before and after

before & after: art studio transformation

by Kate Pruitt

As someone who has trouble keeping things neat and tidy, I can totally relate to the “before” scenario for this studio makeover from Amy. It can be difficult to take a pause in the midst of projects and deadlines to completely clear out a space, but sometimes, that’s exactly what you need to do, and in Amy’s case, it’s clear that she approached the redesign of her studio wisely. The new space is completely free of distracting clutter, and the wood floor adds a lovely finishing touch to the space. Great job, Amy! — Kate

Read more about Amy’s studio transformation after the jump!

Time: One month

Cost: $500 (for all furniture, paint + supplies)

Basic Steps: After years of making do with whatever odds and ends we had around the house to furnish the studio, I first and foremost wanted a clean, custom, organized space. This space serves two purposes: I make my smaller, water-based work on paper here, and since I teach at a university, I use it as my home office to keep all of my paperwork and application materials organized and always on hand. After five years of accumulated paper and studio odds and ends, I had to overhaul pretty much everything. Here are the steps I took:

I designed the kind of space I wanted on paper. I drew the dimensions of the room using graph paper to figure out exactly what size to make the corner worktables and shelves and proceeded pretty closely to these plans. I discarded, recycled or removed the extraneous — from large items such as the closet door and furniture to three paper grocery bags’ worth of old paperwork.

Then I organized the heck out of everything. I categorized all items down to the last paper clip and labeled plastic totes of various sizes (which I had already purchased a few years prior), as well as all of the pockets on a door-mounted shoe rack. Once all objects had a home, it was easy to clean up and put everything away. I purchased and customized all the new elements: the flat file (we cleaned and re-oiled it, put a frame on the bottom and attached casters), the doors (a 36” x 80” door and one part of a bi-fold door, 18” x 81”) and table legs, small file cabinet and wood for the shelves. We also tore out the linoleum floor to reveal the hardwood underneath. Now that it’s so nice and clean, I need to learn how to make a mess in it again.

Take the time to do it right. I reorganize the studio a bit every summer, but I have wanted to do a major overhaul like this for years. It wasn’t until I sat down and figured out what I really needed and wanted out of my space that I was able to commit to this level of involvement with the project. Also, it’s great to have a talented, able and willing partner on hand to help with hard jobs like shelf design and installation. Thanks Mark! — Amy Sacksteder


Suggested For You


  • The before and after here is looking more like messy vs. neat. I want to see a ‘real’ comparison next time! (Granted, the ‘after’ is still pretty awesome.)

  • Great use of the vertical space for storage! Of course, I’m jealous of those windows and all the natural light!! Seems like a highly functional studio. Congrats on your new space. :)

  • I’m busy spring cleaning my apartment at the moment and this is just the inspirational push I need! Great to see all your hard work paid off :)

  • I love the transformation, but I have to say that when my studio looks cleaned up it means I’m not working on anything. The before picture represents the “working on far too many projects at one time” status I seem to live in. I like to say I live in a state of controlled chaos! :) Beautiful transformation! Thanks for sharing.

  • Great work, shows how careful planning of storage gives everything a home and helps you keep the space super neat! It’s all about developing a routine of forcing yourself to put them back in their places every time :) awesome use of vertical space!
    Thanks for the thorough and inspiring post
    Liivi x

  • I am in the middle of a remodel that will become my new office/studio. I need to do a major organization/clean out of files and materials too. This is very inspiring and budget friendly. Hope you love working in your new space!

  • Wow transformation is definatly the right word here! ~Such a lovely bright space although id get distracted looking out of those windows!x

  • Absolutely gorgeous space, but PLEASE, PLEASE tell me how all furniture, paint and supplies could cost $500. I’m particularly interested in the flat grey files — they look new and I’d love the source for these — I think the files alone would go for more than $500!!!

  • My dream is to one day do a beautiful transformation in my home, and each and every before&after post makes me think “THIS is exactly what I want!” I’d need a house with a few dozen rooms to do everything I’d love!

  • Love your studio space and I think it’s a very realistic before & after. Many of us not only have redesign needs but also need to organize and purge our existing space. I love the (vintage?) flat file drawers underneath the workspace, looks like an architect blueprint file…perfect for a “paper” studio. I love collecting washi paper, beautiful cards and wrapping paper. Really really want one of those for myself but haven’t been fortunate to come across one that wasn’t gigantic yet (I have a small space…).

  • What a wonderful redesign & organization. How did you only spend $500!?!? Just setting up my studio in a metal storage bulding and buy Lowe’s worktables & things from Craigslist cost me more than that and you have FILING SPACE! OH I am envious. Wish my space looked as good. Anyone interested in helping me organize my studio LOL?

    • Marilyn, you can go to homeadvisor.com and find a “housekeeper” for the day. Also, same for Care.com. That’s how I found, Tammy. She came over, helped with the clearing out process, helped with shopping for the organizational trays, boxes, etc. and helped with the vacuuming and carpet shampooing. I’m disabled, on 2L/oxygen and really needed the help. The down side is that I still have to do the paring down and disposal of my art supplies. The other part that I will have to do mostly by myself is placing the supplies on the shelf where I can find them. Otherwise, I’m afraid my next painting experience will turn into a cussing match! But it would have been impossible for me to do this chore without help!

  • What a great job! Lots of hard work – you must be so proud! I have a room that is my playroom and it looks worse than your before picture. I find that if there is housework to do or I have to do chores – I don’t feel like i should spend time playing. But it’s the worse room in the house. The first month we moved into our home I managed to step on a extra large tube of orange oil paint. No way can that be removed :( So I bought a rug and put it over it and that’s been the most I’ve done in that room. It tends to be the catchall for alot of things. You have given me lots of incentive to give my room a makeover! Thanks for sharing your great studio!

  • For those who are second-guessing costs, I think part of the wow factor are the floors, which were there to begin with ;) Anyway, great studio. Looks lovely!

  • The room looks better but still looks a little cluttered and dull. It would be nice to see the room spiced up with a little more color on the walls. Heck a nice mural would be good since it is an art studio~ :)

  • Y
    ou know what? eBay is a great place to look for storage items. Just discovered a flat file for not much of anything! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.