Despite the fact that I had access to the developed basement in our home, I decided I could no longer work in my basement quilting studio. No matter what I did, there was NEVER enough light down there! Several smallish windows and tons of lamps did not really help – it always felt so dark and a little foreboding when I was working. If not the largest accessible space in our home, where, then could I set up shop? I needed a more cozy, natural light-filled workspace big enough to accommodate my sewing, quilting and writing equipment. Where, oh where, would that be?
Lying in bed at night, I would close my eyes and visualize my sewing equipment in different locations throughout the house. More times than I can count, I tried to talk myself out of moving, as my husband calls, “my operation”, up from the basement to the main level – just because I knew how much work it would entail. No matter what I did, though, the basement was just not suitable. I really needed to figure out a better solution.
So, after many months of deliberation, I finally decided that the under utilized living room and dining room space of our home could be reconfigured – to my benefit! We had family dinners each Sunday in the dining room, but the living room was not used very often at all. I needed help from my husband and my adult son, but the three of us succeeded in hauling “my operation” up from the basement to the main floor and I could not be happier with the move. Now, working in my home studio is a pleasure….tons of much-needed natural sunlight, glimpses of the neighborhood squirrels playing in my backyard and hardwood floors that, unlike carpet, don’t cling to each bit of scrap fabric, have made all the difference in the World.
Here is how I did it…..
Step #1 Move the sofa, coffee table and end tables from the living room to the basement.
Step #2 Move the dining room table, chairs and armoire from the dining room to the living room. The living room love seat was repositioned in front of the window. I purchased a small, black pedestal style end table from HomeSense and two lamps, moved a few pictures around and the room became pretty and functional.
Step #3 Using graph paper, I drew a room plan for converting the dining room to a home office quilting studio. First, the new space was measured (13.4’x11.8′) and then three separate stations were configured into that space. Station A – cutting table; Station B – sewing/embroidery machines; Station C – computer/printer; Station D – fabric and more storage. Since the space in the dining room was limited, I combined Station A and B together.
Station A – The cutting table that I use is an old drafting table that my Dad used in his business eons ago. I sanded, primed and painted it black prior to moving it upstairs from the basement. It’s a fairly large surface (5’x3.2′) so it accommodates two fabric cutting mats and both of my Brother sewing and embroidery machines. A bar stool purchased from HomeSense is just the right height for the drafting table — I can see outside to the backyard when I’m working at my sewing machines. At night, I turn on both lamps and my workspace is comfortable, cozy and well-lit. On either side of the drafting table, there is some fabric storage – IKEA style wire baskets that are very versatile. On the left hand side, I have all my sewing accessories contained in old Starbucks tea tins – fabric cutter, scissors, pinking shears, marking pencils, etc. which are easily accessed when the need arises. On the floor beneath the drafting table, there is a thread rack which holds colourful machine embroidery threads. Since I am a quilt designer and a writer, I need to retain some files and a wicker basket file box sits under the drafting table with all my files in one handy spot.
Surprisingly, my aged Home Depot computer table works well in the new space and holds both my laptop computer and printer easily on its surface. The table faces towards the living room window allowing me to keep tabs on what’s happening outside. Tucked into a plastic three drawer cart on wheels beside the computer table, is paper and envelopes, camera, chargers, printer ink – all very easily accessible. Since I love Mary Engelbreit and Helen Downing Hunter, their work covers the walls.
Station C is more storage. I was fortunate to find three coordinating inexpensive glass door cabinets at HomeSense which fit the alcove in the new workspace perfectly! (I just love HomeSense!) More fabric, bobbins, threads, cording, ribbons, straping, pattern books, etc. are in the cabinets. Even with the glass doors, the items seem to be hidden from view. The ironing board conveniently folds up and fits neatly beside the cabinets.
Adding a living green plant and design board gave my new workspace some much-needed feng shui.
Since my new workspace was very open there was no door to close and leave the mess behind. Now, when someone appears at my front door, they are easily able to see into my new workspace, and it was obvious I needed a way to discreetly hide my “creativity”. I found the solution at Pier One…a vintage room divider that I can easily pull across in front of my computer table to camouflage what lurks beyond. .
For a few hundred dollars, an under utilized living room and some sweat equity, I now am so fortunate to have a workspace that I love.