The monsters in my studio

The above cabinet is really a monster. I jam pack stuff into and need to pull stuff out and rearrange things every time I need something stored in it. My intention for this cabinet is to store items that will be used in wet work, In other words, soda soaked cloth, urea, textile paint, brushes that cannot be hung on peg board, aprons, soy wax tools, stamp pads, and a few other things that need to be in the studio room, like my wall projector, scale to weigh dye and so forth.

The way this looks when I open those two doors drives me n-u-t-s. Not to mention the books and magazines above.  The soda soaked cloth at upper right? I can’t grab soda soaked organza without pulling every little stuffed bit out with it. I use those plastic bins (blue and white) all the time and each time, I take everything out, place it on the shelf where the bins were and go about my business. Below that is were I store my handmade stamps, which I rarely take out because that means I also need to take out my freezer paper, parchment paper and zip top bags.

A few months back, I identified this space as a potential staging area for acrylic painting and I bought and installed the peg board, which  you can see under the plants. I began gathering the items that ought to go in this area but then, I did not finish the job and this table became the catch all for all things not on my workbench. And the area underneath became the place to stuff items I didn’t want to see. But I see them.

And here you see, oh gosh, a mess. I keep stuffing things on top of the bins, just to have a place to put them. Just looking at this photo makes me sad. Up at the top? I call that ‘deep storage’ That is where I put things that I want access to but don’t need in a snap. Sadly, I don’t use the stereo very often because my music and podcasts are in the computer… which, if I can wrap my mind around storing or getting rid of the stereo, could be more space for storage bins.

And here is my workbench with peg board attached. And although this looks decent, (I loves me some pegboard), there sure is a good deal of space that could hold more tools!


What staging areas do you need? Do you have to hop out of your sewing chair to grab a new spool of thread? Are your pens, paints, rulers and brushes close enough to your journals and canvases that you can simply lean over and reach for the fancy tool? What do you keep piling up and where does it need to be in order to use it effectively? 

Take all of these messy piles off their unintended surfaces and place them in a single pile in the center of the room. Get the trash bin, recycle bin, and a bag for the thrift store too. Deconstruct your piles by making more piles! This is going to look a whole lot messier before it looks better. For now though, if you find thread, place it on you sewing machine staging area, move on, this part of the project is about the big picture.

While you are ripping through your studio and putting stuff in its appropriate area, assess areas that could be used as ‘deep storage’. Look for small spaces that could neatly hold a thing or two (look under my workbench- there is a wooden wine box with a lid that holds all of my stencils and potting soil, both fit nicely and don’t scream, “Mess!”)

And remember, ‘Like Things Together’. Also remember, it is OK to donate, recycle and trash things.

My cleanly obsessions have inspired Pat Spillane to join in on the cleaning fun, please go tell her I said, “right on”.

7 thoughts on “The monsters in my studio

  1. Thanks for sharing your MONSTERS with us, Melly! Yesterday I hung some art, installed my speaker system, and went through five boxes of stuff — there was a lot to throw away or recycle! I also found the warranty and receipt for my snow blower. Just in time for the winter!


  2. Great tips for cleaning up Melly! One of my biggest troubles has been getting rid of things because I know how I am about cycling through things – just because I haven’t knitted in 6 months doesn’t mean I won’t want to knit tomorrow. Know what I mean? But coming up with deep storage ideas for those projects is a brilliant idea. Especially since I do have the space for it. I do know there are some things that I should get rid of though. The time to dig through is coming!


  3. I started on my bedroom, which has been acting as a storage space while my studio was built. It’s at the ‘looks a whole lot messier before it looks better’ stage. Urgh. But I’ve already got rid of three bags of fabric I’ll never use – off to the charity shop with you!


  4. My biggest problem is that I don’t create in the room that holds the supplies. The lighting really is not optimal. At one time I converted our “living room”, which is rarely used, to my creating area. I loved it because I could see outside and there was room to move around. The problem was visitors wanting to see what I was creating or insensitive visitors commenting on what a saint C was for allowing me to mess up the house. Ahem!!! I finally gave up because I was so worried about “what others thought or said”. I am re-thinking this now. Like Lisa, I have too many interests that take up space or I use seasonally. I moved my dye supplies to the back bath. I seldom dye in winter, but if I do, that is where it would happen. The tubs, bottles, etc. have been moved to the garage. As soon as it warms up, they move to a cupboard on the patio for use. I kind of look at it like changing out my seasonal clothing. Right now, the piles are being sorted. I have the create order out of chaos sorting/cleaning mentality. 🙂


  5. hi Melanie,
    I am trying to create studio space in my 10 x 12 bedroom! Thinking of putting my bed in the living room. I am 63 living in a one bedroom, want to entertain, do art, and not get stressed out by my small place. Those old voices of what is “normal” and “how I should be living” must be put to rest!! I want to live large–not in a large space!! Thanks for your inspiration!
    I’d love to hear women share about their dual or multi use space/small cozy studio organization ideas.


  6. thank you for sharing the posts about re-organizing studio space…you’re so honest about it….I don’t have the courage to show photos of my mess and still I now exactly where everything is…when I tidy up I can’t find anything…I need to have thing in view…..but I’m going to make another attempt, stimulating by you.


  7. While I stay pretty organized, I don’t have one room large enough to store everything. I have a sewing studio which I keep in pretty good shape but since its on my main level, I have a few paints and sketchbooks that I also have place for,
    My drawing, painting and dyeing table is downstairs. I recently moved a very large cabinet that was made for older style tv s down there. It is perfect for art supplies.
    My only problem is that sometimes I forget where certain things are stored. I plan to make some detailed labels.


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