I moved into my current studio space a year and a half ago but it’s only been in the last month that I’ve felt really at home and content. Maybe that’s true of anywhere you live or work — it takes awhile to find a balance in your surroundings and a ton of trial and error.
It’s about moving furniture around into the right configuration, finding art that inspires you and picking out plants that liven up your space but also about settling in and having routines.
It’s a process that’s partially about self exploration (what do you really like? What inspires you day after day?) and also, practicality. I made the mistake of doing a few impulse buys on “pretty” things during the first year that just didn’t work out — mainly uncomfortable furniture and items that weren’t well made.
Early on when I was planning out my studio, I set up a Pinterest board to keep track of sources and ideas. I occasionally still pin photos there and it’s fun to look back and see the evolution of a space.
There are 5 key elements that have made this space feel just right and I hope they give you some ideas for your own, as well. The great part is, most of these tips will work just as well in a spare corner of your room as they will in a larger space.
1. Inspiration board
Nothing beats the feeling of pinning up great business cards, pages from magazines and thank you notes into one big, loose collage. I have a massive inspiration board next to my desk that Joey built for me on a small budget. If you want to create one in a similar style, here’s the DIY.
2. Personal photos
A workspace isn’t complete without a few personal mementos. I have a handful of photobooth strips with friends tacked up but beyond that, I love ordering square print sets from Artifact Uprising because you can do it straight from your phone. Bring all those digital photos to life! Current favorite: that baby photo of Chubs! Awwww.
3. Practical, multi-purpose furniture
When I moved into my space, my furniture was a mix of hand-me-downs and impulse buys. None of it was very practical, except my bookshelf. Over time, I’ve focused in more on function. The plant stand (below) is a new favorite from IKEA that fills up wasted corner space nicely but also groups up some of the plants that were taking up valuable desk space.
I also switched my desk out for a big kitchen table (also IKEA) as the studio grew so 2 computers can comfortably fit. Kitchen tables are great because they’re a pretty fixed, comfortable height, unlike a lot of desks I tested out which were too tall.
4. Books and magazines
I’ll say it again and again: print isn’t dead! If anything, I appreciate my collection of books and magazines now more than ever. I love going out and searching for fresh print inspiration at Rich’s Cigar Store (magazines) and Powell’s and Anthropologie (books).
If you have an open wall in your place, you can create a simple display for them — Joey mounted leftover door moulding with metal dowels from the hardware store and it’s held up great.
5. Plants, plants and more plants
Plants breathe instant life into any space and they’re an affordable way to add personality. I’ve bought most of mine from IKEA and Trader Joe’s and then picked up a few specialty cacti from Portland Nursery.
Plants not only look good but they give you a reason to get out of your seat and tend to them! Quick tip: I use a spray bottle to mist my cacti and succulents to avoid over-watering.
After a lot of moving, unpacking and adjusting to a variety of workspaces, I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter how small or big your area is or even where it’s located as long as it feels comfortable and reflects your unique personality.
I’ve worked in a bunch of spaces including my childhood room and transformation doesn’t take a massive budget or even much planning — it can happen with the tiniest shifts. Surrounding yourself with a few personalized touches can help your creativity thrive.