An essential guide to creating a stunning studio anywhere
Take charge of your “create-space” by designing a gorgeous and tempting studio that will have you eager to work. I’ve always been a little particular about my studio space, and over the years I have developed a taste for essential items.
Curating your own workspace is a necessity when (if done properly) will optimize your productivity and boost your creative thinking! It’s important to designate a spot in your life for your studio, to help compartmentalize your work and make it easier to manage. This list will guide you through exactly how to style your studio to be both functional and beautiful.
The BEST studio color
There are hundreds of shades of white, all with different undertones and base hues. The best studio color needs to be reflective yet neutral to bounce off both natural and artificial lighting to create a luminous working environment. While “bright-white” might seem like an obvious selection
the problem with your average “bright whites” are that they have a nasty tendency to pick up any and all color surrounding it. This means that by using a bright white your studio’s look will fluctuate dramatically depending on what’s in it, and what type of flooring you have…Not good. I’ve set up studios in all types of locations, all around the world, and the wall color is always the first thing I “fix.” Marshmallow by Behr is the champion of studio white. It is creamy and crisp with undertones of raw umber, maroon, and yellow.
The reason these hues work so well to produce a sparkling white is because certain colors are reflective while others absorbing. Yellow (though a bright color) is the type that absorbs other colors well. Raw umber (a chocolatey brown) is neutral, and maroon (dark red) is reflective. This combination of colors forms a balanced base for the bold white that stays warm without overpowering, absorbs surrounding color without picking it up, and is neutral enough that it bounces off the lighting in the room. I use flat for the walls and high-gloss for any window trim.
You can’t always control the natural light in your space, but you can manipulate the look and feel by adding artificial lighting. When constructing a well-lit studio you’ll need to pay special attention to the balance of light and the direction it originates from. Not only do you have to think carefully about placement, but you’ll also need to select lighting with a neutral temperature. The color of the lighting will greatly affect your interpretation of color use in your artwork AND all photos taken in that space.
Using the Kelvin scale as a guideline, it is generally recommended to select a bulb between 4,000 and 5,700K. This cooler bulb balances beautifully with the warm undertones of the Marshmallow white. After I’ve adjusted any existing lighting to the correct blubs I always use cordless puck lighting. These small (but powerful) spotlights can be placed anywhere without restriction successfully glaming up any area where wired lighting isn’t available. The level of control you get from adding extra puck lights makes it easy to equalize the shadows in your space.
Gotta have my music! I don’t know how, but somewhere along the way, I got completely addicted to listening to music while I paint. Not even joking, if I don’t have my music I can’t get in the zone. I love this speaker for its sleek professional appearance, that it holds battery charge for ages, and is loud enough! I’ve burned through a lot of speakers and had problems with volume, battery, and hardiness. I’m happy to say I’ve finally found the best one. And it’s waterproof!
Check out some of my favorite creating playlists:
Tea & Coffee Station
No studio is complete without a coffee/tea station! I ALWAYS have a cup of tea when I’m working and (for me) it has become synonymous with creating. Instead of having to constantly interrupt myself by running to the kitchen, I eventually renovated to include a tidy and cute station and its served me well! In addition to indulging my caffeine obsession, I now have a classy way to be hospitable towards studio visitors. In my experience, once the tea comes out the atmosphere changes and artistic dialogs truly begin.
My creative process is a lot like chain-smoking. The thrill and excitement I get from completing a piece catapults me into another one. For this reason, I like to display my up-coming plans and sketches where I can see them. I find it motivating to see what’s next, and it gives my studio visitors something to inquire about. I have pre-sold several paintings from clients spying an upcoming creation off my corkboard.
Paint Tube Display Board
I used to stuff all my painting tubes in a black hard case (which made it easy to transport) until I realized how much time I was wasting rooting around looking for a specific color. Many of my expensive paints would leak or accidentally dry out when the lids would get loose from jostling. The obvious solution was a display board. A simple DIY project that greatly upgrades a studio. I used extra-large roof screws to make a peg style board, and binder clips for my tubes. I’m delighted with the results! I opted for a wall mount style that doesn’t take up precious desk space and it organizes my paints with a very professional look. Finished with a unique thrift store frame this functional studio decor is my favorite addition so far.
It’s not that I can’t wait for the paint to dry…It’s just that, I CAN’T WAIT FOR PAINT TO DRY! As a chaotic mom that belongs to an energetic toddler my creative time is tenuous. I use this dryer quite a lot and it does increase my production rate. I went with a cordless USB charging dryer because it’s grab-easy and doesn’t have any angle restriction. It’s a cold air dryer which means it won’t distort any pigmentation (something that regular heat hair dryers will sometimes do.)
COMFY wheeled chair
The key takeaway here is that it should be mobile with swivel wheels. You’ll be spending a lot of time in this chair and it NEEDS to make your life easier. Try to select a chair that has some personality, something that really makes you want to sit in it. Bonus points if it’s super comfy…I went for an accent office chair HOT PINK with a textured backrest, and I have no regrets!
This might seem frivolous, but there is surprisingly a lot of science to back up that plants increase happiness and productivity by 15% in a workspace. Pick studio plants that build character for your space. By now you should be able to identify a theme or feeling you are looking to achieve. If you want “cozy & comfortable” opt for a pair of lush ferns. If you like a more elegant look hunt for the perfect orchid, and if you’re self admittedly bad with plants…Get a succulent (they’re hardy but still look attractive.)
Artists crave inspiration, and every artist has a mantra or creating philosophy. It’s usually attached to a root drive, idea, value, or perspective that fuels your need to create. Spend some time mulling over what inspires you. Write it down and display it proudly in your space. This crown jewel will solidify your sense of purpose. Adding a bit of inspiration to your studio helps create a bond with the setting and will empower you to produce art that is in line with your inner drives.
Here are some of my faves to get you started!
Get the most out of your studio by taking advantage of ALL the space you have. Proper storage of art supplies is sometimes challenging because sizes and materials vary so greatly. Designing effective space-saving storage begins with getting organized. Catalog your supplies into groups that will require similar storage. Tackle your largest stock first and then work down to smaller areas. The most commonly wasted spots are corners, lower walls, and entryways. Get creative with how you utilize the space and you’ll be surprised how much you’ve been overlooking. Use as much wall space as you can to limit the need for conventional furniture storage.
My floating corner desk makes excellent use of an overlooked spot
Twinkle lights, a stack of your favorite books, a retro typewriter, it doesn’t matter what your final touches are but it MUST be something that makes you truly happy. Adding joy to your studio actually decreases the likelihood of procrastination by 33% and will elevate your artistic experience. For me, I am happiest whenever I’m near flowers. A fresh perky bouquet is a MUST HAVE in my studio. Take this opportunity to bring your studio to life with some personality.
In the end, you should absolutely love where you work! You certainly love what you do, so this is a great opportunity to design a space that will operate as an extension of your own unique creativity.