Working from home as a ceramic artist has the potential to feel isolating.
With this in mind, coupled with our dreams of someday opening a gallery-coffee shop combination, my husband and I made the decision to turn our living room into a creative, co-working/art studio space that’s open for anyone we know to pull up a chair with their laptop, a book, or an art project.
And so we put my MA degree in Interior Design to work: the room melds my pottery studio with coffee-shop-style seating where our friends can bring whatever they’re working on to spend time in a collaborative atmosphere. A friend of mine named it ‘Les Dames’, or ‘The Women’, and my goal was to make it feel bright, airy, feminine, and cheerful. A safe place for any woman to come as she is, drink copious amounts of coffee and tea, feel loved, and just get stuff done.
A haven for creatives
with all of the coffee and tea you want provided.
My Style: Creative, Modern, and Inviting.
Inspiration: I feel inspired by Old World coffee shops, where creatives used to gather and discuss ideas and art. I hope my space is a modern version of places that people like Monet and Van Gogh spent time.
Favorite Element: My espresso machine. There’s just something about grinding my own espresso, steaming my own milk, and then pouring it together into a mug that I created out of earth and fire that hits my soul in the best possible spot. And I LOVE to share that with friends—being able to craft a beverage and serve it to someone in a functional piece of art is so special to me.
Biggest Challenge: Keeping the space dust free is a constant effort. Making pottery can be a hazard because dry, unfired clay contains silica, and if dried clay is broken or crushed it releases that silica into the air. Chronic inhalation of silica can lead to “potter’s lung,” or “silicosis”—basically, the particles are too large and heavy for your lungs to expel so they just build up in your lungs. It’s a terrible illness. I work hard to consistently wipe down the surfaces of the room with wet sponges and to mop the floor every day or two so that clay dust won’t be an issue. I don’t want to mess around with clay dust and my friends’ (or my!) lungs.
Painting the 12’ tall accent wall was a dream. I love how feminine and textural the mix of subtle greens, pinks, and browns look. It took a long weekend, a very tall ladder, and five colors of paint (all rescued from the “mistakes” pile at Home Depot) to create.
What Friends Say: “This room is so charming!” and “When can I come back?” are the most frequent comments I hear. I also get a lot of comments on my four paintings of the women. They really stand out in the room, and while most people know I’m a potter, not everyone knows that I also paint, so they can be a real conversation starter.
Biggest Indulgence: Our West Elm chandeliers. I struggled to give myself permission to buy them—not only are they expensive, but I had previously purchased our couch and side chair from West Elm, and I was wary of making it look like a West Elm show room. But there was zero overhead lighting, and as an art studio where I do lots of fine detail work good lighting was paramount. I haven’t regretted it for a moment!
Interior Design Advice: Try to collect items that speak to you, slowly and over time. Pick up artwork that’s unique to your life, or places you’ve been. You have an innate style, and instead of curating a home from magazines or imitation, I think homes are most authentic and inviting when they’re a combination of things that are special to the people who live there. Be fearless and unapologetic about what you love and collect to make your space! Just like people, each home should have an individual spirit, unique to it alone. If you’re careful about pulling in the things that are meaningful or beautiful to you then your home will have impact and be attractive to the people who love you, because it will read as an extension of yourself.