How to transform a garage into an art studio

I’ve been tossing around the idea of creating a serious studio space for a long time. The days of cramming my supplies and worktable in a corner of a room were coming to an end. I desired real space to work on big encaustic paintings, teach classes and take my art career to the next level. To give me added motivation, I signed up to participate in the Loudoun County Artisan Trail. The one requirement to be included in this artisan program is a physical studio space.

First, the idea of an Amish shed was appealing because of its customization. However, when the quote came in with all my “must haves”, it became clear that this idea was out of reach. The best price in my area was around $18,000 for a 24’x 14′ shed with all the whistles. And that was even before I factored in hooking up electricity and installing heating and cooling!

Discouraged about spending that kind of money, a light bulb went off. Literally. I walked into our double bay garage, turned on the light, and saw the vision! Sure it needed work, but only cosmetic. The previous owner installed a sink, cabinets, five windows and ample lighting. He even added a cathedral ceiling to install a lift to work on his custom cars. (Thank goodness he didn’t get around to it before selling the property!)  It was everything I needed, and more. Yes, it took some time to sell the idea to my husband. And, yes, it will be MY car that is stuck out in the snow. No problem.

I’m sharing my story to inspire you to make a creative space — maybe even your garage — and keep making stuff. Nothing wrong with using a corner of a room — I did this for many years. But if your garage is an option, here are the steps to convert it into a dream studio.  I’m also adding the problems I encountered to help you avoid the same setbacks.

Week One

  • Painting contractor visited and submitted his proposal — approximately $3,800 to lay an epoxy floor, patch, paint and add molding for the entire 4-bay garage.
  • Move out all the stuff (TIP: Plan this huge task when the weather is dry. Virginia decided to have a wet spring and our stuff still got soaked under tarps!)

Week Two

  • Power wash garages
  • Epoxy applied on top of the concrete flooring (You won’t be able to use this space for several days to allow the layers to dry.)

Week Three

  • Patching, painting, adding floorboards (to help fill in the gap between the wall and concrete floor)

Week Four

  • Receive my awesome work table built by a good friend of mine
  • Purchase and install shelving (I used Rubbermaid FastTrack system in white. See link below.)
  • Purchase and install gallery hanging system (I used STAS Gallery Hanging System. See link below.)

Week Five

  • Purchase and install air conditioner (TIP: check ahead of time to make sure a dedicated circuit is located close to a window. To add a new circuit can cost up to $500! Using an extension cord is not recommended. I bought the large LG unit to adequately cool the 425 sq. foot space.)
  • Installed a DIY wall easel.
  • Opening Event!! ( This event was scheduled several days before a big local art tour to give patrons a chance to preview and purchase my work before the show.)

My “to-do” list before winter:

  • Attach weather striping to the garage door (The door is insulated, but the stripping will help keep the heat in even better.)
  • Buy portable heater
  • Purchase and install track lighting over gallery wall
  • Install ceiling fan to help blow the heat down from the high ceiling

Even with the rain and some contractor delays, the process went smoothly and I couldn’t be more pleased with the finished product. Next weekend will be the first time I’m teaching in the space. Can’t wait! And neither should you! Converting a garage can be as simple or as extravagant as you wish with a little planning and patience. Good luck! I hope this article inspires you to get started.

Please leave a comment of your experience building a creative space. I’d love to see it!

 

Make-shift studio before the renovation

Epoxy floor goes in

Patching, painting and molding

My awesome 8’x4′ work table

Gallery system goes up

Dream Come True

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