Kerry's "Dirty Minimal" Workspace: The Studio of Comma Workshop

Kerry's "Dirty Minimal" Workspace: The Studio of Comma Workshop

Kathryn Bacalis
Oct 16, 2013

Name: Kerry Larkin of Comma Workshop
Location: Lyons, Colorado
Size: 700 square feet
Years Occupied: 1 year

A former architect and industrial design teacher, Kerry Larkin of Comma Workshop recently headed West with a passion to reconnect with her family lineage and a determination to create a life more centered around working with her hands.

Coming from a long line of quilt makers, one could say sewing has always been in her blood. The start of Comma Workshop gave her the ability to put her own fresh spin on the world of quilting and create a product that is truly unique. Her modern, typography-driven quilts are inspiring and beautiful. Walking through her Boulder based studio, it's easy to see how Kerry has brought the same renewed perspective seen in her work into the design of her workspace.

Kerry's love for minimalist design can be traced back to years spent in the architectural field and can be seen quite clearly in her studio's simple layout, white washed walls and the complete lack of frill and fuss. Not as noticeable are the elements that contribute to what Kerry calls "Dirty Minimalism" — the dashes of "realism" throughout the space. She draws my attention to the rusted and worn blue metal table legs, which she saved from a local school that was closing. These support large tops made of old doors rescued from an architectural salvage yard. Scattered throughout her studio are well placed pieces with the patina that can only come with time and wear. Adding to the harmony of the space, almost everything in her studio has a visible purpose (yes, that includes the stack of river tubes!). And by adding in the occasional pop of color, best represented in the bright orange industrial table trestles, Kerry has been able to create a workplace that feels both relaxing and inspiring.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I definitely have a minimalist aesthetic, with a dash of industrial and vintage carefully thrown in. In both my studio and my home, I try to own only things that I really love, whether it is a beautiful piece of furniture or an inexpensive thrift store find. I will go months without a couch or a lamp or even cereal bowls, just because I haven’t found something that I love!

Inspiration: I love farm architecture, grain elevators, and industrial warehouses. They are practical and beautifully proportioned, which makes layering rust and dirt on them all the more lovely. It is a dilemma, though, because I make white quilts, so I’ll try to drag a rusty metal toolbox into the studio, and then sigh and leave it outside! Also, being trained as an architect, I am definitely inspired by architects like Herzog and DeMeuron, Peter Zumthor, and Byoung Cho.

Favorite Element: I have two:

1) I love having a bed in the studio! Yes, it’s for displaying products, but I
will admit, it’s perfect for an afternoon nap! Everyone should have a bed
in their space.
2) My studio space was formerly used as a meditation hall, and there is
still a small shrine space. When I arrive at the studio in the morning, I like
to take some time to meditate and set an intention for the day. It really
makes a difference in the workday.

Biggest Challenge: I hate to admit it, but I tend to be messy. My biggest challenge is cleaning up after myself. A few months ago I realized that if you’d put a time-lapse camera in the studio, the majority of it would be of me looking for misplaced tools! So, I found a home for (almost) everything, and really make an effort to put things back in their place. And, being right on Main Street, people wander in, so I like being able to welcome people into a clean space.

What Friends Say: My studio is in an 1880s building that is used as a hotel/boarding house for musicians that play at the bluegrass and folk festivals here in Lyons. It’s a pretty amazing space with a dark, western aesthetic. Everyone that walks into my space is surprised at how bright and well lit my studio is — a definite contrast to the rest of the house.

Biggest Embarrassment: I have a great porch and I’ve been longing to set up a beautiful little outdoor space with a container garden, hammock, etc. but I haven’t found time to do it yet.

Proudest DIY: I actually haven’t done a lot of DIY things in my studio, but I really love my work tables. The orange and yellow metal sawhorses are practical and beautiful. Most of my table tops are old doors from an architectural salvage yard. I like to host parties and events, and they are easy to move when I need to change the space around.

Biggest Indulgence: Definitely my longarm sewing machine. I call it a ‘baby’ longarm though because it’s not nearly as big and complex as most longarm machines out there! But, it works perfectly for what I do.

Best Advice: Be gentle and kind to yourself. Working for yourself (and creating your workspace) is an adventure. There are days that you won’t be productive and days that you’ll feel like a superstar. Embrace them both.

Dream Sources: I love architectural salvage yards and junkyards, but, again with white quilts, I have to be really selective about what I bring into the studio. And, give me a midcentury modern furniture store and I’ll spend the entire day there.

Resources of Note:


  • Glidden: Snow


  • Metal Shelves: Ikea
  • Framed postcard photos: My friend, photography Cynthia Connolly
  • Thinking Cap print: Ork Posters
  • Dresser: flea market find
  • Blue metal table legs: salvaged from a classroom in a local school that closed.
  • Wood and metal filing cabinet: Flea market find
  • Meditation bench: a prototype that I made several years ago
  • Yellow and orange metal sawhorses: Home Depot
  • Little white vases: Stitch and Hammer
  • Green hanging moss balls: A DIY project I saw on Design*Sponge
  • Table tops: Old doors from an architectural salvage yard
  • Roping steer: Yard sale of a champion female roper
  • White serving platter: Anthropologie

Thanks, Kerry!

(Images: Kathryn Bacalis)

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