How To Purge Creative Supplies (Or How A Standing Desk Caused Me to Finally Purge My Studio)

by Holly Marsh May 17, 2021

My husband and I have both worked remotely for years, and he got a standing desk last fall. While I didn't think I needed a standing desk at the time, seeing him having a little more flexibility to his workspace got me thinking about my own. I'm doing more and more freelancing and working with clients than strictly production/sewing work, which means I'm at my computer a lot during the day. So in January, I opted to finally get a standing desk.

marshmueller-studio-standing-desk
Image Description: Standing desk with office supplies, laptop, coffee mug in front of a window.

I do think it's funny that it took a pandemic for us to both upgrade our workspaces with standing desks. I LOVE mine- more than I thought I would! I mean, it's a desk.It has USB ports on the side, touch controls with memory, so I have settings for standing and sitting saved. And it's on the smaller side, which is a good thing for someone who tends to see flat empty surfaces as an opportunity to put stuff on. Thanks, ADHD brain...

BUT-- there was a cost to this desk. A cost beyond the monetary price I paid for the actual desk.

I had to find a place IN my studio for the desk. 

Before the schoolyear began, Rob and I managed to find desks for the kids for remote learning, and my oldest's is in his room (which is also upstairs), my youngest's room isn't as large. Plus he was starting kindergarten and needed a little more supervision than my fourth grader. 

So his desk was set up in my studio. 

Remote-learning-studio
Image Description: A boy sitting at a (constantly) messy desk, hard at work on his kindergarten worksheets in Marshmueller's studio.

We make it work. It means I don't have immediate access to the closet in the studio, but I don't need to get in there often. 

With Ben's desk AND my incoming standing desk, my studio needed a change.

So I spent three weekends going through everything. 

And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Every nook and cranny, every cubby, shelf, or built-in drawer, it was purged. 

Three weekends seems like a long-ass time to purge a room, but you have to understand, it's parting with creative supplies. Marie Kondo may have devoted an entire category to decluttering memorabilia and sentimental items, but when you're a creative, supplies should be considered its own category outside of komono. 

The purging and organization was needed. It's been five years in this space, and my business has grown and evolved. 

I'm not usually one to hoard things, especially if I don't use it. My struggle is usually devoting the time it takes to purge things throughout my house. 

Creative supplies? That's a different story. 

Story time: my mom gave me an old Singer sewing machine while I was in college. It managed to do some hemming on jeans (because I needed to do that with literally every pair of jeans I bought), and make a Tinkerbell Halloween costume, but I didn't use it often. 

When Rob and left college and I moved to a 500-square-foot studio apartment in downtown Portland (with rent that was $525 a month!! Cripes, we're old.), we had a post-college-life purge. The sewing machine was part of that purge. I didn't need it- papercrafting was my jam at the moment! 

Plus, that Singer was a pain in the arse to thread. 

Fast forward a few years, and who started gravitating toward sewing again? Yep, me. 

My in-laws gifted me a Hello Kitty Janome and it was PERFECT and cute. 

hello-kitty-janome-sewing-machine
Image Description: a seafoam green Hello Kitty sewing machine on a white table with sewing tools and a thread rack hanging on the wall behind it.

Eventually, I upgraded my machine to the Tula Pink Bernina I sew with today, but this was a lesson that I've carried with me throughout my creative career: 

It's hard to purge creative supplies. 

My typical mantras that I use to declutter the rest of my house (Does it spark joy, do we use it often, yada yada) just...don't apply to creative supplies in some cases. 

I might not have needed a button cover kit in a few years, but dammit, when I'm working on a project that needs it, it sure is convenient to have one handy instead of having to stop a project to go get one. 


So in this three-weekend marathon of studio purging, I developed a different mantra for parting with creative supplies: 

The Purging Creative Supplies Test

1- Does it have a designated home?

If it does, then make sure it's in its home. If it doesn't have a home, is it important enough to keep to make a home for it? If it is important enough, that usually means I need to displace something else to make room for it. 

2- If I don't use it, and need another one in the future, is this thing something I can easily buy again?

If the answer is yes, then into the donation box it goes. If it's something that would be tough to re-purchase (fabric, patterns, some books), AND I wanted to keep it, then I found that I would create a home for it. 

While it was a bit maddening to spend three weekends up in the studio purging, it sure felt good when it was done. I had rearranged some things, and even taped out an area for the desk (mostly so I wouldn't arrange something over the top of it- my spatial abilities aren't the best). 

When my desk finally arrived, I was ready. It fit beautifully into the taped-off area I had designated for it. 

I still make little adjustments here and there in the space, but it works so well for my current needs. 

Stay tuned for another post in a few weeks showing off my updated space!

Thanks for reading.

xoxo


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