Sharyn's Artful Makeover

Over the summer I worked with professional artist Sharyn Sowell
to completely re-design her art studio.
It was a fun (and exhausting!) whirlwind week of work,
where I was able to teach Sharyn some tricks of space design
and organizational concepts that really freed up her space and time in the long run.

we started by emptying her studio and leaving only furniture & fixtures...

 we evaluated what worked, what didn't, and what was needed
for her studio to express her brand image and work more efficiently for her.
then we painted the walls new vibrant colors to warm up the space.

and then we went SHOPPING!

 we hit the local thrift shops, a friend's house, a local salvage yard, 
and even found a pile of old drawers on the side of the road! 
we went to a local vintage market and found the red paper rack, 
and found a galvanized metal cart at a local shop.

 after some painting and cleaning, the new furniture went into the studio
- along with some of the old furniture in new locations! -

and we created 'zones' for the different activities that Sharyn undertakes in her studio.

supplies were loaded into each zone -
some stored in an old locker, some in the drawers we found, some in crates, 
and then there's that killer stack of suitcases hiding all kinds of creative goodies!
THEN the really fun part started: the decorating!

my goal for Sharyn was to get her art OUT of those flat files and onto the walls!
she had years and years worth of beautiful work hidden away, 

so I pulled it out and put it all over the studio...

from little vignettes on windowsills and shelves

  to small wall collages above the flat files (featuring her art plus 3-D objects)
 to the HUGE collage mural that I created near her beloved printing press:
the background is made up of huge posters of Sharyn's art,
formerly used at gift & stationery trade shows.
over that, I layered some original pieces from her files,
along with cutouts and 3-D objects  like tissue paper flowers, vintage millinery & jewelry.
it's a visual reference of all of the many styles that Sharyn loves
and has brought to life over the many years of her professional career.

{ i did the large collage while she was in the house, and when she came back out, 

she literally gasped. i've never been so thrilled by a client's reaction! }

this 'phase one' of the project set into motion a creative flood of ideas
and Sharyn continued refining the space more and more after I left.
she's happy with the changes and the way her creative space functions now,
and I'm thrilled that I was able to help her see the possibilities!

Sharyn is sharing the process and her own photos over on her studio blog:
artful makeover part 1 and artful makeover part 2

photos by Debi Ward Kennedy + Sharyn Sowell

Sharyn's studio makeover appeared in a story in the Winter issue of Where Women Create Magazine, in November, 2017!

from retail stores and show booths to art studios and classrooms! 


  1. I learned so much from you about how to make my space more functional and you made me comfortable all the way along. I am loving my studio more than ever. And there are so many happy memories of the fun we had working it out! I would recommend you to anyone... You helped me so much, Deb, and I know others would feel the same.

    1. thank you, my friend. thank you for trusting me with the task of expressing your point of view so literally, and for being patient as we did the drudge work before the pretty stuff!!! it was a joy to work together in the midst of your beautiful garden, especially when the final result brought such a smile to your face. i expect big things to come out of that studio!!!! LOL