There was only one light in the garage, a crummy looking exterior light fixture in the middle of the ceiling that wasn't powerful enough to light the space. There was also only two outlets, not really a great setup for what I was going to need. I did a lot of research and decided on can lights for lighting. I didn't want something that hung from the ceiling and might get in the way of me taking photos later.
With that done it was insulation time. We had talked about trying to do it ourselves, but thought we might actually save a little money and get it done better/faster by hiring a company to come out and do it. Because a insulation company buys in bulk they can get a better deal on material. We had a couple insulators come out and give us quotes and it looked like it was going to be a little more to pay someone else to do it (about $100) but we thought it would save us some time and they would probably do a better job...Long story short I wish we would have just done it ourselves. The guys who came out to do the insulation made a bunch of mistakes and ended up holding up the drywall because we had to wait for them to finish.
Drywall finishedWith the walls ready to go we got started painting. I had a really hard time picking colors for the studio, I think I about drove my wife crazy obsessing about it. Here are a few things I found when researching what colors are good for a studio. White is good if you want your walls to bounce light back onto your subject. Black does the opposite and absorbs light. Bright colors aren't good because they can cast color onto your subject.
If this studio was strictly going to be used for photography and nothing else I would have whitewashed floor to ceiling, however the room is also going to be an office for my wife and I so stark white would be a little too "clinical" for us. Other options would have been to use curtains in the area I'm going to be shooting.
I chose to go with white on the ceiling so I could bounce light off it if I wanted and 18% grey for the walls and painted one wall that I wont be shooting around a little darker grey. 18% grey is a great neutral color and pretty close to the color I had in mind for the studio in the first place.
The floor was another hard choice. We originally were going to go with a wood laminate but, decided to stain the concrete floor that was already there. We had been wanting to try concrete stain for awhile but didn't have a good spot for it. Concrete stain looks great and is much cheaper than laminate.
One problem we ran into was the concrete footings around the floor, they stuck out a few inches and got gradually deeper from the back of the room to the front. My father in-law came to the rescue again and made some custom baseboard that could fit over the top of this.
Here is what the studio looks like pretty much finished. There is still some work to be done, but the bulk of it is finished. I plan on posting some new photos after a month or so once I'm settled in.
Here is a rundown of some of the expenses for this part of the remodel. (approx)
Flooring (stain, sealer) = $200
Paint = $100
Insulation = $500
Drywall = $300
Originally we had estimated somewhere between $1,500-$2,000 for this project and it ended up costing around $3,000. Keep in mind $3,000 was pretty much just material, most of the labor was done by friends and family.
I strongly encourage all you photographers out there working in cramped little corners of your houses to build, or convert an existing room into a studio. Having a designated work space is very important to a efficient work-flow. Rather than spending twenty+ minutes setting up all my gear for every shoot everything is ready to go when I need it.
This is the third and final post about the process of converting my garage into a photo studio/office. Here are the links to the first two parts.
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