Creativity has weaved its way in and out of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I loved decorating my bedroom, organizing my favorite collections, and sewing curtains to beautify my space. Making the world a more joyful place through the things I created always brought great satisfaction.
When it came time for college, I moved from Utah to Minnesota and met my future husband, CJ. With a lack of funds and a desire to see the world, we made the decision that CJ would join the Air Force to attend medical school. Our family grew, and for the next 14 years we had the opportunity to live and travel the world with our four children.
Each new location brought its unique challenges and a new house to call our own. It didn’t matter the size of the home or the budget in our bank account, I always found a way to channel my creativity into making a joyful and functional space.
Ten houses later and diapers a distant memory, CJ’s time in the Air Force was ending. We looked forward to planting our roots back home in Minnesota. We built a home and settled into life as civilians with no plans of ever moving again.
With the kids all in school, I began exploring my creativity in new ways. I discovered the joys of painting and stumbled on a class on surface pattern design. As I watched the process, I felt that tingly, giddy feeling inside of discovering a secret that was meant just for me. The idea of creating the perfect fabric and wallpaper for my home was exhilarating. For the next two years, I spent every spare moment learning how to transform my artwork into repeating patterns.
As I continued to paint and create patterns, I simultaneously started thinking about starting a business. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs, and I grew up listening to my Mom’s newest ideas and seeing her start business after business with my Dad. The entrepreneurial spirit running through my blood began to bubble up to the surface, and I wondered if my creativity could be used for something more.
As luck would have it, my husband’s “forever job” ended up being a bit of a disappointment, and suddenly our newly built “forever home” didn’t seem so permanent anymore.
One afternoon, CJ and I went out to lunch to talk about what our future held. We asked ourselves a single question, “If we could design our lives and do anything we wanted, what would it look like?”
That day over Thai food CJ and I mapped out our ideal life. We talked about living on a lake and having a place for the future grandkids to come and visit. I dreamed about a creative space just for me. A place where I could create to my heart’s content and build a business to help people create more joyful homes. We talked about buying a house that would be a fixerupper. I longed for a unique and quirky space that I could transform into something new. I wanted this house to be my canvas, showcase my artwork, and be a joyful gathering place.
As months rolled on, this idea of a new house tugged on my heart in a way that I had never felt before. I became obsessed with finding this lake house, this fixer-upper with space to fulfill my creative dream. One morning I spent several hours in deep meditation and prayer. I pictured this house. I prayed about this house. I wrote down what I was hoping to find. Then I painted a picture.
I sat at my art table and began to paint a house that had been hanging on my mood board for months. It was a little pink house perfectly situated on the edge of a lake. I painted and prayed and hoped and yearned for this house to find its way to us.
That very night, as I was scouring the internet, a listing popped up that I’d never seen before. It was an incredibly charming 100-year-old home, situated on a hilltop, overlooking a gorgeous lake. It was 2 hours away in a tiny, central Minnesota town. The main house was full of character and quirky charm. There was a garage next to the main house with a separate apartment, perfect for visitors and future grandkids. Most importantly, there was a little green cottage on the property that would make the perfect studio space. I sat and stared at the screen, feeling both gratitude and amazement as I was looking at the very thing we had dreamed about months before.
We moved into our “new” 100-year-old home a few months later and priority number one was getting my studio space up and running.
At first glance, the cottage didn’t look like much. Although the bones were good, it was dark, dank and neglected inside. It lacked plumbing, air conditioning and was in need of a good scrub. My creative wheels began to spin, and I started mapping out the floor plan, creating mood boards and pulling together all the details.
I hired a contractor to head up the renovation, and he gets full credit for the brilliant idea of removing the ceiling. We added two extra windows, and the result was a space flooded with natural light. The lofted ceilings created the perfect spot for a statement chandelier. Pink cabinets were added to the wet bar with a sink to wash out paints and a mini-fridge for lunch and treats. A bathroom was added, and we replaced all the trim work. Once the construction was complete, the real fun began as I dove into decorating.
I knew the space needed different zones to function well. The corner was zoned for computer work, sewing and painting, while the center of the room included a zone for relaxing—place to sprawl out during a brainstorming session or the perfect spot for family members to visit while I’m working.
Walking into a space that is uniquely yours brings a confidence and calm that’s often hard to find these days.
The studio slowly began to take shape and it took several weeks to organize the paints, craft supplies, and various odds and ends. “Organizing” is the messy part, the messy middle that always feels overwhelming. The slow and arduous process of finding a home for every little doodad can be exhausting. I always need to take several breaks during the organizing process and give myself little pep talks along the way. Eventually it always comes together, and I’m grateful for the resulting calm and ordered space.
Once the large pieces were set, it was time to add the personal touches. From the beginning I knew I wanted to showcase me Grandma Ethel’s teacups. As a young girl, I always felt there was magic in those beautiful cups and saucers. When I drink from them now, I feel the legacy of the strong and loving women that came before me.
Have you ever walked into a space that perfectly reflects your personality and the things in your life that are meaningful to you? A space that is well organized where everything has its place but is also filled with beauty? A space that makes your heart do a little leap? That’s exactly what this studio is to me, and it’s through THIS space that I hope to help other people to create the same.
I believe we’re greatly affected by our surroundings. When our physical space is in order and filled with beauty, there’s something magical that happens. Instead of feeling the pressure and weight of the world, our homes and spaces become a refuge from the world around us. We’re suddenly free to do those things that are most important. We’re free to let our light shine. We become our best selves. We find the clarity of mind to love deeply and live fully.
I can’t believe my studio is finally finished. My dream has become a reality, and it’s hard to describe the joy that comes from walking into the space now.
I don’t believe you have to be “creative” or have special skills to create a space you love. You just need to be willing to put in the time, learn how to accept the messy middle, and have a friend to guide you through the process. I’d love to hold your hand and help you find the confidence to create the joyful space of your dreams.