How To Stage Your Home For Creativity

typewriter on shelf

Is your home staged for creativity?

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Have you set the stage in your home for maximum creativity potential?

It’s been a year since we sold our four bedroom home in Oklahoma and downsized to a 850 sq. foot apartment in Kentucky. We were excited for the job opportunity for Keeper Hubby, but not too keen on what it would take to get there. Our real estate agents advised removing most of our personal items and use key components to ’stage’ our home so buyers saw it in its best light. As we still had to live in the house until it sold, every time we got a call from a realtor asking for a showing, it became a race to make sure everything was ’stage perfect’. I’m sure many of you have experienced this. Talk about nerve racking!

I also became well-acquainted with the ins and outs of craigslist as I sold everything from jewelry to computer parts to book shelves to our living room furniture to downsize. (FYI, there is a buyer for almost anything you need to sell, no matter how inconsequential it may seem.)

When we got settled into out new nest, we purchased some living room furniture better sized for the small area. But one thing was missing: my office. After Artist Daughter moved out of the family home, I turned her bedroom into my own creative office space. It had only taken 25 years to get it! LOL

home office photo by kristin nador

My former happy home office

But now there is no room for an office. There is barely enough room for the student-style desk I kept. As in, there is room for the desk, no room to sit down. What to do?

Whether you are a writer, blogger, photographer, artist, musician, and everything in between, every creative needs time and space for creativity. You deserve it and the world needs your works.

While dealing with this issue, I discovered three main concepts that, just like staging your home for a sale, can help you stage your home for creativity.

Three steps to reinvent your space for creative output:

1. Remove clutter from your space

Clutter drains your energy that could be used for creative work. It also can in turn cause negative feelings of being overwhelmed, stressed, and guilt. There are many systems for decluttering, from a 4-box method (keep, throw away, give away, storage) to only keeping a certain number of items (33 clothing items, etc.), to giant weekend purges. Pick what method works best for you, but the most important thing to ask is ‘How does this item enhance my life?’

Even after all my downsizing, I spent this April, which was the one year anniversary of our move, going through things and asking myself whether I had even touched an item during the year. If not, why am I keeping it when my space is at such a premium?

Make your photos, books, and collectibles eye-catching and meaningful to you. A photo from a great vacation can be transformed into an inspiring art print of a beautiful landscape. Instead of a bunch of random nick-nacks, choose one that pops with color, and belonged to your grandmother.

pitcher set, photo by kristin nador

my beloved pitcher set, belonged to my great-grandmother

 

You won’t resent their presence, or the energy you have to expend to care for them. Remember, you expend energy every day to care for your items – you or someone in your household works for a paycheck to pay the mortgage/rent to house those items. Sometimes we even buy our items their own home – hello storage units!

Forget about trends, make room for what you truly love and brings joy to you.

 

2. Adapt your creative space

Just because you don’t have one area big enough doesn’t mean you don’t have the space for creative activities. You don’t have to have an entire room. Pick a corner, pick a box, pick a basket! When I realized I wasn’t going to get my office back, I reached back to an idea from my homeschooling days. For our homeschool studies we set up learning centers all around the house for the kids, like a math center with blocks, beads, magnetic numbers, dominoes, etc. and a music center with kid instruments, a tape player with microphone, and later a piano. Instead of learning centers, I have made creativity centers in my apartment: the ‘library’ where the few precious books I kept are attractively shelved, a mobile art area where I keep my coloring pencils and color books, and my writing station, with books, journals and files stacked on my desk.

home library, photo by kristin nador

all my favorite books

coloring books and pencils, photo by kristin nador

Getting inspired with color

 

Organize your supplies to make them aesthetically inviting to use. If possible, make your creative space mobile. That way you can adapt to what you need and what your space needs. With some nice boxes, baskets, or a mobile cart you can easily move from the kitchen table to the bedroom and back, if you need to straighten when company shows up.

Consider the mess quotient and attend to your space like a garden. When the ‘weeds’ of disorganization take over your spaces, you’ll be less likely to indulge your creative whims when it looks like all you’ll be doing is cleaning and organizing instead of enjoying a project.

Don’t forget to make room for collecting creative ideas. Build your own idea center: you can use a whiteboard and dry erase markers, post-its , bulletin board, even your refrigerator and magnets, or go digital with apps like Evernote and Pinterest boards.

3. Prime other areas of your house for creativity

Even though you might not use all the spaces in your home specifically for your creative pursuits, you can still use them to keep you inspired. Consider Feng Shui techniques when decorating your rooms. Feng Shui is a Chinese art of placement of your surroundings to promote good energy flow in your home. It’s a mindset that your home can promote the best atmosphere for calm, creativity, or energy with furniture placement and colors.

McCaine painting, Flowers, photo by kristin nador

My favorite wall art. Surround yourself with art that inspires you.

If that seems extreme for your needs, giving a room a little color may help creativity, focus, or mood. Color psychology has been used by the advertising and marketing industries for decades, so why not put it to use to help you reach your creative goals? If yellow traditionally promotes energy and warmth and focus, add a bright yellow throw pillow to the armchair where you sit to write, some cheerful wall art with swathes of yellow, or paint your walls in soft sunset colors. But you don’t have to stay married to traditional color psychology. Hate yellow? Pick whatever color you like and add it to your space in whatever way you find pleasing. The important thing is that you make it as inspirational a space to YOU as possible.

Lighting and noise are also areas you can control in your home to promote creativity. Some creative practices require bright light, but a dark and dim space may also promote freedom of thought, which in turn will give you a burst of creative activity. So try working with the curtains open, or by candlelight. If you can, try to eliminate harsh fluorescent overhead lighting, and add softer indirect lamplight around your rooms. Everyone is different so be open to experimentation.

Are you someone who works better with noise in the background, or do you need silence to focus on your project? Ambient noise can help mask abrupt noise distractions and keep your focus where it needs to be. Of course, when you share your creative space with others, some noise can be out of your control. How about wearing noise-canceling headphones? Running a white noise machine or app? Or if the sounds of a coffee shop do well for your background noise, make your special creative space mobile and head out for a cuppa or two.

Comfort and temperature can influence your creative space. Keep throw blankets near your creative space, waiting for you and your muse to snuggle up with, or sit near a window to let the cool breeze ruffle your inspiration. Have you thought about your seating? Do you have one really comfy spot where you can sit, think, and let the imagination flow?

Let something green makes its home in your creative space. Studies show that houseplants in a work environment make workers up to 40% more productive and creative. Why not use plants to your advantage? If you’re like me and don’t have the greenest of thumbs, start with one easy-to-grow plant and see how it goes.

Minimize distractions to creativity in your house. Are you ready to get extreme? Put a lovely curtain over your TV screen and cut down on the cable. Turn social media, the Godzilla of distraction for creatives, off on your computer and smart phone.

Maybe you hope to have that dream office, studio, or writing shed someday. Keep it alive in your imagination with a few key design pieces, make a vision poster, or collect ideas for it on a Pinterest board.

If you’ve ever replaced your carpet, painted the rooms, and scrubbed your home sparkling clean in order to sell it, you know that ah-ha moment of “Why didn’t I do this before so I could enjoy it myself?” Staging your home for creativity might bring the same “Why didn’t I do this before?” feeling. Throw off regret, enjoy your space today, no matter how big or small, and create!

What’s your tip to keep the creativity flowing in your home? Share in the comments or continue the conversation over at our blog Facebook page.

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Write Anywhere #81: Weekend Wanderings

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Do you ever plan to NOT make a plan?

I am a planner. I have lists, and lists of lists. It’s not that I am necessarily skilled at fulfilling the plan, but giving myself structure helps me make progress. Even with all my planning, I find myself in a general pattern of creative ups and downs. Spurts of creative productivity punctuated by dry spells  filled with frustration, anxiety, and low spirits. I’m working at being more balanced, but it will be a lifetime journey.

I don’t do well at spontaneous. It can even make me nervous. That whole facade of control, you know.

Some days though, the stars align, and I agree to throw out the list for the day. Keeper Hubby is good at helping me do that. He helps me get out of my always-so-serious mode and enjoy the moment, live in the present, and laugh at myself. Another one of so many reasons that he is a Keeper. ;)

We spent a day letting nothing in particular dictate our plans, and it refreshed my creative focus. Read More


Unexpected Joy In Ordinary Places

sari, photo courtesy Thamizhpparithi Maari, Creative Commons on blog kristin nador writes anywhere

sari, photo courtesy Thamizhpparithi Maari, Creative Commons

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

In the spring of 2011 Artist Daughter and I were trying out hairdos for her upcoming nuptials.

A.D. wanted to take a trial run at the local cosmetology school and experiment with ringlets before she committed to anything for her big day. She encouraged me to try some curls, too, so we could ‘match’. I knew that wasn’t going to happen.

The reflection in the mirror said it all. In spite of all the hair dryers, curling irons, mousse, hairspray, and the stylist’s expertise, my hair hung in limp stringy bunches. My stick straight hair refused to hold an actual curl as long as I could remember, even during the big perm years of the ’80s. Instead of curls, my helmet of lumpy frizz bookmarks the year 1985 in photo albums and knocked me off chemical hair processes forever.

Sitting in the chair, I didn’t worry about the botched curls, though my student-stylist nervously apologized. I had too many other things to focus my anxiety on. My daughter’s wedding going off without a hitch, the issue of my husband’s upcoming surgery the week after the wedding, and how long his recovery might affect our finances. I distractedly bit my nails and watched the stylist orchestrate Daughter’s hair, a round brush in one hand and a hair dryer in the other.

I heard a commotion at the front of the salon area. I turned my chair and there he stood: A bright bundle of unexpected joy.

“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.”  – Henri Nouwen

A small boy, about 5 years old I guessed, led the way into the salon, a large contingent of relatives trailing behind him. Shoulder-length brown curls framed his face, his toothy grin contrasting against cappuccino skin. He wore a simple white cotton tunic, in contrast to the bright silk saris of royal blue, magenta, and purple of his female relatives. Dark eyes looked from person to person with a sparking curiosity. He chose a chair and clambered up without hesitation.

The matriarch of the group attempted to explain to the stylist what was expected. When the language barrier became too much, one of a trio of giggling teenage girls translated. Older female relatives clucking amongst one another surrounded the boy’s mother, who seemed very nervous, while the grandfather stood near the young father, patting him on the back periodically. The boy was completely oblivious to all the hubbub and made faces at himself in the mirror across from him.

The cosmetology students gathered in a group, whispering together. It was some sort of religious tradition, the boy’s first haircut. A tradition or rite of passage of some type was about to take place. The problem: the hair had to be cut in a single line, and none could touch the floor. They had to put it in a large zipped plastic bag, to take home for a ceremony.

The original stylist begged off, and the others were too afraid of screwing it up to step forward. Finally, it fell to the school’s head teacher to do the job. She squared her shoulders and walked up to the group, and a lot of head nodding and smiling commenced.

As the teacher took up her scissors, all the room fell silent. Every eye watched, the family clutched one another. The teacher rubbed the boy’s bobbing head, she whispered something in his ear. He sat still, eyes wide in anticipation, still grinning. How the teacher pulled off the move I don’t know, but with two hands she managed to hold the boy’s head, cut his thick hair in one straight line, and lump all the hair into the baggie she held without dropping any.

The family breathed a collective sigh of relief. The bag was handed off. As the hairdresser set her scissors on the counter and before anyone could say anything, a sound broke the silence.

Laughter. Laughter bubbled out of the boy like a bird’s song. Pure, free, unencumbered by the worries of proper haircuts or mothers or fathers or hairstylists or the world. Laughter pealing like church bells marking the call to worship. Laughter full of joy, just because.

The family hugged one another, smiled and nodded to the hairdresser, and just as they entered, they left, the boy marching at the head of the group. Our eyes met as he passed, and that happy little pixie cast a spell that whispered to my heart “Throw off the shadows of what might be and receive each ordinary moment as a gift.”

The women walked past, the mother dabbing her eyes with a tissue as their saris swished a goodbye across the concrete floor. Like each of the beautiful dresses, it reminded me that every family has its own unique fabric, yet we are all the same.

Daughter’s hair was finished. Luxurious chestnut spirals surrounded porcelain cheeks and sapphire eyes.

“What do you think, Mom?”

I glanced at my droopy hair in the mirror, pulled a tissue from my pocket, and laughed.

When have you been surprised by joy?

 

 

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