my new work spaces

Marian ParsonsMy House, Office48 Comments

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…

my new work spaces

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48 Comments on “my new work spaces”

  1. Enjoyed meeting you a couple of years back at The Market on Chapel Hill. Maybe when you decide to return from “retail retirement” you will come to The Chapel in Pike Road, Al for your breakout market / show. Love to have you back South.

    The suspense of what you have gotten done on your new house each day keeps me on the edge. It all looks great thus far & I know you have not touched the surface yet.

  2. I am absolutely loving these posts (and your Instagram stories). It’s so much fun to see your vision for these beautiful spaces. As a fellow MN girl, I definitely agree with your thoughts on scheduling projects so that painting can be done during the warmer months! I am trying to get some things ready so that when winter hits again I have plenty of “indoor” projects, ha!

  3. Yep, you’ll definitely have to employ some strategic project planning as a Minnesota painter. I try to work on big pieces in the summer months, hutches, sideboards, dining sets … and save smaller dressers, chairs, etc for winter work inside the house. Also, it works out great that you can paint with milk paint in lower temps than most paints!

  4. It sounds like you have thought everything out well and since you have the space in this house why not use it especially since you are going to step back some from the retail side of your business.

    I always thought perhaps you under-utilized your shop space in PA. Maybe because of zoning, space or insurance issues you couldn’t do large crowd retail events but I really anticipated in the beginning you doing some special pop-up retail shows or holiday open houses from your shop. Wow, look how Chip & Joanna Gaines has grown the retail side of their business at the Silo’s. I know you did hold some milk paint classes there and they were highly successful. Good luck in your new home and ventures.

    1. The issue at my studio space was parking and I only had one bathroom. There just wasn’t enough room to have a large event, so we had to keep it to small gatherings for workshops, etc.

  5. Marian, has anyone told you about the upcoming Gold Rush Days antique shows in Rochester and Oronoco? You moved to Rochester just in time to hit these two great markets! They run from Aug. 18-20. The Oronoco sale is just 10 minutes north of Rochester and is one of the biggest antique shows in the country, I believe. The one in Rochester is held at the fairgrounds and is smaller, but is definitely worth checking out! Even though you aren’t buying items for resale right now, these would be great places to find unique pieces for your new home and meet some local vendors!

  6. Wow, this sounds so much like our house, but when we moved last fall we lost the 3-season porch, so no more cheery photo studio and painting space. Here in our new house we have the 20’x20′ garage which is just my giant outdoor workshop for gardening and painting projects, and soon to be a part time dance studio for my daughter, we never store our cars in there (all the neighbors think we’re weird). As well, since I live in Canada, everything painting-wise has to be scheduled for the summer months! Meanwhile, we have taken one of the rooms and turned it into a very feminine-cheer sewing and office space for my daughter and I to use! Everything in here is total pastel cheer and very inspirational. When you are a creative family, you need to look at housing on a studio basis. We deliberately designed this house for photographic backdrops and natural light and we are using it for these things! Meanwhile, my husband has his “man cave” music/photography studio in our palatial unfinished basement, so everyone’s happy. We LOVE being in a new space and it has really opened up our creativity again.

  7. Highly recommend the Junk Market Event that takes place twice a year – Sept and April. Canterbury Downs in Shakopee Minnesota. Maybe someday you will be a vendor!

  8. Very cool, you make it all sound so easy and organized. I don’t think I’d be this collected, but I cannot wait to see all your spaces put together! You create magic!

  9. You are so blessed! I love everything you are doing in your new house. Very exciting for me to live life a bit vicariously through you…..maybe this will help me realize my dreams!

  10. I was just thinking the three season porch can definately handle that farmhouse feel, so you might have a little slice of that in your new life still.

  11. I am looking forward to seeing your home during the holidays. I love how you decorate for the seasons.

  12. Great I would have picked this first-you need light=perfect and amoungst u have lots of rooms.By the way you look 16-good genes or lots of rest?

  13. Absolutely love the fabric and your ideas for feminine sewing room. I did something similar after or son was the in college. It is wonderful. Hope you enjoy yours every bit as much!!

  14. I love that you admit to be a messy sewer. Welcome to my world. lol Everything sounds great and please
    keep us posted.

    1. Oh yeah, I can’t be bothered with cleaning up threads and fabric trimmings when I’m in the middle of a project!!

  15. Excited for you all and the path that you are on…completely respect that you used Financial Peace (Dave Ramsey), and God’s guidance as a way to lead you to this next level.

    I’m also excited because I plan on borrowing design ideas. Our homes are similar (wood tones, space)…can’t wait for the FREE design advice! 🙂

    1. Yes, Dave Ramsey really changed the entire way we handle our finances. We’ve been so blessed by going through FPU.

  16. I really enjoy the way you adapt to your situation, whatever it is, and work with the present instead of trying to recreate the past or wishing something different from the way it is. We are not just talking about furniture or house layout, but about an open attitude that is very inspiring. I love your style and have copied your first french provincial dining room table. I also have a copy of the painting of the Eulalie cow in the living room, even though I live in Canada and had to ask a friend in Florida to order it for me because they don’t deliver to Canada. I would also have copied your beautiful white and blue drapes in the living room, but that would have meant a whole new color combination, so I passed it up for now. Thank you again for the inspiration. And by the way, I have your book Inspired you and hope you will write another one in the same vein. Monique

  17. I am impressed by your flexibility and creativity in setting up work zones in the new house. It sounds like it would suit the quirky, artistic way you like to work. I’m very excited to see how the zones turn out. You and Jeff were wise to perceive, and heed, the possibilities for the walkout basement as a family room. Dedicating such a large part of the house to family activities sends a powerful message to your sons that, as important as other aspects of your lives are, nothing is more important than them.

  18. “Listening” to your thoughts today I can see you going custom. It’s a good place to be. And once you find your “honey holes” it’ll be fun to watch you evolve into this new chapter. I’m so excited for you!

    I may be turning 70 years old soon but you continue to inspire me. I live in Southern California and it’s a tough market but if God is for me… That’s why you are such an inspiration…”look what the Lord has done”!

  19. Well…I think you need to do more room redos!! There must be a bazillion homes in Minnesota that need your touch. And selfishly I just love redos. Thank you for sharing your life.

  20. Gee! I LOVE new beginnings (oxymoron?)! They give you so much energy! Like you, I would have desired that walkout-well-lit-basement! But, reality sometimes hits hard and then it’s time to PUNT! I have been blessed to have great crafting areas in my last three homes. One was custom designed (when I thought I knew EXACTLY what I wanted. Then I moved to a 1902 plain Victorian home and put it in the attic with an awesome cutting/crafting table that allowed me to keep my 6′ long cutting mats out at all times. Then, we downsized, like waaaay downsized to a little 1952 kit home of under 1000 sq’! BUT, the good news is it has a full basement that is all mine! We added a 3/4 bath, sleeping area for grandchildren, a tiny tv spot and my little studio. My contractor put up bead board partitions about 12″ off the floor and about 5′ high. The theory is it helps hide my mess. It has the appearance of an old factory office. Years ago I found a neat old screen door at a Shipshewana IN auction with an old “HOLSUM is GOOD BREAD” advertising guard on it and FINALLY had the right place to use it. Lots of other neat pieces but getting too wordy! So, I almost envy your new start! My PERFECT area would be right off my garage-no stairs, easy access, an outdoor view and the ability to bring things in without my husband seeing what I found. Have fun!

  21. I’m so excited to hear what you think of Gold Rush Days and Junk Bonanza – if you’re able to go. I think you’re going to love both of them! We are lucky to have such great markets to shop! My home is filled with unique pieces that have a story and that others don’t have in thier homes.

    I absolutely love your posts and I’m so excited you’re in Minnesota! Blessings upon your family and your new adventures!

  22. I am looking forward to following you as you make your new home yours’ and beautiful. I think the zone idea is great. I was, however, wondering if you are still doing Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. I don’t think you have mentioned that in your recent posts. Thank you!

    1. Yes, definitely! I haven’t been able to do much painting lately, since I was packing to move, in transit, and now moving in and getting settled. We’re working on getting my studio space set up, so I can resume my usual work!

  23. Seeing these rooms I’m sticking with the idea that they’ll be much easier to make ‘you’ than the living room will, so keeping that a bit more modern than your usual style will suit the space and carpet better.
    Very jealous of a sewing room! I can imagine that it will be just gorgeous. My dream home would have a cutting table at the right height so that I don’t have to lean over so much and have cutting mats permanently attached.

  24. Your ideas for your rooms sound marvelous! Can’t wait to see you add your personal touch to this beautiful home.
    I am vicariously enjoying your life in the mid-west. Rochester sounds so wonderful!

  25. I’m up in Rochester visiting a friend, but leaving today..hopefully next time we are up here, we will run into you. My friend works part time at Trader Joe’s, I told him you would be shopping there…..hope you share your honey holes so I know where to go next time we are here….make sure you go to Gold rush days coming August 18-20!

  26. Like so many other of the commenters, I am so enjoying this journey that you are so graciously sharing with us. And you have my utmost admiration that you are able to photo, write and post, even while busy trying to settle in. This is just so much fun – can’t wait to see how you set-up your sewing room and the screened-off porch!

  27. Hi Marian, I’m so excited for your pretty work spaces! I love the three season room- what beautiful light and wood tones. And I can’t wait to see the sewing room! I remember your beautiful canopy that you made in your old master bedroom. And that fabric- oohlala!

  28. I noticed you’ll be sewing in a room with carpet, I use a plastic rake to gather up my scraps and threads . Saves having to cut threads out of the vacuum

  29. I think when winter comes you are going to be SO grateful that you don’t have to get dressed to walk out to an outbuilding–or forgo it altogether because of a storm that makes the outbuilding invisible from inside the house.

    I definitely do seasonal projects. We have an opposite seasonal situation here; summer is regularly 114 out, so we stay inside during the long months of summer (we have 5 months above 90 and 100 days above 100 here). Right now is my indoor time.

    It would be good to calculate your rate per hour. I shared a project on my blog and someone said they would be willing to pay $25 for it and thought I should sell it to a mail order company. The project took me 10 hours to complete! (Plus there was the cost of materials). I know my time is worth more than that. I can do those kinds of projects for my own family, but it’s not worth doing from a financial standpoint (nor is it something I would want to do for an income).

    I look forward to seeing what you do in your new home. I’ve been enjoying following you on Instagram as well; thanks for all the tours!

  30. Hi Marian,
    Your home is coming along nicely. I have the exact same fabric I just picked up a few weeks ago. I love it too.
    I rent an antique booth space (a place for finished projects – pieces I’ve acquired as I go) display, and sell. I stage my real estate listings so I get to buy, create – use some things in listings and sell most at my booth. Its fun and I make a little money besides. The best part is that there is only a flat mo. fee – everything else is paid by the landlord. It might be a good idea if you can find a cute shop where you live.

  31. You’ve got to buy a ping pong table for your basement. The boys can use it for playing ping pong and you can use it for cutting out curtains! Mine has been invaluable to me for laying out fabric for all my sewing projects.

  32. What happened to youe assistant, Kristy I think was her name? Maybe I missed your posts on what happened to the people working with you,

    1. She had a baby in May, so she had the cut back her hours earlier in the spring. She is still working for me remotely.

  33. Hello!
    I love your blog, your work and your style so much fun to read!
    I live in St. Paul, Mn and so exited you are not a Minnesotan!
    Have you been to MN before, apologies I may have missed it in one of your posts. We lived in NY many many years ago and ended up in MN with my fathers job. I still go to the EC which is great and get’s me my EC fix!
    Look forward to your posts!!

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