rearranging the studio

by | Oct 3, 2018 | All Things Home, Decorating, Home Studio, My House, Organizing | 34 comments

The very nature of a creative space dictates that it has to be dynamic.  My furniture and belongings are accustomed to being maneuvered and shuffled around, but that’s doubly true for the stuff in my studio.  Each new artistic endeavor or novel idea can put new demands on the space.  It usually starts in stacks and messy corners, but then it has to be managed.  Accommodations must be made, so the new venture has room to live, and be nurtured, and grow.

And all of that is a wordy way to say I did some cleaning and straightening in my studio that turned into furniture scooting.  And it was long overdue.

This space is my sanctuary, and it’s perfect with its big windows, planked walls, and painted floor.  The issue is that I ask a lot of this room.  It has to be a functioning art and photography studio, and it has to house all of the supplies and gear that come along with those occupations.  The room itself also has to be photogenic, since it’s often the backdrop or the subject.

The way it was arranged looked fine, but I was always moving things around when I needed to use them only to have to move them all back again, so things could look pretty once more.  It was impractical and inefficient.

One other thing is the leather chair that was in the corner was starting to fade from sitting in this sunny room.  It’s a beautiful chair, and I really didn’t want the leather to be discolored any further, so I moved it into my (north facing) office and brought back the chair that I slipcovered in an antique linen sheet.

As a happy accident, the leather chair seems to suit the office better.

I just have to give this chair a wide berth when I have the oil paints out!

I could not get tape to stick long-term to this chalkboard, so I strung some twine between small nails tapped into the back of the frame to give me a place to clip artwork and color swatches.

The most impactful change was swapping my easel and drafting table.  I always wanted my easel in the corner, but moving it there meant the postal cubby would have to be moved.  It’s not that moving it would be hard, but it would be a pain!  I finally did with, with Jeff’s help.

Now, I can set up a still life on the hardware counter to my left and I have all of my oil paint supplies in the green cabinet to my right.

I can easily scoot the stool between the easel and drafting table, depending on what medium I’m using.

While everything was off the shelf, I took the opportunity to thin things out and make it a little neater.  Most of the stuff that’s up there is put to some practical use.  The marmalade crocks hold erasers, binder clips, chalk, and other small supplies.  I use the heavy mugs to hold water when I’m using watercolors.  I use some of the decorative items as still life props.  Small jars hold inks, oils, and solvents.  Small tins hold watercolor palettes, gouache, pastels, and pen nibs.

One jar is dedicated to sketching and writing instruments along with my favorite watercolor brushes, while another is just for long-handled oil brushes.

And antique clip-on water bowl for chicks hold my business cards.  (Isn’t it the perfect holder for business cards?!)


The drafting table is a little more “out there” moved out of the corner, but it’s a much better spot for it.  It’s on sliders, so I can scoot it out of the way when I need a blank wall for photo shoots.

I tidied up my hutch/library as well.  Several of my newer books were stacked, making it cumbersome when I wanted to reference one at the bottom of the stack.

So, I moved the heftier books to the hardware counter and rearranged the remaining books on the shelves.  Art books have become one of my favorite things to collect!  I have found so many new-to-me-artists, and it’s been fun to study their work.

The slim wooden drawers hold my pastels, and the small antique wooden box will soon be converted to an oil pochade box.

I moved the table that was under the postal cubby to under one of the large windows.  We’ll eventually build some shelves there, but for now, this table holds my drying rack, the sketchbooks I use most, a tackle box with gouache paint tubes, and a wooden box with raw pigments.

The temperature is dropping below freezing now, so I’ve brought my lemon tree inside.  It was a scrawny thing this spring and had some issues with spider mites.  I sprayed it with soapy water (as some readers suggested), moved it outside for the summer, transplanted it into a larger, and put on some citrus fertilizer and now it’s doing great!  Look at all of those tiny lemons!

I’ve counted about 30 of them and feel like a proud mama.  I hope it does well inside this winter.

Above the windows on the right side of the studio, I started hanging MMS Milk Paint samples, but I ran out of velcro tabs.  I’m going to pick up some more this week, and all 25 colors will be up there.

After rearranging and cleaning the space, I found myself wandering in there or simply leaning in the doorway, admiring my creative space.

Moving things around in a room is free and one of the most effective ways to revitalize a space that isn’t inspiring or working for you.  Do you have some rooms that could use a little scoot?

PS – We’re not done touring Tuscany, yet, but I’m going to mix in some blog posts about what’s happening now, too.


  1. Betty in Arlington

    What a magical room! I am looking in every corner, and at every photo and painting! Such a pleasant, light-filled creative hiding place!

    I think God loves a light-filled room, don’t you? He streams inside and reflects His love. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? ” Ps 27:1

  2. Sally

    I love your studio, it is so bright and beautiful. I would never want to leave it.

  3. Claire

    It astonishes me that you are already experiencing freezing temperatures. It is in the 90’s here in Georgia. I love this room and your style.

    • Marian Parsons

      Well, Rochester, MN is the 14th coldest city in the US and we have freezing temperatures from October to April! Much different from Georgia!

  4. Deborah Raney

    I’ve always loved your studio, but I have a new favorite corner of it now! That spot by the back door with the lemon tree is SO inspiring! I’d never get anything done for just gawking at how pretty it is! I’m a writer, not an artist, but I love rearranging my writing space too. There’s just something inspirational about seeing the things you’ve carefully collected in a new light.

  5. Jill

    You could publish a coffee table book on this article and pictures alone! I would buy it!!! Beautiful and practical.

  6. Teresa

    There is something rewarding about re-freshening a room after each season. The studio looks so nice and I know it gives you great pleasure to work in there or just sit and reflect in its beauty. We power washed and cleaned our screen porch off yesterday and I have never seen it that bad as we had lots of rain this summer which promoted moldy conditions. Our porch skylights are gleaming now and all the porch furniture got a good cleaning as well. I rearranged things as well and this morning I stood with coffee in hand admiring how nice it looked after a hard days work!

  7. Nan, Odessa, DE

    Those windows and curtains would make any room lovely!
    I understand about hahving your own space.
    It is important to every one.
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Lorna

    Every corner warms your soul. A true sanctuary!

  9. Robin

    I do that, too. Just stand in a doer way and admire my work!

  10. Karen K from Buffalo

    Marian, that is one beautiful studio!! I’m ooohing & ahhing over your furniture pieces. Your curtains turned out lovely & you have one comfy room!!

    Tomorrow I am giving your paint a try out. I have an old folding foot stool & am going to paint it in your Artissimo. I’m really excited & have been clearing the calendar for when I can devote time to do this.

  11. Julie | Home On The Hill

    I’m still in the process of discovering how my studio/craft room in my new farmhouse will function, so seeing what works for others helps with that process. Thanks for the inspiration.

    I love your postal cubby, I’m inspired to find something like that for my room, but they are very hard to come by over here in Australia for a reasonable price that is! I may have to talk my hubby into making me one.

    The only thing in your room that didn’t fit to my eye is a very small thing – the bright silver brackets holding the bottom of the cubby to the wall. I assume you will paint them white at some stage? I was thinking though some simple little wooden corbels covering them would look really nice & make a feature of the practical. The back of the corbels removed a little to accommodate the brackets depth as required?

  12. Michelle Johnston

    Is the plant on your file cabinet in the little crock real? If so what kind is it? I have one that looks like it and it’s dying on me. Love the space.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, it’s a gardenia bush that was trimmed to be a topiary.

  13. Kristie

    What an inspiring work space! It looks wonderful the way you rearranged it.

  14. Jeffrey Favreau

    As I sit here reading this blog e-mail I am realizing we are kindred spirits. I have watched your work over the years and when you begin to speak of moving furniture around a room, those are the words that speak to me. I am a decorator at heart now running a B&B and how I have always loved to move furniture around, kind of nurturing the soul. My clients come into my house and are always surprised by the new arrangement of furnishing . But like yourself it makes my work run smoothly. Thank you as always for sharing your passions an desires Marian (AKA MISS MUSTARD SEED)

  15. Fran Harris

    Lovely room with all of those windows and sunshine! Maybe I missed a post, but where did you get those love curtains/sheers? They are exactly what I need for my windows. Would you mind sharing where you purchased them? Thanks!

    • Marian Parsons

      I actually made them and included a tutorial for how to make them, too! I designed them for Decor Steals for purchase, so maybe they will offer them again. Search “linen shades” on my sidebar and you’ll find the info.

  16. MaryLisa Noyes

    It’s such a great creative space! I would be smiling everyone I entered that room.

  17. Addie

    mmmmm I just can’t decide if I am more in love with this room or your dining room….or maybe your kitchen…or maybe that little spot in the kitchen by the butlers pantry and the staircase!!!! You amaze!!!!!
    I love the linen chair in this room better then the leather one……and I can imagine how great the leather one looks in your office.
    Keep up the good work!!!

  18. Robbie Zeller

    What a beautiful awesome space, Marian!

  19. Lee Ann

    Hello, Marian! I love how you use such beautiful antique items in such practical ways (the marmalade crock, etc). You inspire me to go home and find prettier pieces for everyday uses. Thank you!

  20. Betsy

    What a perfect creative space! Some may think I’m crazy for saying this but I find the shelf overtop of your green cabinet an inspiration. Every cubby works hard but it all looks magical together.

  21. Kate

    I don’t have my own studio since my husband and I share an office. You gave me some ideas, though, of how I can organize and beautify my half.

    Your lemon tree gives me hope that I can try to grow one here in Ohio.

  22. Stacey

    There’s nothing better than rearranging spaces in my home!! My husband always comments if he were to lose his eyesight he would never find his chair it moves so often!!!
    I am in Pa and have had citrus trees for 4 years, yours looks fantastic!! Exactly as it should right now. My suggestion is a plant bulb!!!! I put plant bulbs in my regular lamps,task lights etc… I leave them on at night for the trees. Only in the winter months, because they are outside all summer. Good Luck!!!😃

  23. Frances

    Your studio looks gorgeous! I moved my studio upstairs to a guest bedroom last year after expanding some storage space behind an adjacent wall and having a door put in to access the unfinished area over our garage. I have been so busy with shows since then, that I haven’t put an effort into the design of the room.
    I had a very inspiring trip to Asheville last week with a friend, came home to finish a painting and started tearing my studio apart. I’m painting the walls a lovely blue right now.
    I always find your posts very inspiring! As a professional painter myself, I really enjoy seeing your progress with your art. I know that wasn’t the focus of this post, but I noticed various pieces in your photos. You have quite the talent for painting Marion!
    I have to say, I really covet your studio space. You have such lovely pieces. One of these days I will get out more and start looking for things to enhance my own space. I hope you will post paintings again soon. I am very impressed by the progress you have made in such a short time.

  24. mary m

    Lovely space. Most important where did you stash that antique French
    pen? Would be nice if you had a small floating shelf for it to rest on and
    be acessable at the same time.

  25. Alicia from California

    Dear Marian,

    Oh! I would love to have been helping you move things about as you re-created your studio space! May I come over for a spot of tea and biscuits one rainy afternoon and sit in that comfortable looking and inviting arm chair and foot stool? The way you’ve displayed all your tools, supplies and books I’d be like a kid in a candy shop just looking and touching them and leafing through your all your books!

    You continue to inspire!

    • Marian Parsons

      Thank you, Alicia!

  26. Janet in Kansas City

    This studio room is so beautiful. Everything in it looks perfectly lovely.

  27. Karine

    Marian, as always you’ve knocked it out of the park. A beautiful room indeed! Maybe you covered this in a previous post but did you use MMSP on the floor? I’ve been debating painting the floor of my office for a long time and would love to read any suggestions you have.

    • Marian Parsons

      No, I didn’t, because they weren’t raw wood. I painted them with a good adhesion primer and a satin enamel.

  28. Mary b

    I like your space, especially all the “cool stuff” holders.
    Just wondering, did you paint the green cabinet?And do you have a tutorial on how to paint and what paint to use on metal?
    My creative space, the quilt lounge, is the spare bedroom. I had to clean it! Relatives are coming. So nice to be able walk into an orderly room. But the closets now need a purge. Oh dear


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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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