The Studio Transformation !

This story began briefly on one of my other blogs but now is here as part of my new journey through this stage of my life!

Back in 2011, myself & partner decided to re-locate our businesses from Hertfordshire to the Avon/Somerset area & move into 2 adjoining commercial units (his business in one & mine in the other). Although maybe (at this stage) not ideal for the purpose of a working studio for me, its size & location was - especially to house my library of books (& have a cement floor), my textile related tools & various collections. It took a few months for the necessary paperwork to be completed, but by August, the units were ready for use.

Without knowing exactly how I would work in the future, it was imperative to ensure the inside of the stuidio section would be as bright as possible. White was chosen for the main ceiling & walls colour as it would help to brighten everything & also act as a 'blank canvas'. Part of the reason I chose to do the decorating myself, was that I could get used to lighting (natural & existing) whilst in it. The main studio area has a window at one with overhead strip lighting (left, right & front sections) & it appears to be quite bright even when the lights are off. Also, internal furniture was predominantly that used in our previous office & was ideal now for my use. It's internal use could easily be changed & moved around depending on where it all worked when I was finally 'in situ'.

As visits to the unit were likely to be irregularly (& then only for part of a day), any changes had to be planned in advance with minimum fuss. With a house move imminent sometime in early 2012, I  decided that over a 6 month period (ie. by the start of 2012), the studio had to be ready to take all my 'working' things as well as any 'collections' that needed sorting out.

The first thing to do would be cleaning & painting as nothing much had been done in about 5 years. One urgent main enhancement was the addition of hot water in the kitchen area - a vital necessity especially for painting! Another 'first job' was the old wood frontage. It had seen better days but was now starting to seriously decline. Not wanting to paint that too, a local company was called in to update it to a modern white uPVC one although timewise, the first coat of paint inside was done before the front was changed.

A heavy metal hand pull-down shutter over the front was in fact almost to heavy to pull down & was rather rickety - this was changed to an automatic one. An old rusty ram-post (visible in one of the 'before' shots) was also to be given a make-over using a silver metallic paint (this would be a job done later alongside some other metal objects I was planning to do). Here's the story of the transformation (or revamp) as it unfolded then & carries even now.

May 2011 - The old outside

Here's the 2 units - the left one is my partner's (handy when I need some help to undo lids!)

First stage of revamping the 'studio unit' will be to get rid of the old wooden frontage & old hand-pull shutters. Also notice the dirty & rusty 'ram-post' outside (just in front of the window glass) - this too will eventually get a make-over.

July 2011 - The previous owners move out

Here the previous owners were moving out & as we 'took hold of the keys'.

Myself, partner & trusty 4-footed German Shepherd will now start to 'trundle' down almost every Thursday or Friday - weather permitting. Over 120 miles complete with a car top-box & car crammed full of 'cleaning & decorating things', we will spend time either cleaning walls or painting - also house hunting.

August 2011 - The old inside

This 'office' furniture was left for us & will be put in my partner's adjoining unit, leaving my 'studio' area empty & ready to paint. I manage to steam-clean some walls ready for the first coats of paint.

Plain white paint will 'spruce it up' & brighten it - don't quite know yet how I'll be fitting it up. Hopefully it will also be a 'blank canvas' for use later on. Part of the reason I'm doing the decorating myself is so that I can get used to the lighting etc whilst in it. This area has one window at the end (not seen in this pix) with overheads strip lighting. It appears to be quite bright even when the lights are off.

10 Septmber 2011 - Kitchen

There's also a loo & kitchen area to the rear of the 'back office' which I've also started decorating. I finished up some left-over house paint (from a few years ago's use) yesterday in the loo area & have had to adjust initial colour schemes. The breeze-block walls just "eat up" the paint & it took far more than anticipated. During this coming week I've got to get some more mixed as the colour 'is no more'.

I mention this because the colour used is a deepish aqua shade - shown at left around the sink area. It's almost 100% likely above the aqua band will be white (to maximise light) as will some of the woodwork (some of the painted flooring is bright blue). I'm not exactly happy working in the 'yellow band of colours' so I'm using this as a painting exercise to 'play' with a range of colours I wouldn't normally. I'm be introducing a bright/citrus yellow shade so this should remove the cold aspect of the blue & aqua & warm things up. Also, this colouring (at floor level) should'nt get too grubby as scuff marks won't show too much.

16 September 2011 - Studio taking shape !
Yesterday I was in my new 'work space' - preparing to paint the walls by emptying the room, removing nails from walls & cleaning etc. Here's the "empty" room (well, full of my bits & + dog asleep) complete with my decorating bits & pieces ... by the way its appx 30' long by 13' wide. With only one window at the front, it will be necessary to ensure maximum brightness at all times. A brilliant white paint with a sheen finish was chosen to reflect both day & artificial light - inside has overhead fluorescent lighting.

My initial thoughts on the 'furniture' layout is : books are likely to be housed on left-hand wall (above) with fabrics/craft etc to right. I'm hoping to stitch at window end & other end (where desk currently is on corner of pic) to have as 'design/drawing end.

Left is the view from the window/door end showing mainly the 'middle zone' to work in ... ish !! The table in the centre is set up ready for me to paint over the next few weeks (note dog bed & bowl currently in use - not by me although tempting on occasion!!).

The door at the back end leads into an office area (which is currently used to store cleaning things, ladders etc.) - through from here is the kitchen & loo.

23 September 2011 - Kitchen
A good day in the 'unit' yesterday that achieved 2 things more than anticipated - more painting was completed & the lime paint (Lime Zest) has done exactly what I wanted it to ...

The loos & inner lobby next to the kitchen area all have no natural light as they are positioned to the rear of the other unit with the main walls adjoining them. The floor (inherited) is a 'French blue'.

To obtain max. effect from the overhead electric light bulbs, brilliant white has been the choice for the upper section here. The turquoise painted last week needed an 'uplift' to brighten it PLUS the colour chosen should overall 'light up' specific corners. Since the main working spaces adjacent to this entire corner section are likely to be 'brilliant white' - all colours should co-ordinate well together. Additionally they should look modern & be lively, create spaciousness (without blocking) & not let marks show easily at floor level. Although there is an extensive set of overhead strip lighting, the unit's depth encourages 'dimness' in this corner. Hence a vivid shade that would almost appear to 'create light' was necessary. The Dulux shade 'Lime Zest' achieves these objectives very well as you can see above.

18 November 2011 - New front

The entrance to the studio has been replaced with a modern/UPVC white one & a shiny electric shutter ... hopefully this will add to the brightness.

The ram post stands out like a sore thumb!

22 November 2011 - Ceilings
Being a 'commercial unit' the inside (especially in the evening) is a little cold & damp. There's is no central heating but once the flooring get's its new 'textile' covering & with regular heating, things should get a bit warmer.

The main ceilings of both the office & studio are now painted & all strip lighting has been cleaned.  I 'broken the back' of this decorating yesterday with everywhere getting brighter . A nasty job but the finished effect is brilliant white everywhere!

8 December 2011 -  New carpet & finished studio

The new carpet (an industial type used in schools) has been layed - now all looking very clean!

20 December 2011 - Kitchen Finishings

I've finished off skirtings & door frames in a dark grey satinwood finish - it doesn't show too many imperfections in the existing wood.

All internal wood veneer doors were undercoated then finished in brilliant white - a great brightening contrast to the greens & grey furnitures.

27 December 2011 - Boxes delivered

The entire space in the studio has been taken over with the delivery of all my things. Now all's left for me to do is empty everything & put into cupboards (hidden under boxes) ! It's likely this won't now happen until the New Year as snow is on the horizon!

February/May 2012 - Basic boxes unpacked
Up to February 2012 there was snow over a wide area of the country & being cold & travel difficult, the units really became 'unused'. Consequently this damp air resulted in making many of the packaging boxes (with books in) start to collapse & almost topple over. This was fist noticed on a visit when the weather improved. The boxes then had to be quickly emptied & temporarily put into less hazardous positions! (In hindsight for writing this blog, I now wish some photos had been taken but at the time, picture taking wasn't high on the agenda!) Here's the result of that exercise!

It next seemed appropriate (over the forthcoming weeks/months) to take time to 'have a good sort out' & get things into a good 'working' order. Something I'd ben promising myself for several years!! One of the worse jobs of that, was getting all the books back into their original order - when they'd been removed from the 'squashing' boxes, they were taken quickly & placed VERY randomly on book shelves.

May/June 2012 - Hammerite a post & move !

On those early days when I was finishing off the studio, I did some of the metal painting I'd earmarked for doing using Hammerite paint. It's great to be able to use it outside especially if items are large - like a very large dragonfly (more about that later!). Especially of note, is the outside step & rampost - looks much better now!

July 2012 - New internal partition
Inside the studio (by the door), I decided a partition was necessary. With most of the furniture in place (& boxes in situ for working on), it would prevent anyone from the adjoining unit coming into this section as well as preventing cold air from outside 'wafting' in. It would also create a 'studio' window area which could possibly be used like a shop window to showcase some of my (on-going) work. (I'd had a fashion shop many years ago & found this to be a good way of "generating interest").

Being uPVC, the partition could easily join to the existing frontage & ultimately create an L-shape style window.

White metal bookcases behind the partition could be used for display both internally (the lower shelves accessible from the inside) as well as externally (top shelf just at window height).

September/November 2012 - Heating

Gradually getting used to 'working' here although much of what I'm doing is still related to 'sorting things out'. It's just what happens when you love what you do & collect things!

As the weather's been changing, I've had a thermometer on hand to see where in the studio is coldest & how it heats up over the day. It appears that it is warmer than last year when I was in here cleaning & decorating but not really as warm as I'd like it to be. I've tried both fan & radiant heater & although noticeable useful, think the way forward is an oil radiator. Bought a 3kw De'Longhi & its brilliant - although could easily have another to be 'red-hot' in the studio! I try to keep it around 20ish - not too bad with a sweater on & keeps you adjusted to current cold outside!

As well as tidying & sorting out (a slow job with all those boxes above!), I've also been 'stitching' which I'm writing about here. Whilst doing it, I usually have a light on above my work (see the spot-light to the left of the machine) & find it really useful ... the heat from the lamp keeps my hands warm - VERY IMPORTANT for crafters!