Studio Renovation Project

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In 2009 we completed an extensive studio renovation project, and were featured on DIY Network’s show, Renovation Realities (The Finn Project). You can read about our project below. The renovation involves about 880 square feet, and includes the consultation room, the sitting room (where sessions are held), and the office (where all the behind-the-scenes magic happens!). I’ll be posting a series of images so you can see the the progression of the studio space.

In case you’re not familiar with Renovation Realities… this show is the antithesis of the “weekend-flip” shows.  Whatever happens, happens… and whatever goes wrong… gets aired.  Renovation isn’t all fun and games, and Renovation Realities is all about sidestepping stereotypes and unearthing the reality of renovation.  Here’s what DIY Network has to say about our episode:

Steven and Betsy Finn are a young couple living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Betsy, an award-winning professional photographer, operates her studio out of their basement. It’s a barren space with nothing more than some backdrops hanging on one wall, and a seating area with miss-matched couches against another. Wanting to make the space more client-friendly, they plan to insulate the basement floor and walls, lay plywood subflooring, frame the walls, install drywall, update the electrical system, add new lighting, and lay laminate flooring, all in just five days. They start out making decent time, until a violent storm knocks out their power, forcing them to stop work earlier than anticipated. The setbacks become a recurring theme as the couple battles scheduling conflicts, unfamiliar tools, and hunger-fueled blowups throughout the renovation. After five days of backbreaking work, not to mention blowing through their budget, Steven and Betsy finish less than half of the renovation and they soon realizes that this renovation is going to longer than either of them ever expected. did a feature on our appearance on Renovation Realities

Studio Renovation – Preparation (8/17/09)

The first stage of the project was to prepare the space for the renovation. The image below show the space just before framing. Notice the lovely pink walls — that’s rigid foam insulation, and the exterior walls (and floor) are lined with 1-2 inches of the stuff. The rigid foam insulation that was laid on the floor is hidden by the plywood sub-floor.

Also notice the open staircase. The wall was opened up during prep to help create an open, airy feel. Later in the project, the railing and new stairs will magically “appear”.  The red support pole will be encased in a wall once the framing begins… you’ll see.

The next stage is the framing.  The pink rigid foam on the walls was a little overwhelming in this image, so I’ve done your eyes a favor and chosen black and white.  This image depicts the future consultation room.  Notice all the batt insulation — that’s for between the studs.

Here’s a view of the office and sitting room, all framed out. Insulation has started going up, as you can tell — see how much the insulation expands once you open the packaging?  Pretty cool.

The next phase of the project is drywall, followed by painting, flooring, and wood trim. 

Studio Renovation Phase Two (8/18/09)

This update shows the studio space, prepped with insulation (both in the walls and the ceiling).  The image below is looking into the sitting room (where sessions are photographed) from the office (behind-the-scenes work area).
This next image shows the opposite view.  From the sitting room, you can see the office (left) and the consultation room (right).
A closer look at the consultation room.

Now that the insulation is up, the next step of the renovation will be to hang drywall, get the drywall mudded and taped, and then for the finishing touches (lay the floor, apply trim, and put in the new stair treads/railing). 

Studio Renovation – Drywall (8/19/09)

The studio renovation is going well! Make sure to check out my past updates (framing + insulation). This update will start to show the finished space a little better (drywall + mud/tape).

And just in case you’re wondering — yes, we still have a functioning studio space in the meantime. Sessions, consultations, and the like are all being scheduled as usual.

This view is what you see when entering the consult room from the stairs.  To the farthest left, you can see the changing room, and the doorway to the right is the entrance to the sitting room (camera room).  In this first series of images, the drywall has been hung, ready for mud and tape.

A view from the camera room.  The room on the left is the office, the room on the right is the consultation room.  The opening in the ceiling is for studio lighting.

A view of the office… and beyond that, the camera room again.

A view of the consultation room, from the changing room.  The stairs will be done after painting, so we don’t have to worry about getting the lovely new oak treads and railing covered in paint.

The same view of the camera room — after the crew has mudded and taped.  We made sure to find a good crew to do this task, as it sets the foundation for the paint.  Meaning, any mistakes in the drywall which aren’t “covered” by the mud/tape job will be visible.  Fortunately, the crew did a great job.  I’m very pleased with how it looks!

The consultation room again, post mud/tape.

The next step after this is to paint.  The walls will need at least two good coats of drywall primer, followed by the final coat of paint.  Next on the agenda will be to lay the wood flooring, and then put the wood trim in place.

Studio Renovation – Painting (8/31/09)

As promised, here is the next update on the studio renovation.  All the walls have been painted.  We went with a subdued tan/brown tone called “ancient stone” for the consultation room and the office.  Here’s the updated view as you enter the consultation room:

And a view of the consultation room from the other direction.

One final view of the consultation room (the room through the archway is the camera room).

Here is the camera room.  It’s been painted plain old white, so we can have optimum flexibility here in the studio.  The room on the left is the office; the room on the right is the consultation room.

And the newly painted office, looking into the camera room.  The door on the left is for storage.

The next steps will be to connect all the wiring, and of course lay the floor (a process we’ve already begun).

Studio Renovation -Flooring (9/5/09)

The flooring is in at the studio! it’s very exciting, since this is one of the last “big” things to be done for the studio renovation. Remember, we are still taking appointments and have a functional studio space, despite the renovation.

If you haven’t been following along with our blog updates about the renovation, check out the past updates). Otherwise, read on to see the underlayment being laid, and the finished studio floor.

This first series of images shows the underlayment being put down (the white stuff with black printing), as well as being taped at the seams (red tape).

Here’s a shot of the office, which has been completely prepped for the final flooring.

And a view the other way, into the camera room from the office.  In case you’re wondering, the underlayment is basically a layer of foam.  It absorbs any imperfections, dampens sound, and makes the floor a little more comfortable when you walk on it.

The flooring installation process only took one full day of work.  We selected a floating floor that imitated wood flooring, but with better durability (meaning easier to clean up any messes in the studio!).  Here’s the view of the consultation room as you enter the studio space.  The yellow wires sticking out of the wall are for the light switches.

Here’s a view of the consultation room from the other direction.  To the left is the camera room (where sessions occur), and to the right (just out of the picture) is the changing room.  The stairs are obviously still waiting to be redone.  The treads, ballusters, etc were special ordered, and we haven’t picked up all the parts yet.

One last view of the consultation room, from the vantage point of the changing room.

Next, we’ll proceed into the camera room.  I love how the flooring finishes off this space and unifies all three rooms!  After the trim goes in, we’ll be bringing in all the studio props, backgrounds, and accessories that we use during studio sessions.

Looking into the office from the camera room.

View of the office (and beyond that, the camera room).

One more view of the camera room, from the vantage point of the office.

Once we get the trim up, and the official lighting installed, we’ll be sure to post some more updates.  But, as you can see, things are going well, and the studio space is looking great!  I can’t wait for you to see it once we finish getting everything set up.