How I Planned My Home Studio
The studio is less important than other things, like the burning desire to paint. If you don't have this disease, you can't catch it from a nice studio.
- Warren Criswell
As a small business owner and self-professed craft-aholic, I understand the need for a well-organized space. There is something uniquely satisfying about an efficient shipping station, a perfect printer cabinet, or a pristine desk setup. My 'Dream Studio' Pinterest board, filled with photos of color-coordinated hobby supplies, is borderline pornographic.
When my fiancé proposed in May 2020, we started looking at apartments together. I asked to claim the second bedroom as an office/studio space; an enormous ask for Chicago real estate. I was tired of working long hours on the floor and at a cramped desk, and my mid-project messes would drive my new, uber-neat roommate insane if I couldn't put a door between them. I know a dedicated work space isn't in the cards for everyone, and I'm deeply grateful to Nick for letting me have room to grow.
We found an apartment, signed a lease, and the journey to the perfect, dream studio began.
- No wasted space. Unless you are swimming in square footage, every inch of a floor plan is precious. Of course I wanted the area to be aesthetic, but I wasn't willing to sacrifice a centimeter of efficiency.
- Easy accessibility. The fastest way to kill momentum? Add an obstacle. Everything had to be accessible without digging, unstacking, or climbing.
- Mobility. To make the room as functional as possible, I wanted (almost) everything on wheels. It didn't fit with my vision at first, but 11/10 would recommend
- Purge excess. I had accumulated far too many random craft supplies to organize and store, let alone ever actually use. Tools could stick around (knitting needles, jewelry pliers, etc), as well as materials I used frequently. All other abandoned supplies of old projects had to go.
My Google sheet was like the Rosetta Stone of my Dream Studio. I simply couldn't have put the plan into action without it. I shared it with some friends and family to help plan their spaces and they've agreed, it's a miracle-worker. Some of the key things it helped with:
1. Tracking (and sticking to!) my budget. Having the numbers right there - tallying up at their leisure, heedless of my hopes and hurt feelings - helped a lot.
2. Saving and organizing links. It was indescribably pleasant to have every link I needed at my fingertips, especially when comparing options for things like bookshelves and desk chairs. I threw every link in there and kept it in, even if the item didn't end up making the cut.
3. Comparing options. I think at one point, I was considering, like, seven different paint carts. Knowing the color, size, and price of each option helped me narrow it down, and kept my planning pretty fluid ("But if I went with this stool, I would want the black bookshelf.", etc).
4. Monitoring shipping. How annoying is it to hunt through your email for a tracking number over and over again? Keeping them all in one place was electric.
Download your own magicaly copy of the spreadsheet template here.
I am much better at brainstorming when I have visuals. Photos, lists, and layouts; having all of the information in one place speeds up decision-making on my end.
1. Created an Inkscape file or other graphic editing tool. Inkscape is free and my far my favorite editing software. (Note: You do NOT have to be super techy or artsy to maneauver a digital layout. It's really just drawing circles or squares and resizing them. One five-minute introductory video on YouTube and you'll be off to the races).
2. Added or created a floor layout to scale. I used inches-to-feet for my dimension (e.g. my 12’x9’ room sized to 12”x9”). I made a square with the right proportions, and then resized my floor plan until it fit accurately.
I also mapped out vertical areas, like the closet, bookshelf, and desk area, to scale to play around with. Including the measurements right on the image eliminated any need to double-check dimensions.
3. Built a digital mood board. Pinterest is an amazing place to find inspiration, but I like to rearrange photos, group common ideas, and delete things that no longer fit my vision.
4. Listed everything that needed to be accommodated. Seeing what needed a place in the room made sure nothing was forgotten. Also, having the items laid out in a 'word cloud' instead of a list somehow super-boosted my brainstorming.
Puzzling together the entire room was like the Olympics of organization. The plan was ever-changing, and my head was constantly on a swivel. There’s a few things that were most helpful to me during the process.
1. Measurements, measurements, measurements. Having accurate measurements allowed me to get a realistic picture of how furniture would fit in the room. Bonus points for measuring closet space, shelves, and drawers, so I could buy organizers and storage equipment that actually fit.
2. ‘Placed’ things in the layout to scale and moved them around. I kept in mind how much free space there would be to walk around (and sometimes measured it out in real life).
3. Considered different solutions. My plan completely opened up when I decided to move my closet to a clothing rack. My purses were going to be stowed in boxes before I added a display shelf. Looking at the problem from different angles was enlightening and only improved the final layout.
4. Didn’t buy anything until the whole room was planned. My overall vision changed so much from start to finish that buying anything in haste would’ve ruined the planning fluidity. Thanks to my spreadsheet, I had a complete list of all my options, and could wait until I was confident with the whole project before loading up my shopping carts.
For a long time, I’ve fantasized about having the perfect work space; somewhere to be creative and efficient and messy and adventurous. I’m so glad I put time and thought into every square inch of it. Stop by to shop the finished studio here. If you get the opportunity to plan out your ideal space, don’t settle for a layout or desk chair or even a picture frame that isn't exactly what you love - adoring your office area makes working in it every day a breath of fresh air.