Thursday, February 13, 2014

BUILDING A HOME STUDIO {Part I}

Absolutely, hands-down, without-a-doubt, HERE IT IS!! The GREATEST gift I've ever given myself is contained within these 4 walls; a fully-equipped art and sewing studio!!

Our house is about 100 years old and part of the property behind the main house was an active farm until Dean's parents got too old to maintain it (at least 40 years ago) and no one else took up the responsibilities in their absence. Traces of old animal pens now hold trash heaps (country folk used to think it was a good way to discard their rubbish, devaluing their land in the process) and different out-buildings dot the land in various states of run-down.

It's sometimes hard to see how neglected this land is, still, I love living in a place with so much history. 


This building was originally used as a place to cure meats, and, being one of the only barns still functioning as a shelter from the elements, was called the 'dry barn'. After a failed attempt to return to school for upholstery in the fall, I decided to reallocate those tuition funds towards fixing it up as a home studio. Moving out to Julian meant the studio I was using in Hillsborough was no longer convenient and I needed somewhere to work. I decided to hire a contractor (Adam's childhood friend and former Bronzed Chorus drummer) and he got right to work insulating and finishing out the inside.

I always think about high school psychology in times like these -- when I find myself facing a large decision-making task. I remember learning that bigger decision-making is one the last skills we develop as humans, usually in the mid-20s. I won't say that this project is necessarily a cornerstone decision in my life, but when you're dropping down what you consider a larger chunk of money, it can create insecurity. "Am I being smart about this?" "Is this what I really want/need right now?" Ultimately, I knew that to further my career, make more money, and realize my dreams, I needed a place to work.  And I just looked at it as paying all my rent up front.

Hey, just think about how much money I can save by not driving anywhere!

We took off the existing door and replaced it with these french doors that originally lived in the main house, and were currently being stored in the dry barn. This alleviated the problem of not having many windows and made the space more inviting. A pane was missing from the bottom corner so we used the opportunity to add a cat door. Also, the removal of the vent created an extra window above.

Damn, look at all those leaves! We didn't know what to do when fall came. I'm learning a lot about what it takes to live on and maintain a large plot of land.

When we ran electricity to the studio, we also ran it to the the 2-car garage nearby. This will serve as Adam's future wood-working shop, but we're waiting till spring to start that project. No more hauling the table saw over to the house to plug it in! In this picture, I had taken the first door off to start the arduous process of scraping all the old (oil) paint off and re-finishing it with exterior paint. Man, that was a bitch! Such a pain, in fact, that I never got around to the second door.... And, with the onslaught of winter weather we got, my motivation was long, long gone.


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Lessons I learned from this project:
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-hiring someone else to do work for you is GREAT!...as along as you've got the money to do it.

-trying to refurbish or reuse old materials is WAY harder than building new. But it stays in line with my passion for recycling and love of all things old.

-I do NOT like using power tools -- watching me wield a drill is as awkward as a cow on roller skates.

-I do NOT like being in charge of a project I cannot do myself, relying on other people for every step was a hugh lesson in patience.

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All in all, the project was a success and well worth the trouble. The freedom and ease it now gives me to work is a real blessing.

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These photos are from when we first moved into our place back in June. It's hard to believe our yard was ever this green! Or that within 8 months, I would've completely renovated this shed into what it is now.

Stay tuned for BUILDING A HOME STUDIO - Part II, where I'll talk about and share pictures of the inside of the studio!


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