Guest post on Yellow Brick Home

Kim and Scott at Yellow Brick Home are in the process of moving from their adorable, but tiny Chicago apartment to much larger, but needs work single family home. We can’t be there to move boxes, but they asked us to help by keeping their virtual home going in their absence. To this request, Aaron said, “Cool.” I said, “OOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMGGGGGGGGGG YES! THAT WOULD BE AMAZING!!!” … or something like that. I blacked out for a little bit so there was probably more excited squealing than I care to document. Suffice it to say that I’m very (not) cool when faced with exciting events, and we’re both excited that they gave us the chance to chat about what we love about where we live. Hop over and check it out.




Viewing room – this will make sense when it’s done

In this post, we ask you to trust us. It may not make a ton of sense now, but it will when it’s done. It will be awesome.

First you should know that the floors in the studio are not level – mostly (entirely) because the space was intended to be a garage. The floors slope toward the drains, which is ideal for washing fire trucks but not for housing furniture that needs to be on a level plane. This prompted a design for the space that included raised platforms so clients can sit comfortably when they visit. Then Aaron had the inspiration to take it one… Ok, maybe it’s really 12 steps further and actually build a viewing room. This down-sized space will create an intimate meeting place and serve as a rad architectural piece in the room.

Let’s get into the nitty, gritty. First Aaron notched 6×6 posts to support the weight and level the frame.






He nailed them in, leveling off each corner.




Then added top braces.


Once everything was up he added lag bolts to make sure this thing was well on it’s way to becoming a tank.



Then he added joists, using joist hangers – similar to what he did when he filled the pole closet holes. This is basically like creating a free standing deck.




Next came the framing. Oh, I didn’t mention that. This is basically going to be like a cube with two open sides. So he framed both ends, leaving space for a TV to be hung and sit flush with the finished wall.




Next he laid a plywood floor.



Then he added joists to the ceiling, roughed in electrical and installed can lights.





Confused yet? I promise it will make sense once it has some drywall on it.



Lighting the studio

The lighting in the entire firehouse was in serious need of an upgrade when we took over. The former owner clearly had a penchant for awful, makes-me-want-to-scratch-my-eyes-out fluorescent. That kind of nauseating, non-directional light just wasn’t going to fly in our dream studio.


I mean, seriously?

We knew we wanted suspended white track lighting:

  • Suspended so it didn’t interfere with any of the other systems hanging out on the ceiling and so we could reach it with a ladder
  • Track with adjustable heads so we can control the light and spotlight our art
  • White because duh (do you not know us yet?) and so the lighting would blend into the ceiling

We purchased the system from, partially because of the company’s great customer service. Aaron submitted our room layout, and the company created a design and a shopping cart filled with everything we needed. Aaron made a few modifications due to our unique architectural elements. For instance, we couldn’t use their square layout suggestion because we need space for the garage door to open in front. Instead he opted for three parallel tracks, mimicking the layout of the current fixtures. It also meant that each line of track would be on it’s own switch.

A few weeks later we had our 200+ piece order of “white” components. Sadly, their white is closer to our beige and all the track and heads had to be painted. Spray paint, you are our best friend. Here’s everything looking much more REAL white.


Each track has 2 wire hangers. Aaron drilled an anchor for each into the ceiling and ran power lines from the boxes powering the ugly fluorescent fixtures. Then he connected the track and leveled each. Then it’s as easy as adding track heads and bulbs.


Once everything was up, the room didn’t feel as ‘white’ thanks to the incandescent bulbs, which produce rather warm light. Fluorescent were (obviously) out so we looked into LED bulbs, which offer a color temperature that’s closer to daylight. When we popped in an LED bulb the difference was pretty clear.


So we liked the color, but we still needed to rationalize the sticker shock of $35 per bulb (at Home Depot). Thanks to the interwebs we found Cree LED bulbs through LightKiwi for just $20 each. Considering we needed 50 bulbs that still racked up to a hefty $1,000… just for LIGHT BULBS. So we (Aaron) turned to math and found that the energy savings from the LEDs would nearly cover the cost of the bulbs in just one year. Ready for math (don’t be scared, Aaron did it for you):


The numbers get even crazier when you look at the lifespan of the bulbs:

  • LEDs ~30,000 hours (about 12 years)
  • Incandescent 2,600 hours (less than a year)

Assuming the LED bulbs last the full 12 years and we have to replace the incandescent bulbs every year, here’s the breakdown:


So we’ll save more than $8,000 over the lifespan of the LED bulbs and we get the color temperature we want? Clearly a no brainer, right? LEDs win.

Enough math, let’s look at more pretty pictures.





Has anyone else done the math and opted for LED bulbs? Does anyone else hate fluorescent light as much as we do?