The viewing room

(Thanks so much for all the excitement around our House Hunters episode! It feels so good to let the proverbial cat out of the bag!)

When we tell people we have a photography studio, the intial assumption is that we have a space to actually shoot pictures. While we like to have shooting space it’s not at the top of our list. We’re much more likely to trek into the woods or find a broken down building to use as a backdrop.

Our priorities for a studio line up like this: 1) a space for us to work on our computers (a lot of photography work is unglamorous computer time) 2) a space to meet with clients 3) storage 4) shooting space (which is really a bonus).

The client meeting space is a simple, living room-esque set up (couch, chairs, coffee table, TV, sample albums and some art on the walls). The firehouse garage-turned-studio made it not so simple thanks to floors that slope toward drains. Ideal for washing fire trucks, not so much for sitting on furniture that needs to be level. That unique feature prompted platforms and somewhere in the design process it inspired the viewing room. More than just a simple platform, this room-within-a-room, is designed to provide an intimate space where we can meet with couples planning their wedding and debut images from events we have shot. In our usual “let’s do the coolest thing we can think of”style, the room became an architectural focal point – a shiny, black, floating show stopper that required precise placement (when you walk into the studio you can see through a corner of it, which adds to the airiness) and scale (tall enough to walk into but still intimate).

It was a grand vision and just like with many grand visions there was a point where we thought “are we crazy?” (See also building the coolest fence we could think of.) Our last update on the viewing room construction probably had you echoing the same sentiment. I think this will help:


After Aaron framed the room, he added drywall and began the tedious process of taping and mudding everything. The seams on the plywood floors also got covered in a layer of wood filler to make everything nice and smooth. The recess in the back is for the TV.



Once the seams were smooth (many layers of mudding were not photographed), it got a couple coats of Porter Paint’s Glyptex, a high-gloss enamel floor paint (the same stuff we used for the floor). This commercial coating has a lacquer-like finish. Hello shiny black awesomness.





Before we could officially move in (and while the paint cured), Aaron ran electric into the space through an overhead conduit line on the back side. He tied into one of the strategically placed outlet boxes he installed early in the studio overhaul.





He also added a master switch for the whole room. If anything goes wrong, we can easily cut power to the viewing room.


The overhead lights got a sweet Lutron dimmer. Nerd alert: I used to work for an electrical distributor and have a serious love affair with Lutron lighting control. They are the bomb diggity.


Then he installed the TV.


Behind the scenes there is a fancy mount (it swivels!) and cable pass through.


The last step was loading in our furniture.



This project is one line on our master plan, but it it’s a huge one to cross off the list. It also coincided with a few other OMG-it’s-starting-to-feel-like-all-this-work-is-paying-off!!!! changes, like moving our desks into the studio!


  1. One word! A-MA-ZING! I’m in love with the contrast of the black against of the white. You guys hit a home run with this one!

    1. Thanks Tyesha!

    1. Thank you, sir.

  2. Nice job matching your workspace to your pooch too!

    1. Hahaha! Is it pathetic that we also have a black and white/black car?

  3. I am obsessed! I can’t wait to see this!

    1. Thanks, Alice!

  4. This looks so awesome you guys!!

    1. Thanks! We really need all of these compliments to make the work worth it 😉

  5. Firstly, I’m sorry I neglected to congratulate you on your upcoming House Hunters episode! I can’t wait to see it! (Please remind us again closer to the air date – my DVR only lets us schedule up to ten days in advance.) Secondly, this room is killing me. I would totes hire you guys to photograph anything. Drama, functionality, style, purpose… love. it. No, I, like, really, really love it. I don’t think you’re getting it. Ok, fine, I’m coming over. 😉

    1. We will definitely post a few reminders as it gets close.

      Hahaha! You’re welcome if you want to make the trip. 🙂

  6. Holy crap! And I can’t even get my husband off his butt to come to the tile store with me…

    1. Hahaha! Yeah, Aaron is quite motivated 🙂 We (I) couldn’t tackle this place if he wasn’t handy.

  7. This looks great! I saw the vision when it was just framed up but wasn’t sure what your final color selection would be. The gloss black looks sharp and will be a great backdrop for anything that makes its way into the viewing room. I recently found your blog and am loving your firehouse. Cheers – CT

    1. Thanks, CT, and welcome!

  8. Whoa! This is so cool! I did not know where you were going with this, but now? NOW I SEE. Great work, guys!!!

    1. Ha! Thanks Anne!

  9. What a crazy and awesome idea. The finished product is amazing. You could even do different textures on the ends (like barn wood, whatevs) for various photo backdrops.

    We recently also installed a lutron dimmer switch in our hallway. I wasn’t aware when we purchased it that the switch has a light inside that glows when it’s off. The switch is a NIGHT LIGHT! It still makes me giddy.

    1. Lutron switches/dimmers are seriously the best. Have you seen their Maestro wireless? We installed one in our bedroom at the condo and brought it with us to the firehouse. It’s on the ‘to do’ list, but it provides awesome light control in the bedroom.

  10. This is awesome…I have to say i’m suprised it’s black, considering you are all about the white, but it looks gorgeous. Your handy husband is enviable. I think when the time comes for my wife and I to have some amazing pics taken, we should fly you and your man out to San Diego for a vacation in exchange for some pics and possibly some assistance in building a chicken coop!?!?!

    Also, SO awesome to be pn house hunters, I’m setting my DVR!

    1. Ha! I’m sure you weren’t the only one. It will all make sense once there is art up. We really love a gallery feel, which forces you to pay attention to the art. 🙂

      We can absolutely be bribed to do shoots by paying for our travel. I’d have to run the chicken coop by Aaron 😉

  11. wow, what a transformation!! Looks quite different when I saw it (which wasn’t THAT long ago). Nice job on your hard work! Love the modern and sleek look. Something I can look forward to to view wedding pictures or much sooner, your TV debut! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Christy! It’s starting to come together and we’re so excited!

  12. This is so cool! I think all of your future clients are going to be very impressed with this space!

  13. That’s just frickin’ COOL!

  14. That’s amazeballs. Nicely done.

    1. Thanks! All the credit goes to Aaron – the visionary and architect 🙂

  15. […] studio has a lot of rooms within a room. Most of them we’ve added (see: Viewing Room and Furnace room-ish thing that still needs to be finished off. We keep debating our options), but […]

  16. […] Build a viewing area for client meetings […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.