Today I’m sharing a three part series with you on the evolution of my workspace! I’m doing this to prepare myself mentally for Organizing FUNdamentals workshop at Big Picture Classes, which begins tomorrow. You can read part 1 here. It’s about my pre-homeowner spaces.
This post is all about my spaces since I’ve lived in this house, which we’ve now owned for almost two and a half years. My problems pre-house were due to a combination of lack of space, lack of funds to invest in furniture or organization supplies (I was always working with freebies and hand-me-downs, for which I was thankful), and the knowledge that anything I did wouldn’t be permanent. It also didn’t help that my needs for the space changed rapidly. This resulted in spaces that didn’t make sense for the work I was doing, giant messes spread all about, and a lot of stuff getting not used because it was forgotten.
The bad results haven’t changed much since I’ve been in this house, mostly because I have the SPACE, but I still don’t have the furniture / supply budget. Until now, I also didn’t quite know where the space would be (it’s changed locations in the house something like six times). So this post is less about figuring out how to organize stuff (which I’m still very much working on), but more about figuring out where in my home to work.
My first Holly House workspace, which you can sort of see behind my very pregnant self and Eliza working on a DIY ornament together, was in what was meant to be the dining room in the house. It didn’t last long. We put my worktable, a big industrial butcher block cart we found at an antique store, in that corner because it’s the only place we could think to put it. It certainly wasn’t going upstairs any time soon. Most of my supplies went into the pantry off of the kitchen. We did a bit of rearranging after this and put the worktable in our breakfast room, so it was really squished in there with our kitchen table. This worked for my workspace (sort of), but didn’t really work for our family. And I couldn’t keep my mess picked up (surprise, surprise).
So we took the shelf off of the block, (which we put in Jonas’s room, and turned the butcher block into a kitchen island. My favorite piece of furniture stolen from me, I was banished to our finished attic with a hand-me-down breakfast table from my dad. (The doorway up there is really narrow, so pretty much only furniture that comes apart can go up there. Can’t wait until we get our IKEA; our 3rd floor is going to be amazingly transformed.)
I was sort of squeezed into the middle space between the two 3rd floor rooms for awhile (I don’t remember why), and then I spread out into the back room up there, which is now Eliza’s room. I still felt squished, I made big messes, but most of all: I hardly ever went up there. I felt far away from the rest of the family, I didn’t like hanging out up there after the kids were in bed with Jake downstairs. It wasn’t Jonas-proofed or safe at all, so I couldn’t chill out up there with him.
This disconnect is directly related to how little creating I did in 2011. (Well, that and having an infant, obviously.)
I at least did a little bit better organizing up there (this post on sticker organization is good), but it didn’t matter because I wasn’t spending time in the space.
When things started to get crazy for us with our Etsy shop at the end of 2011, the third floor thing made no sense. There was NO WAY we were going to make and pack 40 record bookend orders upstairs and drag them downstairs. So we created a makeshift workspace in our breakfast room for shop stuff while the scrapbooking stuff stayed upstairs. Things got crazy spread out.
We kept this set-up going in the beginning on 2012 as we worked on products for a craft fair.
And somehow, the third floor became used even less, but became exponentially messier.
Jake and I figured out pretty quick that our workflow success was based on having a shared space. Luckily, around the same time Poppy (my grandpa) brought us a big drafting table from my great-grandpa’s office (before retiring, he was an architect). We decided to throw our floor plan out the window to create a shared office space in what is supposed to be the living room of our house.
The most used craft stuff went back to the pantry, and the third floor mess was consolidated into one room that we find extremely embarrassing (and really really need to organize).
And it WORKED. Well, not fully: I just admitted that our storage room thing is super embarrassing. But it worked in that Jake and I got so much work done in 2012. Work that was done while spending time together. Work that was done in the tiny snippets of time while the kids were distracted. Work that’s allowing us to get away from “have to do to keep our heads above water” stuff to “it would be really awesome if we did this” stuff. And even though our house guests were immediately met with a view similar to the messy table pictured above, we loved it.
The only reason we moved to our current space (other than we like to move things around) is that we want to start making more permanent changes to our house. Which means that we have to ask ourselves what things should look like when we start adding more kiddos into the mix. (Though I would have insisted that our office stay right there if we hadn’t found a way to take apart and move the drafting table.)
The lessons from all of this? Where your workspace is located matters, and it has to work for you. I need to be around people while I work. I like keeping works-in-progress out. I’m not TOO messy if I only have my most-used things out all of the time, but I really need to find a way to organize the lesser used things well so that I actually use them. Having less shop related stuff is really relieving to me. Jake and I are sappy and needy and probably make you guys throw up a little. Sorry about that part. (Hah!) These are the lessons I’m going to remember as I take a look at our current bedroom office / workspace tomorrow so I can be ready to MAKE A PLAN for my current space!
Is the location of your workspace working for you?