Organized Scrapbooking on a Budget

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Like many Moms, I became very interested in scrapbooking after my first child was born. It’s a fun, creative way to capture all of the precious moments and milestones in my children’s lives. However, there are two major drawbacks to this hobby:

1) Scrapbooking supplies are ridiculously expensive.
2) It’s difficult to keep all of said supplies organized. In fact, in his book, “It’s All Too Much,” Clean Sweep’s organizing guru, Peter Walsh, said that the scrapbooking hobby has become one of the greatest sources of clutter in people’s homes.

I don’t claim to have all of the answers to the scrapbooking clutter problem, but today, I’d like to share with you my own scrapbook area, and explain how I obtain my supplies, and keep them organized, on a very low budget.

Garage sales are a great way to get supplies CHEAP! With the exception of gifts, and a few supplies that I purchased just to get started, nearly all of my scrapbook supplies have come from garage sales. Scrapbooking is a hobby that many people try, but it’s not for everyone. The people who lose interest then sell all of their stuff dirt cheap on a garage sale, and someone like me comes along and buys it. My mother-in-law, who lives in Florida and goes to garage sales regularly, often finds nearly full packages of 12×12 cardstock and patterned paper for $1.00-$2.00 each, and brings them home for me. My best garage sale find was a Creative Memories scrapbook tote, with sets of bold and fine-tipped pens, 6 pairs of decorative scissors, and a lettering template inside. It was marked $15, but my bold husband offered $7, and the proprietor agreed! As we left, she yelled, “I hope you have better luck with it than me!”

When putting together a scrapbooking work area, don’t buy the overpriced furniture and organizers specifically designed for scrapbooking. Instead, try to think of cheap or even free alternatives. Here’s how I put together an organized and efficient work area for only $75, including tables, shelving, and organizers.

These are my two scrapbook tables, which line an entire wall of our basement:


We purchased them on sale at Menards, for $24.99 each. They fold up, and double as garage sale tables when needed. Next to them, on the left, are two bookcases, which I use to store books, boxes of photos and office supplies:


One is a cheapie bookcase-in-a-box that we already had, and the other is a former gun cabinet, which my husband had when he was younger. We don’t believe in or have guns, so we decided to turn this cabinet into something useful. My husband purchased a laminate countertop remnant for $3.00 at Menards, and cut it down to make shelves for the open portion of the cabinet, turning it into a very functional bookcase.

My husband built this shelf above my tables out of free, found materials, to house my paper and frequently used supplies:


He also made this ribbon organizer out of leftover scrap wood and inexpensive wooden dowels (we haven’t gotten around to painting them yet), and mounted it on the wall:


This organizer is also very handy during Christmas present-wrapping time!

My super-handy (and cute) husband crafted these vertical paper storage boxes out of ordinary cardboard boxes, which he spray-painted black:


You can read a complete tutorial on how to make them HERE.

I purchased this 3-drawer organizer on clearance at Staples for only $3.00. It’s perfect for storing scissors, punches, pens, and adhesives:


I use this 99-cent bead organizer, and 50-cent, large plastic school box, purchased on clearance, to keep brads, eyelets and other small embellishments and supplies organized:


Beneath my tables, I have two of these wooden, 3-drawer organizers, which I purchased for $2.50 each at a garage sale:


One houses various art and craft supplies, and I use the other to store my paper scraps. One drawer is for solid color scraps, and another is for patterned paper scraps. I store them in clear, gallon-sized Ziploc bags, organized by color family:


This makes it easy to find just the right scrap to mat a photo or make a border, and reduces paper waste, which saves money!

To keep stickers and other embellishments organized, I store them in expanding files, labeled by category. I found three of these files in the Wal-Mart clearance aisle for only $1 each:


I keep a Post-it note, labeled with the contents, taped to the outside of each file, so I don’t have to waste time searching for the category I need:


I store Fresh Cuts and templates in labeled binders. We always have binders laying around because our insurance company sends us our policy in one every time we renew. I like this method of storage, because I can quickly flip through the binders and see what I have to work with:


One of the greatest challenges in scrapbooking is keeping your photos and other memorabilia organized, so that you can actually find it when you’re ready to do your layouts. I solved this problem by sorting my photos by category, and storing them upright in photo storage boxes (free after rebate) in small, labeled catalog envelopes. I buy the envelopes by the box at Staples, and label them in pencil so that they can be reused:


We used to own an auto repair and sales business. In our basement, we have one of the 4-drawer filing cabinets that we used for business records. We now use it to store tax returns and other personal financial records, but I claimed one drawer for scrapbook organization:


In it, I use hanging files to organize memorabilia and the corresponding photo envelopes by event:


As you can see from some of the labels, I’m just a teensy bit behind, but if I ever get time to scrapbook again, I can just grab a file and get to work. Everything I need is all in one place.

It’s important to note that my work area didn’t come together overnight. True frugality requires patience, and the ability to wait for just the right thing at just the right price. We put together my scrapbook area over the course of several years, and in the meantime, I limped along with my supplies in boxes and plastic tubs. At first, I used a card table as a workspace, and when I outgrew that, my husband put an old piece of laminate countertop on top of a couple of sawhorses. It wasn’t fancy, but it worked!

I hope this gives you some ideas for how you can keep your scrapbooking hobby organized, inexpensive, and fun!

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Heather is a minimalist in love with a recovering packrat. 7 years ago, she and her husband sold pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down in order to pay off their mortgage, and they've been living happily debt-free ever since. They have 3 hilarious little kids who were conceived with the help of in vitro fertilization, and they haven't had a good night's sleep in the last decade. Heather is an anglophile who loves all things British, and spends her free time looking at real estate listings in Cornwall. Every day, she and her family work toward a simpler, more meaningful life. Some days are awesome, some are disastrous, and you can read about all of them here.

Have a question? Need a listening ear? Contact Heather, or visit Want What You Have on Facebook.

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1 comment… add one

  1. Dianeford March 29, 2012, 11:23 pm

    what a great article  – well described and the pics are so helpful.  Well done, you’ve inspired me to do more with less (money-wise)!

    Reply

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