Building My New At-Home Music Studio

We recently moved into our first home purchase.  While we got an amazing deal on the home, we also had our work cut out for us in order to bring it up to “livable” standards.  It was built in 1995, and I’m pretty sure the previous owners never cleaned, painted, or updated the home whatsoever.

Over the course of the past three months, my husband aided a contractor on the work on the home. I’ll eventually get to the photos of my music studio later in this blog, but first, to give you an idea of the amount of work that was done, here are a few Before/After photos…

The Living & Dining Room

Stairs with my cute 3 year old…

Looking down at what used to be a coat closet in the entry…

Front door/Entry

The Family Room/Fireplace…

The Entry Chandelier…

Looking towards the Entry and Kitchen…(obviously we are not all the way unpacked yet).

The Staircase…

The Kitchen area…

Now, we still have a lot to do to finish our home, but the good news is we’re in it and loving it.

The other big project that we just finished was my Music Studio.

We decided to turn one of the upstairs bedrooms into my music studio. However, being that it was right next door to our little boys’ room, we knew there would be a sound issue.  My boys are notoriously light sleepers, and my music making is notoriously loud.

When we were telling our contractor our plans for the room, he looked at my husband strangely.  I think when he was told I was a “pianist”, I think he imagined, you know, a wife with a little hobby of playing the piano. He wasn’t quite informed that I also compose and work on my music at night with two 8 inch studio speakers putting out high density sound.  Not to mention, with a LOT of repetition with each recording sessions – sometimes going on for 6 hours nonstop.

Yeah, I’m that kind of pianist.

So we had to soundproof the room.  Here are some step by step photos of what went into it…

A few BEFORE shots of the studio…

The first thing I did was pick a paint color for the room – which ended up being a dark grey color called “Dark Cavern”.  Really people, I’m not a dark person! 🙂  But for my studio, I really wanted to create a certain atmosphere for my creativity.  I wanted the room to feel like it was not my house – as if I was stepping out of my everyday life into my other self in order to create.

Here is a photo of the dark paint, as well as the wall after we started tearing off the sheet rock…

After a lot of research on soundproofing (thanks to my wonderful hubby!)…next we covered any cracks, holes, etc that could leak sound into the next room. Such as:  heaters, outlets, light switches, etc…

After the goop stage, we put in special insulation…

After the pink stuff, came a layer of rubber…

After the rubber came the “Sound Board”, which is what you see below…

And after all these layers, finally, went the dry wall…

After the drywall went in, it was textured and painted…and finally carpeted…

Once the carpet went in throughout the house, we moved in a few days after.  It’s been almost a month, and I now finally have my studio organized, put away, and decorated.

Here are some final shots.

A Before/After…

My keyboard “work station”. My studio is a digital studio, meaning, the work I do here is all done through midi and then using only the best orchestration software where I create my “orchestra” layer, upon layer.  This is what 90% of film composers are doing nowdays, as it cuts down on the cost of using a real orchestra, or some use a hybrid of real players with VST software.  All of the software that I use are recorded directly from real instruments, and I also use a hybrid method of recording where I mix the samples with my own acoustic violin to get the most authentic sound I can get. I use a studio near Seattle to record any live audio tracks for my work (big mixing boards, microphones, etc.)

Looking onto my wall – photos from my first album, me on the violin at age 6, awards, newspaper clippings, etc…sort of my “scrapbook”.

My two albums framed, next to two 1920’s Steinway ads…back when you could buy a Steinway for $875.  The top ad is a painting of Rachmaninoff – a composer that I really love.  Also are my Yamaha HS-80m’s studio monitors – which, in my humble opinion, are the best monitors for mixing piano.

Here is my really cool light fixture I picked out.  It’s a “chandelier”, sort of.  I couldn’t decide between going totally modern, or very chic.  I thought this light was a good mix of the two.  Lots of sparkles end up on my wall because of it…

So over by the window (which I am eventually going to be getting curtains for), is my new cube shelving system for my software, shipping supplies, and more…

I kept the closet doors off the closet and am using it for storage.  CD storage, and concert dress storage.  Since I have an 18 month old, and a 3 year old I have to keep my CDs tucked away unseen. I learned the hard way, at our previous residence, I left a full box of new CDs out in the open and found them thrown to the ground and trampled on. My boys seemed to have found them great things to stack and climb upon, or to use as skis as they are quite slick on carpet.  I ended up giving away a LOT of free CDs in cracked jewel cases.  So sad.  The white dress on the left is what I’ll be wearing on the cover my new album, “Illumination”.

So that’s it.  My brand new DIY music studio.  Hope you enjoyed the tour! By the way, that fabulous pink/purple beach picture was taking by my talented dad – Ron Southworth. You can purchase it here:  http://www.ronsouthworth.com

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