After a long career in the manufacturing industry where the focus is always on safety, ergonomics, and productivity, my craft space has naturally evolved to include these same elements.
It's taken a few years to get the space to work perfectly for me, but it's worth taking a step backwards, and thinking about what will work for you.
Tip 1 - Desk or Table
This is piece of furniture where I would begin a scheme.
Think about the not only the height and width of your table or desk, but also the depth (how far it will protrude from the wall).
I have overhead cupboards, so I've chosen to have a slimline depth desk so that I can reach above. It also works for the small projects that I make such as pouches and bags and clothes.If you're a quilter, then a slimline depth desk probably isn't going to work for you.
For sewing purposes, I wanted a desk with a shiny laminated top. Not only is it really easy to clean, but fabrics glide across with ease as they move through the sewing machine.
On the negative side, this surface scratches really easily so it's not suitable for pinning.
Tip 2 - The Chair
If you're going to spend a lot of time sewing or crafting, then this is probably going to be the most important piece of furniture in the space. Try to think about if from the perspective of a worker who may spend all day at a desk, or at a table in a factory. They use an adjustable ergonomic desk chair for a good reason.
You need to be able to adjust your seat height to suit your table, and you also need to be able to adjust your back rest so that you sit up straight (and try not to hunch over).
I know a vintage wooden chair with a floral cushion looks much more pretty, but I'd rather be comfortable when sewing.
An adjustable desk chair is also very useful when it comes to the ironing board tip.
Tip 3 - Lighting
It's very important to be able to see what you're doing, especially if you like to craft or sew at night.
I don't have very good natural light in my craft space, so I went to the extreme and had a skylight installed, but you can pick up a great adjustable lamp (like the one pictured above) for around $20 from Officeworks.
Tip 4 - The Ironing Board
Most ironing boards are height adjustable.
Adjust the height of your board so that it's the same height as your table, and set it up right next to your sewing table.
As you're sewing, if you need to stop and iron, you don't need to stand up and walk to the ironing board, you simply swivel on your desk chair, iron your fabric, and then swivel back.
Tip 5 - Easy Access
To save time and frustration, keep everything you need easily accessible.
You may not have desk drawers, but think of other ways to keep necessary items close to your workspace so that you don't need to get up and search.
I have all of my threads, bobbins, tools, sewing machine feet, scissors etc. exactly where I need them.
Tip 6 - The Power
One of the things that drives me completely bonkers is that powerpoints are only ever installed right down low along the bottoms of walls, behind the furniture, making them completely inaccessible.
These powerboards with switches are a godsend. I have one sitting on top of the desk so that I can easily plug and unplug all of my appliances such as the iron, laminator, cordless vacuum charger etc.
So much easier than getting on the floor under the desk to access the powerpoint!
Tip 7 - The Cutting Table
I'm not sure whether you can tell from this photo, but there's quite a big difference in height between my sewing desk and my cutting table.
I rotary cut everything standing up, so I've had my cutting table raised (by adding lockable castors) so that it is approximately the standard kitchen bench height of 900mm (of course, this height won't work for everyone as it depends on your own height).
Think about whether you're bending a lot when cutting. Is there a way that you could raise or lower your table so that it's more appropriate for your own height? A good test is to put your cutting mat on your dining table, and then then on your kitchen bench to see what difference it makes for you.
I hope there's a little helpful hint in there somewhere.
If you try something out and like it please let me know!