My creative spaces have taken many forms. From sitting on the floor in front of the living room coffee table, to having a drafting table in my college dorm (one of my favorites). In my current home I have finally gotten control of the plethora of supplies I own and keep adding to. So welcome to where the magic happens behind the scenes at Wild Bumblebee!
If you are an artist, artisan, crafter or have any hobby that takes up space at home, I hope that I will inspire you and provide some useful tips on how to embrace your space and get to work. Up until a few months ago, my work spaces were not so neat and inviting. After a lot of exploring pinterest, scouring online for shelving deals and styles, and being careful to only buy and make items for immediate use and sale, I managed to create a more professional work area. My main work area is in my bedroom, so I’m still deciding if I work in my room or sleep in my studio. And until a few months ago my room looked like a college student had just moved back home with a lot of stuff packed into plastic bins that were piled to the ceiling.
But I kept working in spite of the frustrations of digging through plastic drawers and searching under my bed to find the right paper, canvas or supplies I needed. The organized chaos that we artists so often hold dear was taking up precious creative time. By the time I unloaded bins and found a place to park it and start working, I found little time to actually work. Dragging supplies downstairs from my room to set up at the kitchen table at least gave me a nice space to work, but even more limited time. By the time it was all set up and I got a few pieces made, it was time to clear it (mostly) and get dinner on the table. Do I feel a collective nodding of empathetic heads out there? Not to mention the mess did nothing to make me feel comfortable and cozy at bedtime.
So what to do when your parents, family or significant other huffs and puffs at the mess in the dining room or bedroom? Or maybe grumbles in frustration at the scrapbook papers and skeins of yarn cluttering up the closets? After all, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a spare room to transform into a glorious studio space. And when small children or even pets are in the home, all those lovely little bits and pieces can become a hazard.
First of all, I have to say that if you are truly passionate about your creative endeavors, whether as a hobby that keeps you sane, or because you are striving to earn income with your talent, allow yourself to take it seriously. By that I mean make it clear to yourself and the people around you that this is who you are and claim a piece of territory in your home. When you have a clear and designated space to work, you will start working more. You will sit down even when you’re tired, or when you only have 15 minutes because your tools and projects will be there in front of you. And the old saying “out of sight out of mind” is true; if you don’t have a place to work, those projects will get pushed further down the to-do list. It doesn’t have to be half of the bedroom as I’ve done; one instance where it helps to be single I suppose. When I lived in a small one bedroom apartment, I didn’t have a washer and dryer so I set up a desk in the place they should have gone, and worked there. I was even able to push in my chair and close the doors on my organized chaos that way. You’re creative, so start brainstorming! Again, pinterest is a great place to find small work space solutions. Better yet, get whoever lives with you involved in coming up with ideas. When people are part of a process they will definitely support it more.
So once I decided that I needed a workplace that didn’t echo of chaotic college dorm, I made changes. After all of my searching and visualizing I finally chose the steel shelving for a few reasons. First of all I’m a silver girl, so if it couldn’t be all bamboo, a lovely neutral silver would have to do. I also liked that the shelves would be open in the back, and that the shelves themselves are open bars. I felt that this would leave the whole space more airy and less closed off. They were also crazy easy to put together and lightweight enough for me to move around on my own. I was also careful to measure the width and height, so that they would fit behind the closet door frame (on the left) so I wouldn’t have issues getting the door open. I re-purposed black and beige bins that I already had, and added a few woven bins because I love them. The mix of textures and neutral tones keeps it organic and light, and the black bins don’t bother me as much as I thought they would because they keep my printer from sticking out like a sore thumb. It will never be a perfectly neat and clean bins and tchotchkes magazine photo kind of space- but that’s because I actually use it, so I embrace it.
My table is actually just a fold up table that I bought a few years ago to start setting up at shows. It’s enough space to work on to make jewelry and resin pieces. This is also where I pack up goodies that are mailed for online orders; note the leftover college dorm file cabinet underneath the desk- full of mailing supplies. The great thing is, that when I need it for an event, I clear it off and pack it up.
So now we head downstairs to the sewing department. I still use the kitchen table for ironing, cutting and sewing, but I have a lovely bamboo cabinet to store these tools when not in use, so I can stash them away quickly before dinner. (Just a side note: the cute bamboo cabinet is where I take my Etsy shop photos, so you may recognize it and the plant if you’ve been to my site). I also use an ironing mat not a board, which really works just as well but takes up a lot less storage space. Larger items may take a little more wiggling and pulling across the table, but it does the job.
So I hope my space has helped inspire you to find a way to make your home work as a creative place. A few more tips that I’d like to share before I go.
- If you do share a space with anyone else, get them on board with what you’d like to do to create a work environment- remember that people support what they help to create.
- Don’t get stuck on the space or studio you’re dreaming of. Keep that goal in mind, but you might not be at that place yet. Work with what you have.
- You’re creative so use it! Think outside of the box about how to transform an area of the house into something workable.
- I suggest using shelves, cabinets and bins in light or neutral colors- I’ve tried the darker colors and they will make your space feel even smaller.
- If you are buying any furniture, shelves or even baskets, make sure to measure the items, as well as where you plan to put them so they’ll fit the way you want them to. Especially when ordering online.
- Don’t buy more supplies than you’ll use in the next 1-3 months. Be honest with yourself here. If you’re not using them, you have to find a place to store them.
- Make this a place for YOU! What will make you comfortable, happy and inspired?
- Make the space and then embrace it. Get to work! After all that’s what it’s really about right? Finding a happy place to make stuff.