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!