Studio Tour: Dear Colleen

June 20, 2012

I love a good studio tour and this one in New Zealand doesn’t disappoint! It was submitted by Colleen who runs her own design firm called Dear Colleen who specializes in hand lettering, fashion and homeware design. It hasn’t been shown yet online so I wanted to give you a first peek!

Studio Tour: Dear Colleen

Colleen’s studio sits on the second floor of an old shared building for artists and creatives. The building is nearly 100 years old and has amazing features like large metal framed window and wooden floors. Colleen is based in Dunedin which is in the south island of New Zealand. Here is her studio from start to finish in a video shot by Scott Savage.

About her space Colleen says, “I did the studio up in a week with a lot of help from my boyfriend and a budget of around $300. I bought filing cabinets from op shops and gave some of them a new lease of life by having them powder coated in a bright green. The wood desk was dirty and abandoned in the room so I sanded it, added casters that I had saved from another piece and added new handles.” Being on such a small budget forced Colleen to get creative!

Studio Tour: Dear Colleen

Studio Tour: Dear Colleen

Studio Tour: Dear Colleen

Studio Tour: Dear Colleen

Studio Tour: Dear Colleen

“I painted large wall graphics to add interest to the space, which took time but pretty much cost me nothing. All the furniture in my studio is second hand or salvaged. I love rescuing pieces that are destined for the dump and giving them a second chance.” Well done, Colleen!

(photos: Emily Hlavac Green.)


  • Reply Michelle drew June 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

    That is fantastic and on such a tight budget. Wonderfully resourceful and I love the pink fabric covered desk chair!

  • Reply mimi June 20, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Oh I am SO in love with that cushion in the first picture! Are they for sale anywhere…. please tell me they are!

  • Reply Hazel Schreiner June 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Love it! Especially love the pink office chair and the time watch sketch! Fab space to work in!

    :) Hazel

  • Reply debra@dustjacket June 20, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Great job…love the green and the pink chair…so cool!

  • Reply le_third June 20, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Dunedin is a haven for creative types in the south island – very inventive and totally fab – go colleen – oh and we have our cold beach holiday house there so I am bias :) best le and like everyone we adore the chair !!

  • Reply eskimo*rose June 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Fab studio – green with envy here! Love that dull office chair that’s been totally brought to life with great fabric :o)

  • Reply caroline @trend-daily June 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    i would so love to be part of a studio environment-it can only be inspiring and encourage your creativity-and keep you away from the kettle and the fridge!! :-)

  • Reply Barbara June 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Fantastic studio, I love all those details and light is fantastic! I hope my studio will look as good as this one when I fix it

  • Reply Kerry Steele June 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Love the pink desk chair and I really want that pillow in the first image!

  • Reply Bonnie McCarthy June 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Great space!! Love that chair -and her artwork is wonderful!

  • Reply Kind Designs June 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    To reiterate Mimi’s comment, I have fallen in love with the cushion on the leather chair! The colours and geometric pattern work perfectly! Is it available online?

  • Reply Colleen June 20, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Just quickly for those that are interested the cushion is from a site called Click for Art and the Fabric on the chair is by Designers Guild and is call Central Park.

  • Reply Elliot Alexander June 20, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Yep DC is world famous in NZ. Here are a couple of other great illustration/design peeps from NZ worth checking out.
    Love your blog.

  • Reply Melanie June 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    What an inspiring workspace! I love that pink chair. :)

  • Reply Patti Trostle June 21, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Love watching the video and seeing it all come together! This reminds me of my studio. I also do my painting in a building that houses over 70 artists. The building was built in the early 1900’s. Great character and wonderful space to work!

  • Reply A Little Ink June 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Adore this space! Such a good reflection of her work too! Really punchy, strong design with a serious twist -so, so clever. A Little Inspirational!

  • Reply Yeshen June 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    what a lovely workspace.. the metal draw unit with green draws is great, also cool how that green is repeated in a few objects around the space.

  • Reply Dreaming of June June 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Awesome space! Thanks for sharing it.

  • Reply Kat June 25, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Oh that pink cover on the office chair is so pretty!
    I’m sure it must help her get more work done sitting on
    something as nice as that!
    Kat :)

  • Reply Jacqui July 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    How gorgeous! I would love to work here! Really a treat to read about the process here. And a fellow New Zealander too! Nice one Colleen!

  • Reply Susan July 2, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Lovely space Colleen :)

    Think youve caused that cushion to sell out on Click for Art!
    I was too slow!

  • Reply Alexander July 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Love the idea of painting the cabinets green! It adds a great look to the studio. Check out our site for some more ideas and products for improving your home and office.

  • Reply suzanne July 5, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Such a sweet and refreshing space! Gotta be a great place to work!

  • Reply Veronika July 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Really nice pictures. I love your pink desktop chair, its so beautiful.
    All the best – veronika

  • Reply Sam July 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Love the space it is amazing what you can do on a small budget some times, it can push you to explore new ways to refresh an interior. Love It x

  • Reply Anne July 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you for the tour!
    I love the wall graphics :)

  • Reply Lottie :: Oyster & Pearl August 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Ooh, I too love that cushion! Off to see whether it’s back in stock now.

  • Reply Cathy D November 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Um, $300?!?! That’s wildly impressive. I always look at these gorgeous homes and decor ideas and think to myself, “well, maybe someday when I have the money…” This has inspired me to get off my butt and stop making excuses! Also making me wistful for the time I spent abroad in New Zealand during college…what a beautiful country.

  • Reply Danielle February 9, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Hi! I am madly in love with that colorful pillow in the first picture! Could you please let me know where it can be purchased? Thank you!!

  • Reply J. Patryce Design August 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Hi – I am an interior designer in the NYC area. I am always seeking interesting new textiles. I LOVE the colorful geometric pillow in the very first image.
    Can you tell me more about the fabric or pillow maker?

    Thanks – Joan

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