Saturday, May 31, 2014

Renovating a Studio

In September of 2012, now nearly two years ago, we decided to buy a quaint little house (that needed some de-80'sification) in a beautiful neighborhood in a small town of North Carolina.  There were two things that sold the house for me.  The first was the incredible, large, wooded yard that featured many 30+ year established plants, including a lovely fig tree, and the second reason was an unfinished space above the garage that could (seemingly) easily be turned into a wonderful studio.  Over the last nearly two years, we have slowly but surely been chipping away at the to-do list to turn this house into our home.  Both my husband and I are very handy and compliment each other's DIY skills quite well.  We have managed to completely update and beautify one of the ugliest and most malfunctioning kitchens that there has ever been, along side working on completing the studio space.  This once storage space turned out to be a much bigger project than we could have ever foreseen.


All of the insulation and partial drywall had to be taken out.  The previous owner had chosen too inefficient an insulation to condition the space, and also curiously, they decided to use deer netting to keep the insulation in place.  This meant that we had to spend countless hours removing staple after staple from each and every stud and joist.  We also started to notice how the acrylic bubble skylights began to leak.  Though they were south facing, we had not planned to replace them, which significantly impacted our budget and in turn impacted our timeline.

We knew the 3/8 inch plywood subflooring would have to be replaced, so we took that opportunity to also correctly insulate under the floor as well.

Below you will see how we had to remove the old leaky skylights which we splurged by replacing them with really nice north-facing ones on the opposite side of the roof.

 To re-do the subflooring correctly, we had to remove the knee-walls, which turns out, where not properly installed in the first place.  Surprise, surprise.  So in re-building the knee-walls, we got our design approved by the city, which was to utilize the space for extra storage, with some open shelving and pre-built cabinets as well as slots to fit my flat files on the south side of the studio.

We also decided to give my easels a bit more head room and raised the ceiling joists.

Now at this point, we realized that we would need to fix the stairs to bring them up to code.  Ironically, I do not have any pictures of this step.  It is likely due to the fact that it was one of the most contentious parts of the project.  I am happy to say our marriage was strong enough to survive the disagreements.

The last bit of fun left to us by the previous owner was some very "iffy" looking, obviously home grown electrical work.  We decided to hire a professional for this aspect of the job, especially since it required installing a special plug for the heat/ AC unit we will be installing.


 I am so happy to say that on Wednesday, all of the rough work passed the city's building inspection.  It was a huge relief and now means we can move forward with insulation and drywall.  Though the list is still long, I think we have turned the corner and are much, much closer to me being able to use this amazing and inspiring space (more comfortably) soon.  Below you will see two panoramic shots that kind of stretched the wall lenghts just a wee bit, but it's fun to see the whole space in one picture.

I will leave you with a painting which was in progress in the midst of this renovation. 


  1. Wow, this is wonderful! Congratulations on your hard work and vision! I long to build a second story studio onto my (currently one story) garage. You are inspiring!

  2. Your studio will be fabulous! Love seeing your progress...thanks for sharing!

  3. Nice work, great space. Inspiring.

  4. Wow!!! Great light, forbearance, and good for you. I just wrote you a congrats, and somehow it got erased. I needed to reenter password for google. Damn!!!

    Alia, I am happy for you, and your art has brought me peace. Remember you as the ballet dancer; you have always been beautiful! My blessings to you and your family, and say hi to Eunice for me.