There’s no time like the present to stop, look around your workspace, and try something new. Combing through our Etsy Open Studios group on Flickr, I’ve seen everything from expansive solo studios to cramped crafting nooks in the corner of the living room. Either way, you have to make it a space that inspires you and beams you up to your creative outer limits.
Our needs for our creative spaces are going to be as different as our OOAK pieces, so my goal here is to spark ideas from a variety of photo examples and open-ended questions. Please comment with your tips and deep thoughts. (Make sure to share your photos with our Open Studios Flickr group.)
Handmade and Vintage Solutions to Storage Problems
I’ll start off with my biggest pet peeve (good place to start, right?): My creative flow gets in a kink if I have to use plastic storage bins and a hideous office chair — makes me feel like I’m living in a post-contemporary, mass-produced nightmare. Happily, there are alternatives — just scrounge around a little!
dolangeiman constructed a whole storage wall out of upcycled crates — this genius move also got him featured on design*sponge’s Sneak Peeks. He told me, “When I first moved into my studio, in a previously abandoned warehouse on Chicago’s Southside, the basement was full of trash and old junk. I spent two full days exploring and cleaning and found a secret room that was hidden behind a pile of old bikes. These crates were stacked up in there, covered with 100 years of dust and old burlap bags. I unearthed them and polished them up and they became my new wall shelf. Prohibition liquor crates turned functional shelving/room divider.”
Fabric is a flexible way to customize your space. Reupholster your office chairs with vintage fabric like Mundoflo. (Here’s the tutorial. Any care to translate it?) Cover not so attractive furniture and storage shelves with sham cloths, or just add personal touches like simbiosisbyjulia‘s pennant garlanding her shelves. (She used a how-to from “Stitched in Time” by Alicia Paulson.) I had a hunch Sewlola stashes stuff under that subtle grey drop cloth on her sewing table. “The table skirt helps me hide away the fabrics efficiently while keeping my sewing studio looking neat. My husband made the sewing table using a spare shelf from our TV cabinet and folding legs.”
Minimalism: A Breath of Fresh Air
The pack-rat gene was passed down through the generations in my family. I admire artists who aren’t afraid to strip away the clutter, but I’m always left with the sneaking suspicion that they make messes, too — they’re just better at hiding it. Check out the white drapes in the background of Upintheairsomewhere‘s studio. “I share my studio with my boyfriend Ben (a photographer) and my friend Sarah (of cursivedesign). With three people working in an open space, things can get visually cluttered pretty quickly. The curtains were a great way to hide a wall of storage while maintaining easy access to materials I use regularly.
I bet Littlebrownpen makes her mess vanish by using white on white containers. “I am a pathological minimalist. Before I even think about starting work, everything must be clean and in its place. It sounds borderline scary, but the act of staying organized is more zen than stressful. A minimalist, white office is my favorite in which to work — airy, bright, inspiring.”
Minimalism doesn’t always mean all white. Gatheringspriggs adds mellow touches of pink and blue to her antiqued white. She explains, “Three walls are painted white so that I can photograph my work, then I created an accent wall in pale aqua behind my desk for a cool calm. I thrive in this juxtaposition.” And, yes, she does have a closet where she hides all her “unsightlies.”
If you’re a minimalist, do you need to be in this type of space to clear your head and get into the groove? Is it a constant battle against stuff? Tell us in the comments. I’m fascinated by you.
Whether you’re a minimalist or a hoarder, or something in between, Etsians’ studio spaces can end up being expressions of aesthetics.
Alice Wingerden, a.k.a. aliceslookingglass, has crammed her space with so much shabby chic goodness! This space must make her super happy. Look at the care she took with putting finishing touches to her computer alcove: lace curtains, white gloves and antique photos — her aesthetic hanging on a clothesline for all to see!
Somethingshidinghere are the masters of the limited palette, and they express that in their studio space. ShoshonaSnow‘s ceramics have a lot of bold repeating patterns on vivid black and white with a splash of color. I can see that in the look of her studio space too. She told me, “I guess I did it a bit unconsciously at first and then realized that since I spend 14 hours a day in my studio, it might as well be as much of a happy space as it is a functional space.”
As I looked through the photos in our Open Studio group, I noticed that I could identify many of the artists from the decor I saw. Does the process of defining the look of your studio help you refine your work?
Small and Focused
mlee needed to move into a smaller studio to give more room to her child. She is “actually liking it better. It is organized better and I think the small area will keep me focused.” She hangs her tools up on the wall in a neat way. She’s got the plastic shelves/storage unit, but they’re rainbow colored!
Jodee Ruppel, Event & Home Organization Guru, makes this suggestion: “Determine what no longer belongs in the space, what you need to bring into the space, and what items may help you do that in an organized manner (shelves, desks, collapsible tables, boxes). A good trick is to take a picture of the space, print it out on letter paper, then draw your dream vision over the picture or beside it.”
Tamar has a lot of stuff in her space, but notice how the red ties everything together to make this an inspiring space. Tamar told me that her studio really is just “a space…not a room. It’s the back walls of our small dining room. The chair is there so the kids can come and chat while I’m working. I didn’t think of the colors matching…but yes, I guess it does match and pulls everything together.”
If you don’t have a lot of room to collect objects that inspire you, you should definitely have an inspiration board — something I see in a lot of Etsians’ studio photos.
Let’s hear your tips and tricks for inspiring studios in the comments, and Jodee says ask away, if you have questions for her!
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