For two years now we’ve lived in a small space, meaning our home is a 600 square foot apartment in Los Angeles. It’s a one bedroom with an extremely large living room — which thankfully has allowed us to make a section of our living room into a bedroom so the actual bedroom could be the nursery for our children. Our apartment has excellent storage for it’s size, but we’ve definitely learned to live with less. And honestly, this all started after traveling with Compassion International to Tanzania, Africa in May 2012. I remember coming home and very clearly feeling uncomfortable sitting on our couch, living in such a large home, having so many things. Our lives changed drastically soon after, but totally for the better :)
One way we live with less is by decorating with our favorite pieces, verses packing them away. Living in a small space has also helped me better realize my wants and needs — especially with my craft supplies ;)
We live in a small space for various reasons, but mostly because it fits our budget the best. Living in Los Angeles is extremely expensive (too many people and not enough places to live), so we do our best to live wisely. Besides, the weather here averages about 75*/80* throughout the year, so we’d be silly not to spend a lot time outside (ahem, hello beach) where we have plenty of room to stretch our legs.
When Zack and I lived in Detroit and Minneapolis we had more than enough space to run my handmade businesses, brainstorm product, create endlessly and the like. But Los Angeles has definitely stretched us in new ways, and so I’ve allowed myself the freedom to try new things. Turns out adventure-chasing and mamahood and learning to happily navigate adulthood aren’t as scary as they seem ;)
I’m a visual person, and living in a small space has challenged me in new, hard ways. And while I no longer have dedicated studio space, I do have a lovely kitchen table to work from and I’m rarely away from my family. Need another alternative workspace? Set up a 6-foot folding table.
Here are 5 ways I continue my creativity while living in a small space:
* consider even the smallest of spaces as a potential for studio space. My friend Ashley of The Vanilla Tulip uses a teeny tiny closet as her office — perhaps something like this could be perfect for you, too? Also remember to build up. Pegboards, shelving and large cabinets are easy storage solutions and require very little floor space.
* work in small scale quantities. And remember: quality over quantity! Perhaps having a smaller shop inventory would encourage you to price your handmade wares more accurately. (No excuses! Underpricing is bad for everyone.) Also, making less means you work less which gives you more time to be with your family.
* remind yourself that seasons exists for a reason, and their ebb & flow is critically important to your growth. They may only last for a week, a month, or a year — but allow yourself the grace and flexibility to view your season as an opportunity for change.
* use this time to pursue a smaller-scale project. Sometimes small projects can be just as intimidating as the big ones, but girl, don’t let that hold you back! An example of this for me is with embroidering. It’s the perfect small space project because I can organize all of my supplies in a box, it’s easily transportable, and I can start and stop super easily.
* creating fills me up in so many ways, so it’s important I make time for it. Zack often takes Maxwell and Bauer out on an adventure so I can work (without worrying about little hands grabbing for the project). Living in a small space has challenged me to get creative with my creative time! An hour or two alone with my sewing machine or embroidery hoop benefits me, and my boys benefit from exploring the city together — without mom around!
A few additional tips:
* many cities offer shared workspace opportunities, meaning you rent a workspace that’s shared with other creatives in your community. You can even rent a private shared workspace, conference rooms, etc. If your creative project requires more space than your home provides, definitely look into this.
* if you’re running a handmade business and absolutely need space to create & ship product, now is an excellent time to hire help. Your hired assistants can help you make product within their home, as well as ship directly from their home to the customer. Think outside the box here, literally ;)
* if you fail, remember to try (and try again!). I’ve had many set-ups for my workspace, and every time a change was needed I kept this bit of wisdom in the back of my mind. Sometimes an idea we have doesn’t work out perfectly the first time, so allow the process inspire you.
* what if — gasp! — you hung your collection of thread spools on the living room wall? What if you kept your fabric organized in a cute bin on the bookshelf? What if you invested in storage bins for under your bed (or couch) so your supplies are not only within reach, but they double as art for your home? Sounds like an excellent use of your small space to me! :)
Whatcha think? Are you inspired by your small space, or does it feel like an impossible hurdle? (Don’t give up yet.) Something I’ve had to remind myself (over and over and over) is this is real life, and in this season my family comes first; work comes second. Sure, I have big handmade dreams, but I hold on to the hope that those dreams will come true once again — just not right now. Let hope float you by, whatever that means for you personally. My home doesn’t ever need to be pinterest-ready, so I’m OK with my kitchen table for a workspace. I don’t have to set bigger and grander work goals for myself each year, at least not right now. Creativity can exist anywhere, at anytime, with any medium. How’s that for some solid inspiration? xoxo
PS. some of the cutest shared workspaces for kiddos…
This post is a part of the Creativity Expressed Blog Series hosted by Jen at Lovely Messes. Nine creative women are sharing the secrets behind their creative process, don’t miss a single bit of inspiration!