Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Modest Moss Studio evolution


A few years ago, I gave up my cute little closet office....

 .....when I realized that Leah Moss Interiors had already basically been commandeering every inch of the house's addition for months :)

For about a year, I toyed here and there with getting a studio space outside my home, but the truth is that I feel like then I'd never actually be home, and home is my favorite place....especially when time is short and precious, and when home studio means no commute (the worst part about the DC area is the traffic). The more involved I get in my immediate community and the faster my kids grow up, the less I want to be commuting elsewhere to go sit and design (since I'm already on the road quite a bit visiting clients, meeting with suppliers, and shopping etc.). And the areas where I'd want a studio at this point are pretty inconvenient.

So, a little while ago I committed to setting up (a more permanent) shop in the addition...

I've always loved spaces that have a depth but also a certain temporary quality about them...something unfinished and interesting but not so precious....a tacked up picture or a stack of books or a leaning mirror or a light bulb hanging from a cord...things that you may see often in stylists' portfolios and artists' lofts but rarely in actual homes...things that draw you in and excite you precisely because they're kind of...precarious almost


....things that make a room not only lived in, but also inviting of creativity to actually take place in...potential and fluidity....but I also like calm and order and the idea of an "edited" space.

In design work, it takes a special client to commit to go that route. "Finished" usually means fixed in place.  Especially in a practical place like DC. But in my own workspace, I really wanted to have a place to experiment with, a place that felt inspiring to me, like a lab...

So my little studio is now one of my favorite parts of home and work....

Happily, the lab studio route also meant that I could get away with spending basically no money...a crazy $210! Woot

I needed storage that would hold a lot, cost a little, and that had adjustable shelves. After looking into custom and scouring my favorite stores, I stumbled across these at Costco for 70 bones--cha-ching! So I bought 2. They hold up to 1500 lbs :) and were pretty much exactly what I wanted.

My favorite part is the desk area...the desk itself is temporary a home depot folding (beer pong :) table...and I love what's surrounding it...thumb tacks hold pictures that are lucky enough to have made it off the computer and onto paper. They can be slid in and transitioned out without poking holes in them...the crucifixion image is "Christ on the Cross" by Velázquez. I remember studying it in art history in college and being so moved by's moody and deep and meditative in that distinctly Spanish way.  My pastor gave it to us a few years ago. At the time, it was in a beautiful but formal and heavy frame, and I couldn't think of anywhere to hang it. I took it out of the frame and tacked it up in my office with an alligator clip for several months before stumbling across an old oil painting at a thrift store. I first loved it for its old tacks and frayed edges and rough worn (it has been torn a little and splattered with house paint in a few places) more than the actual painting. The background of the painting was beautiful but the boat painted in the middle of it was kind of cheesy and awful (sorry unknown old artist!) but I snagged it for $3 knowing that I could use it somehow. Bringing it home and setting it down on my desk, it dawned on me that there was a cool connection between it and the Velazquez so I used it as a frame of sorts, using the decorative interior edge of the original frame's mat to hold the picture and tack through the canvas of the painting

I also love the chairs. They were a freebie from the same thrift store. A few years ago, I saw a whole set of 12 black bent wood chairs there for something absurd like $200. I stupidly left them and went home to think on them (I was trying to be prudent that day as I had previously purchased a different set of chairs earlier that week and was fearing my husband's concerns of chair hoarding was reality), and of course came back to find that the set had gone home with a wiser woman...BUT 2 rickety ones had been left behind,. The owner felt bad and said they would be tossed anyway, so she just gave them to me :) I recently repainted them in graphite chalk paint, and they are exactly what I would have chosen even if they weren't free.  Yay!

The middle of the long narrow room is wide open so that I can spread out when need be, and on the other end is this little Hickory Chair camel back sofa (another freebie that my sister found for me) that I sewed a very, very imperfect slipcover for out of navy ticking stripe. It's one of the most comfortable sofas I've ever sat in, and so it gets a lot of use. 

In other lives it has looked like this....
and this (o my)...
 and this...
and now....

And that is the story of my modest little studio.


  1. So, I was a huge fan of that room the way you set it up before, so I was anxious to see how you changed it...and yeah, it's pretty much fantastic. Gorgeous work! I'm taking mental notes on everything. (Oh, and PS -- do you have a link for those shelves?)

    1. Thanks! I just added the shelf link. I think in store, they are even a little less expensive. They are so sturdy. I needed help setting them up, and it took Rich about 1/2 hour.

  2. Beautiful! I also work from home and often wonder how it compared, productivity-wise, to working in an outside office/studio. Do you get distracted by dishes, laundry, tidying, etc. etc.? And how do you counter this? Hold strict office hours? Any tips welcomed! :)

  3. Absolutely and totally 100% perfectly imperfect. It has the look and feel of a creative's studio, I think. The camel back sofa with ticking stripe is pure wonderful. So glad to see a post by you. You've always been one of my favorites.

  4. So very fun and creative making! What is the quote above the "telephone lines" Is that painted on or a sticker? I guess I didn't even know you had a studio/biz. Duh, me.


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