In our Featured Shop series, we shine a light on a standout shop from Etsy’s talented seller community, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at their process and story.
One thing Ilana Mayes, the woodworker behind rustic-modern shelving shop TheCraftySwirl, knows for sure? Your living quarters can have a major impact on your state of mind. “If you feel comfortable, expressive, and creative within your home, it translates into every aspect of your life,” the Los Angeles-based designer says. And an act as simple as styling one of Ilana’s customizable, two-toned shelves can not only help bring order to your space—it might just give you a renewed appreciation for the little world you’ve created.
With Ilana’s easy-to-install shelving, the possibilities are virtually endless. Have a drab hallway on your hands? A floating geometric box or two will turn it into an aesthetically pleasing display for all your favorite treasures. A sleek sofa tray can transform the arm of a couch into an inviting place to rest a mug of tea or a magazine. And with a set of planter-ready shelves suspended by sturdy twine, any budding botanist can expand a petite window sill garden into a cascading wall of greenery. “It’s special to be able to contribute a bit of joy to someone’s every day, particularly in these times,” she says.
Read on to learn more about Ilana’s designs and tips for upping your stylish storage game, then shop TheCraftySwirl collection.
What’s the backstory to your shop?
I’ve always had a creative side to me, but didn’t have a lot of money for decor so I began staining, sanding, and repainting cheap furniture to make my home really my place. In May 2017, I started selling on Etsy, and within a month I was focusing solely on shelving. As orders increased, my boyfriend Mike started helping me. We call our dog Scout our assistant. In an odd way, he really is an intricate part of the shop. He goes to the hardware store with us and sniffs the wood—I like to say it’s a quality check.
How did two-tone become your signature look?
I used to paint pots and mason jars for decoration, and along the way I got obsessed with two-tone. I like the contrast of it. I didn’t know if it was possible on a shelf, but one day I took some ebony stain and a can of leftover white paint and freehanded a design on wood as an experiment. I put it up on the wall and loved how it looked. People like an accent piece, but you also want it to be cohesive with the rest of your decor. With the two-tone shelves, your eye is naturally drawn to the white pop against the wood color, and it still blends in with your space.
Any bestsellers or favorites?
Definitely the two-tone duo and trio shelves. They’re secretly-not-so-secretly my favorite. I love their versatility: they fit pretty much anywhere in anyone’s home. They’ve also brought out a somewhat green thumb in me. I am the worst with plants, but seeing customers decorate our shelves with their amazing plant babies has inspired me. I’ve messaged some and asked, “What is the name of that plant that you have hanging in that photo? How many times do I water it?”
Shoppers can choose different stains, colors, and custom touches. Can you tell us about any memorable custom orders you’ve done?
I have a list of standard paint colors as a base, but I can mix other colors. I’ve done all kinds of sizes, heights, and depths too. If there’s a nook that has an awkward angle, I will angle the shelf to fit in that nook. Recently, I made a giant box shelf for a local customer’s living room. Building it took up my entire living room. It’s special because she’ll always have the memory of creating something together that’s completely unique to her. It’s important to me that people can customize to their own personal style and space.
With all of us spending more time at home these days, how have customers been using your products to update their spaces?
So many people have reached out to say, “You literally have changed my entire quarantine. I was sitting here bored with my thousandth puzzle and then I found your shop. Your shelf transformed my bathroom that I never thought I’d have time to make nice.” Or, “I’ve gotten into aromatherapy, and you helped me display my aromatherapy candles.” Things like that. It’s super touching.
It’s amazing how making little changes like that can have such a big impact.
I think this time has allowed some of us who just work-work-work to reflect: “How do I want my place to look and feel? How do I want to remember my family that’s on the other side of the country? I’m going to add some shelves and put their pictures up.” Focusing on something you can control, like your space, I think is hugely helpful.
From unboxing to hanging your shelves on the wall, what’s the installation process?
A lot of our products can be hung in seconds. In terms of tools, all you need is a hammer and a wide-head nail, hook, or a screw. We give step-by-step instructions on the insert that we include in each package, and I also created a tips highlight on Instagram with how-to videos. You can also always message me if you get stuck.
What’s next for TheCraftySwirl?
I started the potted line—the ones that have a hole for a pot built into the shelf—last year. Now I want to make other potted furniture. We’ve gotten a lot of requests for furniture and we’re thinking of making headboards, night stands, and entryway consoles. Scout is also inspiring us to start a pet line.
I’m excited about putting my own twist on everything, but right now I’m just super grateful. I absolutely never thought that the shop would take off like it has. I feel extremely blessed. My love and hard work goes into everything we do—part of me goes into each piece.
Photographs courtesy of TheCraftySwirl.