before and after

before & after: stationery shop makeover

by Kate Pruitt

What an exciting moment this must be: to take a photograph of your new retail space and have ideas for the interior design buzzing in your head. You know from Grace’s post this morning that she’s successfully secured an office space for next year (yay!), so I have some idea of what that feels like. I hope that when we move into the new D*S digs, we can make our space as welcoming and beautiful as Angela Liguori’s Studio Carta. The color scheme, the mix of materials, the minimalist layout, the homey touches like the rug and arc lamp — I love it all! From the moment you see the new chic exterior, you know you’re in for a visual treat. The next time I’m back home in New England, I am definitely going to check it out in person. Wonderful work, Angela! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Time: 1 year

Cost: $5k

Basic Steps: This is the first time that my studio, after many years, moved from one small room in my house to an open and more public space. Here I can finally work, meet with clients, display products and ship my orders. But it was a big transition! The new space happened to be a storefront on a very busy street. I thought it was important that the studio was visually divided between my working area, with two large desks, and the rest of the space, which displays my products.

I purchased the large glass shelves from CB2. They take up the entire wall and are visible from the street. But I also needed some practical shelves for my books, my supplies, tools and materials that I use every day and that won’t take up too much room. I brought my blue wood table from home, where I take most of my product pictures and where I occasionally drink my tea in front of the window.

I was also looking for contemporary furniture and accessories that would make me feel comfortable and at home but that would also look organized and appealing for people who casually peek in the windows, wondering what this space is all about. I thought that the tabletop press, sitting on an old rescued piece of furniture, would made the perfect contrast with the rest of the glass and metal furniture. I also thought it deserved to be in front of the window, where the most light comes in, and I like how it defines the entire look of the studio.

In the first few months, I completely focused on the interiors by moving tables, bookcases and lamps very often. But something also needed to be done to the front entrance to complete the project. The old green and light blue paint needed to change, and I was looking for some colors that would brighten up the entrance but that would also hide dust and traffic pollution. Now the light gray and white ceiling and chalk-gray door give a clean and more modern look to the early nineteenth-century wood house. The outdoor painting was done in only a few days, but it took me the whole year — from the first day of renting until now — to get the studio how I envisioned. My advice is not to hurry. It truly takes time to work and live in your space, and to realize what it is missing. The metal door numbers and the George Nelson Bubble Lamp are the final touches that were nailed down only a few weeks ago! — Angela

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  • Beautiful! And in my neighborhood! So glad to learn about this gorgeous little studio just in time to attend their open house this weekend. Love when things work out like that…

  • As a stationery designer myself this is one of my dreams! Congratulations Anglea on a beautiful shop and a pursuing your dreams and making them happen! You have a beautiful space!

  • I walk by this space every morning as I’m taking my son to school and always wander about it. I’ve never been in, but every pass by makes me more curious, as it’s a definite bright spot on an otherwise uninspiring stretch of walk. Now I really can’t wait to check it out!!

  • This is beautiful! my only criticism, as a visual merchandiser, is the curtains in the window. Don’t miss an opportunity for a beautiful inspirational display to draw people in! if you’re worried about protecting products, or controlling light in your space, look into getting your windows solar tinted. You don’t see it at all, but it will help with your heating/cooling costs and cut down any glaring sunlight, that may be annoying to customers and yourself when working! Good Luck!!

  • Thank you for all the lovely comments!
    Please if you are from the Boston area come to visit this Saturday, December 3rd, from 12 to 5, for our first year studio celebration. Lots of treats and good espresso! I would love to meet you.

  • Thank you Liz for your suggestion on the curtains. I should have mentioned that I have them only on one side of the studio, corresponding to the area where I work on the computer or on my desk. I like to keep them close at night and have that area a bit more private. I’m also a retailer open only by appointment, so I don’t mind having part of the studio saved for my daily work.

  • This is such an amazing idea, I wish there were spaces like this available here where I live. All i have is a studio that I share with a bunch of other like-minded artists, but I’ve always wanted a studio-shop-space as well. Love your little tabletop press by the way!


  • I wish this adorable shop was in my neck of the woods. I love all paper all the time. Mixing simple modern with vintage is my favorite mashup.

    Wonderful job!

  • I love your space. It is so welcoming on the outside and reminds me of stationary stores I flocked to when I was young. On the inside, it is equally charming, filled with light color and a sense of serenity. Love that table top press on the rustic piece of furniture-it reminds me of my grandfather’s repair shop. Well done! I now have a place to visit when I go to Boston!

  • I’d love to know where the abcd/alphabet “hanging” was sourced from. Fantastic! (please say on-line somewhere!) Your space looks inviting and inspirational all at the same time – all the best with your future endeavours.

  • Love the pics! I thought you might like to know that my local library system has 54 of your books that are checked out with 21 more on the reserve list. Yahoo!

  • I’m probably not your target demographic, but I respect that you have taken this space from ordinary to high design. I had a shop/work space that I loved, but the rent was just too high for me to keep, and i made the same mistake of not utilizing my street exposure (Also a thought…I didn’t see any signage. That can be a problem, too). My style is more colorful and eclectic, but from my experience, I have to agree with Liz: if you are at all on a budget with your space rent, figure out a way to get some display space in that window! Frosted plexiglass panels suspended a couple of feet back would crate a very spare looking mini “room” for product display, but still allow for natural lighting and privacy as you work. Any number of creative solutions abound for the issue of privacy and lighting. The curtains look out of place and uninviting. As a merchandiser, your shop looks pretty high end (again, not my type of space) due to the minimalist scheme. I hope you are charging enough to pay for your lovely space. Good luck to you!

  • I’m sure after reading all the comments about the curtains in the window, I will follow your advise and do something different in the new year, on the second window. Yes, I need to use them both for display! thank you for guiding me to more practical solutions.

    Regarding the wood typography piece next to the press, is a present from Arounna of Bookhou in Toronto. Certainly one of my favorite piece in the studio, that attracts a lot of attention, and a lovely present from a friend/artist I admire very much. Their site is http://www.bookhou.com/, though I don’t see it available for sale at the moment, but you can inquire and they might still make it in the future.

  • thanks angela – we are currently sold out of the wood alphabet, but will have more soon
    the makeover looks wonderful!

  • Looks amazing, but I can never get past the fact that people would hang their curtains like that, it just seems wrong!

  • The studio is beautiful, inspiring, and calm. And in my humble opinion, the curtains flow naturally with decor; they also beckon one into an intimate, artistic space.

  • What a delightful space! And a thoughtful, impressive makeover. I join the chorus singing the praises of the alphabet on the wall. Thank you for your response to my email; I contacted Arounna at bookhou. I hope they’ll have the alphabet again. My journalist/font-loving daughters would love it.

  • grace, i truly enjoy studio and retail “before & afters.” i know they’re probably harder to come by (in comparison to furniture/homes) but the more inspirational work spaces the better :)

  • Beautifully arranged and with impeccable taste, though dare I say more French in sensibility than Italian…

  • I’ve been to Angela’s space, both “before” and “after” and the transformation is even better in person! Great job, Angela. You’ve managed to create an inspirational work space and a lovely retail shop all in one small space. I like the curtains, by the way. From the interior, the curtains provide much needed privacy from a busy city street.

  • You worked hard but it was worth it! I wish I was there twice: opening and celebrating the opening……maybe next year ! The pictures show purity, and calm feelings. Concentration must be easy in such space! Can’t wait to’ see it Angela. Complimenti!