Almost a year ago we embarked on a large home improvement project: to finish our unfinished basement. I’ve had my office/studio in the basement for a few years now but while I was grateful to have dedicated space to work (HUGE when it comes to successfully working from home), it was never ideal. Because it’s a basement I was dealing with concrete floors and walls, spiders, and temperature, more specifically, cold temperature. It’s hard to draw when your hands are freezing off.
Needless to say I was super stoked to finish the basement and, in that process, get a whole new studio to work in. Well, like all (all, right?) home improvement projects, things a.) took much longer than expected and b.) went over budget. I shouldn’t be surprised, right? While there wasn’t much work to do in my studio, the rest of the basement involved things like plumbing, cabinetry, and a fireplace. That meant that I wasn’t really able to move into the new studio until around Christmas time. But since early January I’ve been working in my delightful new space and I feel so incredibly lucky. I figured it was time for a tour!
The studio is essentially a large bedroom in our basement (in fact, I expect someday it will house one of my children as a young adult). It opens to a large family room and we made the doorway quite oversized, with two sliding barn doors so that, when opened, it would feel like it was part of the rest of the room. But I can still close the doors when, say, the kids are all home from school on a snow day watching Netflix while I try to work in the next room (just, umm... for example).
Our basement is considered a “lookout” basement, so we have half-size windows (4 of them total) so I get decent light down here considering I’m half underground. My desk is over by the window and I’ve done my best to give myself a nice view. There’s a small garden (which includes lily-of-the-valley that I transplanted from my grandma’s childhood home) and this winter I put a bird feeder right outside and it’s endlessly entertaining (because I’m, not so secretly, an old lady at heart).
I knew I wanted a long desk so I could have space for both computer work and art making. I loved this IKEA hack long wall desk on this blog so we did something similar. This is actually two pieces of kitchen butcher block countertop with a dresser (with no top) and shelving unit underneath. It gives me this long workspace to spread out on, which is awesome. The only downside is because I used a dresser (which is taller than your typical desk) the overall height is on the high side. I’m still trying to get all my “ergonomic” ducks in a row (and currently using a cardboard box as a stool for my feet). I was also hoping to use two dressers underneath the desk but because of where the heating ducts are (against the walls) I couldn’t put anything directly in front of them and that messed up the spacing. So now the extra dresser is off to the side and holds my printer. But the one dresser and drawer unit under the desk give me a lot of storage for both “office” supplies and art supplies. I might be adding fun pulls to the drawers in the future.
Side note: I’m also trying out this convertible standing desk. I’m still a little iffy on it. I love that I can sit or stand because while I try not to spend the entire day in front of my computer sometimes that’s just what needs to be done and I like being able to mix up my position. But it also adds even more height to my already tall desk and there’s about a 2 inch gap between the desktop and the standing desk top. It’s just a little awkward. We’ll see where I land on this one.
I also knew I’d need a lot of good storage. Creative work just comes with lots o’ stuff, no way around it. Because we wanted it to officially qualify as a bedroom we put in a closet and thanks to many many shelves inside that gives me a ton of storage space. I can keep all my shipping supplies in here too. I also intended to do some new freestanding storage/cabinets out in the main room but frankly we ran out of money by the time we got to that so the furniture in here now consists of bookshelves and dressers that I’ve had for a long time (hello college dorm room!) But it works great for now.
I have dedicated space for sewing, which is something I used to do more of, but I still enjoy it. This also comes in handy when I’m making tea towels for my Etsy shop. I love these new “modern” peg boards from IKEA. I’ve always had the old school kind which are a little “wood shoppy” so I appreciate the upgrade. There’s a large counter height table for cutting fabric (and other standing projects). The comfy chair corner is great for when I’m drawing on my iPad. I made the ginormous bulletin board with a big sheet of insulation foam a few years ago using this one as a guide (the links don’t seem to work anymore) and recently my husband added some wood trim around the sides to make it more sturdy.
All in all this room was worth the wait (and what a wait it was!). The rest of the basement is fabulous too and the whole family is really enjoying the new digs. Plus, I made it through a winter without freezing! BONUS! There’s a great fireplace right next door that makes it very cozy down here. This room makes “coming to work” something to look forward to. And the commute’s a breeze. I put up a short video tour on Instagram and it’s archived in my highlights under “Studio remodel.” Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments!