Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How to Create a Craft Room that Promotes Good Health

Hello friends. I'm excited to share my new craft room with you. This post is not about keeping up with the "Craft-dashians". You don't need new furniture, in fact your furniture doesn't even need to match. You don't need to paint your walls white or run out and spend any money. This is just about making your space the best it can be for YOU. 

Today I'm going to show you how I made the most of my craft space for living healthier by creating an environment that promotes and supports both my psychological and physiological well-being. My hope is that you can benefit from the steps I took and begin creating your own. 

When we talk about health we often think of our physical health and overlook the rest, but when we learn about the impact our environment has on our well-being we can intentionally cultivate an environment that influences us in a positive way.   


I have been in need of a space that not only makes a positive impact on my physical health by getting me up on my feet and moving around, but happy place that helps me thwart the mental stress that comes with a chronic health condition. I set out to do everything I could to carve out a special place of which to take care of myself.

So let's get right into what I wanted and what I did about it!

The Psychological Aspect
and
The Physiological Aspect

The Psychological Aspect

I wanted a relaxing atmosphere that induces good feelings. This may be different for different people, but what I had in mind falls right into what the research states about environments that have a positive impact on mental and emotional processes and produce a calming effect. These environments in the home have a lot of white space for the eye to rest and in the work environment blur the line between the indoors and the outdoors, allow for more natural light and add layers to give a more homey feeling to name a few.

In a nutshell, how I accomplished it
   1. Maximized Light
          - Paint
          - Open Windows
          - Reflective Surfaces
   2. Created a Feeling of a Natural Environment
          - Plants
          - Unobstructed View to the Outdoors
   3. Added Soft Layers
   4. Used Some Things that I Love
   5. Removed Visual Clutter

1) Maximized Light

1a) Maximized Light: Paint 
Let me first say that I've never been afraid to go bold with colorful walls in deep rich colors. I've even had scarlet red carpet before. This time I wanted something totally different. Something relaxing and good for taking photographs of craft projects. I could have chosen any light color to maximize the light in my room and there are thousands out there, but I chose to try a soft white on my walls. The paint made my room feel fresh, clean, new and look bigger compared to when I had all the walls painted brown. The white paint also removed any color hues that sometimes make photography difficult if you're not a professional. I am definitely not a professional and can use all the help I can get.

Note: I'm glad that I didn't finish painting my walls before some of these photos so you can see the difference of the white part of my room compared to the brown in the photo below. My bedroom is a medium grayed-green, the living room is done in two sandy neutral colors and the kitchen is a bright medium blue, so the white is a welcomed break. This room used to be my dining room and brown worked, but in a craft room where I spend a lot more time it was quite depressing. 

1b) Maximized Light: Open Windows
I still have the inner trim of my windows to finish and decorative rods to install but the most important thing about my windows is not covering them up so I can let as much natural light in as possible. Allowing natural light into your work space, or in this case, craft space, has been shown to improve mood and alertness. If you would like to learn more click here

1c) Maximized Light: Reflective Surfaces
When I'm standing with my back to the windows I would just have a view of a wall if I didn't place this mirror across from them. Now I can still see the view outside and the sunlight is reflected back, brightening the room and lighting up my craft table.
Shiny Plexiglas surfaces on my craft table and small desk help to reflect light back into the room as well and make for easy clean up while protecting the surface underneath. I love how the wood grain and natural color show through. 
The small desk desperately needed help so I gave it a fresh coat of paint, cut a piece of tweed wallpaper to lay on the top and then placed Plexiglas over it. It gave the desk a brand new look that fit right in and also reflects light.


I wanted to block any cooking smells and grease that may make their way from my kitchen though the bar area so I used an old wooden sliding glass door on its side to fit over the opening. By using the glass door I protect my craft materials, allow the natural light to continue coming in from the kitchen windows and I'm able to see through the bar area which helps my room feel more open. 

My family and I agree having the glass door makes my blue painted kitchen look like an aquarium. So when people are in the kitchen they act like fish. Okay, yes, I know that may sound a little strange, but it's good fun and silliness keeps relationships strong. As you can see by what I have sitting on the bar, I like fish anyway.

2) Natural Environment

2a) Natural Environment: Plants
There doesn't seem to be a lot of plants when standing in my room, but when viewed from a corner near ceiling height, my new craft room looks like a jungle because I made sure to include some type of plant, living or dried, throughout the room.  

Research shows that plants in the workplace can have a positive effect on creativity, focus and energy. Plants can humidify a room, speed up healing, bring out our nurturing side, and help improve indoor air quality by removing air pollutants (VOCs), if you have enough plants that is. Plants make me feel good. I enjoy watching them grow and love the green of the leaves. I have included more information about the correlation of plants and improved health at the end of this post. 


2b) Natural Environment: Unobstructed View to the Outdoors
This is what I see when I'm at my desk. Of course it's a lot brighter, but by some miracle I was able to find the right angle for photographing windows. Being able to see what is going on outside, watch the snow falling, see the flowers bloom, watch the clouds float by or my dogs running around when I can't get outside is really important to me. Having an unobstructed view bridges the outdoors with the indoors and can help alleviate stress. If you would like to read more, click here.

3) Soft Layers
If you're wondering, "Why a light colored rug in a craft room?"
My craft room is filled with hard edges from my desk to my craft tools. To soften the appearance I used a shag rug on one side of my desk and a flowing white curtain on the other. This made my craft room feel welcoming and more relaxing while keeping it light. I was quite surprised by the difference just these two additions made. 

As much as I love wooden floors, there is something very inviting about a brand new shag rug and the invitation is just what I needed. I like to do stretches and have begun to learn meditation so my rug gives me a place for those things that feels clean and soft under my feet.

4) I Added Some Things that I Love
Don't just use things in your craft room that you don't care about. Add something with sentimental value, give it a theme of a place that makes you feel good, use colors that you love, etc. No matter how you decide to go about it, just remember, this is a space that you create in so be creative with your space. Below is a photo of decorations found in other rooms of my home and the dishes are in my china cabinet. Looking at them helped me choose the cheery colors I used in my craft room as seen in the photo on the right.

5) Removed Visual Clutter 
Removing visual clutter does not mean don't decorate. Also, the piles that form on each side of us when we are working on a project or two don't count. I make a pile every time I work on something and only move to do anything about it when I begin knocking my inks off my desk. Removing visual clutter just means that you don't have to have every marker, pencil, ruler, paper, craft tool, projects, etc. sitting on your desk and in your face at all times. Take some of that creativity and come up with a way to make everything easily accessible and at the same time keep your desk free. Plus if you don't have a place nearby to put it, I assure you that you can benefit from getting up to retrieve it. Take the time to stretch your legs and if you were already standing, you have more reason to move around.

My space lacked closets to hide my materials away in. All I had was a bar from the kitchen. To
take better advantage of the space I stacked all of my extra craft supplies and then made a skirted bar area by turning a drapery panel on its side and attaching a long cafe rod to the wooden brackets under the bar. I ended up with a nice looking area that allows easy access to craft materials that I only use once in a while. 

My book case holds many of my daily needs at arms reach without my supplies having to be on my craft table and taking up room. Having the sheer panels allows me to set up my baskets in a way that's convenient for me and not have to worry about looks. There's no pressure to match anything if it's hidden. 
My paper storage, filing cabinets, extra printer and other odds and ends are now neatly tucked and easily accessible from under my craft table. The filing cabinets used to hold up my old desk so nothing has really changed when it comes to access. The only difference is that I don't have to look at them if I don't want to. The curtain is easily removable if I need repeated access in a short period of time.

I also have 18 cubes of storage as part of my craft table. I keep daily use items in the top containers and prioritized the rest the same way. 


The small desk I mentioned earlier is now my sewing station. I only sew a couple of times a year and needed out-of-the-way storage for my sewing materials which includes the shelf that sits beside my sewing desk and acts as one of the legs to my craft table.


Bonus! 
My favorite new addition to my craft room that helps me nicely contain clutter is my display rack. I always hate to see a store at the mall close, but I got a great deal on a commercial rotating rack that would have normally been far beyond what I could afford or would even be willing to spend. 

If you can get your hands on one, it is well worth it. I was able to remove two large pieces of furniture from my room and the rack is still not completely filled up. So keep your eyes open for stores that are closing. This rack came from a Hallmark store and held journals. Seeing my punches, rubber stamps, and so forth is just enough to help me get motivated and to help me think of ideas without feeling like I have too much out in the open since it is so well contained/displayed.

Sure, you can create beautiful crafts from anywhere, but if you have a choice, make it a space that makes you feel good. Taking a few extra steps is well worth it and you deserve it.

The Physiological Aspect

I wanted an environment that would help me stay on top of my health needs. I've learned through my own experiences that not moving enough (sitting or standing too long) can have a negative impact on health. 

In a nut shell, how I accomplished it
   1. Designed a Craft Table that I can Sit or Stand at 
   2. Came up with a Limited Space "Move My Body" Plan
   3. Made Healthy Snacks and Water Available and Convenient
   4. Cushioned My Feet, Joints, and Lower Back
   5. Steered Clear of Overly Comfortable Chairs

1) The Craft Table
My first plan of attack was to get out of my chair and up on my feet. In the past I've wanted to stand many times while crafting due to discomfort sitting, but I couldn't because my desk was too low. So I built a, very easy to build using plywood and shelving, craft table that comes just above my lower ribs at 41 inches. This allows me to stand comfortably with my feet about shoulder width apart while crafting and see the small details of what I'm working on without having to bend forward and stress my lower back. I like standing some of the time because it allows me to move around more easily and stretch my legs.
If you would like to learn about the risks of sitting too much, click here. I also read that it's not about sitting too much but just not moving enough here. Either way I've got it covered. I don't stand or sit the entire time I'm in my craft room. I move my body and change my position often. A nice happy medium that definitely beats what I had been doing.

2) Exercise in a Limited Space
Due to a genetic heart disorder I can't do very much cardio and I can't push myself very hard so I use a mini trampoline by resting my palms onto the surface of my craft table and bending my knees one at a time as if I'm jogging in place without lifting my feet. I also flex my feet, which gets my calf muscles moving. If you have any level of vertigo this may not be the exercise equipment for you. I discovered this the hard way when I got a little too bouncy. 

The use of my mini trampoline is to try and ward off swelling from fluid build up in my ankles and the formation of blood clots in my legs which both can be brought on by not moving enough. The mini trampoline is great for cardio and can be done in a very small space. This trampoline is especially helpful if you cannot go outside to 
walk due to cold or rainy weather. There are handrails that you can add to your mini trampoline for safety too. For some ideas of exercises that can be done in an office environment or in a chair for those who have some mobility issues, click on the links below.

 "A workout at work?" Click here.
"Seated Exercises for Older Adults" Click here.

3) Made Healthy Snacks and Water Available and Convenient
If you're anything like me and get lost in your own world crafting then you forget to eat too. I'm also guilty of deliberately putting off eating and drinking because I just have, "One more thing", to take care of.  I have been in the middle of an online class and had to run to the kitchen because I still have another half an hour to go and I'm beginning to feel sick. In those instances I always grab something that I probably shouldn't be eating. 
My solution is to treat myself to a basket of better choices. I included napkins, knife, and wet wipes too so I have no excuse. Since I began this I've been more apt to remember to take time for my dietary needs and I feel good about what I'm choosing. Some of the medications I take I have to take with food, so having this basket helps me stay on top of my medications as well. I keep it at arms reach and sit it on my desk when I'm crafting.


4) Cushioning My Feet, Joints, and Lower Back
This is my Chef's Mat which cushions my feet when I'm standing to keep my heels from hurting and to relieve a little of the tension on my joints and lower back. It's usually in the position shown in the photo below, but I move it around as needed, such as when I'm using my die cutting machine. 


While I'm exercising or trying a new technique on my Sizzix I can take my monitor with me. I cut a hole in my craft table for my computer wires and placed felt on the bottom of my monitor. This allows me to easily turn my monitor in whatever direction I'm standing. I think using a Lazy Susan for an outdoor table with the hole in the middle would work well too. This way I can watch a video tutorial while standing at the equipment I need or watch a movie while I'm sewing. Most importantly it allows me to move around while trying to keep up on a class or whatever I'm watching at that moment. I'm not confined to standing still or sitting too long.
5) Steered Clear of Overly Comfortable Chairs
Lastly, I chose chairs that make me sit straight and that I don't want to spend all day in. One of the things you want most when your heart doesn't pump well is to sit down and stay there. This was my way of combating that urge. 

Update! My wonderful husband help me get my curtain rods up yesterday and I love the difference my new curtains make. The panels are a bright, light and airy weaved fabric that gives that side of the room the touch of color it needed.




I hope this was helpful to you if you're planning on improving your existing craft space or dreaming about having one in the future. 

Below are links to information on creating an environment for your well-being.  


The Benefits of Office Plants
http://www.ambius.com/indoor-plants/office-plants/benefits/index.html

Health and well-being benefits of plants
http://ellisonchair.tamu.edu/health-and-well-being-benefits-of-plants/#.Vvxih-IrK71

Do Indoor Plants Really Clean the Air?
http://www.livescience.com/38445-indoor-plants-clean-air.html

https://www.wbdg.org/design/promote_health.php

What are the risks of sitting too much? 
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005

Health benefits of standing desks: separating hype from reality
https://www.techinasia.com/health-benefits-standing-desks-separating-hype-reality

Rebounding Revisited: 20 surprising rebounder benefits
http://blog.radiantlifecatalog.com/bid/57710/Rebounding-Revisited-20-surprising-rebounder-benefits

A Calm Home {While Decorating with Color & Pattern}
http://theinspiredroom.net/2013/05/16/calm-home/

My space just after I began working on it.

I had shared my list as it pertained to crafts last post and the photo of the things I was working on while doing my craft room. I have to say this was one of the happiest times I've had in my craft room because just about everything I was doing was new to me. So if you ever find yourself in a craft rut, just try something new.

Have a wonderful day, thanks for stopping by and happy crafting!
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