If you're an artist with an imagination
you need the tools and the space to bring your ideas to life Hello, I'm Matthew Encina. In this video, I'll take you through the DIY process of building this art studio for my wife Belinda, and give you a tour of the space. Before I begin, I want to give a special shout out to Grovemade for sponsoring this video. I spoke to Ken Tomita, their CEO, and Sean Kelly, their lead designer, early on in the process.
These guys are the experts in workspace design and helped me plan out the details of this project. More on that later. If you've seen my previous videos, you might know that my wife gave up our spare bedroom, to give me my own office. Since then she's been working out of our living room to make her beautiful pieces of art. Since I spent so much time creating my own perfect workspace, I wanted to do the same for her. For this project we had a few goals in mind: First of all, this is a multi-use space. Yes, it's Belinda's workspace, but it's also our living room. We didn't necessarily want to make the living room feel like an office, so we had to design something that balanced work with living space.
Belinda is a multi-disciplinary artist, which includes illustration, papercraft, digital design work, and everything in between. So she needed a workspace that could hold all of her tools, and was big enough for all of her various projects. Lastly, the corner she was working in didn't get much sunlight during the day, so we had to reconfigure our space, so she could be closer to the window. After a few weeks of researching different furniture we could buy to build her space, nothing was quite right. Frustrated and motivated… we decided to build everything ourselves. Before this project, we had zero experience with woodworking and building furniture. But luckily we had an idea of what we wanted, and YouTube university to teach us. Just a disclaimer: My wife and I are total beginners when it comes to woodworking. Our process was full of mistakes, which you'll see throughout the video.
I started off by sketching a few ideas in 3d. I use Cinema 4D to block everything out. After showing a few mockups to Belinda, he got inspired and wanted to take over the design. After a little back and forth, we settled on this configuration. A long floating desk, connected to a floating credenza for storage. At 18 inches in depth and 145 inches long. We designed this to be more narrow than a normal desk, to make sure we didn't eat up our walkway behind the couch, and to make the room feel as big as possible. With the design locked, we finalized all of our measurements, and created a shopping list of materials we needed to get.
After researching the options between
the different kinds of wood we decided to use a White Oak plywood, because of its color and strength. While we would've liked to go with solid wood, it was about 3-4 times more expensive and much harder to find at the large sizes, we wanted. We ordered our wood from a local lumber yard here in LA, and had them delivered to us. These things are massive at 4×8 feet. A bit challenging to get these all inside the house. Over the weekend my dad came over with his power tools to help us out.
He already owned most of the equipment we needed, so it saved us a ton of money from having to purchase our own.
Thanks, dad. We live in a small condo we don't have a garage or a yard. Our
workspace for this project was my small patio and our living room (we made it work). We started by cutting down our boards using a circular saw. A tip here: before you cut anything make sure you're using the right kind of blade for the job. Unfortunately, we started by using general blades which left a lot of chipping on the end of our plywood. Eventually, we caught on and bought a plywood blade for the job, which cut much cleaner. With the plywood sheets broken down, we started doing our refined cuts to the exact sizes we needed. Using a table saw for long rip cuts– which is parallel to the grain–
in a miter saw for cross cuts– which is perpendicular to the grain.
Because it was our first time it took a couple of days to get everything cut
down just the way we needed it.
With all of
our pieces cut we began the process of joining everything together using wood glue and dowels. We picked up this dowel jig to make sure all of our holes lined up with each other. This process was a lot harder than we
thought it would be. It took about two and a half weeks of
gluing, clamping, drying, and making sure everything stayed
at 90 degrees. It took a bunch of clamps and a lot of
patience With most of the big pieces of the
credenza and the desk put together, we moved on to edging, which is the
process of taking a real wood veneer and gluing it along
the plywood edges to hide its layered look. You can buy these in
rolls that match your wood species that come with an adhesive on the back.
Here are a few tips I found helpful for the edging process.
Use a really hot iron to melt the glue from the veneer onto the plywood.
Buy an edge trimmer and a flush cut plier to quickly trim off the excess
Then break the edges with sandpaper to
soften all of your corners and to blend everything together.
To prep the surfaces for finishing and to smooth all the imperfections out
we sanded everything down using a 220 grit sandpaper.
While most people hate it, this is one of my favorite parts. To see something go from rough to smooth is so satisfying. To finish the wood we used this natural oil wax blend. We
applied two thin coats using a non-abrasive pad. This tinted the wood a few shades darker, brought out the natural textures in it,
and gave it a protective coating for use.
Once the finish dried it was the moment
of truth: mounting everything to the wall. I first
used a stud finder and marked all of the post with tape. We designed the desk and credenza to mount with a french cleat so it'd be much easier to level and align everything. We drilled the cleats into the studs first using cabinet screws and triple checked if everything was leveled. Then we lifted the credenza and the desk to sit on top of the french cleat. They almost fit together but needed a little light hammering to get it all snug. Once in place, we screwed the top part of the cleats in to lock everything on the wall. We then installed a few shelves above the desk using these heavy-duty brackets and cuts of the same plywood, we used for
everything else. With everything mounted we moved on to
installing the shelves inside the credenza and the hinges on the doors. I thought we had already gone through the hardest
part of the project, but getting all of these pieces to line
up and close properly took several attempts.
It even required
shaving down some of the edges and resetting the hinges. Eventually we
got it all to fit. We then moved into installing these
beautiful black knobs on all the doors. This gave everything a nice black accent.
To power Belinda's devices, we installed this power outlet on the surface of the
desk for quick access. We also cut out a hole
for this grommet to run cables down to a hidden surge
protector inside the credenza cabinet. With the main build complete I did one
more pass of sanding using plain printer paper. This is a wood
shop technique I learned from my friends over at Grovemade. They use this to finish all of their wood products which give any wood
surface an ultra-smooth finish. With the build
out of the way we shifted our focus to organizing the space. We took inventory of Belinda's sketchbooks tools and crafting materials,
then organized them using stackable plastic drawer bins. We originally got these from Muji a few years ago, and they're a great way to
make the most of your vertical space.
As we started moving belinda's stuff
into the cabinets she realized she had so many pencils and various types of
mediums that she needed to organize in a smart
way. So she drew up some plans and decided to
build a drawer with customizable dividers. We took a trip out to home depot and bought a few sheets of poplar wood to
construct it. Two days later she had a drawer designed
specifically for all her stuff. On the desktop, belinda has an iPad for
her digital drawings and a Surface book 3 for her design and 3d work. This sits on top of a beautiful felt pad by Grovemade, which can slide out of the way quickly if she needs to clear her desk. When the devices are not in use they tuck away neatly inside this pull-down
drawer. If you want more organization tips, I
created a whole video about my process which I'll link to in the description.
The last part of this project is styling the space. I didn't mention it
earlier but prior to mounting the desk, we put a
a fresh coat of paint on the wall. We used this Classic colored paint by
Clare in an eggshell finish. This brightened and warmed up the room
and was the perfect base color to complement everything inside.
Above the desk, we decorated the shelves with Belinda's books,
trinkets, and sketchbooks. To personalize the space we put a few
pieces of art in repurposed frames. We displayed some of belinda's original
works, as well as a few pieces from other artists, she admired. If you want to
put up your own gallery wall I recommend laying everything out as a
sketch first. Then pick one key frame as an anchor to
develop an offset grid from– somewhere in the center of your wall.
With that key piece in place, you can then arrange your other frames
around it and continue to add to your gallery, as your collection grows.
That way you have a flexible system to build from
in the future. To break up all the rigid visual lines, we added indoor plants throughout the space. This brought a lot of life to the environment. On the desk surface, we displayed this
handsome vintage typewriter we picked up from the flea market a few years ago. It's a gorgeous piece that ended up dictating the style of the
rest of the space. To match that modern industrial look, we
got this banker's lamp that had a unique mesh cover.
Because our accent colors
were black and gold, our friends at Grovemade sent us these
beautiful desk accessories to complete the look. Their products are beautifully designed a perfect balance of form and function. The last thing we decided to change out was the chair.
While Belinda loved the lino chair she had previously used, it just didn't look right in the space. After shopping around we decided to get
this classic Eames Eiffel style chair in black with
wooden legs. To make things extra cozy at night we
added two Phillips Hue lamps at the ends of
the desk. These smart lights help add ambient
lighting to the space when Belinda decides to burn the
And that's Belinda's art studio
workspace. Before we started this project Belinda
wanted to refresh her workspace to suit her changing needs as an artist.
After three weeks of planning, six weekends of work,
and many splinters later… we created the perfect setup for her. One that's open full of sunlight and allows her to do all the different kinds of projects she's into. I hope by sharing our story here it might encourage some of you to start
your own DIY project. When we first started we were nervous,
intimidated, but excited. We made a ton of mistakes
but learned so much in the process it wasn't easy, but it was absolutely worth the effort. Finishing this huge project has inspired us to start a few more. If you want to follow along
check out my Instagram (@mod.musings) which I update frequently. I want to give a very special thank you to Grovemade for sponsoring this video.
I've been using their desk accessories in all of my setups for years, because they source high quality materials, have a unique aesthetic,
and are always thoughtful in their designs. I did an exclusive interview about this project with the founder of Grovemade
He and I chatted about the process behind the project, and went deep into the details. Head on over to the link I've provided in the
description to listen to our conversation, and to read more about our collaboration. In other news, I have a very special
announcement: I'm launching a new website dedicated to all of my setups,
gear, and home projects. I'll be sharing reviews, tutorials, photos, tips, and detailed case studies of my big projects like this one.
I'll add a link in the description as soon as it's live.
In the meantime, you'll find links to everything in the description,
including the products tools and videos I watched to make this project happen.
If you have a question drop it in the comments and I'll do my best to answer
them. With that out of the way, it's time to
get back to work..