n*Studio Organization Part I

As hinted before I am going to write a bit about my progress in re-organizing my studio.


It is kind of weird:  I studied law and I always worked very structured and clean at the law office. I was known for going through unorganized areas of offices and telling bosses, colleagues and trainees that there should be never never ever a pile of files with unclear content or without to-do-steps. Very german-like telling them they could die in a car accident and I would not know what the heck is going on (believe it or not they still liked me- LOL – or at least that is what I think- hehehehe)


Anyway- my studio…total different thing. My studio is a MESS. Not in dirty mess…in “I can’t find the right place mess!”. My friend Julie tried to reorganize me eh the studio a bit going in her organization way when she visited me a while ago- but the thing was…it didn’t really work for me. It worked better and it was a good start but it wasn’t MY perfect organization. Time to tackle this again…because let’s face it…it is my work space an average about 10 hours a day- so…

Let me tell you how I found the perfect storage first…


When I went to the flea-market a couple of weeks, I found these letterpress blocks which I in itself eyed closely and bought a couple lots of. They were beautifully placed in this array of drawers. I somehow had this urge to ask the nice seller “so…those drawers, what are you doing with those?” To which he replied, that they actually belonged to a cabinet, he didn’t bring to the flea-market but plans to sell too once he sold all the letterpress blocks.


I asked what he wanted for it…and he named a prize that was really low. In fact the price made me think that the cabinet probably looked pretty bad. Despite the fact the price was low, I decided against further inquires, because even the low price was still something I had to chew on about. Imagine me for a whole week thinking to myself how stupid I am, what an opportunity I missed out on and dreaming and researching about letterpress cabinets. My husband the usual very mindful person actually gave me the push “You should buy it- let’s go to the flea market next saturday and see if he is there and try to get it”. And so it was.


I was a lucky ducky…that is all I can say- the cabinet belonged to an old tool school teacher who loved this cabinet from the 20s/30s and took good care of it. He taught kids how to print letterpress posters and when he retired had to move to an elderly home he had to sell everything. Knowing this background story makes this even more treasurable (is that a word?) for me and I wish he could know that his beloved cabinet got a home where someone equally loves and treasures this cabinet. I also was super lucky that the cabinet fit perfectly into the ONLY possible spot in my room- between a pole and a wall and with still being able to open the drawers which are quite deep without ruining a doorway (also known as “entering the American Zone” or my husband’s studio)


Let’s finally get to the organization part…I probably lost half of you already…but ok…you know I can’t contain my excitement for this. I wish those cabinets would be still built – yes! Because they are AWEsome- this cabinet is mall and look at all those drawers and they are thin and deep. Perfect for storing stamps:


Perfect with all those tiny containers which were for the metal book setting letters. I filled several drawers with found objects and embellishments. Being able to finally see them…it is like an inspiration drawer…open…spark…take…create!


Tapes …they lived in a box- some of them untangling, making it hard to control them (I might have control issues- LOL)


Oh wait…there was chipboard and canvas elements…


Letterpress, stamp- and lino-carving tools


I do not use a lot of ribbon, but what I knew I would use some time was dangling from a hanger…hated it (I know it is a strong word- but yes…true)


some of my Prima-Educator stuff…not perfect- but better when I had it before in boxes – I am still thinking about this.


the die cut tools – perfect… I was surprised to find some of them- ahem 😉


And as to not leave you with the false thought of a perfectly looking and wonderfully organized super duper power artist studio…here is the rest of my studio. Pretty much looks worse when before- hahahaha – because I started to pull stuff there out of the drawers and had to put it somewhere in between. It is now about organizing the paints and tools I use all the time. I will keep you updated in another post…hopefully soon 😉


BTW – I left the labels of the letterpress on the cabinet because I somehow think it adds to the charm of it…but maybe it might be better to label it with what is in there- LOL.

What do you think I should do – leave the labeling as is?

Have a gorgeous day


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  1. Lily van der Velde says:

    OMG this is lovely. Tell me, will you take it to the US or is it for sale now 🙂
    So, did you do keep the old labels?

    • LOL 😉 I know …I got this question quite a lot so far…def will take it with me 😉 Sorry 🙂 And yes I did keep the old labels- I loved them too much, Lily 🙂

  2. what a score, that cabinet was made for you !

  3. I’m raising my hand! I would love a cabinet like that! What an amazing find, the contents and the cabinet! WooHoo! You are a lucky ducky! And it fits so perfectly! I would also be torn as whether to keep the old labels??? I like the suggestion to keep them and use them as ephemera, or do a page about the chest and include them there. On the other hand, soon you probably won’t need labels, at least for the most used drawers, so you could leave the old labels …. Tough decision! Let us know what you decide, and keep sending organization pics. I can use all the help I can get!

  4. Keep the labels! There is history there! maybe make a chart on the side with what is in your drawers.. A mini drawing of the cabinet with the drawers written on and labeled! That is a great find! Congratulations! i love your studio! Mine is a HOT mess! Sooo…I am looking forward to your future entries!

  5. Pam Fairchild says:

    This is wonderful. U have cabinet envy. You were lucky that he still had it. Obviously it belonged with you and your appreciation for it would make the gentleman very happy. I’m sentimental so I’d keep the old tags.

  6. I am so envious you can not imagine. It’s like a whole studio worth of stuff in one place (well not really a whole studio). It’s cleaned up really well. I’m now on the look out for one of my own but I doubt I’ll ever find one at the right price.

  7. What a great find. I would re-label with what is in there. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t be as useful. But you could take the old labels and use them as ephemera or just make a whole scrapbook page with them on it.

  8. Beautiful find! Definitely keep the labels as is — it retains the history behind the piece, and soon enough you’ll know where everything is. I liked Lisa’s idea to label inside the cabinet. Organizing seems painful, but it’s also a great way to take stock of what you have. And in the end, no matter how gorgeous & roomy our studio is, we end up using a tiny little spot!

  9. What a score!!! I know what you mean about the old labels and their charm. Soon you will know where everything is without needing your own labels on the fronts of the drawers. However, if you have a cleaning fairy come in who wants to tidy and put some things away for you (not sure if hubs is allowed to cross the border from the American office to the German side… 😉 ) but you could put your own label on the top edge of the lip of each drawer face, such that you have to open the drawer a couple inches to see it.

    Looking forward to the rest of your organizing journey! Though, I wouldn’t consider that last photo of your studio messy at all!

  10. Sue Clarke says:

    Wow…perfect way for you to organize your supplies Nat! I like the old labels, but I would want the items labeled for what is really in them now. Or maybe you can do both by putting a bit of what is stored inside on the outside left of the handle. A piece of ribbon, a picture of one of the stamped images, a found object, etc… I look forward to seeing the rest of your organization of your crafty work space.

  11. Hallo Nathalie,
    dein Schrank ist wirklich ein Traum. Ich bin ganz neidisch.
    Ich würde ihn lieber beschriften mit dem, was jetzt drin ist, sonst suchst du trotz der Ordnung innen immer wieder. Ich spreche aus Erfahrung, denn ich habe einen alten Zeichenschrank, der nur 15 Schubladen hat und da zieht man schon dauernd die falsche auf.
    Liebe Grüße

  12. Lucky Girl!! No digging through bins or tubs would be wonderful for me. Some cool aged labels would look awesome.

  13. Gorgeous, gorgeous drawers! You will never regret those. I would leave the labels just as they are – a reminder of where they came from. Your stuff inside will change and evolve – you will get used to where things are.

  14. Wow–love what you did! I think you should label it, making your labels to look like the old ones!

  15. sabelljones says:

    Hi Nat, you are so very lucky, that cabinet is amazing!!! I would love something like that in my craft area! Your room doesn’t look that bad. My suggestion is to make it your own and put your own labels on then take the old labels and put them on an art piece about the cabinet! Then you have them for a memento. So great you are sharing your organizational ideas with us, thanks!

  16. Nat!! how very cool for you! That is such an awesome cabinet and every artist gal wants one!! Me included – LOL I agree with with you about no labels adds to character, but if you are like me- scattered heehee I would not remember from minute to minute, which drawer held what! thanks for sharing xo

  17. Nat, this story and the fact that it fits where you put it proves you were meant to have the cabinet. What a fantastic find! Give yourself a pat on the back for asking about it in the first place and your hubs a pat for encouraging you to go back and ask again. I would leave the labels, but I have a mind that likes to work ‘in code’; e.g., the ribbon is in the drawer labeled ‘Wrenches’, etc. besides, it adds to the eccentric artist mystique! 😉

  18. WOW! I love this! I’d relabel, but make it look cool and vintage.

  19. amazing cabinet, love it! WANT, NEED lol! Well, not that there is any room left in my studio but still hey did I already say WANT NEED hihi…The rest of your room also looks great! Still way cleaner than mine most of the time hahaha…
    I love the old labels on it, but having drawer systems(just small Ikea box thingies) I know it’s a pain when you have to go through 2 or more drawers before you have the right stuff…but maybe I just need a better memory hahaha..just leave is for a while and see if you then still need labels or not…

  20. Wow! Your tray system is absolutely to-die-for amazing!

  21. OK all you commenters. Raise your hand if you’re not truly green with envy. It’s the right day to be that way. I would remodel my house to get something like that. WOW.

  22. Your cabinet is sensational! you are right … you are a lucky ducky! Leave the original labels in place, if you can, but slip new labels of what you have in the drawers, in front and then they can be changed as needed!

  23. Es precioso Nat, un gran descubrimiento, ojala yo pueda encontrar uno así, es perfecto.
    Yo lo dejaría como esta pronto te acostumbraras a saber donde están las cosas.

  24. WOW!!! I have CABINET ENVY, LOL! And can I just say I also envy that beautiful light coming in the window behind your desk! My vote is to leave the cabinet as is. I think you have it organized in such a way that you will be able to find things quickly without labeling the drawers! Wonderful find!

  25. Kathy Gledsdale says:

    Wow what a find, you lucky girl. Leave the labels on! What a lovely light room to work in and mess, what mess?

  26. Nat you HAVE to keep the old labels! If you ever decide to sell that cabinet they will make it much more valuable- as is any documentation you have from the previous owner- documented provenance is HUGE for antique pieces like you have LUCKY LADY!!!! That cabinet in a NYC (or any large city) antique market would cost well over 4,000 US. The Brooklyn Flea market across the street from me sells the letters for 12 bucks a pop EACH- large numbers like the ones in your drawer are easily over 25. I would make up a chart on Excel (or draw one and make it pretty!) and post it right over the chest- when you use the cabinet enough you’ll remember where everything is and you can chuck the chart (or keep it for the RESALE!!!! And make BUKO BUCKS!). As for your studio being a mess- WHATEVER!!! It looks GREAT! If it doesn’t work for you that is another thing but that space is like lalala dreamland to me. Just the light from the window is amazing!

  27. WOW!!!!!!!

  28. SusanJane says:

    I used post-it notes on the outside of my drawers for awhile until I was settled in. Things moved around within and between drawers for nearly a year and the post-it’s were the perfect way to have a temporary indexing system.

  29. I label EVERYTHING because I often find a better place to put things, especially if a certain type of craft item outgrows its drawer or space. I don’t want to waste a moment of “my creative time” opening and closing drawers.

  30. Love your “find”…perfect for the stamps etc….I am jealous….

    Great job.


  31. Sherri Sinclair says:

    Love the old labels, put yours beside the old one. And, love that typewriter! Your off to a great start.

  32. What a beautiful piece of furniture!!

  33. Nurse Ratchet says:

    Nat, what an amazing find!! It really is a treasure! I have a metal Snap On tool chest (automotive use,primarily manly tools..LOL) but I really adore old wood … I have not labelled mine because I pretty much know where everything is since organizing as you are …kinda like playing the Memory game. Sometimes I open a different drawer and lo and behold something I actually would rather use is right there. For those of us with a wee bit of the Irish in us..Top of the morning to ya!! Yes, I am wearing green!!

  34. how lucky you are…it is perfect in your studio!!!

  35. That piece is awesome! I especially liked your recognition that the man who had it before you would be thrilled to see it in your studio! There is a similar drawer system (that I have coveted for years, but don’t have the cash for), but definitely NOT with any history like yours. Here: http://www.bestscrapbookshelf.com/index.php/cube-kitw-maple-white-walnut.html
    Your space is NOT messy. Cluttered, yes, but when you find places for all of it, it will be tidy. Look at the light coming in from that window, bouncing off your clean white walls, and that lovely hardwood flooring. I wish my space looked like that! Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. Although I would NOT wnat the job of washing all those trays….LOL!!

  36. I think you are extremely lucky to find those letter stamps and cabinet and to meet that gentleman and be an extentension to his creative story. I have an old railroad file drawer piece (similar) and I LOVE it. Leave the original labels (I did because I like the original state of things and it adds value), but you could make artsy label cards and slip them in over the originals. That is what I did. Your studio definately has a creative feel to it. I am also Spring cleaning and when I spring clean I not only wash the walls, etc but I de-clutter and re-organize EVERYTHING. So it goes slower but it is nice when I get done.

  37. What a gorgeous piece for your studio and I love how organized you are getting. I reorganize every couple of months or when the mojo has run out just to remind me what I have and what has been neglected. I’m compulsive like that (but only in the craft room, the rest of the house is a disaster). Good luck with the rest…can’t wait to see more pics!

  38. so jealous! LOL! I vote to leave the letter as is- you will remember the order of the drawers eventually!

  39. That is just wonderful…yes, leave the labeling as is…..what a great find!!!!

  40. Bonnie Wright says:

    Good morning, Nathalie. The cabinet is beautiful and a wonderful find for you and your supplies. I would leave the original labels but make new ones on transparent tape and attach them to the left sides of the drawers.

  41. Hi, Nathalie,
    I am bordering on jealousy–the PERFECT organizational piece! If it were sitting in my work space, I would leave the original labels and add my own in a discreet way, maybe on clear labels so they are visible from up close, but not from across the room. BTW, I want to tell you again how much I enjoyed Creative Jumpstart. It lit a fire in me that is still burning to try some new ideas. THANK YOU!

  42. Oh Natahlie I’m so envious…green with envy…oh yeah Happy St. Patricks Day 😉 That cabinet is TDF and over here would be a fortune…enjoy with your find!

  43. Nat, I say leave them for now, but if it drives you crazy, then change. I so enjoy your posts. What a great read. Thank you!

  44. Wow! Lucky you!!!
    I would keep the old labeling… I think you know what’s in each drawer as is. You can always change them later, if this isn’t working!

  45. Woh what a find!! I’m almost jealous haha. I would love to have a cabinet like that but no space to put it…I’ll be looking for a lookalike…The space will be found haha.

  46. love it! I want one of those…someday…a girl can dream,right? 😉

  47. Michelle Guest says:

    If you do not label the drawers are you going to remember what is in which drawer… Or… Is it going to make you crazy opening drawer after drawer trying to find something?? (which it would me!)

  48. Jacqueline Bakker says:

    OMG…Very lucky you….What you told about not buying this cabinet in first place and then coming home and thougt you were stupid…I recognize….Waiting and waiting and still hoping this person will be there next week..is a very very long time!!! And now you’re twice as happy as can be!!!! Congrats I’m a (little bit) jalous!! A dutch woman who like this stuff very much, also the letters:)

    Greetings from Jacqueline

  49. What an amazing find – fantastic storage, and oh boy I envy those letterpress letters too!
    Alison x

  50. Michaela says:

    Ein wunderschöner Schrank – Lucky you!! Ich würde die Labels ändern, ich habe mein Chaos zumindest perfekt gelabelt ;-))
    Liebe Grüsse aus Bayern

  51. I love the cabinet, it’s a beautiful piece, I would be thrilled to find something like it.

  52. how gorgeous!!! Hmm, I’n not sure about the labelling – I guess I would relabel, but then I think you also know where everything is after a while… but in case you are run over by a bus… (that’s what I use at work… ;-))) )

  53. I would leave the labelling like it is!! You will soon automatically open the right drawer if you need something and if not, you will see your treasures and they might inspire you for something else 🙂 I love the cabinet, what a great find! I have a much, much smaller one, my brother found it by the trash and I cherish it!!!

  54. A very fine find! I am envious! Maybe make the cabinet yours now by putting on your own labels. But maybe tape the originals to the underside of each drawer as a memento? Either that or you can remember what is in each drawer?

  55. It all looks fantastic! What a great find.

  56. cant wait to see how you re-organize your paints. Mine are in photo boxes all over my work area (dining room table). Took over the huge dining room that is now too small (if you know what i mean). Need a great paint organization idea.

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