How to Set Up a Home Art Studio on A Budget

Virginia Woolf was right. If you want to unleash your creative spirit, it helps to have a dedicated space of your own be it a revamped bedroom or a tiny closet you’ve dutifully transformed. Though creating a home studio from scratch can feel like more of a “maybe someday…” reach than an obtainable goal — especially if you’re working on a tight budget — we’re here to tell you that the idea  may be a lot easier to implement than you might imagine.

For a little inspiration on how to carve out a creative place in your own home or backyard (without taking a sledge hammer to bank account) we asked interior designers to bestow us with a bit of wisdom and inspiration.  

Find a Space — Big, Small, or Tiny — and Stake Your Claim

Your first step in setting up a home art studio is finding a space you can claim as your own. Maybe the space is a guest room that’s mostly unused, a portion of your laundry room, a mudroom, a corner in your garage, or even a backyard shed that’s just collecting junk. If it seems like you don’t have anything viable as is, don’t get bogged down in logistics just yet. 

“When on a budget, it's important to get creative and have rooms and spaces in your home that serve multiple purposes,” notes Caroline Grant, an interior designer for Dekar Design. “Build a custom desk within a space of your home that can be disguised as a console table, or employ pocket cabinet doors that can be opened and closed to hide or reveal leg space for the desk.”

Another option is to consider a backyard shed or greenhouse, which you can buy premade at most home improvement stores and then assemble yourself (you’ll just need to bring in a portable AC/heater). Still stumped? Consider creating a small studio workspace in a walk-in or medium-sized closet.

“If you’re transforming a closet, simply remove the doors, add a desk —  [standing desks are great space savers] — and then install wall-to-wall shelves above. If you have the space, wall-mount a task lamp as a sconce to keep the desk space clear,” says interior designer Anne Hepfer.

The moral of the story here is that you’ve got options. Just think as creatively about the actual space as the work you do inside said space.

 Personalize Your Home Studio Space from Top to Bottom

“It’s so important to have a working space you love and that is your sanctuary. The right space makes it easier to work while breeding creativity,” says Liz Toombs, interior designer for PDR Interiors. She adds, “Style does not have to be sacrificed for function in a home studio. As with the rest of the rooms in your home, an office requires and deserves planning to make it a space that is useful and reflective of your personality.”

Start by choosing a paint color that will stimulate your creative energy. Toombs says to choose a neutral, but inspiring, color — one that’s not too dark or too bright. She says, “Paint that is too bright can make you feel wired, which can lead to trouble focusing. Dark paint can make you feel tired instead of alert and ready to work. Your goal is to find a color you love in a tone that is muted enough to foster positive workflow.”

Next, add creative touches throughout your space that will inspire you further. Maybe it’s wall art that you’ve created yourself, a beautiful tapestry you picked up on sale, framed accolades, awards, or photos, or a one-of-a-kind piece you found at the local thrift shop.

You can also personalize your DIY studio space with a fun rug, plants, curtains, a cozy chair (if you have the room), and lighting. As Hepfer mentioned, wall-mounted lighting is ideal for small spaces. In addition to sconces, consider self-hung chandeliers and standing floor lamps. One more tip? When in doubt, choose white linen lampshades -- the most likely to put off the kind of soft, ambient light that won’t distract you from your work.

For Best Creative Results, Keep Your Space Organized

Organization is key for any room, but it becomes absolutely vital if you’re working in a small space.

“I recommend using a combination of open and closed storage. Open storage options allow for easy access to items that you use the most, while the rest can be tucked away in closed storage,” says Toombs. “Built-ins and floating shelves are ideal for open storage solutions. However, if they are out of your budget or not possible in your space, another way to create functional storage is with a free-standing shelving unit.”

 Affordable freestanding shelving units are pretty easy to come by, especially if you’re keen on thrifting or using second-hand apps like Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp. Even if the shelving unit isn’t the prettiest (like a worn-out wooden shelf or a metal filing cabinet), you can flex your creative prowess and give it a makeover.

“If you have an old cabinet that you would like to refresh, it can be painted with electrostatic paint for a new look. When it comes to choosing a color, you can go bold to bring happiness into your office, or you can choose a color that blends well with your walls and other furniture,” says Toombs.

To further organize, use baskets or opaque containers to hide knick-knacks, trinkets, creative supplies, or other items you wish to conceal. Just make sure they’re clearly labeled so that you never have to go on the hunt for something specific. Use open shelves to display your visually pleasing items, says Toombs. Or, if you simply do not have enough space for storing everything, allocate another part of your home for storage and designate your studio as a strictly creative zone. 

The bottom line is that however tiny or humble your studio space, you can customize it in a way that brings both expresses your creativity and invites you to harness it into your work. Best of all? It’s all yours. So get building!

Want to learn more about decorating your home and workspace? Havenly’s Skillshare Originals class on interior design basics will help you create the cozy, beautiful living environment of your dreams.