We've known Sharilyn for years now, a friend whose warm personality is only matched by her inspiring abilities as a designer. As a well regarded hand crafts and stationery designer, Sharilyn's assortment of organizational, graphic, decorative and ephemera based products are highly coveted, sold directly through her site, lovelydesign. But in the last several years, her focus online has naturally shifted to sharing her life experiences and inspirations as a mother, with a website that reveals the beautiful and creative in the every day moments shared with her daughter Adelaide...Sharilyn was kind enough to take some time out of her busy life as mother and designer to give us a look at her updated studio space (you may remember her from a past tour), insight about her creative process and business, and offer some advice about home office organization…How would you describe your office? After much consideration, we turned the large master bedroom of our 3 bedroom townhouse into a larger studio space. In retrospect, we should have done it sooner! It was silly to have the largest and sunniest room in our house used the least. Since converting this room into a larger (approximately 200+ sf) studio, I have a workspace which is efficient, effective, and so comfortable to spend time and create in. I get so much more work accomplished, and our family has a lovely spot to create and make things all together.
What's always found on (in)your workspace?
My workspace is usually pretty neat but 'lived in'. It is constantly bursting full of all sorts of treasures and tools. Old suitcases bursting with old papers and ephemera, stacks of fabrics, jars and bins of ribbons and twine and tags and clippings. Vintage boxes full of bits of this and that. All of these treasures that I find, fall in love with, and bring home with me influence my work. You can usually find myself working and my daughter playing or painting. And one or two of my cats, who seem to love my workspace as much as I do.
Favourite thing about your workspace?
I love that this room usually has great light with the huge windows and high ceilings. I love that it is shaped so that I can have three large industrial work tables set up in the center of the room to have as a dedicated work space, and that it fits five of these tables in total . I love that even though it is officially a bedroom, It is actually larger and more effective than my previous "real" studio space. I love that it is really an effective workspace right at home, so I am able to be home with my little daughter and still be able to produce my work as well.
What do you hate about your workspace?
I despise that it's carpeted, which is not effective for my working needs - I really need to be able to sweep up at a moment's notice. I also don't like that because one wall was all closet space, one wall is doors, and one wall is windows, I don't have much wall space left to hang up my projects-in-progress.
What inspires your work/blog/site?
My work is inspired by the world around me and all that I find beautiful within it. I love the natural world and foraging. I love libraries, documents, old texts. Vintage ephemera, thrift shops, antique shops. Simple yet effective, colourful yet clean design. I am especially inspired by my little daughter, and all the interest and joy which she finds everyday in this new world of hers. And, I am very much inspired by solving little problems which in my experience lead to lovely designs. I find it difficult or impossible to create items which I don't have a need for myself. This - and lack of time or resources - are why I don't tend to release new items that often. I can't seem create only for the sake of having something to sell - it doesn't work for me.
Any tips or advice about office décor, layout, organization, working from home in general?
Taking a day or two (or longer!) to carefully go through your space and your supplies and really organise them is one of the best things you can do for your work. You can save so much time and frustration by having a uncluttered work environment where you know where things are. and belong.
Ikea Helmer cabinets. After years of looking for that perfect cabinet of drawers and never finding it, I finally realised that these ikea cabinets are perfect! I leave the wheels off, and I can stack or place them together to my heart's content. If I need more storage, I can just add another. Or take away. The drawers pull right out, so just pull it out and take it with me when I when I want to use what's stored inside.
A little bit of nature is really nice in a place where you spend a lot of time working. Potted plants, or even some pressed leaves on a bulletin board, or a tray of rocks you've collected at the beach can really bring some calming and relaxing elements to a place where you work.
If you are under irritating lights, you can research and pick up a better light bulb that will be less harsh. A lot of offices put in the cheapest (and harshest) light bulbs to save money, but bulbs last a long time and it's worth the investment. If you work in harsh lighting, You can also hang up hanging bulbs and inexpensive rice paper lamp shades, and hang them. They soften the light and add nice ambient light to a work environment.
Where did you get all the great furniture in your home office?
Adelaide's little work table and chair, as well as my various chairs are all from thrift shops. I recovered some of the chairs with fabrics which appealed to me. My dad is a carpenter and made me my big organizing slotted shelf. The large metal industrial work tables I picked up for $40 each when my mom's office was downsizing. My white cabinet of drawers is actually several ikea Helmer cabinets all placed together. I also have some other cabinets and shelves, etc from Ikea as well.
Favourite tech/electronics that makes your life easier?
Besides my Imac, which is absolutely essential to my work and I love it. I also have a Nikon D50 camera which I am fond of. And a basic desktop printer and scanner. But that's it for any technology I have in my workspace.. most of my work tools are pretty darn lo-tech. The tools which I find essential are usually the ones I have multiples of: large cutting matts, fiskars rotary paper trimmers, and a economy pack of sharp new exacto blades. I also have a love my industrial paper cutter and puncher and couldn't do without them. They make my life easier every day.
When did you start lovelydesign and why?
I began my website lovelydesign as an experimental web project 10 years ago now, when I moved by myself to work in Los Angeles. I was very inspired, but also incredibly lonely and isolated. I wanted to have a creative outlet with which to make, and lovelydesign became it. A few years later I began making my goods as gifts for friends, and they were well received. Everything - quite unintentionally - took of from there, and I have been producing my goods ever since.
A warm thanks to Sharilyn for sharing her insight and photos!