My Studio and Thoughts on Developing a Creative Work Space

Studio. It's such a sweet word to me. Just stepping into my studio lifts my mood. It's a haven. A creative sanctuary. A hive of activity and also a space for nesting and birthing ideas, art, beauty.

studios, workspaces, artist spaces, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Studios are by their very nature, inspiring. That's why I love getting glimpses into other artists' studios. Everything from the way someone organizes their space to how they decorate to what they're working on gives me ideas (and brings me joy -- what's a happier sight than someone doing passionate work, creating their art in a space that is uniquely their own?).

My own space is constantly evolving and I think that might be one of the things I love about it. The space, how I put it together, how I organize and use it are just as creative as what I'm making in that space.

studios, workspaces, vintage decor, vintage typewriter, vintage embroidery, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I've shared my space before (here and here) but have been wanting to share it again and to talk a bit about creating (and revising) my studio space and finding inspiration in others' studios. I was recently inspired by WeWork to write just such a post (have you heard of WeWork? Beautiful shared workspaces in cities around the world designed not just to facilitate working, but to create community. They have an online magazine, too).

So, welcome to my studio! (I would love to see your studio space, too. If you have a blog post or photos of your studio somewhere online, please share a link in the comments).


I'm very fortunate to have an entire room for my studio. It's one of the upstairs bedrooms in the house where we live. I kind of have a lot of stuff. Craft supplies. Art supplies. Fabric. Yarn. Books. Magazines. Notebooks. Sketchbooks. Shipping supplies. Office supplies.

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For a long time I thought that having a lot of stuff was necessary for a studio (and that therefore having a lot of space was necessary, too). I've come to realize that you don't need a lot of either in order to be creative or to make art.


Sometimes I feel a bit stifled by having too much stuff around (that's why earlier this year I made a point of decluttering and organizing). I try to keep everything put away in its own place.

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Shelves, drawers, closets, cabinets... I use them all so I can always have plenty of open workspace.

studio, workspace, art supplies, studio organization, home office, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Having open table space keeps my work flowing smoothly.

studio, artist studio, work space, work tables, studio organization, art supplies, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I use two long tables. The table in the middle of the room folds down when needed and the one along the wall (actually a door) has storage underneath.  I like to spread out when I'm working, bring in inspirations for my current projects and be able to move from project to project, working on more than one thing at a time.

I used to keep part of one table reserved for sewing, but since I've been doing so little sewing my sewing machine is now stowed in the closet. Someday I'd love to have enough room for a permanent sewing space, but now I'd rather be able to spread out.

Although I like to have everything put away, I also like to have all my most-used tools and supplies nearby. One of my favorite organization solutions is also one of the cheapest: a nail in the wall.

studio, studio organization, work space, artist studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I hang all my rulers on that nail and keep them directly above my cutting mat. So handy whenever I'm cutting and trimming things (which is often).

I also love my rolling cart from Ikea.

ikea cart, raskog utility cart, studio organization, work space, studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It keeps my tools and supplies within easy reach no matter where I'm working in the room (plus it's one of my favorite colors, making me happy every time I see it).

Surrounding Myself with Inspiration

studio, artist studio, watercolor painting, tomatoes, nasturtiums, paint palette, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I bring flowers and other bits into my studio as inspiration for my paintings and drawings, but I also keep some things around just because they bring me joy. The paper patchwork on the back of my desk at the entry never fails to brighten my mood as I walk through the door (see this post to see how I created it). My patchwork-backed shelf (find the tutorial here), a couple reminders in pieces by other artists (the print by Mati Rose McDonough says "Show the World Your Magic" and the two prints by Kelly Rae Roberts say "remember" and "create"), some colorful supplies and bits of nature inspire in one corner.

studio, work space, inspiration, storage, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Throughout the room I hang a rotating collection of small paintings, lino cuts, sketches, images cut from magazines and other bits that make me happy.

studio space, studios, inspiration board, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It's as if the whole room is my inspiration board.

studio, inspiration, workspace, painting, fortune cookie fortunes, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I like having reminders in the form of words, fortune cookie fortunes, handwritten or painted quotes, mantras and other inspirations.

studio, workspace, inspiration, words, reminders, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I'm only at my desk when I'm doing computer work, but it, too, is filled with inspirations: books, notebooks, notes, art, photographs. (Even my computer brings me joy. My husband fitted out a vintage Mac with new parts so I could have a fun but also powerful computer).

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My studio windows face south and west giving me good exposure for a collection of plants.

studio, inspiration, storage, organization, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

They provide inspiration for my paintings and help keep me sane during our long winters.

orchids, flowers, studio, inspiration, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

My garden outside is an extension of my studio and someday I dream of having a studio that's within my garden, or at least much closer to it than I am now.

What's next?

The biggest challenge I struggle with is having enough light. Even with the two windows the room can get dark. It's hard to see well enough to paint without supplemental light (hence that chrome lamp on my painting table). 

studio, workspaces, artist studio, painting table, watercolors, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

In January I painted my studio white to help make it brighter and throughout the room I've added lamps and other lighting (string lights and paper lanterns). I want to eventually replace the low-wattage lamps with brighter lights and switch out the ceiling fan for an overhead lamp of some kind.

There's always some improvements in the back of my mind, like replacing the plastic storage drawers with something sturdier (perhaps even building something like this or this to replace the door-table and storage drawers), hanging picture rails for quick and easy (changeable) displays and squeezing in a little bit of cozy seating (though I know who'd immediately claim the cozy seating as his own -- my studio is his favorite room in the house).

Eventually I'll get around to those things and others, too. My studio, after all, is a work in progress.

Inspiring Work Spaces

In the meantime it's fun to look at other people's spaces to see where and how they work. There is such a spectrum. I have a room in my home. Some artists have only a part-time corner tucked away. Some artists rent loft spaces or like those members of WeWork create in shared spaces in the middle of busy cities. Some have whole buildings in which to work and store materials and stock. Some have space for gatherings and classes. We can learn something from each of them, don't you think?

Here's a bit of inspiration to get you started:
  • My friend Dana Barbieri doesn't have a dedicated studio in her busy family home and yet she is able to claim time and space to make her art (read her interview in Marissa Huber's series Carving Out Time for Art to learn a bit about how she makes it work and get a glimpse of her space and her thoughts about it in this blog post). 
  • My friend Jaime Haney's studio sounds a bit like my dream studio. It's on the lower level of her house and opens out into her greenhouse and studio gardens (complete with koi pond!) where she finds constant inspiration for her art (Jaime shared four new videos of her studio and gardens on her blog the other day. You can see them here).
  • One of my favorite things to discover and pin on Pinterest is photos of studio spaces. You can see my "studios and workspaces" board here
  • A while back I found this blog post featuring a little art space in the corner of a laundry room. A lovely inspiration if you're looking to claim a bit of work space in a family living area (take a look at Sara's sweet blog while you're at it, too).
  • I love the story of how Amanda Blake Soule's studio (and her plans for it) have evolved over time and that she decided to keep it in her home so she could remain in the middle of family activity. Sometimes what you already have is what you really wanted (and needed) all along.
  • Reading Where Women Create gives me glimpses into some amazing spaces and lots of fuel for my imagination (if you don't have access to the magazine, take a look at their Pinterest boards). 
  • One of my favorite articles from Where Women Create featured Lauren Decatur's studio. Rikki Snyder, the photographer for that article, shares photos of it here on her blog. That it's a cozy little cottage in the woods, surrounded by nature and gardens, is what makes it so appealing to me.
  • The Etsy Community page regularly features inspiring workspaces, too, and stories about the makers who work there (recently this gorgeous stained glass cabin caught my eye. Imagine creating in a space that is itself a work of art!). 
  • It's also fun to look through the photos with the Instagram hashtag #inspiringworkspaces. So many inspiring makers. So many inspiring spaces.

What about you? Everyone, whether an artist or not, needs a space to work or journal or dream. I'd love to hear about (and see!) your workspace and learn where you find inspiration, too.


  1. Well I've been around long enough to have seen some of these areas in your studio before but I am always just blown away by how beautiful everything looks in your studio (and gardens!). So neat, clean, pretty and fresh. I can see you take much care and pride in making your space joyful to you.

    Thank you so much for the shout out and the link to my space! I can't wait to check out these others you've included to see what their spaces look like. I absolutely love seeing where other women create. Thanks also for those great links and ideas like the Instagram hashtag and the Pinterest boards.

    I'm always happy to see your blog posts in my email and look forward to seeing what you create out of that beautiful studio of yours.

    1. You're so sweet, Jaime. Thank you for your comments and for your kind encouragements. I'm glad to have had you with me on my journey and I look forward to seeing what we both get up to in the coming years!

  2. I know exactly what you mean about entering your studio space - I feel the same about mine every time without fail. But yours is so clean and streamlined!! I started out with a space for everything but it doesn't look that way anymore! Claire x

    1. Yes, sometimes it's hard not to let the chaos take over! Right now it's a bit messy, but I try to organize between projects and it helps.

      Nice to know you feel the same way about entering your studio. :)

  3. I have serious work space envy looking at the photos of your studio - it is stunning! I love it! I think the white really makes it lovely and light and all the ingenious storage ideas, decorative touches, displayed inspiration, plants,, you've made a gorgeous place to create! I don't have a dedicated room but have more recently arranged the kitchen so I can have a desk & cupboard in the corner. Its a bit messy but it means that if I'm part way through making some jewellery I can leave it there undisturbed whilst we eat at the kitchen table. Having said that, sometimes I've also taken over the kitchen table, chairs, hearth and windowsills with those times my family are very patient & unmoaning bless them :-) Loved this blog post Anne. It has inspired me to makeover the space I do have. I shall check out all the links you've provided but first I better attend to the dinner that is now burning in the oven because I had to keep looking at the photos of your studio, lol :-) Hugs, Kat xx

    1. Awww, thank you, Kat!

      I love the idea of you taking over the house with your art! :)

      (And sorry about your dinner!!!)

      Being able to make the best use of what you have is the trick, isn't it. No matter what space we have we need to use it in the best way it can be used. The most important ingredient, though is us and our creativity!

      Hugs back!!

  4. What a wonderful post - thank you for sharing your studio and links to many more inspiring spaces. Even though my studio is pretty cluttered at the moment, it still feels like a creative hive to me. A big clear out is in order but the weather is too nice right now to waste rearranging my craft closet. Plus we have new kittens... I'll wait until we get a rainy week and then tackle the shelves. Thank you for all the positive inspiration here!

    1. Thanks, Sharon! I can just imagine how lovely your space is, even when it's cluttered and filled with your sweet creations in progress!

      I hope your kittens aren't getting into too much mischief! Such fun they are! Although he spends all his time in my studio, my kitty is very good about not bothering me when I'm painting. When I'm on my computer, though... yep, he's on my lap right now. :)

  5. So pretty and inspiring Anne. I've seen that Ikea cart so much and have always loved it. I think I will take the plunge soon and buy one. It seems like I would be very helpful for me to keep things organized. I may need two. Ha. Thanks for sharing your lovely space with us all and linking to many more. :)

    1. Thank you, Dana!

      If you've got an Ikea nearby, definitely go get a cart or two! ;)

  6. Beautiful. I love this post and I love your studio.
    How cool your husband made up your computer.
    xx oo

    1. Thank you, Carla! I love my studio, too. And it's fun having such a unique computer (and the tech support to go along with it!).



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