Studio Evolution

Last March, I took a “Studio Makeover” class to figure out how to utilize my space better. One of the first things she had us do was look around our homes and see if another space might work better for our particular needs.

Jerry wasn’t happy on one end of the family room (aka The New Room, which used to be our garage, converted 3.5 years ago into a living space), for many reasons. Mainly, he likes his privacy, and he didn’t have any. This room opens to the rest of the house, and is also very visible from the front porch through a French door. He seriously disliked it, and complained bitterly about not having a room to himself when all three of the females in the house had their own room. Secondly, he didn’t like it because his furniture/storage situation was so horrible. He only had a table — a hand-me-down dining room table from my childhood with three leaves extending it, and no closed storage at all. So the result was lots of Rubbermaid tubs being stacked to obscure the view from the front porch, and piles and piles of stuff on the table. Jerry and I are both pilers. It’s not good.

Here’s what the poor guy was expected to work in:

New Room East

On the other hand, I was landlocked in a room upstairs…

view from the door

There are three large closets with folding doors in there, two windows, and a door. Also in the room is our financial filing cabinet and two wing chairs that can’t live anywhere else in the house until the cats all die. If I move the chairs out of the room even for just 5 minutes, the chairs (newly reupholstered) get clawed. In the room, the cats sleep on the chairs but otherwise leave them alone.

Wing Chairs

ironing board and filing cabinet

Because of the chairs/filing cabinet, the chopping up of the walls by the closets and windows, it was very difficult to come up with an agreeable layout. I had done the best I could to maximize the amount of usable surface, but it wasn’t working for me — too much table lent itself easily to piling stuff in the middle and then having to work around impossible piles. The ironing board jutted out into the middle of the room, breaking the flow, or blocking my main storage closet if I put it against the wall. It was horrible. And the space under the tables was wasted, plus the floor creaked every time I got up from the sewing machine to press a seam, so I’d wake up the girls who sleep in the room below. And it was up the stairs and set away from the center of the house, so I could ONLY go in there when the girls were sleeping or out of the house — not ideal, and was causing some resentment. This also added to the tendency to “pile” because I couldn’t just be in the room puttering and neatening; I ONLY went in there to create, and thus rarely cleaned up my messes in between — I didn’t want to be doing THAT while the girls were asleep, you know?

I did have lots of storage in the room, but it was just not working. Nevermind the fact that there was nowhere I could put a design wall — so I had to rely on my mother’s house and the local quilt shop to audition quilt designs. The quilt shop closed in January, and so I started getting a bit desperate. Then I realized that in Jerry’s space downstairs, there were TWO good places for a design wall. Or even three, if I didn’t mind it being a bit smallish.

So after making sure it was okay with him, I decided to move to a smaller space. With no enclosed storage. This would be a HUGE undertaking, obviously. I had to resolve where to keep all of my fabric stash, all of my quilting tools, all of my paper stash, all of my scrapping tools and embellishments, my quilting and scrapping books, my yarn stash, my knitting needles and crochet hooks, etc. etc. etc. And I had to do it in a way that would be attractive to someone visiting our home, since this is a living space. It had to integrate with the rest of the room.

Lots of potential ideas came, and I’ve blogged about them before. I took pictures of shelving everywhere — Costco, IKEA, Target, the unfinished furniture place. I scaled out the room and planned and planned and planned. I’d come in to talk to Jerry while he tapped away on his Mac and be looking around, measuring, conniving…

Finally, I settled on a kitchen island from the unfinished furniture place as my centerpiece:

kitchen island

It’s used for a cutting surface for quilting, and storage for my die cutting tools, threads, batting, and yarn stash. I spent 3 weeks staining it a cherry stain (which ended up being a little brighter than I had originally wanted, but I think it looks pretty good, really.

I served Jerry with an eviction notice, telling him to be out by August 1. Hee hee… Mostly I did this because I know that he and I could drag this out for the next year and a half if we didn’t just rip the bandaid off, and I didn’t want to be in flux anymore. He wasn’t happy, but he managed to make the deadline with a minimum of grousing.

My personal goal was to get my room set up by my birthday (which is Monday), and I’ve almost made it. The only thing remaining is building and installing the design wall, but that’s the least of the project; I’ve done all the hard stuff now!

Here’s the room, almost complete.

The view from the living room:
view from the living room

Looking towards the east end:
east end of studio

The Titanic poster has been removed and there are three shelves from Ikea up on the wall above the table. I screwed the supports into the studs and used the level and EVERYthing. Bob Vila would be proud.

My fabric stash, UFO storage, and miscellaneous non-paper scrapbooking supplies like paints, chipboard, and foam stamps are stored in the white bins shown here. They’ll be labeled once I have it all figured out. The reason for opaque bins instead of clear ones is that Alice is less likely to riffle around in opaque ones because she doesn’t know they might have interesting stuff.

Fabric Stash

Scrapbooking and Computer end of the table:
south end

Cutting surface….and girls watching TiVo’ed cartoons as I work in my studio… Can I TELL you how much I LOVE that they can be in here and entertained while I work on something?! OMG — it’s even better than I imagined it!!!

Cutting Surface, finished

Side view of cutting surface, holding all of my Sizzix stuff:

Sizzix storage

Design wall will go here, to the left of the sewing machine, and will be fully visible as you walk in the room and as you look into the room from the front porch:

Future Design Wall

I am thrilled to pieces. I love my new space, and as I figure out how to decorate it and put the finishing touches on it, I know I’m going to love it even more. 🙂

Life is good.

3 thoughts on “Studio Evolution”

  1. I’m incredibly jealous of your space. I want a crafting/sewing space but would also need it to be close to the major activity room of the house which is the den (family room). I’m excited for you to be able to figure out something that would work for you and your family. What does your DH think of his new space?

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