Jeremy’s Studio (BEFORE)

Studio BEFOREWoo hoo! This is our LAST Before post. I'm kind of excited to start the new year with nothing but progress to share! 

I'm not going to lie, I saved this part for last because it's kind of hard to explain. It's just a LOT. We made the most structural changes (and definitely spent the most $$$$) on these two rooms. I cannot wait to share the progress with you soon because it's very dramatic, and, on a personal note, it's a dream studio for Jeremy, which really means the world to me! 

I'll back up a bit—when we started house shopping in the Nashville area, we looked all over for all kinds of houses…some that already had music studios built onto/into the house. But we never saw one that was an equally exciting house and studio situation. If it had a decent studio it was usually a really uninspiring house, and you know how much I love my big windows. 🙂 Since we both work from home, we wanted to find a space where we could both settle in, get really creative AND possibly start a family, too. That's asking a lot from one house. So we decided to build the studio part from scratch. 

As far as working at home, we realize that it's always an option for Jeremy to work somewhere else, but in the last few years we realized that it would be best for our relationship and his work if he was in the home (or at least super close) because he often wants to work for just an hour at night or something like that. 

Anyway! We fell in love with this house and realized that the small basement could be combined with the garage to make a good size studio with its own private entrance. We would have to lose the garage, which wasn't our first choice, but we noticed when house shopping that a LOT of nice homes in Nashville have converted their garages into living spaces. And we have enough room in our backyard to add either a detached garage or nice carport in the future. So we went for it! 

SmAR5A4980Let's talk about the basement part first. This was previously used as a home office. It's very small and was clearly decorated in the 1970s. You can see here that it has a stairway that connects to the upstairs. This office space had plenty of room to put all the functional elements into Jeremy's studio (a vocal room, a drum room and a control room). But without the garage expansion, it would have felt too small and he would have lacked storage and a place for groups to hang out when recording (this is a very real need in a recording space, which I'll explain in a bit). In addition, we really wanted to give the studio its own entrance, half bathroom and coffee bar so that his clients wouldn't have to feel awkward coming into the house. 

SmAR5A4977We wanted to get rid of these fluorescent lights and all the wood paneling. This door to the left went outside to a covered carport here. We decided to seal off that part of the garage (around the carport) with storefront glass (what you'd see at a store or restaurant) so you could walk through here to the left into more living space. 

SmAR5A4999Here's how it looked outside that door before. So, imagine that to the left there is going to be a giant window instead of an opening. We decided to make all the floors match so that it would feel more unified. And we decided to paint this brick white so it felt more indoors. (Eventually we want to paint the whole exterior of our home white, but that's not a priority until the inside is COMPLETELY done.) We were REAL nervous about these choices.

SmAR5A5000Here's how it looked under the carport before. I was TERRIFIED about turning the garage into living space because I had a really hard time visualizing it. I was scared it would look like a weird garage forever (spoiler—it wasn't THAT scary). To the right here you can see Jeremy's outside entrance. The window would go right there where the lip of the platform is, so that his door was outside and the rest of this was indoors. 

SmAR5A5003These photos were taken on closing day, which was the first time we really were able to see this space. Before that it was VERY full of boxes and storage. It's a pretty large two car garage with a closet in the very back for more storage. 

Sm AR5A5002After the garage door was removed, we decided to spray the ceiling white. We were advised by multiple contractors to just drywall it up, but we wanted it to look more industrial, kind of like a cute coffee shop vibe. And I believed that if we were able to get it really white and then install really nice chandeliers, that it would work. It took two separate times of painting it white. The first time wasn't nearly enough and there was a lot of yellow coming through. So we did it again with a ton of Kilz primer and that did the trick. 

As for the walls, we decided to just paint it all white and get the floors put in before we decided if we wanted/needed to conceal the cinder blocks. 

Sm AR5A5004Here's the other side. We decided to add a tiny half bathroom back there in the corner as well as a wet bar along the back wall. Where that shelf is we want to add some built in shelves for extra drum storage. 

Sm AR5A5005You can see here another stairway that leads up to our kitchen. 

SmAR5A5009This part of the studio will have a sofa, chairs and a coffee bar. When bands come in (which isn't all the time, but happens occasionally), it's important to have a non-awkward space for them to hang out and play with their phones while just one person is recording their parts. It's also a good meeting space and a comfortable spot for people to write lyrics.

One advantage we had is that after years of Jeremy doing this kind of work (in makeshift studios) we knew exactly what he needed and didn't need for his space. 

Alright! That's it for now. Do you think we're totally insane?? It's OK if you do! We kind of felt insane in the beginning. 

I can't wait to show you an update on all the progress soon. xx- Elsie 

  • Wowzers you guys really have VISION! Definitely helps to already know what you want for the space! A built out storefront, coffee bar, bathroom…sheesh! My brain would be exhausted. I can’t WAIT to see this one done!!

  • You are definitely not insane! I admire your courage and look forward to seeing the results. You are giving hope to us future renovators. Deep breaths, one day at a time 🙂

  • THis is what I’ve been waiting to see! I can relate – we live in a recording studio. This past summer we sold our 3500 sq ft commercial studio and moved it all into the 100 year old house we bought. My husband was gone all week and now he’s home so much more, back in his hometown. I love it. It’s a pain sometimes (when he’s recording the rest of us have to get out for the day) and we gave up the living room and dining room (the 4th bedroom upstairs is our TV room) but overall it’s great. I think you’ll love it too – you’ll have a dedicated space that’s separate from the house. We plan to eventually put up a small building in our backyard and move the studio out of the house. For now, most of the downstairs is full of instruments and gear. He does all his mixing at home and if he’s got a big recording project he drives into the city to work at someone else’s place. He does overdubs at home here. We’ve got temporary baffle walls set up for isolation, so it’s not ideal but it’s functional.

    When I saw your garage I thought that would make an excellent drum room. You’d get so much reverb off those cement walls. But now that you’ve explained the layout, I can see how that would be a good set up for a lounge. I think you’re on the right track with the window idea. Most studios have no natural light and it’s awful, especially for the people who work in there for 12+ hours at a time.

    Be careful with soundproofing, isolation, and wiring. Many home studios cut corners here. You don’t want to take your dogs and possibly eventually children out of the house for the day when he’s recording. Trust me. Ventilation is another concern. The vocal booth needs air! And of course the HVAC system has to be quiet. There’s so much to think about!!!! I’m sure your man has this all thought out; I’m just coming at it from the wife perspective.

    I was concerned that this wouldn’t work for us. I actually love it. At this point I hate to think of him working in the backyard. I’d have to open the back door and walk across the yard to go see him? Now I just flop out on the couch at the back of the control room and listen to the same line of a song over and over for 15 minutes. We’re in the same room and it’s great. Ask me again in five months and I’ll probably be tearing my hair out and begging for that new studio to be built! I do think it’s fun to have people here to work, which happens maybe once a week or so, but I figure that novelty will wear off eventually. Your situation will be ideal – he’s close by but you’ll have your privacy.

    Good luck and I look forward to seeing how it turns out!

  • I don’t think it’s insane. I think it’s great that you’re able to do this for him.

  • I am so excited to see your progress on this room in particular! The other posts are exciting but seeing a room change so dramatically in structure and function is really exciting. Can’t wait!

  • I love your vision… and I seriously can’t wait to see how it all looks! Do you have another garage to park your cars? Or do you just keep them in the drive? I don’t think I could live without my garage in the snow or tornado season!

  • Wow! It is definitely hard to visualize, I can see why you were nervous! It sounds like the space is already amazing though. I think covering the cement floor and having unified flooring between the two rooms will make it feel so much more finished and intentional. Plus getting rid of the garage door 🙂

    Does it feel awkward at all to have that little hallway area where the glass doors lead from the office to the brick wall/where garage entrance used to be? I would probably want to tear that wall out to open it up, but I’m sure it’s structural. And tearing out brick is no joke.

    It’s really great that you are going to be able to make this house work for all of your needs. I can’t wait to see more finished photos!!

  • We don’t, but we’re planning to add a detached garage (or carport) in the next year or two. :)) For now we keep them in the driveway (which doesn’t really bother me because I’ve never lived in a house with a garage before)
    xx- Elsie

  • Thanks so much Lizzie!
    No, it actually doesn’t feel awkward at all. The control room opens up into the living space, so it’s not so much a hallway- just two connected rooms. Can’t wait to share photos!!
    Thanks for your encouragement!
    xx-Elsie

  • I think this is a really awesome idea and a well thought out plan. It’s going to look good in the end and, more importantly, be a really useful space for you. I think it might even open up more business possibilities for you. Excellent choice!

  • This is so great! I’m following all your renovating house-posts with excitement, can’t wait to see more. You definitely not insane, so much space to play with, it must be heaven, your plan sound great. I really visualize big windows where the garage doors was and by unifying the floors and roofs it will all feel like one space. Best of luck!

  • I think it fits your needs and sounds like a great project! Also, you live in a part of the US where snow is probably not an issue so whats the use of a garage if you don’t plan on putting your car away from the elements? It sounds like it will be a very cool studio!

  • Such a huge space! It looks even bigger than it did in the video you shared a while back. I was kind of hoping to see the concrete in the garage area stained and polished – I thought it might have been a cool way to incorporate what was already there, although I get that it’s not for everyone. Apart from uniformity, was there a reason you went for wood floors? I imagine wood might be better for sound absorption and such. Can’t wait to see the finished studio!

  • It’s fascinating to see your vision and its realization in this house. I’m eager to see how putting the bathroom in the basement works out. I’d like to do it in my house, but friends have told me that excavating through the cement floor is super difficult. All your hard work is really paying off. You have a dynamite place!

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