Last autumn, my family did the big forever move across the country to Victoria, British Columbia. We purchased a 30 year old house that had been recently renovated – well, two-thirds of it had been renovated. My husband’s uncle joked that we had bought a ‘million dollar fixer-upper’ since we decided to do the last of the renovations ourselves (with no little help from Uncle B). The two main culprits were the laundry room and the room above the garage – these had been left in their vintage 1984 state, along with the smell of a chain smoker. My husband tackled the laundry room; I took on the above garage apartment – soon to be my new art studio.
My husband had purchased the house while staying at his mom’s place with our kids. (I was busy selling our old house in Milton, Ontario, packing up all of our possessions and purging whatever I could to reduce the cost of our move out West). He took lots of photos and sent me the floorplan of the new house. The ‘Before’ photos (as I called them) showed a space that that was being used as an exercise room, with weights and stationary bike. The room appeared quite dark, even though it had a large window and skylight due to the navy blue wallpaper and dark oak paneling.
Since I had some time on my hands before the move (about six weeks between selling our old house and taking possession of the new one), I started planning my art studio virtually. I measured all of my studio furniture and bookshelves, and then made a to-scale floorplan in PowerPoint. I made furniture blocks that I could move around for the best fitting placement in the virtual room.
Once we were settled into the new house (and had mostly unpacked), we started the renovations. I treated working on the studio space as a full-time job for two months. There were a number of challenges that I needed to tackle. The existing Berber carpet stank of 30-years’ worth of chain-smoking and needed to be ripped out. I had planned to remove the navy blue wallpaper, but discovered it had been applied directly to the drywall and it would not come off without taking the wall with it.
Uncle B. came to the rescue – he borrowed a friend’s industrial paint sprayer. We sprayed everything – floor, ceiling, chimney bricks and the walls (over the wallpaper) with a primer and bright white semi-gloss paint. This helped to seal out the cigarette odour and covered up the gross yellow ceiling (stained from the nicotine smoke). The oak paneling and wood trim needed multiple coats of primer and semi-gloss paint (I think I did seven coats in total) brushed on by hand to properly cover up the wood knots and stop the tannins from bleeding up through the white paint.
Next, we rented a jackhammer to break up the brick hearth left over from the old wood stove. To maximize the floor space, my husband said the hearth had to go. I wanted to put in laminate flooring in the studio in a light driftwood colour, and this way we could lay the laminate in straight lines. Luckily, the laminate flooring went in without a hitch.
Lastly, the fluorescent tube lighting were replaced with new fixtures which took LED daylight bulbs. This made the studio bright even on a cloudy, rainy West Coast winter day. The renovations were completed over the Christmas break, and I began the process of unpacking and organizing my art supplies. I had been looking at Pinterest for studio organization ideas, and that will be the focus of my next post.