Saturday, 1 June 2013

My New ARTHaven–The “Before” Photos

As promised, here is the first post about my new ARTHaven. I have decided to keep this particular project separate from the more general project of our new house renovation, because of its special interest, not just to me, but to my fellow artists and crafters online who are interested in such things!

The room itself is one of the smaller upstairs bedrooms. It overlooks the front of the house and has its own balcony. The front of the house faces NNE so to all intents and purposes, it has north light! The light is certainly lovely in there. The problem with my current south-facing room is that from lunch time onwards it’s totally impossible to work in there, especially if the sun is shining, because the bright light is right in your eyes. I have had to keep the curtains closed and work under artificial light (albeit PureLite) which is not very satisfactory.

Here is the door leading from the landing.

01 Office and ARTHaven from the Landing

Looking in, you can see the doorway that leads into the main part of the room. The smaller part extends to right and left, with the bulk of it being on the right. This is called the “dressing room” in the agents’ particulars, and will serve very well as my office. Up until recently, before I started packing everything up, my office and ARTHaven have been combined, with the office definitely suffering, but neither functioning properly. The other advantage of this “room within a room” is that there is an additional wall to put shelves on, either side! It is only a thin partition stud wall but Andy, our builder, says that installing shelves won’t be a problem – it’s just making sure the supports are in the right place.

The smaller, left-hand portion of this space is occupied at present by a washbasin.

02 Basin and Balcony Door

To the right is the door onto the balcony. There is enough space here to put a sink instead of the basin, and I shall have Mum’s old microwave wall-mounted above, where the small shelf is at present. I am having a moveable table that I can put in front of the balcony door to put things on, or to work at, when necessary, which can be moved out of the way should I want to go onto the balcony.

Having running water in the studio is essential – my present set-up has a washbasin tucked into the corner between the fitted cupboard and the wall, and I’ve got bookcases beside it, making access extremely difficult. A sink will be much more satisfactory, and it opens up possibilities for doing things I’ve been unable to do for ages – dyeing, for instance!

This is the view into the office from the balcony door.

03 Office from Balcony Door

In my original layout, I didn’t think I’d have room for my big black desk, but completely revamping the plan, I find it will fit with 6 inches to spare, across the end of the room. I’ve also got my small black desk and two filing cabinets, and a couple of bookcases, all of which will fit, and Andy is going to put shelves up above for ring binders, office paper storage, etc.

This is the doorway from the office end into the ARTHaven proper. I like the way the previous owner has put a fabric blind there – I am hoping to get one of those gorgeous Indian embroidered doorway covers for this.

04 Doorway into ARTHaven

Standing inside the room and looking towards the window:

05 ARTHaven Window

You can see how nice and light it is, with the good big window, and the glass panel above the doorway, too.

Finally, a view of the other side of the room, with the blocked-off fireplace.

06 ARTHaven Fireplace

I am planning to make this little chimney-breast my display area, where I can display recent work, and also the many beautiful things that I have received from others. It will be ever-changing, and hopefully will make a nice focal point in the room.

There will be a continuous work surface from the doorway, under the window, up to and beyond the chimney-breast, and along the back wall. The wall dividing the room from the office will have free-standing storage – the remaining single segment of my large black shelving unit, Dad’s old music cabinet which will be perfect for storing paper as it takes 12 x 12 (I am hoping to alter this with different paint effects), my large black bookcase which exactly fits across the side of the black shelving unit, and various tall boxes for vertical storage of things like my camera tripod, weaving bits and pieces and stuff like that.

Underneath the work surface will be cheap white kitchen unit carcases at intervals around the room, minus their plinths and doors, with shelves for storage. Between each of them will be zoned work areas. The work top will curve around the corners of the room. Above will be kitchen wall units with shelves for further storage, with shelves connecting them, hopefully nice and adjustable so I can fit all my different things in. In addition to the main work area, Sheba (my Silver Bullet Cougar cutting machine) will have pride of place across one of the corners, hopefully with room at last to accommodate some support tables (something I’ve wanted to order, but it was pointless in my present setup as there was no room for them); a special “heat” area where I can put my butane torch when I get it, and my heat guns, soldering iron, hot knife, etc. I have got super-heatproof mats for this area. I am going to have a painting and mixed media area by the doorway, with easy access to the movable table and sink beyond, and on the other side of the room I’m having a dedicated sewing area, and for the first time will be able to have my sewing machine out permanently. It is so big and heavy to lift, and up till now has had to be stored underneath the table, and sometimes it seems just too much effort to get it out, but if it’s out, it will be used! In this area I shall also store all my embroidery stuff. With my big comfy chair on castors I should be able to shunt with ease between these different zones, and to the general storage area on the office wall – the idea is for the whole ARTHaven to be a dedicated mixed media space!

Above the large black storage unit which is wonderfully deep, I am going to have an equally deep shelf running the whole width of that wall. This will be for storing large flat sheets of card, mount board, my portfolio and my cutting mats. These things are hard to store as they tend to warp if not kept flat, and they take up a lot of room, but up above, they will be accessible but out of harm’s way.

I have been thinking about all this for months, and planning the most ergonomic space I can think of. Other considerations are the floor covering, and lighting. Wonderwoman hates the carpet in my present ARTHaven – it is only a cheap nylon one, but it clings onto all the bits that fall on it and is very hard work to clean. I am opting for a vinyl floor covering in a faux floorboards effect – these days they are so realistic it’s hard to tell they’re not real! This will be super-easy to clean up. As for lighting, Andy is going to fix up LEDs around the room for me at each work station – good pure light and ultra cheap to run, and also provide me with lots of power points at working height so I don’t have to grovel underneath to find them. I want to keep the decor deliberately bland in order to enhance any artwork on display. I will probably go for magnolia or some pale pastel shade.

It will be such fun unpacking all my boxes and arranging things where I want them, and hopefully I will end up with an efficient, well designed space which will make working there a truly enjoyable experience, without all the frustrations I have had with my present setup.

Watch this space for the “During” photos, and then the pictures of the room being filled with all my goodies! I can’t wait to get stuck in. This is my dream project in the new house and I’m super excited about it.


  1. How exciting and fun to create a new art space! I look forward to seeing the during and completed project too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Super exciting!!! You are so great at planning every detail. I'll be watching for updates, for sure.

  3. It is no doubt your ARTHaven is going to be SPECTACULAR!!! I can't wait to see it all set up....your new home is beautiful Shoshi....I'm excited ofr you all!!!!!


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