Thursday, November 20, 2014

Visually Simplifying...

Last week, I shared with you how I have recently been working towards simplifying things. I was able to purge 60 bags full of stuff from our home and as part of that process, I also simplified things in my studio!

Now, I must preface this by saying that I have always been relatively minimal when it comes to my supplies (more on that in a moment), but what I really addressed in my studio this time was VISUAL simplicity.

Bright light

Soft colors
Less is more

So, grab a cup of coffee, I would love to take you on a tour of my studio and chat a bit about simplicity within our crafting spaces...

But, before we get into that, let's take a look at what my studio looked like the last time I shared it with you all:

That was a little over two years ago. You might notice lots of color, lots of chairs, and lots of stuff!

While the core layout of this space (garage turned interior room by previous homeowner) has stayed relatively the same, I have made quite a few cosmetic changes.

Here is what the studio looks like, as of several weeks ago:

 A major difference, I would say! 
What's the biggest change? Color. 

In the before picture, you can see that I had red and green accents behind the shelving. I painted that myself, many years ago, when I wanted to spruce up the space but had a budget that was practically in the negative. So... I used leftover paint. Hey, it worked and I felt good about the little face lift at the time.

But, fast forward to today and I am striving for simplicity in all things. And, in this case it is VISUAL simplicity.

I found that while the red provided a nice pop of color, it did nothing to aid in the visual calmness. And, when you consider the fact that I am the type of crafter that has to have everything sitting out in order to get it used, I certainly don't need to be unnecessarily adding to the visual clutter by something as simple as paint choice.

So, out went the red and green! I simply covered over it with a tinted primer we had laying around. Easy peasy.
What's the next thing I did? I went and got some pretty trash cans. Silly? Meh. Maybe. But, in my effort to love everything around me, I figured I should have some pretty trash cans that I love too! So, I grabbed some laundry style bins and just love the way they are working! 

See it there? Under my desk. Cute, isn't it? Am I concerned about mucking up the inside with paint and glue and such? Nope! It's a trash can. I have deemed it as such and it shall fulfill it's purpose in my life!

So much of the creative process really is about perspective. What do you see and what do you want to see? Bright or calm colors? Plastic utility bins or pretty fabric ones?

Speaking of perspective, I always find it so helpful to take a photo of a layout while I am working on it, to get a different perspective. Well, the same worked out here. Once I looked at the photo below of my view as I stand at my desk, I notice the visual atrocity that the ugly black chair was...

It's funny, somehow I didn't notice that until I had taken a picture of the space. Guess what? The chair is now gone. YAY! Much better, indeed.

Now, remember what I said about needing to see everything?

Case in point:

But, I must tell you that what you see here is pretty much it. All of my washi is there to the left. All of my paints are on the lazy susan, all of my embellies are in those little wood drawers, and all of my paper bits are to the right there.

Ahhh - but I do like a clean table and this one sits to my right. It doesn't stay this clean, but it provides a wonderful work surface, plus a bit of storage for glitter, embossing folders and chipboard pieces. 

That distressed wood piece to the left? It came home when the laundry bins turned trash cans did. The drawers pull out and the open spaces are the perfect size for embossing folders. I love it and love looking at it! Goal achieved.
My larger papers and working albums are right behind me there. I just love my new light paint and the backdrop it provides for finished cards and special photographs. 
The studio is much more visually simple now! I actually didn't throw anything away. Well, except for the old trashcans. I just lightened things up and added a couple of new and beautiful pieces. How much did this simplicity cost me? $50. That's $30 on the trash bins and $20 for the storage shelf. A small price to pay for simplicity. 

My style has evolved in terms of visual simplicity as well. I am finding great joy in a certain amount of white space. I am learning that less truly can be more. 

For example...

Take a look at these layouts below. The one on the left was done this time, two years ago. The one on the right is from just a couple of weeks ago:
While the differences are pretty obvious between these two pages, I find it interesting to note several similarities...

mist drops with doodled circles
horizontal elements
one photo
use of kraft

Much like in my studio space, there are things that have remained the same... things that are true to my process. But, what I have done is simplify in a way that improves my perspective...perspective on the story and on my process.

LOVE that!

I still limit what I buy. I try not to buy one of everything. If I am liking a trend, I try to only invest in one element and not go overboard. I don't keep too many stickers and embellishments on hand. Not only does this present a storage challenge, but I find it takes me longer to look through my choices and drags out the scrapping process.

I am a fan of making something out of nothing. Scraps can become so many things! Its a time saver, space saver, and money saver to make the most out of what you have purchased!

In fact, I chat about this quite a bit and make lots of things out of nothing in both the Supply Class and Holiday Crafting class with May Flaum. Both are available for purchase here

I also shared some of my thoughts on collecting mixed media supplies in this video here:

More often than not, it is not what we have, but it's our perspective on what we have. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE buying scrappy things. But, I also LOVE using them and I try to make sure these things are equally weighted. 

If my studio space is overrun with visual noise... I am less likely to make things. The visual clutter will preoccupy me to the point of paralysis. That is never good.

So, sometimes we don't need to simplify THINGS, but we need to simplify our VISUAL. What is your view today? How can you simplify it?


  1. I love the changes to your space Ashli! Little changes can make a big impact!!

  2. It looks a lot less cluttered and i love all the white walls.

  3. Beautiful space, you did such a nice job. Michelle t

  4. This room is sooooo you! Put the kettle on, please! I'll be right over to play :)

  5. Such a nice space to create in!
    I am doing the same right now. Majorly reducing my supplies. Too many things are overwhelming me and keeping me from creating!

  6. What a luxury to have such a big room, you've made it so inviting. Funny how important the space we create in can be--a bit of a sanctuary and so personal to each of us. I enjoyed reading about your approach. I also like to keep things simple and good organization is important to me.

  7. So fun seeing where you create, Ashli! Love your space! The lightness mixed with the color of your products looks so pretty!I just blogged about my scrap space too. It's really neat to see people's rooms!

  8. Thank you for the reminder of what is important in life. Love your new space with all the light!

  9. Love your new space! I just watched that awesome video again, (yup...again) and will probably watch again. I have a question do you get the paint off the stamps? I have used plain rubber and just washed them in the sink but I've been afraid to use the foam mounted or wood mounted ones.

  10. So timely! You've done a great job with your space and I really like how you focus on visual simplicity. I've started working on deep cleaning at home and so far, two pick up loads have left the house! More to go...I think my most difficult challenge will be my craft space, but I hear you about too much stuff is stifling. I will work on it!

  11. Ashli,
    I love, love, LOVE this!!!!! I am currently working on simplifying my space too. I have not scraped anything really since May. I am jumping back in with JYC2014 and gonna play a little catch up with my PL, but for the most part, I need things to be simple. So for a while I have been purging supplies etc, and now I am getting everything reorganized. I need simple, usable and not excessive, if that makes sense. Thank you for this. It has given me much inspiration. Blessings ~~ dawn


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