When Kevin and I were house hunting, we played a game. In each house we viewed, if we came upon a room we liked as an office or studio, we would claim it. "My room," one would call out and the other would have to keep looking. It was like playing Shotgun with real estate instead of the front seat of a car.
My criteria for choosing my room was simple: preferably it would have hard floors, plenty of storage space, and a source of natural light.
When we first toured the house that would become our home, I didn't claim my current studio, even though it met all my criteria. The people who lived here before us had a lot of stuff and that room was a maze of bookshelves aligned against the walls and dividing up the middle of the room. Because of that, it was hard to tell exactly what the room was like. Kevin claimed it.
When we moved in and were walking through our first house together, Kevin said to me, "I don't know why you didn't call this room. Why don't you use it as your sewing room?"
That was an incredibly generous offer from my husband and one I immediately agreed to. My studio is large (at least 14' x 20') with hard floors and sliding doors to the outside. There was plenty of space to set up a sewing table and a cutting table and a desk. I installed wire drawers in the cubby in the far end of the room to store my fabric. A six-foot high bookshelf and overstuffed chair for reading completed the space. It was comfortable and it was organized and I was very lucky to have it.
Fast forward five years. My quilting supplies and fabrics had overtaken all available space and I was starting to feel overwhelmed. I realized that I haven't been using the space as effectively as I could. I've been using this wonderful space as a glorified sewing room with lots of storage. I sew in there when I have a project to work on, but I haven't been using it as creative space to think and dream and imagine and create.
The change in my thinking started the day I brought my laptop into my studio. Normally, I keep my laptop on a corner of the dining table in the kitchen. On days I'm working in my studio, I am constantly running up and down stairs to check my email and take little internet breaks. But the day I brought my laptop in with me, I noticed an incredible increase in my productivity. I realized then that I didn't need an artificial barrier between my creative work and the rest of my life, but that I could incorporate everything to find better balance.
Decluttering has helped as well. Much of the stuff I owned was clogging my space and my creativity. It was hard to find the pearls among the swine, so to speak, when gorgeous batiks were mixed with threadbare yard-sale fabric. By ridding myself of the swine and keeping the pearls, I changed the creative energy I feel in my studio.
Furthermore, I only had one working space in my studio--the table that holds my sewing machine. Although, I have both a desk and a drawing table in there, both were unusable because they were covered with stuff. The drawing table was a staging area for my UFOs and the desk was a catch-all for everything else. I decided to clear off my drawing table and use it as a desk, drawing table, and place for handwork, such as beading. My desk became the UFO staging area. This works well for me because the drawing table looks out into the rest of the room, while the desk faces the wall. (I tend to be a bit claustrophobic, so prefer wide open views.)
Here you can see the view from my drawing table, with my sewing machine, television, and my reading chair in front of the sliders. It's a cozy space, not overly tidy, but comfortable and I am surrounded by my favorite things.
(I have to make a note about the television. The husband and I are big footie fans (that's soccer) so we have DirecTV. We only have one receiver hooked up to a television, so for the past year, I have only been able to watch DVDs in my studio. But just last week I realized that we can hook the DirecTV line into our cable system and I can watch TV in my studio. This is huge! On Sunday, I worked on a project all day while watching the afternoon's La Liga matches (that's Spanish football; aka soccer). The TV is showing the Almeria/Villareal match!)
Here's a view of my cutting table, my drawing table, and the desk behind, heaped with UFOs. I love the cheery colors of the silk rag rug, made from recycled saris.
And this is the storage part of my space. The wire drawers contain my stash, while the banker's boxes hold overflow fabric as well as lots of other treasures. My bookcase is close by for inspiration.
I really love my room now. It's more functional, neater, more organized, and suits my style of working. I can sew on something for a bit, then take a break and check my email, all while watching footie. What more could a girl want in a room of one's own?