Monday, November 5, 2012

Earth-Friendly Home Studio


When I started Metz Interiors 2 years ago, I was literally working from my kitchen table.  As things grew, I upgraded to the unoccupied bedroom downstairs that was mostly piled with junk we couldn't find a place for.  Then as things really grew - I was just too busy to do anything about my own space, and was just trying to keep up with transforming everyone else's.

I longed for a better space, but with so many other things, my little work-space just never seemed to make it onto the priority list.  Then the orders for ruffled throws began to pour in and I just couldn't keep up.  I had to hire some help. When dear Jessica arrived at my door for training, and I had to try and carve out a space for her to work in my dumpy little space, I realized that the time had come for things to change - pronto.

The good thing about working in that dumpy little space for so long was that it gave me lots of time to think about it and how different it could be.  My mind was designing while my hands were sewing.


Artistically I wanted my office to be as simple as possible in style and colour.  I wanted the space to feel like a blank canvas. A place without limitations, where anything could be conceived and created.  Ethically, I wanted it to be as environmentally and budget friendly as possible.  My goal for the space was to re-use / re-purpose as many items as possible. Practically, I needed a better space for product photos, more functional sewing space, storage, and a work surface.  From a design perspective I needed to create light and space in my small, dark room.  I was so eager to get to work!  Finally things slowed down just enough to begin.

Why Re-Use?
Re-using / re-purposing furniture and other salvaged materials not only prevents more waste from being added to our landfills, it also reduces the need for new wood and materials, and saves the energy required to manufacture, package and ship new items.  It's also exceptionally easy on the pocket-book!


I chose to stick to a very simple colour scheme of grey and white.  Using a lot of stark white created much needed light and space.  The grey brought contrast, weight and balance. Using furniture and forms with straight, clean lines complimented the simplicity of the colour palette. A brick wall would bring texture, line and shape, creating more variety and interest.  A great geometric pattern would add pattern and variety but stay in harmony with the simple, clean design.

With all this in mind I set out to see what I could find.


One of the great things about living in the 21st Century is that (without sounding like a total creative downer) everything's pretty much been done before.  If you want straight lines, if you want curvy lines, if you want clean simplicity or elaborate detail - you can find something from the past to fit the bill.  I was on the lookout for retro items, dating from an age of clean lines and boxy forms - the 1960s.  I knew something would turn up in a thrift shop sooner or later, I just had to wait and watch . . .

Chair before:
Soon enough I found what I was looking for!  One of the first things I snapped up was this great chair (this should look familiar from the Tailored Slip-Cover tutorial).  Another great thing about furniture from the past is that it was generally built to last unlike the cheap, flimsy creations of today that you'll pay way too much for.  The cushion was worn and the colour was wrong - but those things are easily changed - what I was after was solid structure, form and line - and this chair had just what I was looking for.

Chair after:
I quickly got to work creating a white removable slip-cover (I chose slip-cover over upholstery because if anything's white in my house it has to be washable - that's just a fact of life when sharing a house with little 'uns), and refinishing some 2nd hand furniture legs I found of the same generation for $0.25 each.  The end result was a very positive start!

Cabinets before:
Next I found some salvaged kitchen cabinets for sale on Kijiji.  Again, I was looking for straight lines and simple forms - I found it.  I did choose to dress these up just a little by applying some trim to the doors adding a little Shaker-style to the cabinets (tutorial coming soon), and then added a couple coats of grey paint to the works.

Cabinets After:
Originally I had imagined the cabinets extending the full length of the wall, but the cabinets I found weren't quite long enough and I was left with an empty space at the end.  This turned out to be OK, as I often end up with the occasional object that is too big or too tall to be contained in a cupboard - and this was the perfect space for them.  I added some simple metal legs from IKEA to the bottoms of the cabinets and shelving board made from recycled materials to the top, extending the full length of the wall to create a work surface.  I popped on some new door handles and presto - you'd never know they're old salvaged cabinets from a kitchen in the past.

I complimented the cabinets with open shelving on the top.  3 out of the 4 shelves just happened to be left behind in various rooms by the previous owners of my house.  All I had to do was bring them together, paint them white and create 1 more out of scrap wood to match.

This retro sewing desk, I was particularly fond of.  It added a little bit of retro-detail and all the function I could ask for.  I was wooed with it's fold-out, expandable work surface and stow-away compartment for a sewing machine.  The thrift store price tag didn't hurt either.  A little sanding and a couple coats of paint later it was ready to roll.

Sewing stool before:
I found this retro sewing stool with storage compartment in a thrift shop long before I started my studio transformation.  The original plan was to refurbish it and sell in in my little Etsy shop, but I kind of fell in love with it along the way and couldn't let it go.

Sewing stool after:
I refinished the legs, re-padded the seat and re-upholstered the box.  It is perhaps my favourite piece in my new studio.

The filing cabinet was a necessary evil.  I inherited this used one from my mom, and with a couple coats of grey paint - it worked.

Recycled bike-wheel clock from Stuff Made From Stuff.
I can easily loose track of time while working away in my little space, and with appointments to keep, dinner to make, and kids to pick-up - that can be problematic.  I needed a clock, but I didn't want just any clock - I wanted a piece of art that could tell time.  I struggled to find something that was just right locally, but came across this beauty made from an old bike wheel by a fellow seller on Etsy.  It was a little pricey at $129, but I had to have it, and I didn't feel badly about supporting another creative, upcycling artisan.

The bits and pieces on the shelves I either already had, or were easy enough to pick out of local thrift shops for dirt cheap.


Faux brick wall.
My pure white colour scheme for the walls, trim and doors made the paint job pretty darn easy, but I wanted  to add an exposed brick wall to break up the monotony and bring in some texture, line and shape.  The only problem was, I didn't have any brick in this room to expose - so rather than give up on the idea, I decided to go faux (tutorial coming soon).  It was a somewhat experimental project for me, but the result provided everything I was looking for.  I have my awesome photo back-drop and I couldn't be more pleased!

The lettering for my business logo I ordered online from a great little company called Craft Cuts.  They'll cut letters for you of any size and any thickness in any font all at a totally reasonable price!  Painted and stuck on my wall with double-sided permanent mounting tape - they worked out just as I had envisioned.

Closet doors before:
Closet doors after:
Then of course came the closet which should look very familiar from my Bi-fold Closet Door Makeover.  Instead of replacing the doors I decided to dress them up with trim, paint and new handles.  I couldn't have been more pleased with the results than if I had purchased them new.

I replaced the old trim with new pieces made from recycled material, and changed the floor to an inexpensive, single plank "smoked driftwood" laminate also made of recycled material.

I couldn't be happier with my new studio!  It's now a place I want to be, rather than a place I have to be.  I felt so excited about how many things I was able to re-use and re-purpose, and even my husband could swallow the total price-tag at under $500!


  1. Wow! I can't believe this was under $500! It will really show your clients that you know how to stretch a dollar. Those floors are gorgeous. Where did you buy them from?

    1. I bought the flooring at Totem. I can't seem to find the exact one (it was on sale for super cheap when I bought it) - but this is very similar:

  2. Looks great! What color of paint did you use on the cabinets? I love it! Thanks