Thursday, March 1, 2012

Studio Dreaming

Ivy Shed
I've been day dreaming about building my very own backyard studio.  I've been working from home since 2005 or 2006.  It was just too cost prohibitive to rent a studio when I had no stable income from my art.  I felt like I was just pouring money down the drain.  The above picture is the work of Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture.  It's one of the many inspirational images I've been looking at.  I found it through s blog

Working from home has it's constraints, but it also provides me with a lot of conveniences.  I can work anytime I want to, there's no travel time and I can make a sandwich when I'm hungry!  I mostly work on my dining table or I spread everything out in the living room.  The downside is that I would need to clean up my work space when I have company over, disrupting my flow.  I also get really frustrated at what a huge mess I live in.  It's a constant fight trying to manage the clutter.  My main reason for working from home is to save up money to build a studio.  It has taken years, who knows, it still might take a few more... but at least the planning process has started.

Cabana w/ Decking
Last year we bought our first home with a big yard that's big enough for a proper studio!  I thought it would take a few years of saving up before we could afford to build something, but while cruising Craigslist for a garden shed I saw and ad for the Mighty Cabana!  It's a shed, uninsulated shell, that comes as a kit and you put it together.  There are several sizes... I love the design, great big windows, high ceilings and the price is right.  A 12'x16' cabana kit costs $7520.00, a very reasonable price.  The picture above is what it looks like.

I'm very excited about this design, the company also has insulation upgrades.  There are lots of options to switch things around or upgrade features.  I've talked with the company and they seem like nice folks.  They also connected us with with a past client to get some feedback.  My husband and I are going to visit their client's Cabana this weekend!

I don't know if I'm getting ahead of myself.  I'm trying to not get too excited... There are many concerns and questions still out there.  How is the quality of the building... although it's a kit we're probably going to pay them to put it up.  I don't see a lot of reviews about the company online.  What permits do we need?  Do we have enough money this year?  The headache and excitement builds...

Cabana Interior
Here is an interior shot.  The kit that we're looking at purchasing is 12'x16'.  It has a slant roof, the lower back half has a ceiling height of about 7'8".  The higher front has a ceiling height of about 12'!  The estimate we got with additional insulation (floor, ceiling walls to R13) and a metal roof brings the price tag to about $9000.  Construction costs would be extra.  With our damp weather this will go on pier blocks. 
I'll definitely post updates on the process if we end up building this cabana.  I'll also give you guys a breakdown of costs and what options we went for.


Linda said...

Diem, that is SO exciting! I can't wait to read all about your process in building a dream studio. It looks wonderful with all the windows letting in natural light!

Diem Chau said...

Thank you Linda! I'm so excited! Hopefully the site visit will go well. The guy that we're visiting actually built it himself, he said it was very easy. I have construction experience, but I'm still not very confident in building anything structural :P I'm good at the aesthetic stuff.

Shelley Noble said...

OH, Diem! THANK YOU! I've been browsing for prefab kits to live in for years. And you've found the absolute best I've seen yet!

You may have found my ultimate home!

Dana Chen said...

Wow! I love your inspirational image! I also hear you about working from home. I don't think I'll be having a studio, but I'm constantly shuffling my mess upstairs to be hidden from view. Can't wait to see your new studio!

lisa solomon said...

this is SO exciting for you diem !!!!! congrats.
i looked at pre-fabs too ... but yours is a really nice looking one.

as a backyard studio convert - let me tell you - it's GREAT !! ;)

realgrl said...

That's so great for you, Diem!
I love the BY Cottage movement, and I have transformed our BY garage many times in my head. Your yard is perfect. Be sure to orient those windows to the south, as I'm sure you already know. Can't wait to hear about the progress.

Diem Chau said...

Thanks Lisa! Studio rent was always out of my budget... we saved for a house instead of throwing it away on rent. Now I can invest in something permanent!

Diem Chau said...

Thank you Realgrl :) I wish I can do a south facing layout. We're also trying to gain some privacy by hiding a wall of windows from our neighbor's house that faces our yard. We're looking into insulation and heating options. It's a small enough space that won't be a big issue.

Betty said...

Congratulations Diem! So glad you can have space to call your own. :) Can't wait to see how that turns out!

Melissa Klein Art said...

Hi Diem,

You might also want to check out the tiny house blog - I found it by mistake when I was looking for your blog!

Best Wishes for your studio - looking forward to seeing your new creations from it.

Byron said...

Hi Diem,

Great to hear that you are looking to build an artist's studio. In Seattle, you can have a non-permitted accessory structure on residential property up to 120'. Info at


Diem Chau said...

@Melissa Thanks! I actually saw their blog awhile ago, I LOVE the little trailer house. We had far fetched dreams of living in a tiny space, but with all of our stuff I don't think that can ever be a reality. You need "stuff" to make art. Even tiny art takes up a ton of space.
@Byron Thanks! We're looking to build a bigger space. I've heard nightmare stories with permits and the hassles involved.

Diem Chau said...

@Betty Fingers crossed for a smooth process!