Cathe Holden’s Inspired Barn Workshop Studio Tour

Go confidently in the direction of your dream. Live the life you’ve imagined.


It’s been a very long time coming- the full, finished craft studio and a blog post to share it all. As a former graphic designer working from home, I once needed little more than a corner table in the bedroom for a computer. Becoming a professional craft designer, blogger and instructor has required quite a bit of spacial change. I outgrew the small craft studio we’d carved out of our garage and ultimately was able to acquire much more space for the various materials, supplies and tools I now use. I’d been dreaming of a wonderful, large space at home to gather others for creative classes, workshops and events, and therefor less travel to teach at other venues, and I’m excited to share it with you now.

We have a 1000 square foot outbuilding on our property just steps from our home’s front door, charmingly referred to as the barn. You can see it to the far left of our house in the photo below. We live on one happy acre just north of the town of Petaluma, California.JSIMHolden-House To begin the barn tour, let’s kick things off with a bit of before and after comparison.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-01The barn is about 25 years old and in great structural shape. After 13+ years of using it as a storage unit and boat parking garage, I was able to take ownership of it from my husband to create a crafty oasis for working and teaching. (Goodbye dangerous-but-fun rope swing, old friend.) Together, Jeff and I cleared it out, dolled it up, and filled it up. Of course, the entire process took around two years from start to finish at our own DIY pace.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-03 The compiling of furnishings, storage pieces, materials, tools, collections and decor is of a journey spanning many more years than that, much of which was more recently stored in two rental containers parked in our driveway. I kept rolling racks of craft supplies and materials accessible within the containers and worked from them daily for over a year.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-11After some beautiful interior trim work by our friend, Jake Burgess, the barn walls and ceiling were primed and painted with Valspar paints sponsored by Lowe’s. Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-02Here’s Jake painting the back wall of the barn a fantastic green to coordinate with my thrift-store vintage sofa. (Click on the link for another barn before shot.)Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-04Jake, my husband Jeff, and my son Bennett installed this amazing craft studio floor in one day. This Pergo’s Whitewashed Pine, available exclusively at Lowe’s, was generously sponsored for the barn by Pergo. After a full year of having the Pergo flooring in the barn during the long and slow move-in, several craft workshops, and various craft projects, I realize for certain I made the perfect flooring choice- it’s durable and beautiful.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-05Slow and methodically I began the move from containers to workspace.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-06Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-19 Many of the studio furnishings were purchased from thrift stores, flea markets, Craigslist, and antique collectives over time. These two matching metal office cabinets, one from a second-hand store and one from a neighbor, were spray-painted up nice and spiffy for my sewing nook area.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-09The large apothecary unit is from Sienna Antiques in downtown Petaluma, shown below left as found. The sweet kitchen cupboard, center, was a find on Craigslist, and the 3-drawer dresser a score from a neighbor’s garage sale.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-10I needed seating and lighting for the workshop/classroom area, so I turned to They very generously sponsored four beautiful double-bulb bronze table lamps for table task lighting and all of the workshop seating- silver Tabouret stacking chairs in sets of 4. I purchased four metal counter stools to match the chairs.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-08I bought the three adjoining farm tables on clearance at Cost Plus World Market. Jeff installed canned lights in the ceiling and three beautiful brushed nickel chandeliers from a local home improvement store and shown on the left in bronze. He installed them down the center of the room. All together the lighting and glow from the four large windows, create a beautifully bright work environment.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-07

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

With all moved in, unpacked, and organized over many, many months, here are the final results of my new craft space, lovingly named Inspired Barn.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-47Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-50Follow me around the room beginning with the desk area where I am typing this blog post right now. My long computer desk was a $100 Craigslist find that I’ve had for some time. Like most desks, it stores paper, files, discs, and general office supplies. The vintage office chair was a $40 find at The Thrifty Hippie in Petaluma. To the far right is the main entrance door to the barn.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-45I keep my assortment of Washi tape in berry boxes tucked into an old wire store display. Below that is a mail slot unit with every other divider removed and cardboard bins inserted. I covered the fronts of the bins with paper patterns I designed and labeled with contents. To the left is a $5 wire paper rack found at the recycle area at our local landfill (aka: Recycletown), which holds all letter-size papers and label stock. The pink file cabinet houses all of my printer paper in various weights and colors.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-004The barn has a large roll-up door at one end that is not easy to hide and still keep clear for opening. I utilized a few reinforcement bars on the door as shelves for my three vintage chalkboards. Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-003 This simple shabby shelf unit painted up nice works so great to house my paper punches, button jars, scrap ribbon jars, and liquid dyes. The lower cupboard was a Recycletown find, and the tall storage cupboard from a local consignment shop. I added vintage aluminum spice racks to the side of the large cupboard to hold my various glitter bottles.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-44The large cupboard stores workshop supplies and I utilize the cubby shelf in the middle for my sewing and textile related books.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-24Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-42My yellow sewing table was once our kitchen table. On it is my sewing machine with table extension, all under a DIY dust cover. The two large and fabulous jute studio area rugs are Allen+Roth sponsored by Lowe’s, one shown here and the other in the couch area.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-23 I keep my iron on a little shelf above my vintage ironing boards, with the cord wound and hanging on a coat hook just under it. The green units are old watchmaker cabinets from the flea market and later spray painted. The four-panel wallpapered screen behind this area was a cheap find from a local tea room going out of business. The gold floral armchair in my sewing nook was recently pulled from my late father-in-law’s home and headed to the thrift store. Not on my watch! Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-43The wire scrapbook paper racks below were more $5 finds at Recycletown. The wall shelf is made from the top of a too-damaged vintage desk resting on iron brackets. I keep rolls of wrapping paper, crepe paper, and vintage wallpaper in an old wire shopping cart and large vintage food cans.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-40On the shelf are my vintage racks of old and re-designed vintage wood-handled rubber stamps.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-41 The multi-drawer glass-front cabinet was found at the Alameda Flea Market. It turned out to have a pretty cool past as shared in the comments of this post. It is the most practical piece for organizing many small collections and supplies.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-39I cleaned up that old garage-sale dresser to use as large storage for cutting pads, Xyron machines, and more. I attached vintage brass label holder hardware to the front of each drawer. On the dresser are a collection of graphically-pleasing vintage tins to organize everything from glue sticks and markers to craft knives and paint brushes.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-36This vintage cardboard drum was another $5 find at the recycle area. I added a 3-wheel potted plant caster to the bottom and it’s now one of the most practical items in my entire studio. I wheel this large trash can all over the place, depending on where I’m working. And it’s wide enough for long-tossing trash, (I’m usually a pretty good shot.)Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-37The large counter-height table is my main crafting area and was once our dining room table. I tuck a drop-leaf farm table below that slides out for more crafting surface area as needed.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-38Under the tall table are the counter stools with vintage hardware aprons attached.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-26There’s also an apron tied to each of the workshop chairs. I began collecting these aprons about two years ago. It’s funny that when you decide to collect something how easy it is to spy those things at flea markets and second-hand shops. I purchased several as well on Ebay and Etsy when I found them really cheap.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-27On each chair I placed a piece of non-slip drawer liner and padded chair cushion. Tucked in the pocket of every workshop chair apron is a guest-book-journal for attendees to write in, collage a page, or doodle something nice for the next person who sits there. Each beautifully illustrated ruled notebook is from The Art of Instruction Notebook Collection sponsored for the barn by Chronicle Books. I savor every written page each evening after a workshop.photoThis large primitive shelf unit that has been around our house for nearly 20 years was a trade from Bird’s Nest Antiques in Santa Rosa, CA. It now holds lots of things used in setting up workshop kits and stations. On top are my jars of various colored Divine Twine spools… can anyone ever have enough of that?Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-35Here is my corner full of cubbies & drawers. The top piece is an old hotel lobby or mail slot unit filled with what-nots- fun little items with minimal purpose but sweet aesthetic that gravitate to a pigeon hole of its own. Below is an old $10 bookshelf storing small parts & watchmaker cabinets filled with actual watch parts and other interesting vintage components. In the far corner is a primitive art drawer unit made from antique metal cigar tins. Below that are a few wooden office and library cabinets storing small ephemera pieces.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-34The 9-foot apothecary cabinet holds jars of crafty goods atop drawers of workshop supplies below. Above it stores workshop paper maché cabinets waiting to be embellished.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-33The black library card cabinet is a refreshed version of it’s previous life. On this shelf unit I also store boxes of vintage greeting cards, and wooden drawers filled with soldering supplies. The little cardboard trash bin to the left gets further embellished whenever I have interesting residual ephemera from craft projects.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-32Wire plate display racks are excellent holders for my design markers, bottles of old shoe leather dye, and bottles of Martha Stewart craft paint.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-31 The racks are attached along the back of an old kitchen cupboard.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-30That old kitchen cupboard is a favorite piece of mine with a great amount of storage space. I spied it in the barn loft at the home of one of the parents at my kids’ school nearly 10 years ago. He sold and delivered it to me for only $50. I added a smaller drawer unit at the end using ornate iron brackets below, creating even more surface area above. The tall yellow cupboard at the other end stores cleaning and utility supplies. I attach small shelves and coat hooks to many of my cupboards for added display areas.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-005 I made a little station for paper and twine with an old fold-top card table from the thrift store. The large roll of kraft paper in the old store dispenser found at Goat Hill Fair is great for covering surfaces for crafting. The smaller dispenser attached holds a roll of lightweight painter’s masking paper for wrapping things.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-28The workbench below is another $5 find at Recycletown. I added casters to the legs that I painted red. This area is where I drill, hammer, screw, and solder. On the lower shelf are all of my Dremel power tools. That contraption hanging on the right leg of the table is a very handy wooden jig for holding glass pieces in position while soldering, made and sold at Fusion Glass Studio in Springfield, Mo. I collect large miscellaneous brushes, like the one hanging on the left, to keep around the studio for dusting off craft surfaces.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-29Below is the resource, daydreaming, and visiting area of the barn. The fantastic large bookshelf was custom built for me by North Bay Plywood in Napa, California in trade for a new logo I designed for their company a few years ago. Most all of the books and magazines on the shelves are related to crafting and design, several are vintage and rare. The shelves are also the best place to display my vintage toy wagon collection.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-20 See that delicious fruity-colored quilt over the sofa? That beauty was handmade and gifted to me upon opening my barn by the ever-so-talented Suzy Bauter, aka: Suzy-Homemaker. Needless to say, I cried when I opened the shipping package that day from such a dear friend. That beautiful quilt has added so much sweetness to the entire space. Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-21Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-22My coffee table, a roadside find, is an old blanket chest that holds my favorite magazines. I added vintage rubber casters to the bottom for added height and easy moving.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-001I made a little extra work area from a two-tiered office cart from Recycletown. I painted it black and placed a wooden Parcheesi game board upside-down on top. Atop that are three antique wooden starch boxes that hold my sketchbooks. The whole unit can wheel to my computer area for extra table space or tuck away by the bookcase.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-46There. We’ve made it full circle. Visit my previous blog post for more detailed Inspired Barn craft studio organizing information and images. You will find even more by searching #inspiredbarn on Instagram.Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-16 I am so honored to have my barn studio featured in the current April 2014 issue of Country Living magazine. (Follow that link for the full story on organizing crafts.) Here are a few beautiful shots taken for the feature by photographer James Baigrie and styled by CL’s Style & Market Director Natalie Warady. Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-15  Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-13 Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-12Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-006

If you build it they will come.

Cathe-Holden-Inspired-Barn-Studio-007Inspired Barn workshops have gotten off to a really great start beginning with monthly craft events. I’ll soon be posting smaller classes and am open to creating custom workshops for groups such as bridal, corporate, vacation, and other special events. Be sure your on the email list for upcoming happenings at the

I hope you enjoyed the tour. I’d love to know what you think!

I give so much gratitude and an enormous Thank You! to the many who have supported this endeavor with advice, materials, time, product, support and encouragement. I give my unending appreciation to my husband Jeff for supporting and helping to create yet another creative endeavor of mine, and to my children for the years of patience during all of the many transitions and inconveniences. And, of course, glory to God for making every single bit of this possible.

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