Creative Spaces: Once a Toilet, Now Office and an Art Studio

Every layout choice in my house is dictated by budget. I’m a work-at-home freelance artist raising two children, and every area has arrived together using finds out of thrift shops, Craigslist and even mass garbage. I often work on large-scale art bits, and my office, which doubled as a guest area, was just too small. I had square footage.

Equipped using a strict $300 remodel budget, my husband and I reconfigured some of our chambers over a weekend, turning our converted 19- by 19-foot two-car garage in an art-making haven. This called for getting creative and making do with furniture pieces from elsewhere in the home. The entire cost of my garage remodel, including 2 gallons of paint and four dining chairs, was274.23.

Before Photo

Sarah Greenman

BEFORE: Formerly we used this space, the former garage, as a TV room and catchall for toys. The entire room felt gloomy and dim. My husband was able to call this “the area of squalor and filth.”

The former homeowner had transformed the garage, filling at the garage door, installing carpeting and lining the walls with artificial wood. Because he did it there is no insulating material, and the walls do not go all of the way to the ground in places, which makes me contend with spiders and geckos sometimes. The homeowner said it cost him about $600 to convert the garage a couple of decades ago.

Sarah Greenman

AFTER: The area is currently a welcoming studio where I will work on art bits, freelance photography and writing, and host classes and workshops.

The rug is laid directly onto a lightly sloping cement base, which makes it interesting to lining up artwork on the walls. I painted the walls Black Suede by Behr, since I love dramatic cocoon-like spaces.

Tip: Most art studios have bright white walls, which provide extra light and help to keep the focus on the art. But black is also a wonderful backdrop for artwork.

Sarah Greenman

The garage isn’t insulated, which could sometimes be a challenge from the hot Texas summers and cool winters. The corner cooler comes to the rescue. The sofa creates a comfy chairs and dialogue area for if I host customers and workshops.

The majority of the furniture is secondhand out of thrift shops, so the bits have a frayed, timeworn feel. The golden brocade barrel-back chair is torn out to the sides, but layering on a faux sheepskin and picture pillow gave it new life.

Barrel-back chair: Again & Again; white and black pillows: Kajsa Träd, Ikea; paint: Black Suede, Behr; sofa: Hovås, Ikea

Sarah Greenman

When I’m working in my studio, I always enjoy having reference books and beautiful objects close at hand to enhance my imagination. The java table, a repurposed piano bench, holds an arrangement of a potted golden pothos vine, books and art pieces.

More: How to utilize black

Sarah Greenman

A classic breakfast table sits centre stage. I use it for meetings and assignments, work and sometimes dinner once I’m working late. The metal chairs were my brand new furniture purchases.

Metal chairs: Tabouret,; curtains: Ikea; club chairs: Craigslist

Sarah Greenman

I made a corner workstation that includes my library with bookcases that have followed me since college. The little ottoman shops toys for my 3-year-old, who often joins me while I work. I rigged two pendant lamps on my desk utilizing plant hooks and an extra-long extension cable.

Tip: Stay organized with just two clipboards, like the ones hanging on the wall near my desk. One has my own to-do listing for the current day, and another has my to-do list for the next moment.

Gray storage block: The Container Store; pendant light shades: Cost Plus World Market; bookcases: Billy, Ikea; desk: Linnmon/Adils, Ikea; rolling document: Ikea

Sarah Greenman

All my everyday files are easily available at a mobile file channel made from a classic dish rack. I am able to transfer it to the table once I need more room.

Pen holder: West Elm; camera: Holga, Urban Outfitters

Sarah Greenman

I really don’t paint in any 1 set place, so I introduced in small portable accent tables as surface room to keep stuff handy. Thrift store vases and pottery hold brushes and tools.

Table: First Monday Trade Days in Canton

Sarah Greenman

Canvases, art supplies and an easel are always at the ready. The lampshade is a current DIY project displaying a poem, “Sonnet XVII,” by Pablo Neruda, inscribed with a Sharpie marker. I simply started in the top and replicated that the poem over and over till it reverted into the bottom of the shade.

Tip: A secondhand kitchen cart can be used to corral paint tubes, spray bottles and art materials, giving fresh life to an old item.

Easel: Stanrite 500, Lula B’s

Sarah Greenman

I moved the piano from the dining area, giving me the liberty to play at any time without waking my loved ones. The quote above it is a favorite by author Louise Bogan. I bought the faded secondhand painting at a yard sale for $5, then created the script with acrylic paint. The stool is a household.

A classic typewriter table holds my sewing machine and shares room with a cork bust I discovered in bulk garbage behind a J.Jill store.

Drawers: Alex, Ikea

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