Sunday, May 30, 2010

Your Floor Plan and Basic Studio Arrangement

I have now patched holes, painted my walls and trim, washed the windows, stained the concrete floor, and drawn out a floor plan for my studio. That is basically all I needed to do to prep the room. Some of you may want to choose this time to have carpentry work done such as built-in shelving, cabinets, electrical or plumbing work, carpeting or other flooring laid or other major work. This is the best time to do those types of things since the studio is pretty much empty at this point.

When I refer to a floor plan, I'm talking about a basic overhead drawing of the room converting the overall measurements of the room from feet into inches or fractions of an inch. Above is the floor plan for my studio. For this I used a graphics program (Freehand) on the computer but you can also easily use graph paper. It comes in various sizes, but the most common and to me the easiest to work with is 1/4" (4 squares equal one inch representing one foot; 1 square would represent 3"). In other words, an 8' by 10' room would be drawn as an 8" (or 32 squares) by 10" (or 40 squares) drawing. Include in this floor plan the location of windows and doors (including necessary space if the doors open into the room), as well as permanent items that you will need to work around similar to the space where the furnace is located in my floor plan above. On a separate piece of graph paper and using the same graph paper and scale, draw the measurements of the tops of your major furniture pieces. The furniture pieces can be cut out so that you can move them around on your floor plan rather than moving the actual furniture around. You can take this further and include where you want lighting, where shelving might fit, etc. It's kind of like playing with paper dolls. (OK, that may be a stretch but you get the idea). Another advantage of having this floor plan is when you shop for furniture, flooring, paint etc. the clerk can look at your floor plan and tell you how much flooring or paint you need for the room and you will be able to see immediately if a piece of furniture you are considering will fit. If you are like me and want no surprises, you can also do side views so you can readily see heights of items next to each other and assure you are not blocking a view.

Below is a photo of the furnace I refer to in the corner of my room. With something this dominant you can see why it needs to be included.

With the painting completed, I began placement of the major pieces of furniture and determined where I would like to place my shelving. My terrific granddaughters were there to offer opinions and advice.

When you put shelves up, don't forget to go vertical! If you don't have the horizontal space or want to keep a more open feel at eye level, place shelves up high, within just a foot or so from the ceiling. This is a great place for items to be stored that you don't use very often, but do need/want to hang on to. This photo is a little ahead of my discussion here. I have actually started bringing smaller items into the room in some of these. I painted the shelves the color of the ceiling rather than a dark color so they blend in more and don't seem as 'weighty'.

Adjustable shelving is great because as your needs change you can customize the shelf height to accommodate whatever they hold, plus they are relatively inexpensive. Everything can be more visible as well. If you are one that prefers supplies hidden more out of sight, consider cabinetry or containers on the shelves to conceal your items.

Once you feel you have the major pieces in place, mentally walk through your processes and determine if these things are placed logically and conveniently. Don't be as concerned with the decor or ambiance of the room yet. That comes later. Right now pay particular attention to location of outlets, pathways, windows, lighting and doorways. Look for things that may become annoyances as you are working such as a door opening and closing behind you, outlets you can't reach, or others having to walk through your primary work area as they go from one room to another. Really think through this since this would be the easiest time to rearrange your pieces. As an example, I originally had a deeper table in front of the window. I quickly realized that reaching the window to open and close it took getting a stool to climb on just so I could reach the window. Moving my counter to that area instead worked out perfectly.

I placed my lightbox next to my stained glass stand so I can simply pull out a sheet of glass and place it on the lightbox to immediately see how it will look in the light. Even though there is a window right there, it is not always light out and it is sometimes difficult to lay a variety of pieces together in the window to see how they will look together in a project. My stained glass stands are on casters and can be rolled to other areas if needed. As shown on the floor plan, my drawing table is basically across from the lightbox as well, so I can simply turn around in my chair if I need to trace something. More simply stated, the lightbox is centrally located in the room because I may want to use it at any time.

Other major pieces you may want to place strategically in your room are the primary pieces of equipment you use in your art/craft such as sewing machine(s), computer or maybe a kiln. Sitting in the space relaxing with a cup of coffee or tea (or water or wine) during various times of the day will help you see the light patterns from your window and cast shadows that also may affect your workspace.
Basically, arrange the larger pieces and get a sense of how this arrangement will flow before you begin to bring in all the smaller items. I really love this part of the process. Everything seems so fresh like a new beginning. The realization and excitement mounts as your new space comes together. Remember though, the decorating and personalizing comes later.
If any of you are at this point, I would love to hear how it is going and if there is anything you want to add that will help others.

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