shoppers: their shipping needs some serious work. The tables weren’t packaged well, and had to be replaced 2 times before I got all three undamaged. That said, IKEA’s customer service is better than their shipping department. And though it was frustrating waiting for replacements, I’m very happy with the final result. The tables are just what I had envisioned, and they feel sturdy. I’ve used them for a couple months now and I’m still happy.

The room still needs a new paint color and new curtains, but I do love my view. I’ve also got to do a little bit of cable management, and I’m planning to make a curtain to hide my under-desk storage on the right.

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Best Customers Ever

Anodyne Design at the Market

I spent a lovely day at the RiverFront Market on Saturday. It was hot, and humid, and that part really wasn’t so great. But the people at the market make it so worth it.

To the customer who came to buy a new wallet for her husband, and showed me his very well-worn one she bought from me before, thank you. I love seeing something I’ve made put to such use that it’s literally falling apart. And to know that it was so well loved that when it did fall apart you came back to get another one just like it is so wonderful.

To the customer who came by to tell me she bought a Little Hootie Owl mobile from me awhile ago and that she and her little one love it, thank you.

To the customer who bought a wallet from me two weeks ago and came back to request a custom order, thank you. I am so glad the first wallet was such a hit!

To the customer who looked familiar, because I’ve seen you so many times before, because you’ve bought from me on many occasions, thank you.

Little Hootie Owls at the Market

I can’t think of a better testament to my work than the fact that you came back to tell me you still love what you bought and to buy more. I truly have the best customers ever. Thank you for the wonderful day at the market.

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Pretty Little Dolls

Anodyne Design will be at the Riverfront Market this Saturday, June 8th, from 8 – 12. This is our first market of the season. There will be the usual wallets, journals, magents, and Little Hootie Owls, and there will be some new pretty little dolls, too.

Pretty Little Doll

The dolls have sweet little hand-embroidered faces, soft yarn hair, and removable skirts.

Pretty Little Doll

I hope to see you there!

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Happy Earth Day

Today was Earth Day. Over the weekend, Anodyne Design participated in the Earth Day Festival at Forest Park Nature Center. After the recent heavy rains and extensive flooding, and the unseasonably cool weather, I was worried that the event would be a bust. The day was cold, but bright and calm, and people came to the festival in spite of the temperature.

More than once, someone came by my booth to tell me they still had and used something they purchased from me years ago. Someone showed me the wallet her daughter still uses, which I sold to her 4 years ago. Someone else told me that she has several of my bags, each of which serves a specific purpose, and then bought a new one to add to her collection. She mentioned that when she first bought from me, she thought my prices were a little high, but now that she’s seen how well my bags last, she understands.

And it’s true– buying from a small, local business is going to cost you more up front. I can’t compete with an economy of scale, so my materials cost more. But my materials are also of better quality, or come with story behind them (like my wallets made from recycled pants). I make everything myself, which takes time, but it also means that you know who made your wallet, or bag, or owl, and I think that naturally leads to a higher quality of work, because I’m personally invested in each and every piece. And of course, there’s the thing that people mentioned over and over again this weekend– my items last. Buy a coin purse from me and use it every day, and it will still be in good shape in a few years. Buy one from a big store, and chances are, it will start to fall apart before you are ready to buy a new one.

Thanks to everyone who came to the Earth Day Festival, whether you bought something from me or not. It was wonderful to see how many people care about our planet and want to do their best by it.

Here’s a fun Earth Day fact about Anodyne Design: all my Little Hootie Owls are made with felt that’s made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. No sheep involved, and a few less plastic bottles to find their way into the giant ocean garbage vortex. Yay!

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Fabric Bins for the IKEA Expedit

Expedit Bins

I love my IKEA Expedit shelf. I use it as a wall to divide my formal living room from my dining room, which serves as my office/sewing room. For awhile now, I’ve been searching for storage bins to help me organize the shelf and store items that I need to keep out of my little girl’s reach. Since this shelf is out in the open for all to see, the bins need to be pretty, too.

I looked at the IKEA options for bins first. Some of them just aren’t attractive at all. They do have some nice ones in natural materials, but I was afraid that the neutral colors of those baskets would just be too visually boring for a room with light brown walls and a birch colored Expedit. And $14-$16 per bin isn’t cheap for bins that aren’t even perfect.

There are a lot of generic fabric storage bins out there, but most of them just aren’t quite the right size for the Expedit. They tend to be just a few inches too small, which wastes valuable space and would not look quite as nice on the shelf as a bin made to fit. Target’s Itso bins are just the right size, but I wasn’t wild about the few color options available when I began my search.

I decided that the only way to get bins that were both the right size and pretty enough was to make them myself. I’m not the only one to come to this conclusion. There are lots of tutorials for making your own IKEA storage bins. I followed the tutorial for DIY Expedit Bins at Stitches and Seams. This is a great, easy to follow tutorial. I made a few small changes with my bins: instead of making a matching fabric handle, I used a length of cotton webbing for the handles. Instead of making a plastic pocket to hold a tag, I sewed on little metal frames I picked up from the scrapbooking aisle.

With a baby to work around, I spent several weeks from start to finish on five of these bins. Without a baby to distract you, I’m sure the project would go much faster, but it still isn’t a super quick project. I think the finished bins are worth the work. I love how they turned out. They are going to help me organize and baby proof my space so much.

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Creative Space: A New Cutting Table

In addition to a new desk, I’ve been sorely in need of a new cutting table. For years, I’ve had a cutting table that has sides that fold down and was made with the express purpose of being a cutting table. I bought it at the craft store. It has a matching cutting mat. And it did a good job, aside from being a little wobbly, until one day when it decided to disintegrate. Literally. It just fell to pieces.

I wanted to replace it with something that didn’t wobble, had lots of space, and was cheap. As with my quest for the perfect desk, I turned to Pinterest for cutting table inspiration. I found lots of versions of the same basic table: put a table top or hollow core door on top of some book cases or cubbies. So simple, so affordable.

Martha Stewart's Bookcase & Door Desk
Martha Stewart’s Bookcase & Door Desk
DIY Large Work Table at The Ivy Cottage

It also appears to be the basic idea behind Pottery Barn’s Bedford Project Table:

Pottery Barn Bedford Project Table
Pottery Barn Bedford Project Table

I bought some semi-sturdy looking bookcases, instead of the super cheap ones recommended in many of the examples on Pinterest, as I’ve had a bad experience with a cheapy Walmart bookcase disintegrating on me in the past. (I’m noticing a theme here… maybe it’s me… or maybe I need to just stop buying bottom-of-the-line furniture.)  For the table top, I bought the biggest unfinished hollow core door available. My cutting mat is 36″ tall and fits perfectly on the door. Also, a 36″ by 80″ door is HUGE. Just so you know. I knew this, intellectually, but it took on a different meaning when I got the door into my home. I will never lack for cutting surface.

I sanded, primed, painted, and sealed my door, so that my table would look like a nice, finished piece of furniture, instead of, you know, a door slapped on top of a couple of bookcases.

Cutting Table

I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I’ve got a big, sturdy table and some extra storage space underneath. I chose not to attach the door to the book cases, so I can disassemble the table and move it easily when I need to. I have a thin layer of grippy shelf liner on top of each of the book cases to eliminate any possible slippage.

If you are interested in seeing more ideas for a great craft room, follow my Pinterest board Craft Room Inspiration. It’s full of ideas for desks, cutting tables, file cabinets, bulletin boards, and everything else you need in a great craft room.

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Desk Update

I went to IKEA, prepared to purchase the parts for a new desk. It seemed like I was thwarted at every step of the process. The store did not have the Vika Amon table tops I wanted in stock. They did have the Vika Alex drawer units, but they seemed more flimsy than I had expected or wanted. I tried to buy just legs, with a plan to simply attach them to a table top I made myself, only to learn the legs required a frame which was certainly too long to fit into my car. I left IKEA with no desk parts whatsoever and the knowledge that I needed a new desk plan.

I also left with a couple of new non-desk-related items for my room, including this fabulous turquoise Raskog cart:

Raskog Cart

Apparently, everyone else already knew about this cart as soon as IKEA released it into the world. But I had the fun of discovering it for myself in the store, because IKEA kindly displayed it right at the top of the stairs as you enter the showroom. I saw it and immediately informed my husband that it would be coming home with us. He thought I was joking. Ha.

As for the new desk plan, I revisited the idea of building a desk with countertop and kitchen cabinets. Kitchen cabinets, however, are not desk height. Buying desk height cabinets is a special process that takes time and extra money. Too frustrating. After too much angst-ridden searching, I stumbled upon the IKEA Melltorp table.

IKEA Melltorp Table

I didn’t look at this table when I went to IKEA because I was so focused on a Vika desk. But Apartment Therapy showed me what a perfect desk the Melltorp can be. And truly, all I really wanted all along was a table top on legs. This is perfect. I needed two of the longer tables and one short one to fill my wall. I ordered them online, as they wouldn’t fit in my car anyway, and they are supposed to arrive tomorrow. I’m pretty excited to set up my new desk. Next up, a new cutting table and plans to revamp my tired black file cabinet.

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Creative Space: A New Desk

I am in the early stages of making some improvements to my sewing and craft room. I have been gathering ideas and planning what would work best in my space on my budget. I need to accomplish a few things: 1) I need more usable work space, and 2) I need to baby-proof this place, fast. My little one isn’t mobile yet, but she will be soon. Since my space is in what was intended to be a dining room, it doesn’t have any doors I can just close to keep the baby out, and that probably wouldn’t be practical anyway.

In terms of work space, right now I have an average sized computer desk,  a separate sewing cabinet, and a printer sitting on a filing cabinet next to my desk. I need more surface space to accommodate a second, larger printer, my serger, and to give enough room to comfortably use my wacom tablet, which has been sadly neglected because I don’t have enough space to work with it. Also, my cutting table has disintegrated, so I need a new one of those.

Let’s start with a new desk. I want something long and simple. I can’t just build myself a desk, because I lack tools and skill, so I need to find something I can buy. I have seen a lot of good ideas using Vika components from IKEA.

IKEA Vika Alex units with a custom top at Sew. Click. Create.
Sewing Desk at Olabelhe
Sewing Desk at Olabelhe using Vika Alex units and a Vika Amon top
Desk at Forty-Two Roads
Desk at Forty-Two Roads, made with Vika Alex unit and a countertop

Yes, I seem to be a bit fixed on the Vika Alex drawer unit. I love the way it looks, although it’s definitely not going to help with baby proofing at all. I’ll just have to come up with a plan to store all the dangerous stuff up high. Back to the desk:

Desk Sketch

My plan is a long desk that fills an entire wall. My wall is about 132″, so two 59″ table tops from IKEA should just about fill it and still fit in my car for the trip home. I’ll support the table tops with Vika Alex drawer units on each end and legs in the middle. Another drawer unit in the middle would be nice, but I have a vent I don’t want to cover.

Getting IKEA parts means making a special trip to Chicago and having enough space to transport said parts. It also means counting on IKEA to have the parts I need in stock on the day I’m there. Lately, the table tops I need have been out of stock more than in.  Lots of ifs. I’ll be going there soon, and we’ll see if I come home with a desk or not. If not, I may still get the Alex drawer units and figure out some other top once I’m home.