Motivate and drive creativity in your home workspace

 Running a business from home offers flexibility and control over your time. However, it can be difficult to stay motivated and inspired for a full 8-hour day – especially when there’s errands to run and housework to be done. Liz Tu, a busy mother and calligrapher, has mastered running a business from home and looking after two young children. From clever storage to comfort and practicality, Liz takes us on a tour of her space and the elements needed to create a motivating and productive environment.

I’m Liz, the creator of Letter Me!

I am a calligrapher, handletterer and love making things beautiful. I specialise in wedding décor, such as seating charts, place cards and signage, on various mediums such as mirrors, chalkboards, cardstock, wood and acrylic. I run my business from my home studio.

For me, the pros of running a home business far outweighs the cons. It affords me the flexibility of running my own business whilst being a stay-at-home mum to two kids and a dog, allowing me to be involved in their schooling, and working my own hours at my own pace. However, it is not without its own challenges. Being at home means competing priorities, do I complete this client order first, or do I attend to the four loads of laundry, the sink full of dishes and the backyard that is in desperate need of weeding? And don’t get me started on the kids. How do I involve them in my day to day activities? How to be present without being present?

The art of aesthetics

1. Aesthetic

A workspace set for success and creativity, featuring Officeworks’ storage and desk fit-out.

As a calligrapher, I am naturally drawn to aesthetics. When curating my home workspace, I wanted my studio to look professional and stylish, yet at the same time homely and not too “office-like.” With the minimalist look and open plan living in mind, I transformed our front living room into my home office. The clean white space and natural light works best for the photos and videos I capture for my social media channels. For the style and look I was after, I went with a colour theme that included white with splashes of oak/wood tones, greys and mint. The big items such as my desks and storage unit are white because lighter hues open up the room.

Comfort and practicality

6. Practicality

However, it’s not just about aesthetics. For your space to work, it also needs to be functional. In my studio, I have two desks to myself for practicality. As a calligrapher, I need a desk to work on with full accessibility to my pens and tools, however I also need a clear table space to work on my larger pieces, such as mirrors, chalkboard and acrylic signage.

As my clients are predominately couples who are getting married, I often have prospective brides and grooms dropping in for a meeting or picking up their personalised pieces. The additional table also acts as a meeting table and enables an effective and comfortable working space without the need to clear out my work desk.

Bringing the outside, inside

5. Bring the outside in

Not needing to travel to work doesn’t mean that you should feel like you’ve never left the house and that you’re always stuck indoors. Each morning, I open all of the blinds to let the outside in. Having lots of windows, natural lighting and indoor plants really help to boost creativity. Scheduling in regular appointments with my personal trainer also allows my mind and body to work efficiently, as my job predominantly involves sitting down at a desk.

Shared Workspace

4. Shared space

You’ll often hear that it’s best to separate workspace and personal space, however I have chosen to share my workspace with my family. While the workspace is separate from the kitchen, television and the main areas of the house, it doubles as my “studio” and the family study.

Working from home in my home studio allows me to be with the kids and work at the same time. We have set up the kids’ study area adjacent to my studio and a play space in between, so whilst we’re sharing a room, they’re not physically in my space. For my kids, they know that I am close by and they can get my attention when they want it. Admittedly, I am most productive when the kids are at school and kinder, but when they are at home I draw inspiration from my children and their creativity. They love seeing what I do and often ask for their own set of brush pens and chalk markers to create their own personalised pieces.

Smart Storage

2. Smart Storage

I love that my studio is open and minimalistic, however unfortunately, minimalisation and calligraphy do not go hand in hand. The crazy number of pens, inks, tools and materials I have accumulated require space and a smart storage solution. I started decluttering by arranging things so they’re easily accessible but not constantly in the line of sight. It is easier said than done, especially for artists and calligraphers as there are so many supplies. To assist with storage, I use stackable drawers with labels on the outside so I can easily see where things are kept.

Longevity for pens and stationery

3. Longevity

I prefer to store my brush pens, paint markers and chalk markers horizontally. Storing certain pens downwards may cause the pens to leak, whilst storing them upwards may dry out the tip.

There is great debate among the lettering community over whether ballpoint pens and gel pens should be stored upwards or downwards (nib/point). Some say that ballpoint pens should be stored downward so that the ink is at the tip of the pen when you need it. Others say that by storing them downwards, it puts too much pressure on the tip and ink may blob out or leak. Although some dual brush pens can be stored both horizontally or vertically as their ink is pressurized within the pen body, if in doubt, it’s best to store pens horizontal as ink will be more evenly distributed.

Paintbrushes should be stored with the bristles up, whilst pencils (for safety reasons) are best stored pointy side down. To protect the tips from breaking and to keep them sharp, I fill the pen holder with rice or insert a sponge at the bottom.

As horizontal storage takes up desk and drawer space, what works for me are pen holders that have flat sides. Although they are intended to be used vertically, they work just as well horizontally and can be stacked as high as I need them to be. Having them horizontal is not only better for their longevity, but it’s also functional as you can see what you’re actually taking out.

While working from home provides me a greater level of flexibility, it shouldn’t mean that I’m working 24 hours a day, just because I’m at home. I find I’m most productive when I structure my day - exercise, lunch and coffee breaks included!

Working from home also allows your children to see firsthand that success doesn’t just happen, you need to work to make things happen. My daughter now aspires to become a calligrapher herself and loves to pick up a brush pen and write when given the chance. My son, well, he just wants to be a ninja when he grows up.

 

Liz Tu

Liz Tu is a calligrapher, hand letterer, and founder of Letter Me!She specializes in wedding décor and runs her business from her home studio in Melbourne. Liz owns about a million pens, brushes, nibs and bottles of ink, but all are lovingly used!

 

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