Interior Design

The Pride in Completion

After exactly 45 days, my studio renovation is complete. I hope you are ready for a monster post!

An incredible amount of work went into this room, from a whole whack of different people (but mostly my wonderful hubby). But before I reveal the results that I am oh so proud of and happy with, here is a reminder of what it looked like before. (as always, click on the pictures to see a larger version)

An unfinished typical basement. Now don’t get me wrong, we had managed to get it quite functional down there,

but it wasn’t what you would call pretty.

The main problem with the studio before though was the temperature. It was uninsulated on most of the walls, so it was like being outside in the winter. You can see the exposed concrete walls of the foundation here:

It wasn’t too bad down there the first winter we lived in the house, but it wasn’t a particularly cold year. This past year however, with record snowfalls and a couple of very cold weeks, it went down to unworkable temperatures. I tried using a space heater, but I only had one outlet. If I ran the space heater I couldn’t run the sewing machine or the iron, it would flip the breaker. Not to mention that I had a rather elaborate system of extension cords powering everything (definitely a fire hazard).

So TJ convinced his dad to come down for a couple of days and give him a hand getting started. This is what T’s dad does day in and day out, so his experience was very valuable. In 4 days the basement went from bare walls to having an insulated floor, subfloor, studs, electrical, bulkheads, walls and a ceiling. It was incredible the amount that got finished in such a short time. A huge thank you to T’s dad (and Ellen and Mom) for all the help over that weekend. We could no have done it without you!

Once the family had sadly packed up and headed home, T and I began the process of all of the finishing work. I won’t bore you with the details, but I did create an album with all kinds of in process shots here. Needless to say, it has taken us 6 weeks to get the remainder of the room finished. There is an incredible amount of work involved, especially when you are taking the time to make it perfect. And perfect is what we have now.

It makes me giddy to look at those before and after shots beside each other!

Such an amazing sense of accomplishment. From the cork flooring that we installed, to the crown moulding around the top of the room, it is exactly how I imagined it and more.

My island with 12 drawers, all labeled with their contents.

The other side of the island which has two stainless steel shelves for all of my mason jars full of bits and bobs on top, and all of my small rubbermaids full of stuff down below.

The unbelievably gorgeous built in cabinet that TJ created in the nook that is created by the fireplace upstairs. All the bins are stored so nicely away from all the dust, and are easily pulled in and out.

The bottom of the cabinet has more bins and my stereo. The genius that my husband is even put two speakers in the ceiling, which are wired into this cabinet. That way I don’t have two big speakers to store on the shelves! Plus if we were ever going to sell the house, this could be used for an entertainment system. The doors on this cabinet are even the soft close variety, so I don’t have to worry about slamming them if I swing them shut when my arms are full of stuff.

One of the best finds for the basement was this cabinet. Normally $600 at PB and intended as a hutch for the top of a secretary, we got this one for $99 at the PB Outlet store. It had some damage on the one corner that we easily fixed with some epoxy and paint, and then TJ built some trim around the bottom to make it a free standing piece of furniture. It easily holds all my crafting books and magazines with space to spare.

My easel had a little make over and I made some curtains out of this amazing red polka dot fabric that I found. I just love turquoise and red in combination.

Another favourite for me in the room is my new and improved sewing table. When we bought the island pieces from Ikea, the two parts came with their own butcher block tops. We wanted to have one large countertop that had an overhang so I could sit at it, so we ended up with the two tops leftover. TJ took the tops, cut them down as required, routered out the opening for my machine, and used a system of 4×4’s for the legs (which we actually had leftover from the old sewing table as seen above). He added the cross pieces not only for the stability, but so that it matched the island in the centre of the room. I am going to ask my dad to make me some little stainless steel caps to go around the bottom of the feet, just like on the island. I painted out the 4×4’s and added a piece of peg board to hang some of my most frequently used tools.

Having the sewing machine level with the table top makes working on just about anything so much easier. And with the size of the table, working with big pieces is a breeze.

For a long time I have used a typesetter drawer for my threads. Spools on the bottom in the larger spaces, and bobbins for that colour in the corresponding small space above. But before I had walls, I had to leave it sitting on the sewing table. Now it is mounted out of the way (and free from bits of thread, fabric and batting). I used a little piece of scrap wood behind it at the bottom so that it is tilted a little bit. This keeps the spools from falling out.

Last weekend missbedora came down for a much overdue visit, and helped me revamp my bulletin board. A great friend gifted me some amazing red and turquoise fabric, so we covered the old bulletin board with batting, then the fabric, and the wrapped it in some thin white ribbon. I used some red map pins to create a tufted look. With the frame painted and reinstalled, it looks much much better than it did (especially since when I was taking it down in preparation for the construction, I dropped it and busted it.).

Also last weekend missbedora and I hung a decal that I had made (by another awesome friend).

This one was important to me. For a long time I was not abiding by this one, and it made me a really unhappy person. So this is a two part reminder for me: Don’t ever go back to the way you were, and if you are down in the studio doing something and it is not making you happy? Walk away. Last weekend though we took full this adage to heart and christened the studio with a Pinot Noir and chocolate cake

My red and black quilt, which never really had a good home before, is now proudly hung behind my loom.

The curtain rod that it is hung on is officially the best deal of the whole room. Regularly $44.95, marked first down to $11.95, I finally got it for $2.81!! That’s 95% off!

Behind the quilt I made a design wall with some leftover styrofoam insulation. I just covered it with some batting and a piece of flannel so that when I am working on a quilt I can stick them on the board rather than crawling around on the floor. The piece is just hung on a hook, so I can take it down and move it anywhere I need to.

Gosh, if you are still with me, thank you. You’re a trouper! One last shot, just cause it makes me happy.

I cannot thank everyone who helped out with this renovation enough for everything you have done. There is no way that it every would have been finished without your knowledge, skills, and hard work.

Most importantly though I need to thank TJ. Seriously, it is unbelievably how hard he has worked. All of this work was done on evenings and weekends, AFTER he had worked his full time job. He only took one day off work near the beginning of the process. Memorial day weekend we worked 3 solid 14 hour days. Not that I ever had any doubt before, but everything he did showed just how much he loves me. He never complained once (ok, their might have been a rather exhausted sigh as he emerged one night from sanding the drywall looking like he was covered in flour). To you sweetie, I cannot thank you enough.

The best part of all of this? It’s done! I have already used it a number of times, the results of which are coming in future blog posts. I can’t wait to use it for years to come.


  • Pam@

    Oh Dani! It’s absolutely beautiful. It must be so amazing to see something you designed, and worked so hard on, completed.
    What a gorgeous space. And that floor! Amazing ….

  • missbedora

    Amazing!!! Chris and I are sitting here just in awe. I can’t believe how great the photos are, and trust me people, it looks even better in person. I’m so proud of you guys for doing such a great job – it is truly a special space!!!

    (Chris’ comment as we were looking at the pictures was “Why don’t you like making stuff like that?”. I barely restrained myself from punching him)

  • jackie

    So now I know what my dream studio looks like! It is amazing! The transformation is incredible! Your darling husband will always know where to find you! In your wonderful new studio!

  • thea

    Wow! It’s amazing. I think I’d turn out twice as much stuff as I do now in there! I go between our dining room table and the attic “office”…..

  • Knitnana

    Oh, my. This just takes my breath away! Absolutely fabulous!!
    I covet your island cutting table. 🙂
    And yes, you have an extra special hubby, no question!

  • Robin

    OMG! It’s gorgeous! LOVE IT! I left my two-story in Virginia and now all my things are in boxes in our Ohio basement. I’m waiting for the basement transformation which hasn’t even started yet. I have studio envy. Sigh……

  • Mom

    OMG! I know that I have been hearing about the changes, and imagining it in my mind, but it is absolutely amazing. You are running out of room projects… now you get to use your craft room. YIPEE! Well done by all!

  • Angela

    Well Done!!!! should be on an Interior Design Makeover Show…no scratch that…..TV doesn’t deserve such a wonderful masterpiece……

  • Steph

    Saw your comment on YHL and came over for a peek. I don’t often comment on blog posts, but WOW!!! Your space is fabulous, and it’s so great that you did all of it yourselves.

  • Eklectika

    Oh, that is just an amazing makeover! I have a finished basement that I have too much crap in that I plan to make into the crafty area and this is very inspiring!!!

  • karen

    Your studio is absolutely gorgeous! I envy you as I am fixing up a TINY room as a craft studio…I would love all of this space.

  • Lillie

    super gorgeous and you have lots of years ahead to sew! Yay for you!!!
    You hubby is a sweetheart to do all this- and his dad- AWESOME WORK SPACE!!!

  • Jackson Watkins

    WOW! What a beautiful transformation of space that took place. During the entire tour I couldn’t help but think how much money you and your family/friends saved you by creating this wonderful space using their own hands, labor and knowledge. It is a beautiful, inspiring space that will keep you motivated for years to come. Do What You Love!!!

  • Ruth Donahue

    Would you be so kind as to give the dimensions of your sewing table. I am looking at creating one similar soon.

  • Jyoti

    Hey, your sewing room looks amazing! I am wondering what you used to mount the machine after you cut the hole for it in the table?

    • Dani

      I built a little shelf from the piece of wood that I cut out of the top, and some scrap pieces for the sides. So it just sits on the little shelf rather than being mounted. It’s as if I took the piece from the top and moved in down ~6″, held there by side scraps. I hope that makes sense.

  • Linda

    I have never seen such a fabulous creative work space. You are lucky to have someone so skillful and handy. My husband is awesome but not in the handy arena. I have some solid inspirations form all the photos. Thank you for sharing the process. You and all your peeps have out done themselves. BRAVO!!!!:)

  • Rose Constable

    What a wonderful transformation. You certainly have a very talented husband and helpful family. My current sewing room looks very much like your original pics. We started framing it last week and hope to finish it by the end of the month. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

  • Mary B

    I love everything you’ve done; I need help with a new space for a sewing room; I’ve looked at every commercial sewing/cutting table; I haven’t found anything I love and they are “SEW” expensive!!!
    Can you email me back as to where you found the 12 drawer island? Also did you add the top ( was it the left over top from the other pieces?

    Thank you very much!!!

  • Mary B

    Also, is the machine/cutting table made out of another island from Ikea???? I love the extension for your machine and the 4×4 legs!!! Thank you.

    • Dani

      Hi Mary – the 12 drawer island was from Ikea but they no longer sell it. It was so long ago that I did this room that we have moved twice since then haha. The big top over the two island pieces was just a butcher block from Ikea, but you can also find them at hardware stores. I used the two butcher blocks that came with the island pieces for the cutting table to make the L-shaped machine island using 4″x4″‘s for the legs.

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