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The Studio Workroom

Not a single room in this house is finished – although let’s be real; it’s barely been 4 months since we’ve had completed drywall, so while nothing is complete, we’re all about the small victories! (Although raising the ceiling can be considered as a major victory, right?) At the very least, our evening downtime is in full surround, our weekend breakfasts are enjoyed at an actual dining table, and we were finally able to hook up our turntable! (Oh, how we’ve missed you, records.)

And now that most of our creature comforts have been taken care of, Scott and I are really, really looking forward to working on my favorite space of all – the studio! You might remember that the studio is the majority of our second floor, comprising of a main office area, a seating area (which, by the way, lacks any seating – for now) and a teeny little room at the top of the stairs. See?

My desk area (while it’s not much to look at) is fine (it’ll get its makeover soon enough). I have my laptop and painting supplies in a rolling cart close by, and the seating area is something I’m looking forward to for future home-working sessionsbut! These two areas don’t hinder my every day work flow, so for now, our eyes are set on the brains of the whole studio – right there, in that baby room. Let’s call it the studio workroom.

The workroom is small – around a 6 1/2′ square box. It doesn’t need to be much larger, however, because our goals for the room are pretty simple. This room needs to:

  • … make packing and shipping Shop orders easy breezy. It should accommodate a large tabletop surface for brown paper, bubble wrap and tissue, and I should be able to locate my packing tape without cursing.
  • … store office essentials, much like a supply room. Where are the ink cartridges? In the workroom! Where can I find the stamps? In the workroom! Hey, where do we keep the wrapping paper / gift ribbon / fabric remnants? (Questions, by the way, Scott would never ask.) In the workroom!
  • … be pretty. (Of course.)

Essentially, it’ll be a glorified stock room where I spend my time working on the more specific tasks that are a hassle in the main studio. Packing, shipping, wrapping. Since moving, I’ve been using my old studio table to do these things, but because the workroom currently has no storage whatsoever, my supplies are a bit all over the place – with the majority of them still stashed in their moving boxes, and those are currently living in the second floor guest room. (Which, by the way, is the scariest room of them all!)

To make it the most efficient space possible, again, we’ll need a large tabletop area. And shelves! And cubbies and bins and baskets! (Oh, be still my heart!) Every bit of my organize-loving-self wanted to see, say, wall to wall kitchen cabinets, a clean white counter top and rows of shelves above. The problem? Most lower cabinets have a depth of 25″ (sometimes more), and installing them wall to wall would prove to be an issue due to our freshly silled window. The distance between the window and the adjacent hopeful-storage-wall is barely 24″, so my hopes for a semi-built-in look couldn’t be achieved without a challenge:

The wall on the right, above, is the only wall that would have been long enough for my idea (coming in at 81″ wide), since the doorway wall is too short for any sort of semi-permanent storage (not to mention, we wouldn’t want to bump our hips or legs on a counter top every time we walked in the room):

Starting to feel a little unclear on how to make the most of the room, Scott and I headed to Rebuilding Exchange – room measurements in pocket! – to see if we could find anything there. We left empty handed (most cabinetry we found that might have worked had a big SOLD tag taped on), but decided to head to Ikea, because, why not? Just in case it could spark some ideas. Sidenote: We toyed with the idea of adding another fauxdenza in here using upper cabinetry (which is significantly less deep), but that would’ve also shortened the depth of any table top task space.

And you know what? It did spark ideas! (Actually, it sparked a car full of flat packed boxes. Yes!) We stumbled upon the Varde, a base cabinet that felt a little more like a kitchen island. It still had a 25″ depth, but at 69″ wide, it could float on the 81″ wall without hitting the window. The drawers would be great for lining with dividers and storing small items, whereas the open shelving on the bottom would allow for easy access to shipping boxes, liners and portrait panels.

The Varde also has a solid birch top, allowing for us to stain it however we’d like. Now imagine a dose of color for the base, new hardware and buh-bye metal feet! We noodled on the possibilities for a good 20 minutes (this guy is so, so hack-able!), opened and closed the drawers an absurd amount of times (nice and smooth, by the way) and gave it a good stare down from every angle. It’s one of those sturdy Ikea pieces, built tough overall and good for the long haul. Priced at $379, it is by no means a steal, but it would still be less expensive than a row of cabinetry and a custom counter top. We had ourselves a deal.

Below, the tape measure is pulled to 69″, so you can see that it’ll be a great fit for this room – wide enough to completely fill the space, but nothing so permanent that we need to concern ourselves with windows, built-ins and other obstacles. We’re still figuring out the best method for shelves above the Varde, but we’re leaning towards using our 100-year-old studs to create a perch for supplies and displaying artwork. We’re really excited about putting those guys to use!

We’ve gone back and forth a few times regarding the feel of the room as a whole. Like much of our entire second floor, this teensy room is just flooded with gorgeous light all day long. It can handle the most subtle colors with grace, but something more dramatic could fare, too. However, we’re thinking of doing something we’ve yet to do in any home we’ve lived in – white. (We’ve only just primed the walls at this point.) White walls, color on the Varde (but what color?!) with a dark wood top and floating wood shelves above. I’ll want to throw a rug in there as well, so perhaps I should start there and pull Varde color inspiration from that, yes? (You know I love getting ahead of myself.) I’ve been tidying my lists of needs vs. wants, and when coming up with new ideas, Scott and I like to draw out our ideas on paper. (He’s a crazy visual person, so even if it’s just chicken scratch that lacks any dimension, it really helps!) Here’s where we’re headed:

But the first steps? Fill, spackle and sand these walls! This will be a task in itself, as we realized that – are you ready for this? – large holes were once covered with Scotch tape then painted over. (There are no words.) We discovered a few of these “filled” holes on accident, and we continue to discover more, so, gah. From there, it’ll be paint, new baseboards and then all the things. And then? A more productive work flow for this girl.

Let’s do it!

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  • Marie3.6.14 - 6:33 AM

    Great choice, what about choosing a color for the walls that you would use on Varde too in order to kind of make it disappear. With this tone on tone trick, the room would look bigger and your first idea of built-in cabinets might be satisfied too, even if in a other way. Anyway, I can’t wait to see your Varde Hack and the final result in the room.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.6.14 - 7:21 AM

      Marie, ooh, that’s a good idea too! Even if it was simply white on white. Hmmm… My heart was craving a little dose of color, but now you’ve given me something to think about. (Or maybe the Varde should be a soft color with the white walls?)ReplyCancel

  • Marie3.6.14 - 7:28 AM

    With white walls, what about the pink color you painted the studio with ? I was initially thinking of something more colorful too because I know you’ve an amazing taste to choose great colors. I love the nook’s for example, that’s definitely your style.ReplyCancel

  • K Frer3.6.14 - 7:49 AM

    I love that the studio sketch includes cat on sill – definitely keeping it real! I’m really looking forward to how this room turns out. I’ve always geeked out over fresh office supplies and back to school shopping, so I can tell you’re a girl after my own heart.ReplyCancel

  • Loryn3.6.14 - 8:06 AM

    Scotch tape over the holes may be a new low! I’ve come across some interesting stuff in my old house, but nothing quite that bad.

    I did have to laugh that you’re going without socks, in Chicago, in this weather! Aren’t you freezing!ReplyCancel

  • Kim3.6.14 - 8:13 AM

    Marie, that’s definitely a color (or something similar in the pale pink family) that I’ve been thinking about! Great minds.

    K Frer, oh yea! The paper / office supplies aisle at any store is a favorite of mine, for sure.

    Loryn, well… I was wearing teeny LOW socks, but you’re right. I was totally nuts (I think I muttered, “wrong shoes, wrong shoes” at least 10 times just that morning), and didn’t want winter to win that day! But I suppose my puffy coat and huge scarf may suggest that I had a little bit of reason, at least!ReplyCancel

  • Tyrell3.6.14 - 8:47 AM

    The house is looking SO AWESOME you guys! It’s hard to believe how far it’s come since we were last over. I need to see it in person!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square3.6.14 - 9:05 AM

    I like how you’re really maximizing the space in this small room to take full advantage of its workroom/storage potential. And using the old studs as shelving is inspired!ReplyCancel

  • Heidi3.6.14 - 9:08 AM

    I’ve got two pieces from Varde in my kitchen and love ’em. The nice thing about those metal feet is that they slide off – they’re just a bent sheet of metal. The house is looking amazing, by the way!ReplyCancel

  • Lynn3.6.14 - 9:19 AM

    My favorite part of that drawing? The cat perched on the window sill! The concept is amazing. Can’t wait to see it come to life!ReplyCancel

  • Jessie Aucoin3.6.14 - 9:21 AM

    We used to have a different piece from the Varde line as a kitchen island. Those drawers can hold a ton of weight, if that matters to you–we stored our entire cast iron collection of 10+ large pieces in one drawer for over a year, without any problem! And the metal “feet” are just metal cases that cover up the bottom of the legs, so no hack needed to remove them. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Kim3.6.14 - 9:27 AM

    Tyrell, we miss you guys. We need to have a get together soon!

    Heidi and Jessie, good to hear! It was hard to tell when we were in Ikea, but we were hoping that was the case (with the metal feet). For now, the Varde is still flat packed, but we can’t wait to dig in.

    Lynn, thanks! The best part will be seeing our little Miss Maddie perched up there for real in a COMPLETED room.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica3.6.14 - 9:46 AM

    Your post is so full of energy and excitement! I’m now sitting at my desk at work ready to pull apart my office at home and redo it! New paint! Organized bookshelves! Art! Let’s do it!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ 702 Park Project3.6.14 - 12:48 PM

    I love how much natural light you have in your home! It makes all the difference. I can’t wait to see what you do with this space! :)ReplyCancel

  • Jill3.6.14 - 1:26 PM

    Love that IKEA table and your studio w/ the adjoining room will be perfect!ReplyCancel

  • caroline [the diy nurse]3.6.14 - 7:15 PM

    What a gorgeous piece! I would love to have space for something like that … or a reason to use it- cant wait to see this space come together!ReplyCancel

  • Marlene3.9.14 - 10:00 AM

    Love that the sketch includes a kitty in the window! :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen3.9.14 - 10:08 AM

    Kim, where did you get the clock in the second picture? I’m looking for one for my own home office and love that look.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.10.14 - 8:36 AM

      Hi Kathleen! The clock came from CB2 over 5 years ago. I just checked the site, and they no longer sell it, but hopefully that tip can help you track one down!ReplyCancel

  • Cait3.10.14 - 12:42 PM

    I love the direction this room is going! I *may* have been reading along going “lower cabinets are too deep? What about IKEA? What about a fauxdenza?”, but you totally answered all my questions.

    Have you seen this Varde hack? I’m tempted to do one in our Art Room. As for colors since your walls are going to be white/light, what about a kelly green or a gray-teal? Or if you have any paint leftover from the nook, that could be a great color!ReplyCancel

  • Kim3.10.14 - 12:48 PM

    Cait, I hadn’t seen that – thank you! We both loved how easy this table would be to makeover, so we are PUMPED to get going on it. And you’re right with your initial thoughts – those are the same things I tried to make work in this room (lower cabinets, another fauxdenza), but I also wanted it to be much, much more practical space-wise, so this was the perfect solution.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda3.10.14 - 5:59 PM

    I love that you drew in the kitty cat in the window sill.! It’s looking good, can’t wait to see the final room!ReplyCancel

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