WORKSPACE WEDNESDAY :: holmesmadepapercuts

What better way to kick off a new series of weekly (ish) peeks into creative workspaces than to start with my own space, right here at Holmes-made?

A special focus on a creative workspace – this week, I look at my little studio, from where I design and cut all my paper cuts, do all my admin and sort all my packaging.

A special focus on a creative workspace – this week, I look at my little studio, from where I design and cut all my papercuts, do all my admin and sort all my packaging.

Tell us about your workspace.

I set this workspace up in January 2014. Prior to this – for two years – I was working at the kitchen table, with work, packaging materials and paper stored in different areas all over the house. A new year meant I needed a new start. Deciding to ‘relocate’ to an unused corner of my daughter’s bedroom meant that I could have an area to call mine, where I could leave things out permanently (although not work and tools – those are stored on top of my daughter’s wardrobe where she can’t reach them!) and where I could feel inspired and motivated to create. In short, I needed to start taking myself (and my business) more seriously, so we had a family trip to Ikea and my workspace was born.

How have you chosen to furnish your workspace?

I’m very space-limited so a simple desk, storage drawers and chair is all I can stretch to. However, with accessories and clever storage, I’ve managed to work around my limited space to create a studio area tailored to my needs.

My desk is made up of legs, a cupboard unit and table top from Ikea. I chose smooth, plain white as a useful background for taking product photographs. I also bought a little shelf/drawer unit with brackets from the same Ikea range (they don’t sell mine anymore, but this is the closest). I then carried out a little Ikea hack with some brackets to suspend the drawer unit above the desk, thus giving me more surface space to work on which is vital for larger cuts, as well as an extra space for photography when needed (I pin a backdrop to the wall… It’s oh-so-glamorous!).

Seating is really important to me as I spend so long sitting while papercutting – again I chose a comfy desk chair from Ikea which gives me great back support and manoeuvrability.

Lighting is also super important. The fairy lights help give a warm glow on a miserable day, I also have a couple of ambient lamps to give a cosy feel plus I have my magnifying daylight lamp which I can move around and which I have on all the time. It saves my eyes from getting super tired and serves as a useful iPhone-platform for overhead shots!!

Smal but perfectly formed, my well-planned workspace means I have everything I need close by, plus it serves to give me a daily dose of inspiration.

Smal but perfectly formed, my well-planned workspace means I have everything I need close by, plus it serves to give me a daily dose of inspiration.

The storage I have is very limited. I’m not going to lie – I have packaging materials in my loft and airing cupboard, my giant A3 frame boxes and envelopes are stored in my wardrobe, plus there are a lot of papers in the sideboard in the lounge. My old barn door (which I use as a photo backdrop) is kept outside the house. Not practical! My A3 scanner and printer lives under my desk, and I keep more envelopes, packing materials and my Lightcase on top of the printer. Vertical living at its finest!! I store stickers, tissue paper, business cards, greetings cards and Drop and Go forms in an Ikea drawer unit. On top of that live my iPod dock/radio, along with a bunch of files, binders and magazine boxes (for envelopes, order forms, postage receipts and so on). One “leg” of my desk is home to a two-shelf cupboard where I store papers and prints in concertina box files. I’ve had to think cleverly of how to get the most from the small space I have, while at the same time being able to access everything I need quickly.

Three small wooden boxes contain everything I need to keep at hand for packing and posting, while a cupboard which serves as a table 'leg' holds essentials like paper, prints, baking boards and my arm warmers!

Three small wooden boxes contain everything I need to keep at hand for packing and posting, while a cupboard which serves as a table ‘leg’ holds essentials like paper, prints, baking boards and my arm warmers!

The over-desk drawers and shelf are super handy for keeping tapes, papers, tools and postal bits and bobs to hand; for example I have three little wooden boxes filled with washi tape, rubber stamps and ink pads, and all the elements needed for postage including my thank you notes, bakers twine and Signed For stickers. Everything I need to access on a daily basis is within reach of my desk, which is a vast improvement on how I used to work, and makes my working life a heck of a lot easier!

Oh and an additional plus-point – my daughter can’t reach the drawers above my desk, so they’re quite good for storing sweets and chocolate essential papercutting artist snacks.

And what about decoration?

Two words: Inspo wall!! Since I was at school I’ve had a bunch of postcards I’ve dragged with me to uni and into office booths and workspaces; just to give my working day a little boost. These include examples of my favourite art works like my Frida Kahlo postcards picked up when I saw an exhibition of her work at Tate Modern (she’s one of my favourite artists), Miffy and Hello Kitty postcards bought in France, some long-loved “quote” postcards (my favourite reads: “I want to be what I was when I wanted to be what I am now” which holds huge resonance for me), a sweet beat-up “Love Is” mirror from a thrift store in Glasgow and some lovely creations by my daughter which make me smile. There are also a few photos; some of me in happy times and some of my daughter, some hand-scrawled notes to myself (including “Only Love Today”, one of my favourite mantras from the amazing Handsfree Mama) and inspiring cards from the likes of Lucky Dip Club and Bread & Jam.

A snippet of some of the wonderfully inspiring things I've chosen to surround myself with.

A snippet of some of the wonderfully inspiring things I’ve chosen to surround myself with.

Accessorise those arty bits with handmade beauties from Two-10 design (a hand-carved wooden block), Katie Daisy (my “let go” canvas), Veronica Dearly (my amazing wall planner), TFLittlefootDesigns (two strings of pretty bunting) and Marna Lunt Textile Artist (my fantastic hand-embroidered hoop) and you get my little corner of heaven.

Oh, and add a plant or two and some flowers – usually sunflowers because they’re really significant to me. I need a bit of nature in my life, especially if it’s super-colourful.

What does your workspace mean to you?

Having my own studio space makes me feel more professional, like I can take myself more seriously now. Yes it’s just a corner of my daughter’s room, but it’s my corner. My inspiration wall is a key part of it – I love fairy lights, I love being surrounded by pretty things and goodies I have collected over many years such as my postcards, wall art and ornaments. I guess my workspace really reflects me and my work – vibrant colour, quirky, bold… Of course, it’s not like I can invite people up to my studio for a tour (unless they want to contend with Lego on the floor!) but I really feel lucky to have my very own space.

Do you have any rituals when it comes to your workspace?

After the school run is done, I come up and stick the radio on, put my fairy lights on if it’s dreary outside and make sure I have a glass of water to hand before I start working. I tend to always work with the radio on for company (Radio 2 or 6Music; Radio 4 late at night because I love The Shipping Forecast – yes, weird). So the radio goes on. And if I get sick of the radio, I’ve got my very old iPod for my entire collection of music – sometimes I require a bit of old school trance to kickstart my working day!

I always clear my desk off before starting a new piece; I like to start completely fresh. So the polish and duster come out and any tiny bits of paper I may have missed in my daily wipe down get hoovered up. Depending on what I’m working on and how busy I am the carpet (a nightmarish thick pile) gets hoovered anything from daily to once a week! I would probably drive myself potty if I attempted to hoover daily while working on an A3 leaf tree… those tiny leaves get everywhere!!

Every season I have a bit of a makeover, so I might change accessories around – change my pen pot and plant pot colours for example, or take a few pics down and put a few new ones up. Just to keep it fresh and happy in hopes that filters down to my work!

What’s your favourite thing about your workspace? And least favourite?

Favourite is the whole thing. Can I say that? Well, my inspo wall. I just love it. It’s so me. I just wish I had a bigger space to spread out more of the things I want to put up!! Least favourite thing: storage.

On that note – any plans for the future when it comes to your workspace?

I would love to have a dedicated workspace big enough to have a packing table, storage for all of my packaging like postal tubes and boxes, with a proper plan chest for storing prints and large pieces of work. And a special photography area where I could keep my camera, tripod, lighting and backdrops set up permanently. The best thing would be to have a door with a lock on, so I could leave all my work and tools out and just close the door on it at the end of each day, rather than having to pack everything away so my daughter doesn’t damage or play with anything! A purpose-built garden office would just be wonderful, or somewhere with character where I could display my work on walls and even take part in open studios. But since we’re currently in a two-bed rental property, I guess I’ll have to keep dreaming!! I do love my workspace though; it suits me and my business (and the current size of my business!) down to the ground.



Would you like to take part in a future Workspace Wednesday? It’s a great opportunity to showcase your work and workspace, plus share some behind the scenes stuff with potential customers and social networking fans. If you fancy getting involved and are able to answer a few questions and supply some high quality photos, please drop me a line using the contact form on my website! I will of course include links to your online shop and social media.


Splashing in the paddling pool, dangling off the climbing frame, creating masterpieces in poster paint and camping in the garden… Those are some of my childhood memories of summer. Six long weeks of full-time fun; I’m sure it wasn’t entirely rose-tinted, but I’m pretty sure I had a great time a lot of the time.

And now I’m all grown up (boo) with a daughter of my own (yeay!). I have the luxury of working from home and getting to spend the duration of the summer holidays with my girl, C. It’s hard work, don’t get me wrong – juggling a home-based job with an active three-year-old and no childcare is certainly a challenge (as I’m sure many of you will understand), but I know I’m privileged to get to spend the time with little C. She’ll start big school in a year, and it’s weighing heavy on my mind that the lazy, hazy days of the summer hols will soon be the longest amount of time we get to spend together all year, so I need to make the most of them.

Here’s how…


Exploring the woods  © Holmesmadepapercuts

Exploring the woods
© Holmesmadepapercuts

Holidays can be an expensive time, whether it’s forking out for days out, coughing up for the increased costs of a holiday away or paying for those little treats when you pop to the shops.

No matter where you live, there are endless amounts of free stuff you can get out and do. From creating science experiments using ingredients in your kitchen cupboards to enjoying a teddy bears’ picnic in your local park or spending a day at a free museum, there’s probably more available than you expect, right on your doorstep. Check out your local library, Children’s Centre (if you’ve still got one!) or contact your local council or leisure centre to find out if there’s anything going on near you for free. We recently discovered that a local council offers free swimming sessions every week under the Leeds Let’s Get Active programme, so we’re going to as many of those as we can for a splash about – why not see if something similar is happening where you are?


C and I can have hours of fun with some glue and torn-up magazines (only if I can drop my impatient perfectionist streak!), and there are so many options for creative fun that don’t need to cost a lot. Making cloud dough, mixing up sidewalk chalk paint, creating a holiday diary, building an epic marble run using the contents of your plastic recycling box, whipping up some funky fairy cakes or even a fruity smoothie (which you can then freeze in lolly moulds), building a puppet show stage out of a giant cardboard box…

A simple biscuit recipe, homemade and ready to be jazzed up with icing and sprinkles. Hours of fun. And mess!

A simple biscuit recipe, homemade and ready to be jazzed up with icing and sprinkles. Hours of fun. And mess! © Holmesmadepapercuts

Not only will you have a good time together, your little ones will also learn at the same time! And there are plenty of activities that smalls of any size can enjoy independently while you get on with stuff that needs doing. Hit Pinterest to see what you can find, and go and have some fun!


Summer is the time to get outdoors – bug hunts, crabbing, nature walks… But the weather isn’t always kind, and sometimes you just want to have a day at home anyway. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sitting your kids in front of the telly for a few DVDs (especially if it means you can tackle the laundry pile or online shop in peace!) but it’s even more fun if you make it an event – popcorn, closed curtains and even homemade tickets and money (there are loads of printables online) all add to the enjoyment. There are so many screen-free options too – making dens with sheets and blankets, enjoying story time, threading your hall and staircase with coloured wool for a spot of spy training (possibly the best fun ever!), doing some baking, letting your hair down with a living room disco, or simply playing hide and seek. Don’t let the weather stop you!

Let  your small folk play secret agent with string taped throughout the house!! Image from

Let your small folk play secret agents with string taped throughout the house!! Image from


As lovely as it’d be to have all the time in the world to think up and create a huge range of stimulating and worthwhile activities for our offspring, we are only human and there are only 24 hours in each day. Last summer I made a colourful list of anti-boredom activities C and I could enjoy over the hols. I ended up leaving the list on display in the kitchen, so I could keep referring to it for ideas over the course of the year, and because barely anything got ticked off – we got busy immersing ourselves in such a wide range of stuff, plus I was still fitting in a few hours of work every day. Those summer hols do have a tendency to fly by!

Our boredom-busting list © Holmes-made

Our boredom-busting list © Holmes-made

Investing a bit of cash in things you know will suit your child’s skill level and interests (as well as keep them occupied) is a great way to take the pressure off. A small spend on a new puzzle, some new action figures or a new activity book or crafty kit will reap rewards by keeping your kids busy.

Alphadoodle pad by Becka Griffin Illustration, image used with permission.

Alphadoodle pad by Becka Griffin Illustration, image used with permission.

I love the Alphadoodle pads by Becka Griffin Illustration. I’ll be adapting the rules of Becka’s game slightly with C to help her literacy this summer, as she loves drawing and sounding out letters. And, since she adores girlie stuff and jewellery, I’ve bagged a button bracelet kit from Make It Friday (who make the loveliest no-sew and simple craft kits) to help with colour matching and fine motor skills. See? I’m all about the learning…

Button Bracelet Kit from Make It Friday. Image used with permission.

Button Bracelet Kit from Make It Friday. Image used with permission.


Running my own business means I’m one of those annoying people whose tech is such a part of me that all my jeans and shorts have an iPhone outline worn into the pockets.

Phone addict??

The mark of a phone addict??

I really find it hard to switch off, and I’m not alone – so many of us power down our laptops at night, only to get end up on our phones in bed checking emails and Instagram and seeing what’s trending on Twitter… You get my drift. This summer I’m making a point of switching off, of having one on one time with C (as opposed to me, her and my mobile) and of not checking my Facebook business page or work email so frequently. I’m very aware that being constantly switched on does nothing for my stress levels, and I know that to be a patient, present mum – and therefore make great memories with my girl – I need to power down and refocus.


Relax. Think about what made summer fun when you were little – I’m pretty sure it was most likely spending quality time enjoying simple pleasures with your loved ones. I know that I didn’t need the latest toy, or constant stimulation, or my entire day planned out for me to have a good time. And I’m pretty sure it’s the same for C. And perhaps it’s the same for your kids too. Take time to chill, to sit under a tree and share a story, to have some silly time, or to recount the day’s events at bedtime. Those are the memories great summers are made of.

Melissa x


Holmes-made papercuts © Melissa Holmes


What are your kids’ favourite things to do in summer? What are your happiest memories of those long days from your childhood? Share your ideas, suggestions and thoughts in the comments!!