As a jewellery artist who has worked from a tiny home studio in Hong Kong for 3 years, I fully understand the importance of a comfortable yet conducive creative space. After all, if you’re going to spend a good 8 to 10 hours working there, your home office needs to be the best it can be. Whether you have a tight living space to work with, or like me, you have to resort to working off the dining table, you can still optimise your workspace and make it desirable under less than ideal conditions. As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Locating a potential spot
In creating the best creative space, location is key. Is there an empty room or area in the house that often is left underutilised? Even if you live in a tiny apartment, a cosy yet incredible work space can still be possible by making small adjustments. Consider adding a small work desk to an existing bedroom, partitioning your dining space or even an open-kitchen, or simply shift some furniture around.
As mentioned, in our small Hong Kong home where there isn’t much room to play around with, I had to make do with our dining table as my workspace. It is possibly laughable and far from ideal, but what I've learnt is that creativity and productivity is possible even in my small home office. I’ve in fact designed and crafted some of my most favourite jewellery pieces there.
If you’re like me, who gets easily sidetracked and tends to procrastinate (don’t we all), you’ll know a thing or two about the danger of distractions. Is there a television or comfortable sofa nearby that may tempt you to relax rather than focus? Is there a game console or an iPad sitting next to you that you’ll be staring at in contemplation every 5 minutes? Being disciplined at keeping potential distractions out of sight has been key for my staying focused throughout the day, especially because my craft requires the greatest detailed attention. Identify all possible distractions near your workspace, put them away in a different room, hidden away in a drawer, or even stick a post-it note on the object to remind yourself not to fall for the temptation.
Having too many things in your workspace environment can also be distracting. So building the daily habit of decluttering and maintaining a neat and clean space can be incredibly helpful in creating that productive environment for your creativity juices to flow.
In my little home studio, I work with just an adjustable table lamp. Since my workspace is small and confined (to just that partitioned dining table), the advantage is a conducive work environment where distractions aren’t given the opportunity to thrive. Working with boxes of jewellery finding supplies, I also make sure my table space is always vacant before I begin my craftwork.
Balancing comfort and productivity
While we want our home workspace to feel comfortable and inspiring at 8am in the morning, we also need it to cultivate a sense of invigoration and productivity in us for bouncing ideas and getting things done. This delicate balance between comfort and productivity establishes that optimal creative space. A workspace that is too casual or comfortable may be too much associated in one’s mind with rest and relaxation, and will not set one’s mind to work mode. Instead, build on keeping a clean and neat space with perhaps a select few additions of your favourite items to give your home office some personality, while keeping it separate from the rest of the home environment. It should be the one place that makes you feel inspired and motivated once you sit at. Some privacy can also be created by using headphones, adding a bookcase as a partition or makeshift divider, useful to block out distractions posed by other members of the household.
The ideal workspace is appealing enough to get me motivated and want to start creating, while comfortable enough to keep me going for the rest of the day.
Adding your own personal touch
Creativity is a very personal journey, so it is important your workspace speaks to you and only you. By incorporating elements which represent you and speak your personality, you can make your home workspace unique and desirable. Consider putting up a personalised moodboard that inspires you, having storage decor that is in your style, or putting up motto phrases displaying your values.
I personally like infusing soft colours in my home office decor and playing meditative or instrumental background music while I work. For me, these create a more soothing ambience and a conducive work environment where I can think with a clear mind and concentrate on my craft.
As perhaps many of us are now working from home or just staying home during this COVID-19 period, I hope that these tips will help you build a happier environment whether for work or for pleasure, and cope with the challenges of staying at home. Stay safe.