Storage Out; Studio In

The longer I stay away from writing, the harder it is to get back into it. While the busy-ness of the business and holiday preparations forced me to take a blog sabbatical in December, now I’m having a hard time finding the right way to write. This used to be so easy. Instead of words flowing, I seem to be stuttering. I guess all I can do is start.

In the week between Christmas and New Years, my parents gave our family a wonderful gift: they took over parenting our two children at their home in Vancouver while we returned to Seattle; our kids got to try skating for the first time, they visited friends and played games for hours on end with my bachelor brother, who drew on an endless supply of energy to keep everyone happy.

The absence of children gave my husband and I the unusual luxury of speaking for hours at a time without interruption, completing thoughts and then sentences. With the freedom to converse, we embarked on a series of discussions centered around managing my growing business. What do I want out of it? What is the best way to manage the growth?

Early in December, I contemplated the idea of renting a studio at a retail boutique in Ballard. This would give me both exposure to the general public and a private space to work where I could leave projects in various states of completion, instead of cleaning up the kitchen table each afternoon to make way for homework and meals.

However, the realities of this particular studio were too much: the extra hours required to make my rent and work my share of sales shifts in the boutique would mean essentially abandoning my role as primary childcare provider outside of school hours, nurse when illness strikes and tutor for my children who are still developing discipline as students. As much as I love my business, I wasn’t willing to give up any of those roles, so the dream of a studio outside the home was shelved.

But what about that cluttered storage room in the basement? What would it take to create a studio out of that space?


In short, it took one day of decluttering, piles of ‘free stuff’ on the curb, one trip to the recycling depot with bundles of crushed boxes, five hours at IKEA, four hours at Home Depot, two coats of paint on the dark wood-paneled walls, lots of scrubbing on the stained concrete floor, painting of the floor, a trip to the outdoor fabric store, a couple of hours assembling storage shelves, a couple of hours drawing plans for a workbench, and two days working in the garage to build the workbench.

A trip to Goodwill procured a 30-cup electric coffee urn so I can keep an eye on the hot vinegar bath instead of forgetting it on the stove upstairs, a large coffee carafe to keep 2 quarts of hot water ready for hours of felting instead of running upstairs to boil water on the kettle every ten minutes, and a Y2K aluminum ice bucket fitted with a colander for draining items when they are done in the vinegar bath and ready for the final rinse.

While this small room (8’x7′) room is still missing electrical outlets and permanent lights, I now have a functioning workspace with a beautiful workbench covered in sailcloth. Lance carefully designed the optimum surface, building a lip around the edges to trap excess water, a wide shelf underneath for extra storage, and supports strong enough to hold a couple of exuberant children who can’t resist climbing. Unfortunately, I dropped our camera on the concrete floor as Lance was installing the workbench, so pictures of the completed room will have to wait until our new camera arrives.

None of this would have been possible without the able assistance of my parents, who not only entertained our children for eight days, and drove them back to Seattle for us, but stayed several extra days to join in the work party. Thank you Mom and Dad!


8 Responses to “Storage Out; Studio In”

  1. 1 Angela Friday, January 11, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Hey thats fabulous! Congrats on your new space!

  2. 2 Elizabeth Friday, January 11, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Wow! Too bad about the camera — as I was reading I was sure you were building up to a fantabulous picture of the completed space. If my curiosity gets the better of me you may find me trying to peep through your windows this weekend.

  3. 3 Josiane Friday, January 11, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    I’m glad to see that you could work out a better alternative when you realised that the rented studio would not be the ideal solution for you, your business, and your family. I guess this experience will help you define your needs more precisely when comes the time to think of the workspace you’ll need within your cohousing project.
    Would you mind sharing more details about your new workspace? I’d love to know more about it (and to see some pics when you get the new camera)! We’re in the process of deciding what we want and need in our future new home, and that kind of info would be really helpful as I’m trying to figure out what would be the ideal workspace for me. Thanks!

  4. 4 jackie Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 2:48 am

    WOW! you have been busy. Congratulations on your new studio space and your up coming feature! And good for you for deciding to not grow too quickly. The kids will grow up quickly and before you know it, you will have much more time.

  5. 5 Linda Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Congrats on the new workspace, on supportive family, and most on pursuing a dream! Hooray for you!

  6. 6 Marysusan Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Wow congratulations! Seems like a dream space. Just big enough to work but not so large as to be overwhelming.

  7. 7 Wendy Monday, January 14, 2008 at 10:20 am

    It’s hard to balance that family/career thing, but it sounds like you’re doing beautifully!

    And having a dedicated work space is so helpful. (mine’s almost completely for projects, just a washer and dryer added in for fun) 🙂 You’re seems perfect.

    Can’t wait to see pics of the final transformation.

  8. 8 Wendy Monday, January 14, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Wow, “you’re seems perfect”. What I meant was “yours seems perfect” Sorry for uglying up your post with my atrocious writing.

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