Time for a studio makeover!

Hello everyone! Welcome back to my blog. I hope you are doing well and enjoying August!

Do you ever feel like your workspace is drab? When you’re a creative person, I think you are most productive in a creative space. A place that gives you energy, with little mementos here and there that make you smile. When you make things, you want to focus fully on what you’re creating and not be frustrated by something in your space.

I was having trouble in my space. I really thought it was the lighting. I knew I couldn’t change the ceiling lights so I put task lighting above my tables, but it didn’t seem to help, even if it took care of the shadows. The experience was like trying to read in candlelight. Have you ever tried to read by the light of candles? No matter how may you use, it seems almost like you’re wearing sunglasses.

I wondered if I should paint the walls of the studio bright white. I really didn’t like that idea because I have a long association with white walls in rental homes that means colorless, bland, and sterile. But I thought about this for months. Every time I walked into the studio I’d get fixated on the uncomfortable atmosphere and what I could do to change it. The frustration finally built up until I decided to DO something about it.

So I made decisions, labored for a week, and now am ready to show you the finished room! I also made a video of the “makeover” that talks about things I wanted to change, which you can find on my YouTube channel @AnizaArtStudio. I’m very happy with the results!

“Before” the Makeover

The Unfinished Studio

When we bought the house, it had a large, unfinished basement that we planned on making into a family room and hobby areas. Two years ago, we finally hired contractors to come in and finish it. At the time I had no plan for making this a permanent studio. I was waiting for my son to finish college so I could use his bedroom, and expected this to be a temporary space for a year or so.

My “Temporary” Studio

Unfortunately, the pandemic changed our plans. I was glad to have so much space when we couldn’t leave the house, but I still didn’t think of it as “mine”. Eventually, it grew into a real mess.

The wall color that we chose for the room was intended for a multi-use family room. We’d kept the can lights that were originally installed but upgraded them to daylight bulbs. And since the room was going to be primarily used for cozy family evenings, it didn’t matter that there weren’t any windows.

I liked using the space, but it wasn’t ideal. It felt dark and drab, even with all the lights. I didn’t think I should change it because I didn’t want to invest the time or energy into changing it back when I moved upstairs.

However, after using the space for a studio for two years, I realized that it HAD become mine. I’d filled it with art supplies and shared furnishings. If I moved it tomorrow, there was no way all of this would fit into the small bedroom upstairs. And because I’d had so much space, I’d kept all kinds of junk that I thought might be useful someday for creating art–junk that was actually nothing but clutter.

I FINALLY made the decision to change it. Honestly, it was the hardest decision of the project. Once I’d made up my mind that it was okay for me to keep the space as my own as long as I wanted, I no longer felt like I was “making do” with the space. It opened up all kinds of possibilities.

Right away, I knew that I would do something different to the walls. Should I paint a mural? Or maybe make columns and arches on the walls to look like a fantasy castle? All of a sudden I felt like there were too many creative options. I couldn’t do anything at all because I couldn’t decide what to do!

This was almost as frustrating as the feeling of working in a space that wasn’t mine…

The Makeover

I finally decided to set a date to start work. It meant that I had to have my planning done by then. It provided the motivation I needed to make decisions.

It was a good thing I’d set it for 6 weeks into the future. So much was going on in my life right then that I didn’t have a lot of time to focus on the studio makeover. I think that this “cooling off” time relieved my brain from the anxiety of having to make changes. It sounds silly, I know, because I WANTED to make changes. But I was afraid of making the wrong changes!

I didn’t realize it at the time, but giving myself this time away from focusing on the studio was exactly what was needed. When I finally was able to come back to the project, I was able to look at it practically. There was no need to do anything spectacular, one wall color would do. But I would allow myself one small area to do something special on the walls.

That narrowed down the possibilities and made the project less daunting. A week before my deadline, I went to the home improvement store to look at paint colors. I was still sure I didn’t want to use white, but a light gray was acceptable. A small part of my brain was afraid the gray would remind me of cinder blocks, but I didn’t listen to it. I ended up going with the colorway “Gray Screen” by HGTV Home/Sherwin Williams.

The paint color is called Gray Screen. I’m using Valspar Reserve flat interior. I needed a gallon and a half for the project.

And here’s the finished project:

I guess I don’t need to go into much more detail. It’s all in the video. But I will give you more info about the brick wall painting process.

Creating the Faux Brick

To make the faux brick wall, I first measured and taped off the area of wall where I wanted to paint them. My panel is 8 x 8 feet square.

Then I painted the underlayer flat white. This would be my grout color.

The next step was to measure and draw the bricks in with a pencil. I made 1/4 inch allowances for the grout.

I couldn’t find the 1/4 inch painter’s tape at any of my local stores and had to order it from Amazon. It arrived as 3 rolls of tape, and two of them were needed to mask the 8 x 8 foot wall.

After the tape was up, I poured black acrylic paint into a pan with some of the gray wall paint. I didn’t mix the two. Instead, I used a natural sponge (purchased at the home improvement store) and dipped it into both paints so that different colors covered different areas of the sponge. Then I pressed the sponge onto the wall, rotating and shifting the sponge as I moved down the wall so that I didn’t accidentally create a pattern.

I poured white paint into the tray and repeated the process by pressing the sponge into the gray paint, a little bit into the black paint, and into the white paint. Then I applied it all over the wall again. For the final layer, I repeated all of this again with mostly white paint on the sponge.

When it was done, it didn’t look like much. But once I peeled off the tape and touched up the grout with a bit of white paint on a small paintbrush, voila!

To make my logo, I measured and cut the shapes from a piece of white corrugated plastic, then applied gesso and white acrylic paint. I glued pads on the back to push the logo outwards from the wall.

And that’s it! I’d love to hear what you think! Have you tried making faux bricks before? How did your project turn out?

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