Find storage for your workspace that fits the style and decor of your home.

Photo by Melissa Stahl

People who are passionate about crafting can always find room to create. When you turn your passion into a business, however, a key part of success is creating a workspace that works for you.

Whether you have a corner of your home or an outside studio, it’s important for a workspace to be multifunctional, well organized, inspiring and set up in a way that prevents the type of repetitive stress injuries common among makers who perform repetitive movements.

Especially when you’re just getting started, working from home may be the best option. Melissa Stahl, who sells handmade porcelain buttons and also designs knitting patterns, runs her business, Melissa Jean Design, out of a large space in her home in upstate New York that doubles as a playroom for her kids.

Stahl keeps her kiln in the basement, away from the play area, and her main crafting space is a draftsman’s table that once belonged to her father-in-law, which she uses to make and paint her buttons. Stahl does her computer work at a separate desk — something recommended by ergonomics experts — and has another large table for miscellaneous tasks.

Find storage for your workspace that fits the style and decor of your home.

Photo by Melissa Stahl

“When (my kids) have friends over, I like my tools and supplies behind closed doors,” Stahl says. “By using antique and vintage furniture for storage, my space can feel like a family room when needed.”
For storage, Stahl decided against ubiquitous IKEA shelving and scoured Craigslist for antique and vintage furniture to fit her aesthetic and her home decor. She stores her ceramic, art and sewing supplies in oak armoire she bought for $250 and recently found another inexpensive cedar armoire for storing her yarn.

If you have the luxury of a workspace outside your home, keep an eye out for a flexible space that allows your business to expand.

Laura Lundy, of Slipped Stitch Studios, who creates project bags, notions pouches and other accessories for knitters and crocheters, rents a small four-room office in downtown Huntington Beach, California. The rooms provide separate areas for work and product storage — Lundy uses the largest part of the studio, which has a worktable and shelving custom built by her brother, for production — but the small team started to outgrow the space after less than three years.

“We are in a constant shuffle here, always looking for the best way to keep things organized,” Lundy says.

Organization can be a challenge for most people, but crafting often necessitates some different tactics. Beth Penn, who runs BNeato, an organizing business, recommends having separate zones for projects that are completed and for those still in progress. She also suggests cleaning up your workspace after each crafting session.

“A lot of (organization) is just the habit of putting everything back where it belongs,” Penn says. “Crafting is going to make a bigger mess than most people’s workspaces. It should be a priority.”

Penn also recommends getting rid of supplies or equipment you no longer use, something Stahl can relate to.

“I had fabric kicking around for 20 years,” Stahl says. “Some things that I am afraid of getting rid of entirely — for example, I have a whole 24-inch-by-18-inch bin full of embroidery thread — I store in my basement.”

Make sure the height of your worktop is ergonomically correct for the task at hand.

Photo by Melissa Stahl

It’s also important to make sure your workspace is set up as ergonomically as possible, to prevent repetitive stress injuries common among crafters.

Karen Jacobs, an occupational therapist (OT) and certified professional ergonomist, is an expert in ergonomics and workplace issues. She recommends having a crafting area separate from where you work on the computer.

Before she became an OT, Jacobs ran a leather-crafting business and fashioned her work area out of a metal garbage can topped with a round piece of marble, which she used while standing.

“It put me in good position for hammering,” Jacobs says. “I was a poor student, so that was the best I could do, but it was fabulous.”

If you’re standing on hard floors while you work, an anti-fatigue mat might be a good idea for supporting your feet.

Computer workstations should ideally be set up differently than where you do your crafting, Jacobs says. When working at a computer, it’s best to have an adjustable chair with lumbar support that allows you to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle. If your feet don’t reach the floor, get a footrest.

While laptops are popular because they’re portable, they’re not ideal for everyday use, Jacobs says. If you work on a laptop, Jacobs suggests getting a separate keyboard and mouse and bringing the laptop up to eye level to use like a monitor, which should sit at arm’s length. One of Jacobs’s clients used old hatboxes to raise her computer screen.

“Artisans are creative people,” Jacobs says. “Just look at what you have in the house or go to the recycling center and see what you can use.”

Creative fabric storage at Slipped Stitch Studios.

Photo by Lisa Chamoff

Lisa Chamoff

Lisa Chamoff


Lisa is a freelance journalist in the New York Metro area who specializes in home design, real estate and healthcare. When she’s not writing, or knitting shawls and sweaters, Lisa runs Indie Untangled (www.indieuntangled.com), a marketplace and blog that promotes the work of yarn dyers, pattern designers and crafters of knitting-related accessories.

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