A Dreamy Studio

Today we get a chance to tour a gorgeous new studio designed for talented longarm artist Mary Olson. Mary creates stunning appliqué quilts, collaborating on the designs with her husband Garry. She shared her techniques for buttonhole stitch appliqué in our March/April 2015 issue of MQU.

Last year Garry and Mary started a major home addition with several purposes in mind. They wanted to add a a place for Mary’s mother to live out her retirement, and also get the longarm out of the great room!

great room setup
The Olsons great room before their new addition. Midnight at the Celtic Garden, ©Mary and Garry Olson, is on the frame.

The addition included approximately 1,000 square feet above the new garage. Garry had a vision of the ultimate man cave, while Mary had a vision of her future quilting studio. In the end Mary received her quilting studio. The design of the quilt studio needed to be both functional and an inviting place to hang out with friends. This meant they needed plenty of storage for quilting supplies, seating for when friends visit, and a bathroom.

At the top of the stairs there is a landing area from which you can see the main seating area. The hand carved wood screen is a divider between the longarm area and the rest of the studio.

landing straight ahead view

To the left are two tufted chairs again in a neutral color with teal accent pillows and a whimsical butterfly lamp.

seating area with chairs to left

To the right is an area for a sink and place to house a coffee pot for those days when an extra dose of caffeine is needed. Mary and Garry’s artistic touch is evident everywhere you look.

counter area and desk to right of landing

To the right there is another sitting area in the dormer area, where Midnight at the Celtic Garden hangs. This is the second appliqué quilt that was a collaborative effort in which Garry designs and Mary transforms the design to create the quilt.

approaching sitting area

close up of sitting area
The focal point of this sitting area is Midnight at the Celtic Garden, ©Mary and Garry Olson

Across from the quilt is a desk and hanging above it is a painting that hung in Mary’s grandparents’  house. It is a way of always having them with her and she was thrilled to be able to incorporate it into her quilting studio.

desk with painting
This painting is a family keepsake that belonged to Mary’s grandparents.

There are two couches and coffee table for additional seating with accents of teal including a beautiful piece of pottery on the coffee table they picked up at the Oregon Coast years ago.


The table is where all the design happens and makes a great light box when Mary is creating her appliqué flowers, birds, and vines. The table was repurposed from another area of the home and new teal chairs were puchased for the studio. Of couse the beautiful painting on the wall brings in, you guessed it,  the teal color scheme.


Behind the carved wood screen is the new home for Mary’s longarm.  Notice that there is  plenty of room to walk around her Innova.

space behind screen

The Olsons also incorporated 14 feet of upper and lower cabinets to store all of Mary’s quilting supplies, including her domestic machine. She is delighted that everything has its place and she no longer has to travel to multiple rooms to get her quilting supplies.


Lastly across from the longarm is more storage and a television so that Mary can watch Dr. Phil when quilting at three in the morning.

television and storage

The home addition took a little more than a year to complete.  Mary is very excited to be quilting again and is currently working on their third quilt, Perserverence. Another stunner!

working on final borders
Perserverence in progress, ©Mary and Garry Olson
close up of flower and leaf quilt design in border
Perserverence in progress, ©Mary and Garry Olson

The bathroom is beautiful and spa-like. Home renovation is not new to either of the Olsons. They completed all the tilework, bathrooms, and cabinet installations in the home addition!

bathroom 3


bathroom 1

Garry got to incorporate his man cave in the new family room after all, including a new billiards table.  Note that their first collaborative quilt, Acanthus with a Twist, hangs there.

man cave 1
Acanthus With a Twist ©Mary and Garry Olson


Many thanks to the Olsons for sharing their breathtaking studio addition with us!

mary and garry
Garry and Mary Olson with Acanthus With a Twist ©Mary and Garry Olson

I can’t wait to see Perseverence when it’s finished, and I’m sure that many more beautiful quilts will be created in this new space.

What would you include in your dream studio?

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