Have you thought about chasing your artistic dreams, but you don't have the money to rent studio space? I hear you, and can totally relate. I was able to create a functional studio within my home on a very tight budget, and I'm going to share all my tips and tricks with you so keep reading.
Photo by Courtney Leach Photography
Starting a full time or part time art business can be overwhelming with paperwork, website, equipment, art supplies, and workspace. Everything adds up and before you know it, you have racked up a pretty big bill. I started out with very little funds and did not want to be burdened with a big debt so I carefully chose where to invest and where to not.
My first official studio space after my business launch was a shared office with my husband. I believe it was designed to be an office or baby nursery because it was much smaller than any of the other rooms. I took one side and my husband had the other. To say that it was crowded would be an understatement. We could not work in there at the same time. I took the day hours and he took the evenings.
I used an small folding table that I purchased for 35.00 from an office store, a bookcase I bought for my art room when I taught art, and an altered bar stool from our former kitchen as my chair. The cabinets came from our previous home office. We bought them off the showroom floor of a kitchen designer for dirt cheap.
My studio in 2016
I made due with this space until 2018 when both my older daughters moved out. They shared the bedroom over our garage, and it was at least three times if not four times bigger than the space I was in which means more furnishings to fill the space. Below is as promised my tips and tricks of how I created my current studio while still keeping my budget to a minimal.
Tips and tricks to creating a functional studio on a budget:
Shop your home for tables, shelves, or other furniture that you can use as surface space or storage. Many of us have pieces in our attic or garage waiting to go out to the trash. Grab them if they are usable and give them new life. A little cleaning and paint can go a long way. I painted the desk that my older girls had in their room, and it felt fresh and updated to fit the look I was going for.
We did a little updating in our kitchen not long after I moved into the new space, and we replaced our portable island with a antique inspired butcher block. The old island sat in the garage for a few days when my husband came up with a brilliant idea to use it in the painting station in my studio. We lugged it upstairs and it is serving me well.
2. Visit your local thrift stores or online market places.
I visit thrift stores often so I had a list of items I wanted to find. I didn't find everything at once, in fact, it has been a gradual process over a couple of years. I have found a table for my fine art printer for 20.00, an old doctor's office cabinet with four drawers for about 20.00 (scanner sits on top while the drawers serve as handy storage), and a brand new futon couch for 150.00. (I needed to sleep guest when they visit and a futon was a great option since it doesn't take up the space a bed takes when not in use.) A few other ideas to look for at thrifts or market places... dressers, shelves, wooden crates, kitchen table (currently looking for one to replace my large folding table), benches with cubbies, baskets.
In this photo you can see the couch, the Dr. cabinet, and my print rack. The couch is red. I haven't accepted the red so I digitally change the color to make it more pleasing to the eye. Eventually, I will either embrace the red or get a slip cover.
3. Keep your eye out on trash days.
One man's trash is another's treasure so keep your eyes on the curbs especially right before trash day. I have gone through my share of chairs that were rescued from the curb however, I eventually broke down and bought a comfy chair for my desk. I haven't found too many items from the curb for my office, but I did find a bench with 3 cubbies underneath as well as small desk drawers. I added cute hardware to the drawers and painted the bench. The bench fits perfectly under my folding work table, and the drawers are great for storing small items like printer ink and my scale for weighing packages.
4. Ask around.
This isn't my favorite tip because I shy away from asking, but my husband has brought home some nice storage racks from small business clients who were cleaning out their store. When he sees something sitting like it's headed to the trash, he will ask if they are trying to get rid of it, and that is how I got the print rack that hold art prints as well as another rack with shelves.
The faux fireplace built from scrap wood + my thrifted table that holds the fine art printer.
5. Build it yourself.
If you are up for a challenge, build it yourself. We save wood from other projects, furniture that is falling apart, or porch rails (yes, we saved the good pieces of wood when we had our porch rails replaced with iron ones). You never know when you will need a small piece of wood for a project.
I wanted to add some architectural style to my studio so I looked through our scrap wood inventory and gathered enough wood to build a faux fireplace in the studio. It gives me a cozy vibe even if it doesn't put off heat.
My husband built a small table to hold my smaller printer using our old spindles from our porch as legs and a larger board as the table top.
One of my studio buddies, Stella.
Creating a beautiful studio that you love and ignites your inspiration doesn't have to break the bank. With a little patience, creative vision, and some DIY's you will have a studio you can be proud of. And just maybe you will have enough money left over for a cute studio buddy, too.
I hope these tips help make the task of creating a home studio less daunting, and if you are not in need of a studio, use these tips on any room in your home you are wanting to refresh on a budget.