Exterior of my studio

How to make creative space even when you have no space

When it comes to pursuing our creative passions, there seem to be three problems that come up over and over: lack of time, space and funds. I shared some time solutions in an earlier post so let’s talk about finding space. 

Our new home provides plenty of room for a studio but it wasn’t always that way.

In the past, I’ve used my own creativity as well as that of other creators and makers for solutions that are real and practical. I hope you’ll find some ideas here to help you make the best of the resources you have.

1. De-clutter

In preparation for our move last summer, we learned that movers charge by weight. This made it a lot easier to decide what to keep and what to donate or toss.

Look at everything in your own home. Treat it like a move. Pick up each piece and ask yourself “Would I pay a mover to take this to a new home?”

You might be surprised by how much”stuff” isn’t worth its weight to move. By clearing it out, you make room for what really matters.

And trust me, your creative passion matters.

2. Think “Portable”

Toolbox spaceIf you’ve ever sold a house, you also know it’s important to whisk things out of sight on short notice.

While our home was on the market, I didn’t want to go on a ‘creative fast’ so I bought two plastic toolboxes and stocked them with my paints, brushes, markers, washi tape, etc.

I carried them wherever I was working in my home for that day but more importantly, I could clean up quickly and they were easy to stow away.

I like these boxes so much I still use them to keep my supplies organized and portable.

3. Break ‘The Rules”

sunset viewC’mon. You’re creative! Re-imagine your space.

I love asking myself “What if?” and exploring what’s possible. In our former home, we used the family room as our master bedroom because it was actually very private, had a walk-out to the lake and a gorgeous view of sunsets over the lake.

This was possible because we still had a large living room and didn’t need both. The former master bedroom became my office and studio.

What rule could you break to discover new territory?

4. See with new eyes

Let’s stay with the idea of re-imagining for a moment, shall we?

I assume you have furniture in your home. It’s already there so you don’t need to find a place to put it, just re-purpose it. In the picture below is a wall unit I claimed for my sewing supplies. I painted it white and wallpapered the back. You don’t even have to do that much.  

Maybe you have an end table or night stand, a kitchen cupboard or dining room buffet that could be emptied and put to better use. (See Tip #1).

5. Subdivide

I’m also a quilter and I prefer to leave my machine and supplies out when I have a project on the go.

Before we moved, my sewing space shared the spare bedroom, which was long and rather narrow. I flipped the wall unit around and created a room divider which hid my mess and kept it from overflowing into the guest area.

Is there space you could set apart within another room by adding bookcases or an inexpensive screen? Even small physical barriers can set creative space apart.

6. Climb the walls

wall space as easelHave you considered vertical space?

Most of us look at floor space but if you look up, you might be surprised by how much empty space you find there.

If you’re a painter you can use inexpensive, narrow shelves as your studio like artist Fred Fowler does here. Ikea carries these as “picture ledges” and they’re very inexpensive. They only protrude 4 1/2″ from the wall so they also take up very little space.

Another wall option is a “Murphy Table”, which folds up out of the way when you don’t need it. You can find out more about this idea, including pictures and plans, by visiting woodworking.formeremortals.net .

7. Another Table Ideatable space

Ikea is a treasure box for us creative types. I still use one of their gateleg tables for my sewing but if I were buying now, I’d look at this one because I love the built-in storage. No more searching for supplies because they’re right there when you’re ready to open up the table and start creating

8. Think outside the box

Don’t be trapped by four walls. Is there a garden shed on your property? In colder climates, this may only be a seasonal solution but if you have a yard, there are some great ideas on Pinterest for your own nurturing and creative haven.

Honestly, I had a hard time choosing just one photo to share with you.  Search Pinterest using the term “shed studio” and see all the creative ways others have re-purposed the lowly garden shed.

The one pictured here was featured on the Architecture and Design site.

9. Really, think outside the box

If you can’t find a place inside your home, think beyond personal space.

  • Go to the library.
  • Spend time in the local coffee shop. (Be sure to buy something.)
  • Ask a friend if they have a spare room you could rent or borrow.
  • Arrange time-sharing of rented space with other creatives.
  • Empty storefronts in your town? Ask the owner if you can cover their utility costs until they find a permanent tenant.

When your creative practice becomes a priority, you will find the space. ‘I have no space‘ is an excuse, not a reason. If you put your creativity to work on this problem you will find a solution. It may only be a temporary one or you may love it so much it becomes permanent.

I’d love to hear your ideas about this topic. What solutions have you discovered that work for you? Add them to the comments below. It might be exactly the answer someone else is looking for.

10 thoughts on “How to make creative space even when you have no space”

  1. I have to say that #9 has really interesting options for lack of person space in the home. I’ll be passing these ideas along. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Barb. There are so many interesting ways we can solve this problem. I love questioning my assumptions. “If this wasn’t true, what becomes possible?” It’s one of the reasons I ended up here in Nova Scotia!

    1. Hi Liesel! Good to hear from you. Nova Scotia has been such a surprise and blessing to me. It’s like the real me finally came out to play. Turns out my family helped settle this area originally and I never knew that until we made the decision to move. It feels like I was called home.

    1. Me too! I have a favorite spot to work, even with all the space I have to spread out. I like a tidy spot to work but it’s doubly important or I get ink or paint where they aren’t meant to be.

  2. I love the idea of the narrow shelves along the wall… as well as the wall unit to mask sleeping space… and time-sharing of rented space… Hmmmmm… Lots to consider.
    Great article. Thank you Aprille.

    1. Thanks Alicja. I have a line of those shelves along one wall myself that I’ve been using as a “gallery”. In the past they’ve also held tools and supplies. Even as narrow as they are, they are VERY handy!

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