Clutter vs. Creativity

I have heard some creative types say that they “need” clutter around them so that they can be creative. They assert that having lots of different things around them helps them to get inspiration. I think this is true to some degree, for example if you have a specific project in mind and you are trying to choose a fabric or color scheme. But having so much stuff in your workspace that you can’t actually work may be inspiring but it is ultimately going to be a detriment to productivity. So where is the happy medium? Here are a few tips on how you can be inspired with out being overwhelmed.


  • Design Wall – Quilters use design walls to lay out quilt blocks during the design process. But when you are not using it for that, you can use a design wall as an “inspiration” board. Pin fabrics you like to it to see how well they go with others. Pin up printouts of inspirational objects and projects you find online. Many times, it’s more motivating to see a photograph of something where you can sit back and take it in from a distance rather than staring at it closely on the computer screen.
  • Organized Supplies – I find it very helpful to have my supplies nearby where I can see them but not have them right under my nose. I keep my fabric on bookcases across from my desk so I can “browse” through it, just like a library! I keep my supplies such as buttons, buckles and a myriad of other notions in clear plastic bins on a nearby shelving unit. This way its easy to see what I have and easy to come up with ideas.
  • Clean Up Fridays – When I worked in Corporate America as an Engineering Manager for a software company, I had a little rule for myself. Friday afternoons I always cleanup up my desk. This was for two reasons:
    1. By 3pm on Friday I was usually so fried I wasn’t good for doing any real work, so cleaning up was at least something productive I could do
    2. More importantly, this ensured my desk would be ready to function first thing on Monday when there was usually some crisis happening first thing in the morning

    Try cleaning up your creative space on Friday afternoon. Put away patterns, hang up rulers and rotary cutters, sweep up cookie crumbs, toss fabric scraps into a bin and fold up the bigger pieces. Even if you are in the middle of a project, this once weekly re-set will keep your workspace from getting out of control and keep the creativity flowing.

Back to blog