My Garage to Studio Conversion - Part 1

I decided to create a blog entry of my experience to convert my single garage into a new studio workspace. I completed about 60% of the work myself.

The reasons to convert the garage into a studio rather than the spare room in the house were simple. Previously I have worked from home and sometimes found it hard to "switch off" as I would be reminded of work to often. Having a workspace outside doesn't just created a physical divide I think it also plays a psychological one too. I began this project around a year ago and started with a list of things I wanted to include within the space;

1. Deskspace for my PC
2. Workbench that could also be used as a second desk
3. Small couch
4. Plenty of shelving to store my books, project files, etc
5. Utility room for a tumble dryer to live (our kitchen has no room for one)
6. Utility sink
7. Tool storage

As you can see from the images on the right the garage door had to go, this was letting cold air into the garage and would prevent efficient heating so I got a local window specialist ( to fit double PVC-U doors. The difference this made was huge, far more light was entering the space and it meant further work could begin!

Step 1 - Design!
After measuring up it was time for me to get the data into Solidworks. 
It starts with a detailed 2D floor plan which I then extrude heights of doors windows, ledges etc. The single garage is not a very large area so it is important every square inch can be used. Also if you notice from the drawings the end of the garage is not straight, in fact the original owners of the house decided to extend the rear - with a sloping roof to gain about 40cm one side and 55cm on the other - seems a lot of work to me (our theory is that they had a long car they HAD to fit!). 
Anyway, it meant there was an ugly I-beam exposed along with different (and quite badly) joined new brick work. I decided the best idea would be to box in as much as possible and live with the odd shapes. To neatly square the room off and provide a separate area for the utility room I planned to put up a stud wall towards the end of the room. - This also allowed a place for the tumble dryer to sit at and a place to support a work surface the sink could go.
Step 2 - Build the stud wall
Nothing particularly clever about this stage, I had never done this before so a read up what was required. The wall was based on standard 4.5" timber for the uprights, I also wanted to use the wall to support the utility ceiling (to further hide the I-beam and odd extension angles) and this also provided a good storage shelf. I wasn't sure if I was going to place a door onto the wall, but in case I did I insulated the walls to reduce noise from the tumble dryer.

Step 3 – Insulating
Originally the garage offered no insulation and after experiencing a cold winter there was no doubt it needed to be added to create a warmer and more comfortable workspace. Rather than going for the easy cover option I wanted to keep the supporting roof beams exposed so the roof also needed to be insulated. To save space I used aluminium foil, this was simply stapled into place between the roof beams. The outside facing walls were battened and insulated with the foil.

Step 4 – Plaster-boarding and Plastering
A fairly rewarding process because it doesn't take too long to cover a large area. The plaster-boards are simply screwed onto the wooden battens and cut to shape by scoring with a sharp knife and snapping neatly into two. So far I had done all the work, however the next step Plastering was not something I felt confident doing and I have enormous respect for the trade. - If anyone reading this is in the Essex area and needs some plastering then I can't recommend Marc Dickson enough! - His website can be found at

Step 5 – Painting and Wood Staining

White, white and white! - Modern crisp and goes with anything! I wanted the space to feel as bright as possible and set the ceiling off (which at this point I didn't quite know what I was going to do) this nondescript shade would also work with any chosen floor and draw the eye towards the wooden roof beams. Before the paint when on a couple of layers of PVA was applied to the plaster. To get that A4 paper density of white six layers of paint were required in some areas. Similar to that the wood stain required about 4 coats which gets old pretty quickly!

Next blog entry, ceiling cladding, flooring, and a custom bookshelf!






Useful Product Design Resources on the Web

1. For anyone involved in plastic injection moulding the monthly "Design Tips e-Newsletter" from Protomold offers some really good tips & tricks, check it out here; They explain the basic rules to producing a successful plastic parts and clearly explain the differences in resins, surface finishes & shrinkage issues.

2. A good place to seek out some inspiration or perhaps help out fellow designers is the Product Design Forums - 

3. Although they are now mainstream, there is no doubt Apple offer some of the most impressive hardware and software designs in the world. If your a product designer then Apple has to be one of your most respected businesses, pick up any of the latest iPhones or even an iPod 3 or 4 years old and you find no screws, no ugly split lines and no cheap plastic finishes & materials.