Thursday, December 12, 2013

what a difference a year makes

I have long been obsessed with having a studio space separate from my home (but still on my property -- I love solitude and I love to come to work in my bathrobe).    My design business has been up and running for nearly 5 years now, and pretty much after year one, I was exhausted with working out of the spare bedroom in our little house.  I coveted the tiny garage that was behind the house (made more painful by the fact that my landlord used it for his personal storage) but knew it would never be mine.  I lusted after the detached garages of all my neighbors, too, even if they (gasp) stored their cars in them instead of tricking them out for studio space.  The worst was when I'd be walking my dogs past an open garage door and see that the inside was packed, hoarders-style, from floor to ceiling with stuff.  That happened more times that I than I care to recall.  Totally heartbreaking.

When Drew and I started shopping for a house, I figured that it was the perfect opportunity to satisfy my longing.   I added that item to our must have list.  Detached garage.  Check.

Here's what we got:  
When we moved in, the garage had zero windows and a single door to the backyard that was so narrow that we had to step out sideways if we were carrying anything at all.  Luckily, it was a sturdy building, and after seeing lots of homes with rickety old garages that we could have easily pushed over by leaning too hard on them, I was glad to have a structure that wouldn't fall apart when I tried to remake it.  Plus, it was a big, blank space.  To someone like me, there is nothing more exciting.

Removing the metal awning and the concrete are projects we tackled this spring (photos of that day here), so the next step was taking a sawz-all to the spots where the new windows and door would be. 
Demo day is always my favorite.
After framing the windows and door and hanging them, we had to rebuild the space in the wall where the old door had been and to repair all the stucco.
The old door was half as wide as the new window.


Here's the after shot.  Did I mention that Drew and I painted the whole building in the happiest, most vibrant red I could find?  Drew built the fab little deck and patio (with the last of our concrete from the demo), too.
I am absurdly excited about this joint becoming the new MMD HQ.

I've done so much research about remaking garages and home studios this year.  My favorite is a post from Tue/Night written by a fellow Angelino creative-type named Jenna Briand.  You can (and should) read it here.  I'm not a mom, and my offices in the past decade haven't been quite as fancy as Jenna's, but I relate to pretty much everything else she expresses here.  In the decade before I started working for myself (in that tiny spare bedroom), my offices have been in a guest room of what was originally a motel built for the Seattle World's Fair, a 10th floor corner cubicle with a view into downtown Seattle, a desk in a design and architecture studio a block from Venice Beach.  As interesting as all of those experiences were (some definitely more than others) I can't help but be reminded that to do my best work I need my own kind of space -- something of my own creation and in my own control -- where I can go and make stuff.  I've also long subscribed to the idea that if I had the right space to do my work then lots of it would come my way.  Now there is a little red studio in my backyard, and I already know that its going to be a space where my business, my creativity, my life, will flourish.

And that leads me to gratitude. 

Drew and I moved into our house on December 30, 2012.  It has been a crazy blur of a year filled with so much change and so many moments of joy and satisfaction.  I can't believe what we've managed to accomplish here so far, and I'm so grateful for the awesome community of people in my life who love me, dream with me, and help me make things happen.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to live and work in this amazing city and to feel, after so many years on the move, that this is my home.  I feel incredibly lucky to have this life.   Each time I have that thought I am reminded that the best way to express my gratitude is to put something, anything,  positive into the world.  So that's the plan, for the year ahead and beyond.

I am already dreaming about the interior design for the studio, so I'm all up in Pinterest.  If you're a Pinterest person and would like to take a peek at what the studio interior might look like, take a look at my MMD STUDIO board.

And so I'm on to the next.  Lots of stuff in the works for 2014.  I can't wait to see what sort of surprises are in store as well. 


  1. This is amazing! Great work! It looks fantastic and I can hardly believe it was a dark little beige beastie last year. Congrats and good luck out there!

  2. Wow, Congrats Melissa, truly amazing!!! LOVE IT :) and love you both <3

  3. Yay! So glad you like it. I am thrilled with how it turned out!