5 Tips to Create The Perfect Creative Space at Home
For years, my husband and I shared a 600-square-foot apartment on a busy street in San Francisco. We got as much use out of that space as possible- making each room as multi-functional as we could. When the pandemic struck, I pivoted to working mainly from home, spending my days hunched over my desk tucked in the corner of our living room. As each workday ended, I would squirrel away all my art supplies and work materials, transforming the tiny room back into a chill area for us to relax. What an absolute chore!
I discovered I was pregnant in June of 2020, which sparked a significant change in our lives. Gone were the days that we could exist in a tiny space together; it was time to upgrade. We began looking for apartments in our neighborhood that met a few specific requirements: like having a dishwasher, a laundry room, a space for a nursery, and a place for me to work from home. I didn’t need a conventional office, just a place where I could create separation between my home and work life.
We found a great apartment that checked all our boxes. It had a small utility room off the kitchen that would make the perfect office/studio space. All it required was a little elbow grease.
I learned a lot while creating my dream studio, and I feel confident that anyone could carve out room to be creative in whatever area they have.
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1. Create a Separate Space
The room that became my studio didn’t have a door. After living with an office in the corner of my living room, it was essential to have a workspace where I could close the door at the end of the day. Creating a physical separation helps to maintain a balance between work and leisure time.
Our hunt for a door lead my husband and me to Building Resources, a reuse center in San Francisco. Most cities have reuse centers where people can buy second-hand building supplies. There, you can find unique pieces and give functional materials a new life, redirecting them from the landfill.
We found the perfect door. It was an adorable sunny yellow, solid wood, and at least 100 years old. After bringing it home, we realized we had a challenge- we had to fit the vintage door into our Edwarian-era doorframe. This was no easy feat. The doorframe had shifted over time, and the door itself was nowhere near a perfect rectangle. Luckily, my husband was up to the test and spent an entire weekend shaving slivers of wood off the door until it opened and closed with ease.
I realize I am lucky to live with a handyperson. If I were to do this project again without him, I would purchase a new door and paint it yellow or simply hang curtains.
2. Have a Place For Everything
I can easily get overwhelmed by clutter when working in a small studio. Using a pegboard to organize my tools and art supplies has been a game-changer. I never need to wonder where my thread or paintbrushes are; they are always in the same place on the board. It also makes cleaning up a breeze. I just put my tools back in their designated spots.
When organizing a pegboard, group like items together. Not only will it make your workflow more manageable, but it is also aesthetically pleasing.
3. Hide Your Messes
I dabble in just about every craft imaginable, from sewing to block-printing and painting. All these crafts have specific supplies, and they can get quite messy. So when designing my studio, I made sure to include cabinets with doors. Inside the cabinets are small bins labeled with what’s inside. I love my DYMO label maker! I also store folded fabric, my sewing machines, and other larger tools inside the cabinets.
Instead of building something from scratch, we installed pre-built blank kitchen cabinets to make our lives easier. We hung them to float over the floor at counter height, creating the illusion of lightness and giving me the option to have a space to stand and work.
I painted the cabinet doors on the floor in my kitchen- you gotta work with the space you've got!
This orange locker is the perfect place to hide unsightly tools and cleaning supplies. I love that it locks, so we can keep our infant daughter away from hazardous materials.
4. A Few of My Favorite Things
Sprinkle a few things that inspire you around your space. For example, I store my collection of craft books in my studio, and I page through them when I need a little inspiration or have questions about a technique.
I keep a few knickknacks and art pieces I love in my workspace. This miniature sewing machine was my grandmother’s when she was a little girl. I like to think of it as the mascot of my studio.
And of course, adding a little greenery is a great way to breathe life into any room.
5. A Blank Slate
While it is crucial to make your studio as comfortable as possible, it’s also essential to make it a place to work. I make sure to keep one wall blank so I can hang up in-progress art pieces.
If you don’t have room to keep a wall blank, consider installing a magnetic whiteboard. You could hang up notes or drawings on the board and jot down new ideas.
At the end of my day, I always clean off my work surfaces. I like to enter my studio in the morning with a spotless desk. It makes me feel so much more creative and ready to make art. Plus, since every material has a place on my pegboard or in my cabinet, cleaning up is a breeze.
I love my new studio and feel so happy and productive when I enter my space. Do you have any tips for carving out a creative space in your home? Leave a comment below!
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Designer, entrepreneur, and lover of crafts! Boss Lady at Jenny Lemons in San Francisco