evolving workspaces

by | Jan 9, 2019 | All Things Home, Decorating, Home Studio, My House | 50 comments

I find that my workspaces are the trickiest when it comes to arranging and decorating, simply because they have to evolve as my work evolves.  I’ve been using my studio and home office for a year and a half now and I’m learning what works and what doesn’t.  I’ve made a few changes and additions that have really helped, but there are still some needs that haven’t been addressed.

In my office, I need more storage, a larger work surface, and proper file drawers.  In my studio, I need more storage, a flat work surface, and a place to store wet paintings while they are drying.

In both rooms, I have some nice storage pieces, but neither space has a closet, so bulkier items that should be in those rooms are stored elsewhere in the house.  As someone who likes to keep things in the room where they belong, I find that annoying.  It’s a small inconvenience, but if I can do something within reason to fix it, I will.

So, the biggest project I have planned is to build a closet (more like a built-in wardrobe) in the studio.  Jeff and I have drawn out plans and put together a cut-list and we think it’ll be reasonably simple to make.  We’ll build it where the oak hutch currently sits.  It’ll be about 2′ deep and will run from the wall to a few inches away from the door.  We won’t build it all the way to the ceiling but will leave some room for baskets up top.  Again, this is so it feels more like a piece of furniture.

Here is a rough sketch of what we have planned…

(We don’t have any immediate plans to install a dutch door, but that is something I hope to do eventually.  It’s free to put it in the sketch, though, so I indulged.)  The closet will be built out of 2 x 4’s and clad in the same tongue and groove paneling that lines the walls and ceiling.  I think the style will suit the room nicely.  The doors will be made out of wood planks as well and I plan to add a little cutout diamond detail along the top.

I cannot wait to have all of that room to store my photography gear, lighting, and bulky art supplies.

To the right of the door, I’m installing some picture ledges to use for wet paintings. I use a vintage dish drainer for smaller works, but my larger ones end up lining the walls, the floor, etc.

I’m planning to move the hardware counter from its current position under the windows…

…to the wall where the green art cabinet is.

…and I have this idea to put the bookcase from my office, which is really the top off a larger piece, on top of the hardware counter.  They are a similar wood type and tone I think they’ll work as one large piece.  Now, that’s in my head!  Hopefully, it’ll work out in reality, too!  I have some alternative plans if that doesn’t work, but it’s worth trying.

Here’s a rough, not-to-scale drawing of what I’m generally thinking…

And, we will also finally build the bookcases I’ve been wanting under the windows on the left side of the studio.

They will flank the mini-split until and will provide tons of open, accessible storage.

I’m going to swap out the existing chair with a wing chair from elsewhere in the house.  It sits a little higher and will be more comfortable.

The easel will stay where it is and I’ll put some sort of a rolling table between the easel and chair.  I’ll use that as a flat work surface and a place to set up still life vignettes.  This is the one wall that I still feel a little iffy about.  I might miss having the hardware counter as a focal point right when I walk in.  But moving furniture around is free, so I’m going to try it out and see if it makes the space more functional.

The drafting table will stay almost where it is, but it’ll be moved over some to allow for the larger hardware cabinet on that wall.  I’ve measured and taped everything out on the floor, though, so I know it all fits on paper.  We’ll have to move it all to see how it feels in person.

The goal of these changes is to have a more efficient and comfortable workspace that is visually cleaner and more conducive to creative endeavors.  The additional storage will also clear out some closets and cabinets in “personal rooms” that are currently holding work-related items.  A large part of that will be cleaning, purging and organizing.  I’ve been in this house for a year and a half now and it’s time to go through everything and get rid of items I brought along in the move, but haven’t ended up using.

Being under the weather has slowed me down a bit, but I can’t wait to get started!



  1. Becky

    Question- what happened to the leather chair in your studio? I love the idea of all the built-ins. All of that organization space will be wonderful!

  2. Cindy Coghill

    Your style, photos, and rooms always inspire me. I love how it never looks “staged”, but instead, your home looks lived in, comfortable, and yet ever so visually pleasing.

    • Marian Parsons

      Thank you! That is a lovely compliment!

  3. Lee Ann

    Thank you for sharing your process and plans. For me, moving furniture always seems to be “freeing” … it’s like my brain is thinking of better ideas, and I love making practical changes. Not to mention fun and beautiful changes, in our home! Have fun!

  4. Jo Nelson

    If you ever decide to sell that brown cabinet, please let me know. I will rent a truck and come right down to pick it up!!!

    • Marian Parsons

      Which one?

      • Jo Nelson

        As you are looking at the pic with the easel it’s to the left. The one that has the chalkboard on it and it has 20 drawers.

        • Marian Parsons

          Ha, that one is a keeper, but I’ll let you know if I ever put it up for sale!

  5. Deanna Rabe

    I think it is a great plan, and will look good and function well! I’m wondering what your plans are for the green cabinet?

    I’m looking forward to watching this plan come to life!

    • Marian Parsons

      I’m not sure, yet. I might try it under the windows between the easel and wing chair to see how it feels and functions there. If it doesn’t work, I will sell it.

  6. Kim

    How about the green canine under the windows? Thank would be a nice flat work surface and a focal point when you walk in the room🤷🏼‍♀️

    • Marian Parsons

      Ha! I had to laugh at the auto correct! 🙂 Yes, I am going to try that there first to see how it feels. I do have a couple of tables that might work as well. I am going to try to use as much of what I have before I go out to buy anything new. I think it might be too high, though, and won’t give me a flat work surface I can sit at, but all of those drawers are handy! I have a feeling it will end up getting sold.

  7. Kim

    Cabinet…not canine. Stupid auto correct.

  8. Teresa

    Looks like a fun project and I cant wait to see the end results. Your designs looks beautiful! We have a large walk-in closet in our master bedroom and about 8 years ago my husband installed a built-in closet system from EZ-closets. It turned out great and half the price of having one of those closet system companies come in your home and install one. Labor is always much more than you think when you hire out a job.

  9. Becca

    I’m sure you will find something to help fill in or anchor the wall with the windows, wing chair, and rolling table. Maybe it will be as simple as a plant or two. All the best as you tackle this, feel better,
    Becca from nj

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I agree! And I can always move things around again if it doesn’t function or look the way I want it to.

  10. Karen

    As I was reading your post I said, ” What if you stacked the bookcase on top of the hardware counter?” 😀
    Love the idea of bookcases under the windows! My sweet Mother-in-Law was an Art Teacher for 40 years! I always remind her how much I enjoyed visiting her classroom and helping her get everything ready by cleaning out & making labels for the cubbies under the windows. <3

    • Marian Parsons

      Glad I wasn’t the only one with that thought! I think they’ll look nice paired together!

  11. Tracie

    Hi Marian,
    Your blog and ideas continually inspire me. I have followed and un-followed a lot of blogs over the years, but Miss Mustard Seed consistently gives me ideas for my life and hopefully, soon-to-be change of “career”.

    The interesting thing is, my overall style is very different than yours, and yet I always come away from your posts with ideas! 😀

    I can’t wait to see how your work spaces evolve in the next few months.

    Thank you so much!


    • Marian Parsons

      Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  12. Sandy Ferguson

    I really like the curtains in your work room, what are they made of and where did yo get them?

  13. Constance

    Your plans look beautiful. I love sketching plans for different rooms in my house. I don’t know when I’ll ever get them done, now that I have RA, but it is like buying lottery tickets-it allows you to dream.

  14. Lucy Parker

    We are loving the vision for your workspace. Can’t wait to see your drawings realized in the actual build. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  15. CJ

    Can you tell us about your beadboard ceiling, plank walls and wood painted floors? Did you do all that yourself? Are you on a slab foundation and is your art room an addition? I love this design style but difficult to create in our house especially a wood pained floor because of built-in cabinet toe kicks and door thresholds. Looking at some luxury vinyl flooring as an alternative, and will have to “settle” for that, but afraid it just won’t be a realistic as the real thing.

  16. Theresa

    I will be watching your studio space evolve. In my own art studio I have large windows on all three walls. I designed it that way to bring in a lot of light, however, all those windows make furnishing the room difficult. I don’t like the idea of blocking the bottom half of the windows with furniture. Work space is my greatest need. I never feel that I can spread out comfortably when painting and usually have to have a smaller table at my side to hold some of my additional supplies.

  17. Marlene Stephenson

    Sounds like a great plan and know one way or another it will all work out. It will be great having everything in one room, i have bought things that i already had.

  18. Nancy

    Love, love, love your furniture in this room. May I suggest that if you chose to sell any of these pieces that you do a blog post about it. I would really be interested in several pieces. I so enjoy your blog.

  19. Bonnie Len

    I’d love to know where you got the bag hanging on the mannequin with your blue apron. Very first picture.

    I’d love to own one like that!!!


  20. CONNIE in GA

    How exciting! I agree – you have to work in a space before you realize what works and what doesn’t. Can’t wait to see the process and the final reveal! Of course, is anything ever really final?… Ha!

  21. Dianne

    Please please please share tutorial on building the storage cupboard!!! We need to build one in our soon to be finished basement studio and I will need something large for all of my fabric and painting supplies. Thank you

  22. Karen K from Buffalo

    Marian — When are you going to sell copies of your still life paintings? I am in awe of them & would love to own one, or two….You are so inspirational. I don’t paint, but I do sew & my sewing room is a disaster. LOL Hope you feel better!!

    • Marian Parsons

      I don’t know! I just haven’t listed them, yet. I think I’m being a little critical of them and want to get better before I start making prints. I sell the originals, though, so I can continue to take classes, buy paints, canvases, etc.

      • Karen K from Buffalo

        I’ve tried buying one of your originals, but the bids were too high & couldn’t afford them. Don’t be so critical of your paintings!! They are gorgeous & I wish you would think about selling copies of them. I would LOVE to have one of your still life paintings.

  23. Cheapdiva

    Source for wall lamps above cabinet in office, please😁

    • Marian Parsons

      They are from Pottery Barn, but are no longer available. They do have some similar ones, though.

  24. Cindy Dixon

    My mind is racing as I read your post. You encourage me to create. Wether it be a painting of yours, rearranging furniture….even in my uncertainty you keep me learning, doing what I love & doing a lot of it. Merci

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, I love to hear that!

  25. Sharon Rexroad

    Ooh, if you do decide to do that, I’ve got a friend who is very pleased with VIDA and what they have done with her artwork. Let me know if you’d like me to put you in touch with her.

  26. Marylisa

    My house is getting new floors installed so with rooms emptied out it gives me a chance to have a clean slate again. I’m also thinking of adding a closet which means selling a piece of furniture that occupied that space. Always a trade off.

  27. Joan

    Everything you do, even something as mundane as a workspace, looks lovely. It’s beautiful now, so I imagine it will look even better. Can’t wait to see your progress.

  28. Sheila

    I agree that having what you need, where you need it is very important and extremely frustrating when it’s not possible. I do have a question though. How do you move your larger pieces of furniture? Do have furniture dollies and/or hand trucks, or do you use those little plastic “Moving Men” discs that you slide under the legs of the furniture? I’m usually the solo mover so any advice would be a big help!

  29. Betty

    I wasn’t aware that you are an artist as well as all your other talents. How may we see your paintings?

    • Marian Parsons

      You can search “oil painting” on my blog, but the best place to see my work is on my @marianparsonsart Instagram feed.

  30. Darlene

    I have started to put everything on wheels. Ever since you shared your source (Lowe’s, lol) for nice looking casters i have added wheels to everything that is practical. It’s so much easier to move things, and clean and I am just obsessed with it. A tiny bit.
    I don’t have the time I use to have to read all the blogs I was receiving and they have been removed from my emails one by one. I just can’t let go of yours! Your blog posts are always interesting and I find myself sharing them with people who don’t have the same style or interest because of your sensible solutions. To everything! Love, Love, Love your blog!!

  31. Bonnie Len

    Hi – Still wondering if you can tell me where that bag in the first picture, hanging on the mannequin, is from. Or did you make it? I’d love to own one like it. Thanks!!

  32. Carla Lombardo Ehrlich

    Hi, what color paint did you use on the walls and floor? hank you!

  33. Courtney

    Ohhh Miss Marian!!
    From one textile lover to another, would you be willing to share where you found your navy and cream fabulous floral wonder rug!!!? It is so very Miss Mustard Seed! The perfect rug is so often (annoyingly) illusive – you sure discovered a lovely and fitting one for your space. The right one is always worth the search! 😉

  34. Cheri Dietzman

    You know where to find me if you are selling any furniture! I seriously hope to have my own little office/studio some day!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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