3 Tips for Creating a Functional Workspace Christy for The Awesome Ladies Project

3 Tips for Creating a Functional Creative Workspace

There was a time in which someone asked me whether or not I wanted a beautiful workspace. While the answer was and still is yes, I have since learned that having a functional workspace is far more important. Today I am going to be sharing my creative space with you. I could have tidied up a bit more before I shot the photos, but let’s be honest, this space is never really clean and clear. Tidying it up a ton wouldn’t give you a true feel for at it.

My creative space is probably not what most would call a “dream” workspace.” In its current state, it is definitely not pretty. There is clutter, as well as areas that could benefit from a bookshelf or basket. I am an American expat who tends to move every 2-3 years. Investing in furniture and storage solutions isn’t always an option for me. What works in one home won’t necessarily work in another. Moving a lot has helped me to identify my basic needs for a creative space and how my creative routine effects that organization.

Your creative routine involves more than just the physical act of creating something. It also involves how you interact with that space.

Creative Space- Christy Strickler 2

Tip #1: Place furniture based on how you interact with your space

My current creative space is in the third bedroom of our apartment. We live in a high rise near downtown Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Our building is round which means several of the rooms in our home are pie shaped. This makes organizing the room quite interesting! It also makes photographing the room a bit challenging.

There are several factors that come into play when you decide whether or not to share your creative space.

You may find you need absolute quiet to create or that you thrive in the hustle and bustle of the family home. Finances initially dictated that we all share the spare room for our hobbies. Time taught me that this is the way I always want it to be and how to best organize the furniture in the room. I do need a little alone time to create. Usually, that happens after my husband goes to work and my son is still sleeping in the mornings. The rest of the time, I find I enjoy being able to talk with them and watch them play video games while I work. I homeschool my son and I found that, if I placed his desk near mine, I could work on a project in small increments while he worked independently on his studies. If things ever get too loud, I can just use a headset to drown the noise out. In the photo above, my desk is nearest, with my son’s in the center and my husband’s at the far side of the room.
Creative SPace- Christy Strickler 3

When we moved in, we chose to place the printer on a table near the door where everyone has easy access to it.

Creative Space- Christy Strickler 1

My desk sits in the point of the room’s pie shaped wedge. We purposefully placed it that way, so that I can open and shut the end blinds, letting in the natural light without affecting my husband or son if they are playing a video game. My desk also sits closest to the wardrobe. It serves as storage for my paper supplies, scrapbook tools, and art supplies. With this placement, I can move freely around the space without bumping into anyone.

When deciding where to place your furniture, first think about the purpose and function. Who uses the room? How the objects in the room will be used? Whether you have your own studio space or share it with your family, placing the furniture with a little thought will help you utilize the room more efficiently.

Tip#2: Find what makes you happy and keep it around

If you are happy, your creative routine benefits. Being able to talk with my husband and son while I create is just one part of the energy that feeds my creativity. You will also notice a lot of cat toys and boxes around my desk. I really enjoy having my pets with me while I create. The boxes entice them not to sleep on my projects (most of the time). We have three cats who will sit close to but not right next to each other. Having space for each cat ensures everyone is happy.

Make sure you have something in your space to keep you happy! For me, it’s having a good view with natural light along with the company of my husband and cats. For you, that could mean fresh flowers, an inspiration board, or your favorite photos on the wall.

Tip#3: Arrange your workspace with your go-to tools in mind

It is very likely that we all have a set of tools that we use time and time again. Those tools play a particular role within our creative process. Part of that role is determined by how we reach for those tools and that is often determined, in part, by whether we are right or left handed.

Creative Space- Christy Strickler 4

My desk is a large L shape which I extended by adding an additional table. In the future, I’d like to add in a bookshelf, and some more storage. For now, it’s in a functional make do set up. I keep the art journals in progress underneath it, along with a box of photos I want to scrapbook. Stored underneath is also my Silhouette Portrait. I would like to be able to keep it plugged in and at the ready but currently lack the desk space. Keeping it within sight reminds me to use it.

I always use my ATG gun, scissors and a specific set of pens. Those remain on my desk at all times. Trendy/favorite products also have a space on my desk. I cycle those in and out with what catches my interest. Right now, I am doing a lot of art journaling so I am keeping gesso, a spray bottle of water, a waterbrush and my new favorite neocolor crayons on my desk at all times.

I sometimes record video tutorials. I have placed my cutting mat in the center of my desk with the camera overhead. I have a tendency to reach to the right. Current tools and project supplies are often piled on my right side. My sewing machine sits to my right side as well. I can easily scoot my chair over and back. Keeping it readily available makes it more likely for me to use it. I also try to cycle a few punches or stamps onto the table so I remember to use them.

My laptop sits to my left side. I keep my planner on the side table next to it. Again, I know I need the reminder to look inside. I want to be neat and tidy, but if I put it on the shelf, I don’t use it. I am in a constant state of balancing putting things away when I am done and keeping a few out so that I remember to use those items. The same goes for works in progress. To avoid too many UFO’s, I have allotted a space to keep my ongoing projects. Keeping that space allows me to control what I take on while still allowing me to see what needs working on.

Understanding which tools you reach for will help you understand how to approach your desk organization. You can work faster and in some ways, you can reduce your project mess. Make a rule for how many projects can occupy your desk at one time. You will find a winning creative process combination allowing you to finish more projects.

Your creative space is going to change over time. You will get new tools and new supplies. What won’t likely change much is how you work. Becoming familiar with your creative routine will help you organize your space in a way which maximizes the way in which you use it. You can also keep a handle on unfinished projects.

Work with the space you have. Focus on functionality first. .


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  1. I think you are exactly right in saying that it is important for your space to work for you! I need to look at how my set up is and see if it is really conducive to my crafting! I enjoyed reading your post.