Artful Studio/Office Design Project

I'm getting a GREAT response to my new offering of 'Artful Makeover' services!
As I tell each of the clients that I work with:
You really don’t have to spend money to create an efficient, inspiring office or studio - 
start with what you have!

When designing an office space, think about the function needed for your specific work processes. 
Move around as if you were working, and decide what storage & work surfaces are necessary - and where.  
Remember that the ‘work triangle’ concept of kitchen design applies to offices & studios, too!

* Starting with the largest furnishings, assign each a place and use - considering light sources, access, and traffic flow. 
* 'Shop your house' and garage for pieces that can be used in fresh new ways to add style - think outside the box!
* Get creative with the colors, furnishings and details you select to express YOUR style and brand with every choice. 

You can have an inspiring work space that works almost as hard as you do ;)
 Want more Top Tips for your home office/studio space? asked me to contribute to a new blog post about office setup,
and it's FILLED with pro tips to consider when setting up your home office -
great advice from small business owners and design professionals!

Whether you work in a home office, art studio, craft room, or classroom,

my new 'Artful Makeover' services will help you to work happily, efficiently, and creatively.
I design beautiful, efficient, inspiring spaces where your creativity will thrive!
Read about my Artful Makeover Services

Keep reading to see how I approach the design process...

I'd like to share a post about my own (former) office design.
Published in Vintage Indie Magazine blog in 2011,
it then appeared on my DIY home decor blog homewardFOUNDdecor in 2012
(which is why the images below have that watermark)
In winter of 2011, I moved into a new home, with the opportunity to design a whole new studio/office for myself.
I undertook this project exactly as I would one for my design clients:
Start with what you have and look at it in a fresh way.

Designing spaces entails having many resource materials at hand in my studio:
There are books, magazines, tear sheets, color fans, and paint charts.
There are files of completed projects and ‘in process’ designs.
There are design boards from huge to small.
Keeping it all under control is a daily challenge! 

I use a lot of creative storage techniques,
because although I can handle a certain amount of ‘creative clutter’,

I do NOT like it when I can’t find what I am looking for.

Of course it all had to have vintage style in my trademark neutral palette...
I painted the walls soft tan, with gloss white trim.
Instantly, the room became welcoming instead of cold, clinical white -
and the soft neutral color won’t interfere with my design work.
I also took down the ceiling fan, and replaced it with a three-light ceiling fixture.
Combined with the existing can lights, this room is very well lit.
That's an important consideration in the Pacific Northwest, where it is always gray outside.
 Beginning with the large furnishings & fixtures that I already had on hand
(ALL of them second hand or recycled),
I figured out how to fit them into this new space efficiently for the way I work -
Using the location of lighting to place my work surfaces, for example,
and knowing how I move around when I am working on projects.

When designing a work space, approach the layout like a kitchen plan - 

the 'work triangle' concept applies to offices, too.
Determine your specific processes, move around as if you were working,
and decide what furnishings, storage, and surfaces you need.

My work triangle consists of the standing desk/worktable in the center,
the low shelves & countertop behind it, and the tall cubed bookshelf beside it.
These three storage fixtures come together to put everything within easy reach as I work.
 Next, I corralled storage containers on those fixtures to hold smaller items: 
wire locker baskets, wire plate racks, metal boxes & lunch pails,
wire sliding drawers, vintage metal bread pans, large clear vases and magazine sleeves.

Since all of these elements are seen, I wanted them to have vintage style and visual appeal.

Some of the ‘hidden storage’ in the studio is in the low shelf units… 
They are very deep, intended to be closet storage units.
By laying them down, I gain double-depth space PLUS the top work surface. 

[remember to think outside the box about HOW to use the pieces you already have...]

Behind the visible rows of white cardboard magazine sleeves (IKEA),
there are stacks of books, more sleeves full of tear sheets and catalogs,
DVD’s, portfolios, magazines that have published my writings, and client project archive files.
These are things I don’t need to access often,
so having them located behind the magazines works for me.
Small labels on the shelf front tell me what’s behind.
The magazines in front are arranged by name, month & season.
On top, two units of small drawers (IKEA) hold biz cards and other regular office supplies.

The tall cube bookcase unit (IKEA) holds all of the books that I access regularly, sorted by subjects.
Behind what you see is another six inches of space, holding books I don’t use very often.
I kept the books on the lower two shelves
and placed the more visually interesting things to be up high, in the line of sight.
That’s where the baskets & boxes come in: 
Various materials are stored AND displayed in all of them.
Even the white shopping bags on top of this unit hold project materials –
but what you see is crisp, clean, and simple.

Tucked back in the corner is a plastic drawer unit
it holds all of my vintage papers and office supplies.
You can’t see it, it fills in a dead corner, and each drawer can be pulled out when I need something. 

The wire unit in front of it holds large-sized vintage papers and paper cutters -
I place the tools near the supplies I need with them.
This is an important part of the layout, as it saves me time and effort! 
A wire basket and boxes on top hold rolls of paper and small vintage paper elements.

 Every business has a file cabinet...and usually, they are hideously ugly! 
I could have painted mine white, but decided instead to cover it with vintage dictionary pages.
 Lots of glue & paper were involved, but not a lot of time & effort. I.Love.It!
Inside the lower drawer, I keep my printer/scanner, already plugged in (cord goes out the back).
I simply hook up my laptop cord to use them.
My worktable/desk is bar-height, because I work a lot while standing.
Under it, I can store empty wire baskets  -
they will fill up with product supplies or small items to be priced.
 The paper recycling container is a reclaimed old wood pull-out laundry bin.
A rolling wire cart holds large pieces of fabric, and can be relocated easily.
Or emptied if I am hitting a flea market! ;0)
Because they are easily changeable and helpful in my processes,
I use many ‘Inspiration Boards’.
One is a fabulous vintage door, where a bulletin board replaces the former window.
Behind this door, I store oversized style boards for projects.
A chalkboard door will be placed on the opposite side of the sideboard cabinet…

Smaller pin boards across the room are simply made: 
squares of rigid foam insulation panels, cut down and covered with fabric.
 Each project I work on gets one of these pin boards while in-process,
until I am ready to glue it all to a style board permanently.

The final details...
Having beautiful inspiration around me is essential in my design process,

 so I included pieces that simply make me smile. 
Mannequins dressed in vintage finery and jewelry, products I’ve designed,
and gifts from friends all have a special place here,
as do a floral chandelier and two favorite hemp chairs for clients.
(Rachel Ashwell called them ‘lovely’ when she saw them in my booth at an antique show, btw!) 

By starting with the storage needs, I was able to make pretty quick work of this: 
from beginning to (almost) end, this room came together in just four days.

What did I buy for this room?
Paint. From the Habitat ReStore and Craigslist. (we mix our own custom colors, using recycled paint) 
The three-spot ceiling light. Thrift store, five bucks. Can of white spray paint, four bucks.

Everything else? Things that I had on hand already!
Items came from a former guest room, the laundry room, garage, and kitchen. 
I re-purposed my own stuff!

this article/post, images, and text copyright Debi Ward Kennedy 2011 - 2016
all rights reserved
Published 2012 
Do you need HELP with your studio/office design? 
I design beautiful, efficient, inspiring spaces where your creativity will thrive!
Read about my Artful Makeover Services 

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