Solution to the Studio Space Struggle

Those of us with home studios know how hard it is to create a functional space within the confines of home – especially when you live in a coastal flood plain where basements and garage space aren’t available as storage alternatives.

Warning: If you want to get to the good bits and avoid reading my convoluted post, skip to the last few paragraphs and photo of my homemade canvas drying and print storage rack. For the easily entertained, read on…

My 12 x 12 studio has also been serving as a writing and quilting space. That means I can only use the room for one pursuit at a time. So I paint for a solid week, with the rest of the room wrapped in its shroud of cheap dollar store shower curtains to prevent errant paint dabs on fabric, writing files, etc.  Since I work on several canvases at a time, I am forever tiptoeing around (and often knocking over) wet paintings propped up around the room. The mess is virtually everywhere with 8 to 10 wet canvases forming an obstacle course in an already cluttered workspace.

Then, when I need to change focus, I shift the shower curtains to the painting supplies and easel-painted side against the art stuff, and sew madly to catch up on my quilt projects, or haul the easel and side table out of the way to set up the writing desk by the window to work on my book.

The problem with this system is that I have to work against my muses. Sometimes I don’t feel like painting during my painting week. Maybe my writing muse decides to abandon me on my designated writing week. The work required to move, cover, and rearrange everything usually meansI turned around and walked out of the studio, not having accomplished anything.

The addition of paper prints means that I have now added to the storage dilemma since these things need to be stored flat. So I have embarked on a mission to streamline and organize.

The mess created by painting requires the greatest amount of clean up time so it makes sense to dedicate the room to painting only.

Fortunately, my son moved out (only kidding, Paul, I DO miss you but I love your room, too) so his former bedroom now sports a writing desk and bookshelf of research and reference materials. Easy fix. As long as the desk remains clean, the room is shipshape for guests.

The quilting takes up a lot of space – sewing machine, cutting table, ironing space, fabric.  So, I am opting to quilt only in the same months one should eat oysters. If you are now confused, there is an old wives’ tale you should only eat oysters in months with an “R” in them, so May through August are out. This corresponds perfectly with the months in which we receive a lot of beach guests, so my sewing machine and Ikea sawhorses and cutting/ironing boards will be moved into a corner of the studio in summer (I never have time to quilt in the summer anyway) and back into the spare room for the other three seasons, leaving my art studio to be, well, a studio. The fabric drawers tuck nicely into a closet and still leave room for guests to hang things during visits, plus it is all out of sight most of the time. This has the added bonus of not reminding my dear husband just how much fabric has been purchased.


My wet canvas/ print storage issues were solved with a little Yankee ingenuity, and this is really the point of this post. I saw a number of homemade racks from wood, but they seemed bulky and heavy. Plus, they required the use of power tools and, frankly, that was too much work for me. So I perused Pinterest and Amazon and an alternative solution formed in my brain. I picked up a 48″ wide, 72″ tall, 18″ deep, metal rack at the local big box home store. It basically snaps together. They have cheaper, lighter plastic versions of this too, and they would work just as well since the canvases are light, but I figured this rack may eventually be used elsewhere and the metal was sturdier. Then I bought a light gauge roll of wire, easily twisted and cut. Only tools needed were a pair of wire cutters and a rubber mallet. The rest was easy.

I now have a canvas drying rack with print storage on two shelves. If I need a large drying space for a big painting I can still employ the trusty shower curtains on top of the prints and packaging materials and lay an oversized canvas on top. No more tripping on wet work, no more obstacle course. I also grabbed an old kitchen rack for drying dishes or storing pot lids for small works of 12″ or less.

Cost: < $100 (plastic would be even cheaper, < $50) Not tripping over wet paintings and having room to breathe in the studio, Priceless.



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