Our Studio – The Build

Building Our Studio  |  The Fresh Exchange

From the moment Megan and I decided to go down this wild journey of entrepreneurship, we have been dreaming of a space totally devoted to creating. For 5 years the dream of what could be, was only that, a dream. Until we bought our home this last fall. We talked a bit about our home buying process, but after almost a year of searching we had finally found the perfect home with the perfect studio space. For last 8 months, since buying our home, we have been designing, redesigning, and saving to begin the build-out of our dream studio space. We are beyond excited to finally talk about our talented friends, Arrowhead and In Situ, whom we have hired to help make this dream a reality. It has been fun to work with friends to help us design this space to exactly our needs, wants, and budget.

Before we dig into the build, we want to show you exactly what it looked like before beginning.

Building Our Studio  |  The Fresh Exchange

For the last eight months, our studio has been occupied by our friend, Corey Mason. We were sad to move him out and see this time end, but it has marked the beginning of a new chapter for us. For two months leading up to the construction starting, we began the architectural design process with In Situ Studio located right on Person Street in downtown Raleigh. There was a lot of give and take with the spatial design, as we had a big dream with a tighter budget, but in the end we could not be more in love with the design.

Building Our Studio  |  The Fresh Exchange

When we began the architectural design phase, we really had to ask ourselves what do we want this space to look and feel like. Our studio is on the same property as our home, meaning whatever we designed in the studio, it had to match our home. For over 10 years, we have wanted and been in love with the design of summer homes in Scandinavia. One of the patterns we have noticed in many of these homes are the connective color palettes of dark exteriors and light bright interiors. Which, when you look at our EXTERIOR and OFFICE Pinterest boards, it becomes obvious this is something we clearly love. There is going to be a home tour coming up in a couple weeks, of a friend’s home in Harbor Springs, Michigan, that finally solidified my hesitation to paint the entire exterior black. It was a big move to think about completely switching the look of our house, but one we felt identified with us much better than the green that is already existing.

Building Our Studio  |  The Fresh Exchange

With little hesitation we both agreed the house and studio were going black (and we didn’t plan to look back). However, the interior decisions were not as easy, nor were they as direct. With the understanding that the studio would first and foremost need to be a design and photo studio, we knew that consistent natural light was the top priority in the space. This meant every area of the studio needed to be covered in natural light at all points of the day.

Building Our Studio  |  The Fresh ExchangeBuilding Our Studio  |  The Fresh Exchange

In theory, the idea is simple. Just open the big barn doors and let light in right? Well not exactly. The light needs to be consistent no matter the weather or time of day. This meant we couldn’t always have the barn doors open, for two reasons. The first being the obvious weather concerns of rain, summer heat, or winter cold. The other being the imbalanced light that would result from only one side of the studio having open doors. With the issue of unbalanced light, it became clear that a real natural light plan needed to be designed.

Building Our Studio  |  The Fresh ExchangeBuilding Our Studio  |  The Fresh Exchange

The first question we had to ask was, what wall do we want our primary shooting wall to be and does that wall have the most optimal solar orientation? Sadly none of the existing walls, other than the north wall with a door directly in the center of it, would work. I cannot tell you how many dumb ideas we had to make the wall work, with the existing door right in the middle of it. I just couldn’t figure out how we were going to make it work, until Matt Griffith from In Situ told us to build a wall in the middle of the space. This might have been an obvious suggestion for many of you, but I was so engulfed in the details I couldn’t step back long enough to see alternative ideas. It may sound simple, but it was at that moment that Matt and his team helped break us out of our creative block.

Building Our Studio  |  The Fresh ExchangeBuilding Our Studio  |  The Fresh Exchange

Once we knew where we would be shooting, our next task was to figure out how we would light that wall perfectly. We debated about skylights, but then realized the light would be too direct at key shooting times during the day. After much discussion and research, we eventually landed at solar tubes being our answer. The light from these is perfectly distilled and would remain consistent throughout the day. It didn’t hurt that they were easier on our budget than skylights.  They aren’t as beautiful as skylights, but they ensure the exact light we need in the space, and enough passive light to not need daytime lights in the studio. We designed 4 solar tubes to go above the shooting wall and one solar tube to go in the middle of the space.

Building Our Studio  |  The Fresh Exchange

Behind the shooting wall, we have designed a floor to ceiling shelf system to store props, photo equipment, backdrops, and more. We cannot wait to clear out the overflowing closets of photo equipment and styling props currently filling our home and place them in the studio.

Building Our Studio  |  The Fresh ExchangeBuilding Our Studio  |  The Fresh Exchange

On the studio side of the shooting wall, we have a huge open area, roughly 25’x20′. We plan to keep much of this space open for shooting, but will be building in a floating 20′ desk into the south wall. We also plan to have a small meeting area that will be easy to transition and change for shoots. We have designed all the plugs to be above the desk so no cords should be visible. The desk will also be floating meaning it will not have any legs. It will be bolted to the wall in a custom design In Situ came up with and Arrowhead will create.

Building Our Studio  |  The Fresh ExchangeBuilding Our Studio  |  The Fresh Exchange

We will have more details as the construction as it finishes up in a couple weeks along with a couple more surprises we have designed into the space. We will talk a bit more about all of the amazing finish and design work we did with Arrowhead in our next post.

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