7 Simple Steps to Organizing Your Design Studio

7 Simple Steps to Organizing Your Design Studio

As essential as all those pretty fabric, wallpaper, and flooring samples are to your business, they’re also bulky, heavy, and notoriously hard to keep organized. So it’s all too easy for the design studio that was perfectly tidy at the beginning of the week to devolve into a chaotic explosion of colors, patterns and textures by the end of it. But there’s hope! This 7-step process will help you reassess, reorganize and refresh your design studio so you can transform it into an easy-to-maintain workspace that showcases you and your talents.

Photo courtesy of Sarah O’Dell, Owner/Designer of Dwell Chic Interiors

Written by Elizabeth Brownfield

1. Edit, Edit, Edit

Kick off your studio refresh with a clean sweep. Get rid of catalogs and old samples you don’t use anymore. If you’re unsure whether or not it’s safe to toss them, relegate them to bins in a closet or basement. (Then, create a reminder on your calendar for a few months in the future. What you haven’t pulled out of the bins to use by then, get rid of.)

Photo courtesy of @sisalla_interior_design

2. Take Stock

The most important step to any reorganization is assessing what you have and what your needs are. What types of materials do you have the most of? Are the samples you use most often kept in a handy place, or are they hard to access? Do you want mostly open storage so you can see everything at a glance — or is it more helpful for you to work in a space with closed so there are less visual distractions? Do you see clients in your studio? If so, you may need more materials to be out of sight than if it’s simply an office for your eyes only. Take a little time to assess your needs before you dive into reorganization.

3. Be Your Own Client

As an interior designer, one of your most valuable assets is being able to see your clients’ spaces through fresh eyes so you can determine what’s working…and what isn’t. It’s harder to look at the spaces where we spend our days through that same neutral lens, but try to take a step back to take in your studio anew. 

Do you need more lighting? Where do you need more storage? Is any of your furniture, flooring, or décor showing wear-and-tear? Does the space achieve the vibe that you want it to? If you see clients in your studio, does it give the first impression that you want it to, and that’s reflective as you as a designer? Considering these questions will help evolve your space in the way that makes the most sense for you.

Photo by @capturedbyelyse via @alison_giese

4. Get Inspired

Organizing bulky samples and other materials that come in all different shapes, sizes, and weights can be tricky. Get inspired by these clever tips and tricks from Ivy designers who’ve cracked the code on organizing their studios. 

5. Corral the Chaos

Channel that inspiration into picking the storage that’s right for you and your workspace. You’ll most likely need a mix of open and closed storage: bookshelves for catalogs and sample books. Baskets, bins, or hanging storage for smaller items like fabric swatches. And filing cabinets, folders, or the like for keeping all your paperwork like purchase orders, invoices, and receipts organized. 

Once you’ve sorted your samples into the storage options that work best for each type, it will be a whole lot easier to maintain a system of organization.

Photo by @laura.delacruz ⁣via @barbara_sweetser

6. Make a Designated Space for Messes

That said…let’s be real: there are going to be plenty of days when you don’t have the time or energy to put each and every sample back in its place. So create a designated space where you can drop things temporarily until you have a moment to deal with them. 

Maybe it’s a row of hooks where you can hang sample-filled bags when you return from a client meeting, a cubby for stashing in-process project folders, or a big basket for transferring wallpaper samples out of your work bag. Then if you go looking for a swatch and can’t find it, you’ll know it’s in your holding zone, and you won’t turn your whole office upside-down racing to find it in time for your next client meeting.

7. Stage Your Space

After all that hard work, reward yourself with a few of the flourishes you might reserve for staging one of your finished projects for photographs. Think fresh flowers, potted succulents, a pretty new objet, art print, or wall hanging. Then all that’s left to do is to enjoy and be invigorated by your newly refreshed workspace.