Thursday, August 27, 2009

Virtual Open House: GF Design's New Studio Space

After a lot of cleaning, re-organizing, carrying, and Ikea furniture building, GF Design is now completely moved into the new studio space! (formerly known as our master bedroom!) Since many people have asked me how I juggle 3 businesses AND watch a toddler all day, I will focus this blog post on how I have been able to tailor my space to both my work and motherhood.

(for more focus on how I worked with a limited budget and incorporated recycled storage solutions, visit my Junk Mail Gems blog!)

I had a couple main goals in re-designing my new space:
1) Functionality of the space as it pertains to the type of design work that I do, and
2) Child safety.

As far as functionality goes for my work, things are laid out perfectly now. While my new "bigger" space is only 130 square feet, I was able to start from scratch this time and design with my business needs in mind, utilizing every inch to it's fullest. I have a space for my computer work (below, right half) which includes everything I need within arm's reach for doing my design work, as well as my website maintenance and order fulfillment for Paintertainment and Junk Mail Gems.

I then have an area for hand-done design work (sketches, Junk Mail Gems product creation, etc) on the left side of the room where my drawing board sits. Both work areas are by windows which provide great natural light and cut down on electricity usage.

While my home office clearly needed more space, organization, and functionality, of equal concern was my role as a work-from-home mom. I have a toddler running around the house 24/7 (and another one on the way), and while my old office had to remain largely unexplored by my curious 1.5 year old, I wanted this new space to be safe for him to enter and explore while Mommy is working. When he was a baby, it was easy to set a playpen or swing in my office, but now that he's mobile and curious, it's a whole new challenge! He really does not need to be in there very often as I do the majority of my design work during nap times and bedtime. However, by making it more child-friendly, when necessary I can easily pop in and out throughout the day to accomplish quick tasks for my clients sooner.

Strategic desk placement.
Being that I spend most of my time at my computer, rather than pushing it up against the wall, it sits perpendicular to the wall. Where I sit I now can see what's going on in my entire office. By turning my head to the windows I can see who's driving by or walking up to the house, and if I look toward the door, I have a clear view down the stairs and into the living room where my kiddo spends most of his play time. I have a child's room on either side of my studio now, so Mommy can keep everyone at least in the corner of her eye and within earshot.

Strategic Storage Placement
I also took into account what is stored where, knowing that everything on the lower half of my studio would be reachable by little hands. The Ikea Expedit bookshelf I used works great to divide and organize the space in this way:

I am able to purchase the drawer and door inserts where needed, and simply add child safety latches to them like any other cabinet.

The shelves on the bottom rows are full of coloring books and toys for my child to play with, as well as some other items that he either has no interest in, or I can live with him pulling out onto the floor (and are safe). Everything that would either make a huge mess or is not safe to play with is stored on the top shelves.

I got this drawer unit (above) at a garage sale for $5, and it holds my stash of extra drawing utensils as well as glitter that I sell on I have it sitting sideways (as shown) so that my little guy can't open the drawers. Being that it is on wheels and has handles on top, it is very easy to spin around when I want to access something.

Entertainment For Little Visitors
My file cabinet sits on the end of my desk. Being metal, it has very sharp corners, so I made sure to put cushioning corner guards on them. The sides are full of magnets to play with and the surface on top is dedicated to toys. It also conveniently has a lock, so I can keep him from opening the drawers and pulling papers out.

The cover remains open over the keys on my cabinet grand piano in the corner, allowing my little musician to make "music" as he pleases. I also have several safe, non-toy objects around the room that he can "discover" on his own and makes him feel like he found something cool. But, the layout of the upper level of my home allows me to simply gate off the stairs, and allow him to roam from his bedroom to my office while he plays.

Cable Management
Managing the mess of cords was something I considered carefully for both aesthetic reasons and child safety reasons, especially since the back of my desk is accessible in the main area of the room and not against a wall. I used an Ikea cord management "sling" on the back of my desk to capture everything coming out of my desktop. The pouch holds my power strip and keeps all of the outlets out of sight and out of reach. I used Cable Turtles to help keep excess cables from getting tangled up. As a result, I have only one single cable coming off of my desk, from the power strip to the wall.

There are a few outlets that are not easily accessible by little hands, but just in case, I have been using these nice outlet covers all over the house where kids roam:
I've seen so many toddlers easily pull off those little plug covers, but these are screwed on to the wall and replace your usual plates. To use them you just need to put the plug in the slots, slide to the side and push in...piece of cake. And when your toddler figures out how to pull the plug out, they snap shut and you're still safe. (If you have your power strips visible, check out this power strip cover.)

All in all, everyone is happy with the new studio layout. I get more work done when my toddler is napping because the space is designed around my various tasks, and I also can squeeze in a little more work time (= happy clients) while he is happily and safely exploring Mommy's office and the whole upper level. That means that I spend less time chasing him around saying "no, don't touch," and he spends more time with Mommy and having adventures exploring. Everybody wins!


  1. That was very nice. I love your designs and the way you transform your office to a child friendly place. I need to get one of those sockets!

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  2. It is a beautiful office space for artists, but I am not sure if the computer facing window is in the right position.

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