Opinion: At Home

Feeling crafty? Seven ideas for home hobby room

A combination of open and hidden storage, a vision board and tools at hand help crafters unleash their inner artists at home. (Courtesy of Dreamstime)
A combination of open and hidden storage, a vision board and tools at hand help crafters unleash their inner artists at home. (Courtesy of Dreamstime)

"A room of one's own," author Virginia Woolf declared back in 1929, was a must if a woman was going to be a writer. Nearly 100 years later, I can't disagree. If I want to write anything longer than a grocery list, I need to be A-lone.

Why just women? Well, because for decades, and I know I'm generalizing, men have always had the room to themselves.

However, Woolf's wisdom goes far beyond writing. Whether they're trying to craft a poem, a painting, a piece of pottery, or a peacock out of pearls, artists need a private workspace.

While we heard a lot about how to create a home office and a one-room schoolhouse during the pandemic, both certainly important, we heard less about the need to carve out corners for creating crafts.

To help those still crafting on the top of their washing machines, I talked to two successful artists and got their suggestions for setting yourself and your home up for crafting success.

Quilter Shannon Brinkley, of Leesburg, Va., leads quilting workshops and teaches a class on setting up a craft and quilt studio. "The key," she said, "is to remove barriers, so when you have time, you can sit right down and get to work."

Stacy Barter, a painter living in Winter Garden, Fla., devotes not only a room, but much of the five-bedroom home she shares with her husband to her art business. She uses the master bedroom as her painting studio; another bedroom for framing, varnishing and shipping; and a third to store frames, shipping containers, and paintings in inventory.

Whether you're a full-time artist or weekend dabbler, a creative workspace with everything you need at hand, arranged beautifully can only make your work and your enjoyment in making it better.

Here are seven features Brinkley and Barter say to consider when setting up your home-based art, craft or sewing studio for success:

◼️ A dedicated space. A room with a door is ideal, so you can work without interruption, and can pick up right where you left off. A basement, attic or guest house works well. However, Brinkley adds, "not everyone has the luxury of an extra room. You have to work with the space you have."

◼️ A big flat workspace. Most artists and crafters need a large worktable. If you stand to work, pick one that is 36 inches high, or counter height. If you work sitting, say at a sewing machine, choose a desk-height table, 28-30 inches.

◼️ Ample storage. A combination of visible and hidden storage works for most studios. Open shelving units with cabinets below let you display materials you want to see and hide the ones you don't. Crafters who work with small materials, like stones, buttons or beads, can store them in clear jars. A peg board is another great way to recruit wall space to hold tools, like rulers, embroidery hoops and scissors in plain sight. Smaller items like paint tubes, thread, glitter and pins can go in labeled bins or drawers fit with organizers.

◼️ The right light. Good, preferably natural, lighting is important, especially if your craft involves color, or intricate hand work. Operable windows can also help with ventilation if your craft involves glues and varnishes. If your work room is in the basement, where natural light is scarce, halogen light bulbs provide the next best light.

◼️ A comfortable chair. Whether you're sewing, weaving, throwing pottery or knitting, you'll never put in the necessary hours if your chair is a pain in the derriere.

◼️ Hard flooring. Because most crafts are messy, hard floors are easier to clean and make it easier to spot stray pins and lose pieces, which can get lost in carpeting. Barter puts vinyl wood-look floors in her studio because they are turpentine friendly and make cleaning up oil paint easy. She also appreciates the slight cushioning vinyl flooring offers, which helps with all-day standing.

◼️ A design wall. A place to pin inspirational images or your work as it's unfolding is a welcome craft room feature. Barter has what she calls a wet wall, a rack where she puts paintings in progress. Brinkley has a large (8-foot-by-8-foot) flannel-wrapped board she uses when conceptualizing a quilt's layout. Whatever it's made of, the artists agree, having a surface that lets you step back and see what you're making is helpful.

Now go fire up that glue gun!

Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including "What to Do With Everything You Own to Leave the Legacy You Want."