Vintage Indie would like to send a warm welcome to Debi Ward Kennedy of homewardFOUNDdecor She is here sharing with us her fabulous ideas for designing an office or studio with smart storage solutions. I just love all of the vintage details in her personal studio. Gorgeous!
Please click any photos in the feature to see them larger, you won't want to miss any of the details!
Welcome to my Studio!
We’ve just moved into a new house, and I enjoyed the opportunity to design a whole new studio for myself. I undertook this project exactly as I would one for a retail client: Start with what you have and look at it in a fresh way.
My designs of retail spaces and vintage-style products entail having many resource materials at hand in my studio. There are books, magazines, tear sheets, color fans, and paint charts. There are files of completed projects and ‘in process’ designs. There are design boards from huge to small. Keeping it all under control is a daily challenge! I use a lot of creative storage techniques because although I can handle a certain amount of ‘creative clutter’, I do NOT like it when I can’t find what I am looking for.
First, I painted the room soft tan and the trim all gloss white. Instantly, it was welcoming instead of cold, clinical white. (But the soft neutral color won’t interfere with my design work). I also took down the ceiling fan, and replaced it with a three-light ceiling fixture. Combined with the existing can lights, this room is very well lit for working at two in the morning… when the Muse inevitably decides to appear. ;0)
Using the furnishings & fixtures I already had, I figured out how to fit them into this new space efficiently - using the location of lighting to place my work surfaces, for example, and knowing how I move around when I am working on projects. I have a cube fixture from IKEA, a piece of antique furniture, a new-ish bar-height work table, and shelving and a side table that my husband built. They all went in first.
I needed containers on those fixtures that would help corral the massive amounts of stuff that would be coming out of moving boxes. I use wire locker baskets, wire plate racks, metal boxes & lunch pails, wire sliding drawers, vintage metal bread pans, large clear vases and magazine sleeves. Since all of these elements are seen, I wanted them to have vintage style and visual appeal.
Some of the ‘hidden storage’ in the studio is in the low shelf units… I actually laid them on their sides!
They are very deep, intended to be closet storage units. By laying them down, I gain double-depth space PLUS the top work surface.
Behind those rows of white cardboard magazine sleeves (IKEA), there are stacks of books, more sleeves full of tear sheets and catalogs, DVD’s, portfolios, magazines that have published my writings, and client project archive files. These are things I don’t need to access often, so having them located behind the magazines works for me. Small labels on the shelf front tell me what’s behind. The magazines in front are arranged by name, month & season. On top, two units of small drawers (IKEA) hold biz cards and other regular office supplies.
The tall cube bookcase unit (IKEA) holds all of the books that I access regularly, sorted by subjects.
Behind what you see is another six inches of space, holding books I don’t use very often. I kept the books on the lower two shelves to allow for the more interesting things to be up high, in the line of sight. That’s where the baskets & boxes come in! Various materials are stored AND displayed in all of them. Even the white shopping bags on top of this unit hold materials – but what you see is crisp, clean, and simple.
Tucked back in the corner is a plastic drawer unit – it holds all of my vintage papers and office supplies. You can’t see it, it fills in a dead corner, and each drawer can be pulled out when I need something. The wire unit in front of it holds large-sized vintage papers and paper cutters - I place the tools near the supplies I need with them. A clear vase, wire basket, and boxes on top hold rolls of paper and small vintage paper elements.
Every business has a file cabinet. I could have painted mine white, but decided instead to cover it with vintage dictionary pages. Lots of glue & paper were involved, but not a lot of time & effort. It sits right out in the open and looks fabulous! Inside the lower drawer, I keep my printer/scanner, already plugged in (cord goes out the back). I simply hook up my laptop cord to use them.
My worktable is bar-height, because I work a lot while standing. (Right now, as I am writing this, I am sitting on one of the two barstools shown.) It’s very spacious and I use it for everything. Under it, I can store empty wire baskets that will fill up with product supplies or small items to be priced. The paper recycling container is an old wood pull-out laundry bin. A rolling wire cart holds large pieces of fabric, and can be relocated easily. Or emptied if I am hitting a flea market! ;0)
Because they are easily changeable and helpful in my processes, ‘Inspiration Boards’ are included, as well. One is a fabulous vintage door, where a bulletin board replaces the former window. Behind this door, I store oversized style boards for projects. A chalkboard door will be placed on the opposite side of the sideboard cabinet…. as soon as I FIND it. It’s still in a storage unit!
Smaller pin boards across the room are simple squares of rigid foam insulation panels, cut down and covered with fabrics. I used muslin, linen, and burlap for mine. Each project I work on gets one of these pin boards while in-process, until I am ready to glue it all to a style board permanently.
Having beautiful inspiration around me is essential in my design process, so I included pieces that simply make me smile. Mannequins dressed in vintage finery and jewelry, products I’ve designed, and gifts from friends all have a special place here, as do a floral chandelier and two favorite hemp chairs for clients.
(Rachel Ashwell called them ‘lovely’ when she saw them in my booth at an antique show, btw!)
When I finally began unloading moving boxes, it was easy to find the right space for everything I needed. By starting with the storage needs, I was able to make pretty quick work of this - from beginning to (almost) end, this room came together in just one week.
What did I buy for this room?
Paint. From the Habitat ReStore and Craigslist. (we mix our own custom colors, using recycled paint)
The three-spot ceiling light. Thrift store, five bucks. Can of white spray paint, four bucks.
As I tell my clients, you really don’t have to spend money to redecorate - reimagine and redesign instead!
Think about the function that your space & furnishings need to have for your lifestyle or store. Go into the space/room, and walk around as if you were working… decide what storage & surfaces you need, and where. Then look at all of the furniture, fixtures, and containers you have and assign each a place and a use. Remember that the ‘work triangle’ concept of kitchen design applies to stores, offices & studios, too. Then add the details that will express your own style. You don’t need a new space to do this… start with the store or office you have now. Apply creative thinking skills, some muscle to move everything around, and get going. Soon, you’ll have a store or office that energizes you and everyone who comes in!
Debi Ward Kennedy is a professional retail visual designer, located North of Seattle, Washington.
To engage her as a retail design consultant, writer, or speaker please visit www.DebiWardKennedy.com .
To see her vintage-inspired product designs & antique show schedule, please visit homewardFOUNDdecor