Balance, Design, Products
January 22, 2010
Stephanie Congdon Barnes is the other half of 3191 Miles Apart. We ran an interview with her friend and blogging partner MAV on Wednesday. Interestingly, Stephanie recently moved out of her home office to a space down the street which she shares with her husband. We talked about the transition and how work still spills into her home.
How long have you worked from home? Can you tell us a bit about your work? I have worked from home off and on since the birth of my daughter ten years ago in different capacities. About four years ago I opened an online shop of my handmade goods and set up a studio workspace in a spare bedroom. Eventually, I gave up that space so my son could have his own room, and then, this past fall, I moved full-time to sharing a workspace out of the home with my husband, who is an architect. I still do quite a bit of work from home, but no longer have a dedicated workspace there.
I start my workday after I cook breakfast, pack lunches and get my kids to school. Sometimes, my husband Jack and I walk together up to our workspace (it’s about seven blocks from our home), sometimes we arrive separately. I spend part of my workday working with Jack on architecture projects and the rest of the time working on items for my shop and other projects like 3191 or our blog Shelter. I also use this time to make post office runs, look for supplies and source materials, take photos, volunteer at school and take care of household errands like grocery shopping.
We usually walk home for lunch together each day. I leave in the early afternoon to collect my kids from school and take them to activities or relax with them at home. After dinner and family time, my kids go to bed, and most nights I will work for anywhere from 2-5 more hours either catching up on email or doing the hand-sewing on my shop items. I bring home both my laptop and a basket of handwork each day.
How big is your work space? Our workspace is about 200 square feet and is housed in a great old historic building that used to be the telephone exchange. We each have a large work table, and we share some plywood cubicle shelves that my husband built. There’s a vintage round Herman Miller table for working together or meeting with clients.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? Oh, I am not very tech-savvy. I do love my ipod and having all my music available to me digitally on my computer. Listening to music is a constant in my day.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? Well, as an artist I don’t have the typical office-workers desk! I love my Clover leather thimble more than anything.
Do you have any tips for organizing a home work space? From my experience, I would recommend having a space with a door that closes, so you can leave your work behind. Keeping my home and work lives separate was very difficult for me. It is much easier for my family when I can leave (most) of my work behind.
Other than that, I rely on baskets to keep stuff somewhat organized and uncluttered. I also store away everything that I am not currently using (excess fabric, books and supplies) completely out of site. Having a clear space to work in really helps me keep calm and less frazzled.
What do you wish you could change about the space? And what do you most love about it? We could use a little more space to stretch out in our office as well as more shelving for storage. I love the high ceilings, huge windows and natural light. I also love my neighborhood and the connections I am able to make with the people that live and work nearby.
January 20, 2010
Maria Alexandra Vettese (know as MAV) is a stylist and art director. Along with her friend Stephanie Congdon Barnes, she writes one of my favorite blogs – 3191 Miles Apart. They live in Portland – one in Oregon and the other in Maine. And they both have an excpetional eye for beauty. They also recently had two books published – collections of images from their blog – 3191: A Year of Morning and 3191: A Year of Evenings. I talked to MAV about her workspace.
How long have you worked from home? Can you tell us a bit about your work? What does a ‘normal’ day involve for you? I have shifted my workplace a few times in the last few years. I worked out of my apartment from ’04–early ’08 and then I moved to a street-level space. I was there until early ’09 when the water leaks were so bad we were forced out! Sad but true. So then it was back into a small apartment on the West End which my boyfriend and I turned into our workspace. We are still there now. A normal day for me involves getting up around 6am and taking the first two hours of the day to do my thing — shower, feed the cats, stretch, make a hot breakfast, drink coffee, straighten up around the apartment — that sort of thing. I like my days to start out as un-rushed as possible which is why I’m an early riser. Then I’m to work by 8am or 8:30 and stay at work till around 6pm. In the evening I am either home cooking and going to bed early with a book or sketchbook or I’m out with friends for dinner or drinks. I don’t work in the evenings anymore. I just refuse. It’s very easy when you work from home to see lines blurred with work/life. I’m really staunch about this and don’t even have internet at home. In ’06 and ’07 I worked non-stop and it really made a mess of me. Now I strive for balance even if it means I have to say “no” to a project I might want to do. There is only so much time in the day and I need to make sure I can spend a good bit of it giving love … to myself or to those in my life.
How big is your work space? It’s an 800 square foot apartment right now (250 of that is a bedroom and 200 a kitchen). We have two large rooms and a shipping area. It’s very indulgent to have so much space. This coming March that will change once again and we will go back to just a 250 square foot office room in the apartment.
I am loving my new Mac mouse right now. Is there any form of technology that really inspires you? I admit to not being very forward when it comes to technology. I’ve been pretty impressed with the iPhone but that is pretty old news. I guess I’m in the dark ages most of the time!
What desk accessory can’t you do without? A few … my old calculator, a can full of pens & pencils, an external hard-drive (since my laptop crash I am fervent about backing up my files) and old scissors that can cut through ribbon (love these old guys).
Do you have any tips for organizing a home work space? Get rid of clutter. Use baskets, bins, shelves, crates … whatever it takes. I keep my tables as empty as possible and as organized as possible even if it means putting stacks of things I’m working on on the floor. I think it’s a trick to your brain to have things cleaned off … makes the start of the day feel that much more together.
What do you wish you could change about the space? And what do you most love about it? I would much rather be working on the street-level again. I miss seeing friends on any random day and meeting new people who might just stumble into the studio. That said I get a ton of work done each and every day because I am working in an apartment without interruption. I love that my space is very changeable and on one day I can have up a wall of inspirational tear-sheets for a client and the next day I can throw up a seamless and be shooting photographs in that same space for another client. I love that it’s a space I share with another very talented and inspiring artist (who is not around very often so I get it mostly to myself). I love that it’s in a part of town that is quiet and yet I can walk to the PO, to a coffee shop and to get a slice of pizza.