Workspace Do-over, Part 1: Gah!

by Sarah on July 12, 2010

It’s probably safe to say that the need for a neat, organized, and attractive workspace is universal. But with restrictions on time and energy, lack of motivation or direction, or just sheer laziness, making (and keeping!) a tidy workspace can be an effort to say the least; for some of us, it’s an insurmountable task.

My perfect space would be a 400 square-foot room, with lots of built in furniture and storage, a wash basin for washing hands and rinsing out screens and brushes, and a freestanding worktable in the center. A nice tall ceiling. Lots of windows. Unfortunately, the space I have is slightly less than my ideal. About 300 square feet less. So I’ve had to be creative with my use of space; I’ve been brutal about what supplies and materials I really, truly need, and how many books and magazines I keep. And yet, it’s all still hijacking my space.

Be afraid.

More brutality, more creativity!
I’m sure there are plenty of other artists, designers, and/or crafters who can relate: we just have a LOT of stuff! A lot of stuff that we need. Whether it’s books, supplies, tools or equipment, everything has to have a place. Maybe that place is in a studio, an office or spare bedroom (like mine), or maybe it’s just a desk or corner of your dining room. Wherever it is, having an orderly, efficient workspace is critical for creativity. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a great idea, but by the time I find the supplies and carve out the space to work on it, the creative spark is gone. I’ve tried and failed (or lost steam) to solve my workspace problem many times, yet my office/studio is as epic of a disaster as ever it was. The chaos is clearly holding me back.

Still, every time I’ve gone through and re-organized the same space I’ve discovered more books, supplies, and tools that I can easily do without. There’s always something I trick myself into keeping. But I don’t think the key is simply to cut it all down to just a few items — this space serves many purposes (which I’ll elaborate on later) and, like I said, artists need a lot of stuff; rather, by eliminating the excess and managing the rest, mine could be a useful, harmonious environment that — instead of quashing creative urges — serves as a nursery for creativity.

So! This summer, I’m determined to resume the fight against the haphazard office, and I’m determined to win. Whatever it takes. Do you hear me? WHATEVER it takes. I aim to be a ruthless (but just) warrior fighting to free my beloved workspace from the autocratic tyranny of disorder.

Be very, very afraid.

The plan
I’ve already spent some time evaluating how I like to work, what functional spaces/needs I require, and I’ve got a few ideas for how to keep my various tasks organized and on track. This isn’t meant to be a typical Sarah-style one day purgeandorganizefest. Instead, this will be a longer project that is more focused, planned, and meticulous — because I’m in it for the long haul.

What I want to do is share my process, inspirations, and progress with you. And if you see or think of something that might help me, or if you’ve embarked on a similar journey, I hope you’ll share, too!

In the meantime, let’s start by visualizing the end result — and all the blissful, tidy possibilities – with a handful of links to inspirational workspace before and afters:

Hooked on Houses — A small room with “issues” makes a well-appointed office. Oh, cabinetry…

Jessica Claire — While LA photographer Jessica Claire’s studio (here, in progress) is much cooler than anything I would probably do in my own home, the Awesome Wall? is one awesome wall. (I could use an awesome wall.)

The Crochet Dude — Simple, but remarkable what a little cash ($300), a lot of elbow grease (50 hours), and someone who knows what he’s doing can accomplish.

From Single to Married — “Some people collect stamps, others collect coins.  I collect paper products.” Enough said.

Centsational Girl — My office will never look this glamorous, but I admire the creative vision and hard work that went in to achieving this much tidiness and style with precious few resources. (I really dig the scales — maybe it’s a Libra thing?)

Design*Sponge “Sneak Peak Best Of: Offices” (parts one and two) — How timely! Not before and afters, but still an excellent round-up of 20 home offices with plenty of practicality and personality.

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