Calling all creatives! Are you a writer, a poet, a designer, a crafter, or an artist? We all have an expressive side, whether in the kitchen, in our work, or through our hobbies. Creating a home that's healthy means embracing the importance of creative space.
Having a creative outlet is connected to better mental and physical health. Creative hobbies can keep our brains sharp and even lower the incidence of dementia as we get older. Creative people report improved immunity from illness, better outlooks, moods, and even a greater sense of purpose. Creative space is essential (even if you don't consider yourself an "artist" per se).
But what does creative space really mean? For most of us who like to engage our right brains regularly, having a creative space at home can be inspiring, motivating, and productive. So if you love to create, here's how to keep your ideas flowing and make an inspiring space.
Photography: Caroline Sharpnack
1. Keep it Organized
All that beautiful creativity can also lead to chaos. There’s a reason why we think of the scattered absent-minded artist stereotype. Creative people often tend to collect more trinkets. Creative hobbies often require tools, equipment, and gear that can take up space. Finding your muse may mean exploring different mediums and expressing yourself in different ways.
But all this clutter can also counteract creativity. Piles of paper, magazine clippings, and paint bottles can quickly become overwhelming and disempowering. Even writers who end up with a lot of electronic clutter (like Pinterest and Evernote) can have a hard time deciphering the message from the medium when it’s disorganized.
No matter how large or small your creative space, keep it organized. Tuck items away neatly in a trunk, desk, or photo box. Take the time to put tools away as you go and keep your space wide open for inspiration to strike.
2. Add Objects that Inspire
Once you’ve established an organizational plan for your creative space, you WILL want to incorporate items that give you a motivational spark. For example, I love beautiful design inspiration in coffee table books. I often keep a collection on my table and put them on rotation, so they continue to stimulate my imagination.
Having wall-to-wall inspiration can actually become overwhelming, so a good strategy is to pick only a few pieces that evoke emotion, memory, or inspiration and then store away the rest. A vacation photo, a beautiful paperweight, or a favorite piece of artwork may provide all the creative fuel you need for a masterpiece.
I also enjoy using natural and vintage pieces in any space, especially in home offices, studios, and other think-places. A solid wood end table, a beautiful marble desktop, or a vintage Tiffany lamp can feel grounding and authentic. In addition, natural and vintage pieces often have a history and story, making them perfect additions for creative spaces.
Photography: Caroline Sharpnack
3. Get Plenty of Light
Light is crucial throughout your home, but it's imperative in creative spaces. Natural lighting is an obvious necessity for artists and photographers, but for writers, bloggers, and designers, bright light is also vital.
Light helps you feel awakened and invigorated. It allows you to follow the earth's natural rhythms, and it boosts your mood and your mental health. What's more, natural light simply helps you see your work and avoid some of the hazards of working in front of electronic "blue" light all day (something that can really wear on digital creatives).
If your creative space doesn’t include a window, consider bringing in several levels of lighting. For example, you may want to have a brighter overhead light, as well as a task light for your desk or workspace. If you find that you're squinting or hunched over your work, take a look at your lighting and brighten things up.
4. Make it Personal
Creativity is intimate and personal. It’s a unique expression of our authenticity—it’s who we are from the depths of our soul. There’s nothing quite as personal as designing and creating something new. It can be physically and mentally taxing. It can require high concentration levels, but it's also one of the most rewarding experiences we can undertake.
Your creative space should feel intimate and personal as well. Photographs are a great way to make the area feel unique and bespoke. Invest in high-quality tools to honor your creative endeavor (whether that means great paintbrushes, professional design software, or quality paper).
Look for additional ways to make the space feel personal to you. Incorporate colors, patterns, and textures that you really love into your decorating. Use natural pieces whenever possible. Include plants and other elements that feel lively and inspiring.
5. Designate a Comfortable Workspace
Your work surface should be very comfortable, big enough to work on, and set at a height that supports your posture. Many creative projects require careful concentration, which may mean hunching over a project to the detriment of your neck and back.
Look for a desk or work surface that offers you lots of room to spread out and access the tools of your trade easily. If you're a writer working on a laptop, be sure that you set your keyboard and screen in a comfortable position and avoid the desire to type for hours from the bed or couch.
A comfortable workspace should also feel solid, durable, and able to withstand whatever you throw at it. No matter your art or craft, be sure your creative space allows you to go all-in. Set up the room, so you don't worry about a glue drip or watercolor stains. Catch a tiny sneak peek below of my future creative space in the Modern European.
Architect: Brooks & Falotico
6. Invest in Ergonomic Seating
Like setting up a comfortable work surface, you’ll want to make sure your creative space has supportive ergonomic seating. "Ergonomic" means functional designs that fit the natural curves and movement of the body.
A good work chair should offer lumbar support and allow you to work with both feet comfortably on the floor. You should be seated at a height that’s appropriate to your work surface, allowing you to see your project without bending too far forward or “slouching.”
There are many beautifully designed seating options for designers and artists. Desk chairs are the most obvious choice, and there are many designs out there. Don't worry about a clunky, ugly office chair ruining the look and tone of your creative space. Instead, find something that's both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing—such as this gray velvet swivel option I have in my own creative space.
7. Ensure Proper Ventilation for the Project
Keep in mind that many arts and crafts can involve chemical components that may be hazardous to your health. If you’re working to make your home less toxic, you’ll want to avoid VOCs and other dangers that might create an unhealthy environment.
If you work with paints, adhesives, inks, or developer, consider the ventilation in your creative space. A fan or an air purifier may be helpful to move fumes out of the room. Also, be sure to check labels and familiarize yourself with any ingredients and components that might be detrimental to your wellness.
Even electronics can be concerning to your wellbeing and safety. Plastics and certain components can off-gas chemicals into the environment, leading to headaches and other less-ideal health effects. Be sure to open windows and take any necessary precautions to protect your (creative) brain and body.
8. Prioritize Privacy
A creative space should be a place where you can have privacy if needed. You may want to set up a privacy screen or invest in noise-canceling headphones, especially if you share your studio with someone else in your household.
Whether you're a writer, an artist, a designer, or an artisan, you'll want to be able to get into the flow of your project. When we are in a "flow" state, we often feel hyper-focused, and all distractions seem to melt away. As a result, we feel more creative and engaged with our project.
To achieve creative flow, we often need an area where we can let loose, free ourselves from distractions, noise, and interruptions and really get into the work at hand. Most creatives find this state optimal for their best, most creative work.
Our creative outlets are crucial for our mental health and wellbeing. Prioritize a creative space in your home, and you'll definitely thank yourself later. No matter your preferred creative endeavor, a welcoming space will allow you to really stretch the limits of your imagination and innovation.
So what is your favorite creative pursuit? Do you have a designated creative space in your home? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!