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August 05, 2020 6 min read

You want to think clearly? Do your best practicing / writing? You need an organized space. A decluttered space. A warm space that invites you to come back to it.

The internet abounds with articles about this: An organized space allows you to focus better.

In this post, I'll show you what I did to transform my own home studio office. Please note, this article contains affiliate links. (Thanks for your support!)

(Pro tip: Get an organized friend to help!)

The righteous mess that was my studio

Boxes shoved into my desk

boxes shoved into my desk

Mic stands thrown in the corner

 Mic stands thrown in the corner

Cables on the floor and shoved into cabinets all higgledy-piggledy

 cables on floor

...and plaguing the top of my desk.

 cables on my desk

Two clients I work with (Rita and Heidi) offered to trade my lessons and songwriting for their design and organization. Of course I said yes, and we got to work!

The plan

The plan was threefold:

1. Make better use of the space (rearrange furniture)

2. Get organized

3. Decorate

1. Make better use of the space

One of the corners in my studio is, annoyingly, a curved wall, which used to have these keyboards in it (pictured here on the right):

keyboards in curve

Rita and Heidi also said they didn't like that the piano was just shoved into the corner (above, left.)

They both thought the piano should be centered on the wall. After rearranging it as they suggested, I now had better use of the space with the curve:

better use of curved wall

The bookcase now at a right angle with the piano creates the illusion of a square corner and affords more space in which to move.

2. Get Organized

Time to clean.

Tell me if this sounds familiar - I'm a highly creative person and easily distracted by new ideas. I often sit for twenty or thirty minutes just considering a project in my head, and usually not very productively - my thoughts go in circles.

Can you relate? If so, get an organized friend to help you stay on task and hold the vision of the final space. (Rita was this person for me, and I could not have done all this without her.)

Rita reminded me that lists are an excellent way to stop the mental spinning. So I spent twenty minutes or so listing every little detail that I needed to do, and as I went through the list, some things needed to be reordered - but it was much easier to do on paper, and I didn't get caught in the whirlwind of thoughts.

Lists are an excellent way to stop the mental spinning.

The list was also a great reminder of what I had already done, because when I was  in the middle of it all it was so easy to think I was not accomplishing anything.

In fact, the middle of the project was worse than when I started:

in the middle of organizing worse than before

A big reason for all the clutter was not having a good storage solution for my various stands, cables and microphones.

For three days I scoured the internet for used "armoires", "wardrobes", "closets", and "credenzas."

I finally found one listed for $75. I negotiated for $60, and drove 2 hours round trip to pick it up, but at long last I had a place to store everything!

cabinet

Now that I had a place to store things, it was time to get serious about cleaning and organizing. I didn't want to just shove things into the cabinet, either - I wanted it to be organized as well.

I decided to install Command Hooks for the cables, and Broom Holders to hold my mic stands in place.

Once the cabinet was ready for cables and mic stands, it was time to organize the rest of the space. There were cables on top of my desk that couldn't go anywhere else, so I wanted to hide them better.

I used Cable Clips to run cables along the side of my desk that didn't need to live on top of my desk, and I used Command Strips to move the power strip from the top of my desk to the side.

Power strip attached to side of desk with command strips

Cables from top of desk now hidden

There was also a cable jungle in the corner on the floor, which I was able to tidy up with the help of a Cable Raceway.


3. Decorate

Adding budget sound treatments to my studio

My studio is smallish at 10 x 15 feet, has tile floors, (had) almost no wall decor, and no window dressings. Translation: lots of unwanted reverb.

I've lived with this fact for about a year, and I decided while we are redoing the whole office, I may as well do my best to treat for sound.

Now, if you google this, you'll find a lot of expensive acoustical treatments you can hang on the wall, or solutions that involve breaking into ceilings and drywall.

I'm a renter on a budget, so that was out.

Instead, I looked into ways I could deaden the room with cheap, nondestructive ideas.

I cannot stress this enough: CURTAINS!!

JUST HANGING THE CURTAINS made SUCH a difference. In fact if I had done nothing else for the sound but hang the curtains, I would have been happy to stop considering further acoustical treatments.

Now, take note about the curtains: If they're not thick and/or insulated curtains, they won't help with the sound. Thin, breezy summer curtains will do nothing but look pretty. Here are the ones I got, and here's the curtain rod.

Keeping sound treatments in mind, Rita and Heidi found some canvasses to hang on the wall, and floor rug to throw down. Truthfully, the curtains and the rug are doing most of the work there - but the canvasses still look great.

(I also picked up some weatherseal tape and door draft stoppers to fill the gaps in the doors to my studio, to help keep out the sound from the rest of the house. Doesn't block 100% but definitely helps to reduce the sound.)

Lighting

I dislike overhead lights in general, and the one in my office is a particularly harsh white light, so I never use it. Lighting was therefore a big consideration.

I already had a floor lamp. Rita found me a table lamp, and here's the big kicker - I ordered a couple of inexpensive bluetooth LED color changing light bulbs, which I can set to normal soft yellow light or any other color I want, right from my phone!

Studio with Purple Lights

Adding Color to my Desk

I got this PVC Table Cloth Cover for my desk, so that underneath it we could put down a red fabric that tied in with the red curtains and canvasses. This brought some color to my desk, giving it a more finished look than the bare wood. And Rita was kind enough to create a cutout of my company name and place it there as well!

Top of desk

Installation day

So, the space is now properly arranged, cleaned and organized. All that's left is decor! Rita and Heidi took care of that for me - wall hangings, reupholstered chairs, a rug and a storage ottoman!

On "installation day", they kicked me out for about two hours while they added the final decor to the room - HGTV style.


 

A lot of work - but worth it!

The transformation of this room took a lot of work, but it was so worth it. Now when I wake up in the morning, I can't wait to get to my studio office and get to work practicing or creating videos or teaching.

Walking into this space is like being transported into a different world. It does something to my brain, that says: Hey, we're here to work, let's get to it.

Thanks for reading, and I hope some of this helps you to create a great space of your own!

If you're in Houston, TX and you'd like to work with Rita, self-described "flea-market designer" and organizer, you can email her here.

If you need my help with songwriting, music production or piano lessons, click here to schedule a Zoom meeting with me now!

The products I used

Here's a list of all the products I linked to in this article:

Command Hooks for hanging cables in the cabinet.

Broom Holders for holding mic stands in the cabinet.

Cable Clips for hiding cables along the desk.

Command Strips for holding the power strip to the side of the desk.

Cable Raceway for organizing the cable jungle on the floor.

Curtains for decoration and to help reduce reverb.

Curtain Rod for holding the curtains.

Weatherseal Tape to fill the gap in between the doors to reduce sound.

Door Draft Stoppers to fill the gap underneath the doors to reduce sound.

Govee Bluetooth LED Color Changing Light Bulbs because they're freakin' cool! and I can change them with the app from my phone.

PVC Table Cloth Cover so we could lay red fabric underneath and add color to the desk.

Andy Grall
Andy Grall


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