I never though my business would grow to where I actually needed a dedicated work area. My creative life has been a kitchen table business for a really long time. I would pull out my supplies, work in the dining area until we all got sick of eating on the couch, and then I would clean up so we could have a few meals in real chairs. As things have gotten busier and busier…Well, we finally have gotten tired of never eating at the dinner table.Hubby and I talked about it and realized I really needed a dedicated work space were I could spread out and leave projects out. The small area we had dedicated as my studio has now become a staging area to hold supplies and current projects.
We had considered renting a studio with a small store front, but that’s a bigger risk we weren’t willing to take right now, and the kids are at an age where I like bring able to either be home or be on call at a moments notice, so we made the decision we would figure it out in our home.The problem is, where do you take space from when you already live in a cozy house?
We threw around a bunch of options. Even though we have a decent sub-level, the playroom the kids are in is too small, and the main TV area, well, not only is it almost finished, but we really felt the kids needed somewhere to go and hang out, and we needed that family space.
We only have 3 bedrooms and downsizing that way wasn’t an option either. Two of them are already packed like sardines in a 9x 11 room. There was really no way to stick 3 of them in there and that didn’t seem fair either. I had put the question out to my family and everyone kept telling me to do it in the garage. That might be awesome if we lived in a nice, warm area, but negative 5 degrees in Chicago in the middle of January in an unheated, uninsulated garage isn’t very motivational for creativity. It gets freaking cold out there!
Our first floor seemed like the best bet, but it was going to require creative thinking.
Even though our entire first floor is about 600 square feet, the kitchen is a nice sized 12 x 12. After mentally working out furniture placement, we shifted a bunch of things around and moved the table from the dining area into the kitchen, and the kitchen island became my studio work surface.
It was a very small shift, and I admit, I do miss the island prep area, but an amazing thing has happened.
Even though I still dream about having a little more living space,there is no longer a sense of underlying frustration about my work “clutter”. It now has a place. And even though it’s right in the middle of where we live, it doesn’t seem messy at all. It seems purposeful. It’s pretty awesome to be able to have the table clear most of the time and eat at it for every meal. It’s lessened our stress a bit about how space vs. purpose is allocated in our home.
With a dedicated work surface, I am able to be creative every day and a moment’s notice,and my supplies are ready at hand. And, I can just pick them up whenever I can fit in work.Because with kids sometimes my work time is moments here and there. It’s sandwiched between someone freaking out that they can’t find their gym clothes,packing lunches,doing homework, and then me realizing I forgot something important. That’s my creative work life with family right now. I know you guys read my blog and catch my typos, and I appreciate it! Most of the time I am writing my blog posts like I am now.Currently, It’s 12:15 am after a full day, and I know I am going to read this post 10,000 times and either misspell some stupid easy word, or make some awful grammatical error I might not make if I could really write the blog post at 12:15 pm after a belly full of lunch.
Having this dedicated work surface has meant everything to me. It’s meant my work is important, and it’s made it more of a focus for me. I take it way more seriously now,it just take sit up a notch.
And the other awesome thing it’s done is encouraged my kids to be freely creative. My girls are very artistic and crafty.Not a day has gone by when I am not using the surface that they are now using it. It’s pretty fantastic to see my kids with their heads bent over, gluing, drawing, molding clay,diligently working on something that comes from inside of them. That actually makes me happiest of all. I have a dream that someday that our future home would accommodate a huge studio not only for me me to work, but a place where I can carve out a spot for them.
So even though our home has gotten just a little bit cozier in one ways, it’s really gotten bigger in others. I would encourage you that if you have been putting off making a dedicated creative space for yourself because you don’t think it’s important enough, shove those untrue words aside and do it. You do deserve it and it is important! If I can carve out space in a 1100 sq ft house, so can you. And you do deserve it, and need it!!!
Here are a few pictures to show you the evolution of “my studio” from when we first realized I needed a space a few years ago.
Here is just before we added the built in.
It’s the only picture I could find. I worked on that desk in that little cubby behind the bench. Once I needed more storage space, we added the built in.
You can read more about that project here.
It really worked well for a while, but then we found I was back at the kitchen table again so I could spread out. That always seems to be the little hint for us that things are growing beyond what we have in place. Once we can no longer eat at the table, it’s time to make more room.
Here it is last Christmas with the other side added on. Here’s a peek behind the wall. F.Y.I. it will never be this clean ever again.:)
Now my main work area has floated in front of the built-ins. It may be soon that we may need to either find a space outside of the home for my studio, add onto our home or just find something bigger.The girls are getting to the point where it would be nice for them to all have their own rooms. Then nobody has to complain about any one else’s mess.
Time will tell. We are a baby-step kind of people so we will take it as it comes, but for now it’s working really well for us. We actually used my art table as a buffet and bar for the holidays!
Here’s a bit of the new “space” decorated for the holidays: