In just over a month’s time we will be gaining possession of our new house. Unsurprisingly it still doesn’t feel particularly real, but there are things that need to be done before we move in – decisions which need to be made mostly in the area of colour and paint. While in theory I should find this very exciting, in reality it’s all quite overwhelming so it seems I have gone into denial and haven’t had one single idea about how I want anything to look.
Almost all of the house will have to be decked out in a kind of compromised style as Big-P and I have almost diametrically opposed senses of what looks like home. Big-P prefers neutral, serene rooms that bring a sense of peace and I have a passion for homes that are what the style-gurus would call eclectic but what I call messy and characterful. So somehow we are going to have to make that work. As neither of us are the kind of people who will bring in experts or do a complete home make-over, I can see that the “eclectic” style will win over, simply because we have a lot of junk and inherited furniture and that will get piled in with the promise that “one day” we will replace that “eclectic” couch/table/bookshelf with an Eames inspired couch/table/bookshelf.

However, I get to have final say on the studio. I want it to be a place full of creative inspiration. I want it to make me feel happy when I walk through its double doors.

Here’s the floor plan of the studio (measurements are in metres):

And here’s the photo taken from the real-estate brochure:

The plan is to take up the carpet and polish the boards which is pretty practical when I drop a gazillion threads on the floor every day that seem to end up getting matted into the carpet, and I will be printing, fabric dying and painting and so on in that space. Apparently there are good Tasmanian Oak (Victorian Ash) boards under the carpet which will look great when they are polished. This bit of the plan I am totally sure about, everything else is a little wishy-washy. The current colours and wallpaper features do not bring me any joy at all so that’s all going to go. What colour they will be replaced with remains a mystery to me. We are planning to build in some storage (bookshelves and supplies shelves, fabric shelves) either side of the fireplace (the big red bit in the photo) but from there I am pretty vague. We have talked about a big, high central work table and a couch for Big-P to sit on in the evenings on his lap-top. I am imagining a small space for my computer (how I would love to get rid of this enormous, ergonomic, ugly grey computer desk) and I know I want an inspiration / mood pin-board some where, probably on that wall that is the back of the fireplace. It’s all pretty exciting but after all these years of renting and the past two years of working in this tiny little office which I share with a huge amount of boxes and junk to suddenly be able to do exactly what I want I find that I am thrown into a complete stupor.

I am off to research home offices / studios (for instance Home Companion features Eric Carle’s studio). If anyone has any tips from their own experiences, or ideas for their own dream studio (cost effective obviously) please leave me a comment – cheers!

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29 Responses

  1. Getting rid of my big grey computer desk was the best thing I’ve ever done for my creativity! I still love my computer and the options it offers – but designing my own space certainly coloured my world!

  2. says:

    I can so sympathize with you in regards to different tastes! My BF has very traditional (read dark blue, burgundy and forest green) tastes. Nothing else exists. I can live with that but try to sneak bits of colour in where I can. I had an almost studio once with the most fantastic storage unit I’d gotten from Ikea – with wide pine shelves. It took up one wall of the room and I could see everything at a glance. That is probably the single most important thing as nothing dampens your creativity more than having to spend hours looking for a bit of lace of that skein of yarn. Also, I second the recommendation of “Home Companion”. Lots of inspiration — lots of artist’s studios!

  3. Make sure your computer monitor doesn’t face a window… I got all excited when setting up my studio, and kind of screwed up in that regard. Now I have half an hour a day during which I have to play Gameboy in the bath, since my monitor’s unusable. Also, you can never have too many shelves.

  4. Before we moved into our house we painted everything and bought some new furniture. Like you, we had rented for years. And now three years later the thing I wish I had done? Live in the house a bit before deciding on colors and furniture. I didn’t take into account the way lighting (both natural and from lamps) would affect colors. Also, I have learned how we use the space in our house, and so we have had to make some adjustments (some of them major). So my advice (which isn’t probably all that appealing and sometimes not all that practical) is to see how you live in the house and then decide what changes you want. Good luck, but most importantly: have fun!

  5. But there is never a wrong place to put in a bookshelf.
    Is Home Companion available in Australia?? I’ve been wanting to read it. I love M.Englebreit.

  6. I found Home Companion at Borders Kathleen – I bought the last copy there though. They said they get quite a few.

  7. just wondering – which way is north?and are all the windows just highlight slots like that?
    other than just polishing the boards – to be a little different and to suit big p – the japanese minimalist – why not stain/lime or bleach – they will still have the practicality of timber plus its natural warmth but they are a little different. for the corkboard – check out charles timms – timsoncork educational cork boards. you can get them in various(al be it pastel) colours and they of course are large enought that you can probably line the whole chimney breast if you like. george low floors also have a european version of the same thing – “krommenie”.
    What height is the room? – lights?. switches?, power points? – these are boring things but are so important in making the studio work as well as possible. Imagine if you only have 1 power point and no telephone – running cords is a nightmare. you probably already have that covered though.
    i could go on and on…

  8. I strongly recommend getting professionals to polish the floorboards – it’s a nasty, stinky business. And don’t do it until after you’ve painted, so you don’t have to worry about drips and spills.

  9. says:

    Try office furniture 2nd hand/clearance shops for easy care desks/tables in a range of sizes. They are clear underneath for storage and for changing patterns no more banging knees!) and come in all types of sizes. A small one fits my laptop nicely under a shelf and give me space without dominating the room, they are cheap, sturdy and you can use them for other things later if your needs change

  10. says:

    Looks like a good space feng shuistically speaking. A big central work table is essential. I went for long & narrowish rather than wide and it works well for me. Mine also has two layers of shelving underneath with big plastic bins for fabric. I wouldn’t do anything too expensive to the floor because it’s bound to get things spilled on it.

  11. says:

    I have collected a list of artist studios that you might want to check out for ideas. Most of them are painters, but several are textile artists.

  12. says:

    As for colors, something I do is go with my first choice– I’ve noticed that the rooms/areas of my house that I used my first color choice, I still love- and the rooms I tried to ‘play it safe’ with colors, I despised and had to redo! I also use this same advice with all house-related purchases.

  13. Hello! You’ve probably already read this a million times in decorating magazines, but it has really helped us to paint a large piece of card with a sample of the chosen room colour before the walls. We finally tried this after living in too many rooms with rainbows of samples on every wall. Also, this way you can move the card around and see how it works in different parts of the room & in different light without spashing paint everywhere. Congratulations, it looks like a beautiful space! 😀

  14. The studio I’ve been happiest and most productive in was not the big, light-filled space I had all to myself, but the one I’m in now; I have just enough storage there that I can’t fill it with “maybe someday” materials (those are elsewhere), and the workspace is just big enough for everything I need to do, but only if I completely clean up every day. I’m a collector and a mutli-tasker, so I really have to fight my tendency to fill my space with so much stuff I don’t have room to work…
    Just my experience.

  15. For the studio, make sure that whatever colour you choose, it should be light and bright, whether it be an almost-white, sunshine orange, or lime green, so that it always feels sunny in there, and the light will reflect off the walls. The worst thing you can do is paint it a dark colour – it ends up being too cozy, and you’ll just want to relax in there instead of work. Also, put a few shelves up to display some of your dolls and other things that you love that inspire you. To add more colour, you could stain your shelves pink, paint your work table blue, or even paint one wall (the wall with the fireplace and future shelves) an intense colour while the others are light. It would look neat as a feature wall with the shelving in front of it. But i agree with Stephanie in that you shouldn’t make too many decisions until you’ve spent some time in the house to see how the light affects each room. I made the big mstake too, of painting my living room and studio before realizing that neither get enough sun for the colours i chose.

  16. Ooo, I love your new studio! My hubby and I had similar style-conflict problems when moving into our house. But we had only about 1 week to redecorate before moving, so we just went with neutral white everywhere, figuring we’d change it later. It’s now 5 years later, and only the study got a color change.
    We’re working on a plan for the study/office/library that involves a lot of built-ins. My hubby is building them, slowly. It’s nice in that we get complete control over how it looks, but it takes a long time.

  17. says:

    Of course I always turn to my friend Martha for inspiration. I am returning from London to my home in Boston. My grand plan is to change the guest room into my own studio/craft space. I love this idea for an extra table to cut large projects out on:

    I just love this idea, though do not have an alcove that it would fit in:

    I am not sure if it is available in Australia, but there is a product in the USA called Homasote, it is an acoustic wall board, but you can cover it in fabric and use it as a bulletin board. It comes in huge pieces, like 4 by 8 feet, so it is perfect for covering huge spaces.

    The last thing I would recomend is a nice corner for Amelia, possibly painted with chalk board paint so she has space to be creative too!
    How exciting for you to have an open canvas to work on!

  18. might try martha stewart’s GOOD THINGS-tiny mag for organization/clutterfree living. i got it last night. i like it you might too:)

  19. says:

    Storage space is the thing I dream about the most – I think I would finish tons more projects if I could see what I had, and if I could jump into projects without having to move stuff out of the way. I think the best way to figure out what storage you’d need is to make a list of the supplies you have, factor in anything you plan to buy, and measure anything that has a fixed size. Then build shelves/buy bins/hang racks or pegboards to fit. I have often just tried to repurpose old storage containers with less-than-stellar results. Also, don’t forget space to display your own work!

  20. I suffer from the electic style as well. And I drool at the serene look every time I visit people who have taste. I don’t think there is a cure…even when I try the neat, straight lines look, it ends up funky and messy..*sigh*

  21. says:

    Stephanie has a good tip Claire, don’t do anything until you’ve lived in the house for a while and “got the feel” of it. You’ll never really know what you want or need for that matter until you’ve lived in a space. More good advice from Rachel too, don’t do the floors yourself and make sure you do them last…rule of thumb, always work your way down from the ceiling…and my best tip, after renovating 5 houses, only attempt one room at a time. Otherwise you end up so disrupted and in such a mess it does become overwhelming and nothing ends up getting done. Succesfully completing one room gives you the incentive to tackle others.

  22. says:

    I couldnt agree more with Stephanie that living in the space first and then deciding color etc. is the way to go. We moved into this place last year and it needed everything. Now 9 months later out of all the rooms, I am happy with the color in one of them. In fact we are fixing to repaint a bunch of it this week. We also installed new wood floors in the kitchen and now I would have loved to have had tile. The studio space looks great! Have fun with it and good luck merging styles.

  23. I am sure someone said it but live in the house for a while before before making structural changes. Paint the walls with the carpet down if your not reusing the carpet for anything. Its always easier to have the floors done when there is no furniture to have to move out – so maybe get the wall colour decided first then do the floors. Given your good taste with fabric- I would say trust your instincts with colour.In any case, paint is one of the most inexpensive mistakes you can make.

  24. not sure if anyone has said this (I dont have time to read the comments) but maybe your daughter would like to be with you in the studio. At Ikea (of all places) they had two desks opp. eachother, made of a top with 4 legs that are adjustable in height. So you could put your desk opp. the lower desk and you could both ‘work’. Esp. when a little older it could be peaceful 🙂

  25. I’m picturing a wall of shelves, with little spot lights overhead where you can display your doll creations and/or inspirations.

  26. says:

    Yep..”blossom” got it right!!! One room at a time is the easiest. We have been renovating for a year and a half..and have made a few little mistakes along the way..But we started from the ceiling down..drew out floor plans of what and where we would like furniture to go and only put back into each room what we HAD to have..we then sold/gave to friends/donated the rest.Its a great way to purge all those things that have been hanging around forever!!! PS dont forget a filing cabinet or something for your invoices etc. GOOD LUCK!!!

  27. I couldn’t agree more with the “live in it first” advice. It always gives you a new perspective and you discover things about the space and the way you use it that you would never have come across form the ‘outside’. Nice to have a whole house to play with though!

  28. How exciting! That’s going to be so lovely for you, having all that space to work in. As regards settling the design-dispute between you and Big-P, I know that one. My man is in for neutrals, I am in for eclectic. We compromise in that the walls and floor are nice and neutral (gardenia walls, wooden floor), but then I get to put eclectic stuff in the room (old chests from Uzbekistan, funky cushions, insane paintings). Sounds like you could go a similar way – a nice pale neutral wall colour to make sure your new studio is nice and light and airy, but then you can personalise it with your pinboard and furniture, so that it is “yours” and not show-house boring neutral. Also a nice neutral wall makes the stuff you have stand out and add character of its own (I used to have my chest in a cluttered room, and it looks so much better now against the plain floor/walls).Have fun 😀

  29. Hi Clare,Don’t forget I work for Porters paints if you need some at trade rate*
    Hope to catch up soon at knit or other* R u going to the blythe meet next weekend? Can’t WAIT to see your cats and get bidding, yaahhhyyy