As most of you know, I started my business out of my home in Pennsylvania and worked out of the home (mostly the unfinished basement) for years. As the business grew, though, it started taking over more and more of the house until we had palettes of look books and boxes of Milk Paint filling the living room and corners styled for photoshoots all over the house. It was out of control.
I finally have the opportunity to move into a 2,000 sq. foot studio that was about a mile from my house. It was a perfect space for that time. I had lots of room for photoshoots, workshops, to have a large stash of furniture, a shipping area, etc. And I needed it and used it!
In the past year, though, I started taking on more design and freelance work. Aside from when we were getting ready for Lucketts, I realized I was just using a little corner of that big, awesome space. Even before we were planning to move, I felt like my time in that studio was winding down. I just didn’t need to pay monthly rent and utilities for a space I wasn’t maximizing.
So, when we decided a move was definitely going to happen, we knew that whatever house we purchased would need to accommodate my business as well. In an area that didn’t have a lot of “hobby farms” with out buildings on the market, we started looking at other options…walk-out basements, bonus rooms, a detached garage that could be finished.
One reason we liked the home we ended up buying is that it had a large open walk-out basement with wood floors and good light that would be a great studio space. I could move right in, paint the walls, and start working. That was the plan. But, as Jeff and I started talking about each room and how we wanted to use it, we realized that the basement was perfect to use as a family space and there were other options in this house for my business.
In the end, my business is going to be in three separate rooms, which actually works out better. I realized that in the studio, I had “zones” set up – a space for computer and office work, a sewing area, a painting area, etc. Zones help me focus on the task at hand, so it’s better than having one large space.
So, the studio will be zone #1. Right now, it’s a three season porch off the kitchen, but we’re having it insulated and adding a mini-split heating & cooling unit to make it useable year-round. This will be my art and photography studio, since it’s a big space and has beautiful light. This is most likely where I’ll spend most of my work time.
The home office, off the foyer, will be zone #2. This is where I’ll do my computer and office work.
The small, upstairs guest room will be zone #3 and I’ll use that for sewing. I may spread out on the floor of larger rooms when I need to, but it’ll be a good space to store my sewing machines and fabric. I tend to be messy when I’m sewing, so I can also close the door when I need to stop for the day and the project isn’t sprawled all over the dining room table.
I’m excited about this space, because it can be over-the-top feminine! Not fru-fru, but it’s going to have a French daybed, a chandelier, a soft blue and raspberry color palette, and maybe even a bed crown!
I bought this fabric years ago and I think this room will be the perfect place to use it!
And, I guess I technically have 4 zones, although the fourth one won’t be strictly for business. I’ll use the garage for painting and wood working. We’re going to make a workshop that’s on wheels, so we can roll our large tools and work surfaces out when need them and roll them out of the way when we’re not. In Minnesota, I will obviously have to paint inside during the winter, but I’m going to try to strategically plan projects to take advantage of the warmer months when I can.
I am going to take a break from retail for a little while, though, and just work on my new house and other projects. As I’ve shared before, the retail aspect of my business takes the most work and has the lowest rate of net return. By the time I invest in the pieces and materials, pay employees to help with furniture prep, show set-up, manning the booth, etc., rent the trucks, and everything else that showing at a market involves, my hourly rate is probably pretty sad. I’ve never done the math.
Doing a show has always been about more than pure profit, though. It helps me to have something to push towards. I enjoy watching a cohesive design theme come together in a retail space. And the best part, I love meeting readers who come to shop. It’s always good for my creative-entrepreneur’s soul.
So, I will most likely do a market again, but on a smaller scale and once I’ve had a chance to recharge the batteries it takes to get ready for one of those. I also need to find new “honey holes” in my local area!
I still plan to work on furniture pieces, though. I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of my business. So, I’ll work on pieces for my new home and I might take on some custom work for clients or revamp craigslist/thrifted pieces and sell them from my blog. It’s a whole new chapter and that’s an exciting place to be in a business.
I’m looking forward to seeing all of the projects that come out of these new creative spaces…