I met Lauren, a former art director for Martha Stewart, and her family a couple of years ago through some Swedish clients of mine (Lauren's husband, Alex, is also Swedish). Lauren and I have stayed in touch over the past couple of years through Real Estate and our mutual love of design and all things creative. When my assistant recommended that I do a piece on the popular "she-shed" movement, Lauren's beautiful studio space instantly came to mind.
SB: Why did you create this studio space?
LS: It was really hard to find an outside studio space in New Orleans that was affordable in Uptown so we decided to turn the shed into a working studio space for me to work in daily. My commute is 10 seconds. It’s a great place to be when you are a working mom of 3. I can run in the house and get dinner started while I finish up my day of working.
I am an artist and designer and I needed a dedicated space that I could work in. I needed a place that I could leave out pieces that were works in progress and that wouldn’t get trampled on by little feet or dogs or cats. I also needed the studio to be a place I could get messy in. The studio used to be a shed that we used as a patio, and before that it was the bathroom / outhouse of the main house. (we found 2 cast iron toilets still in tact that were hooked up to the sewage when we started working on it.) The foundation was already poured when we bought the house and we hired someone to fix the outside structure. We kept the unfinished concrete, put up sheet rock, and installed the windows. We put in a Friedrich air conditioner/heater unit.
SB: What's your favorite part about this space?
The indirect, diffused light from the big windows. It’s really beautiful and everyone looks so pretty in this light. We found the windows at the Preservation Resource Center. They are originally from the Pontalba Apartments in the French Quarter. It was a classic architectural junk yard dig moment when you almost give up thinking there’s nothing here that will work and then you start looking behind things in a hidden corner and you find a gem! (and a whole set of a gem, 4 windows just alike and from one of my favorite New Orleans buildings) The style of the windows blended well with the style of the main house. They gave the shed a cozy cottagey feel which was nice since the studio is in our back garden.
The studio lit up at night. I love to look out the window from the main house and see it glowing with warm light. It makes me feel like it’s a space that is alive and full of possibilities.
SB: What were some of the challenges in creating this space?
LS: As with everything in New Orleans, there is not a single right angle or straight line. (luckily my husband is really good with a caulking gun)
SB: What else do you use this studio space for?
LS: My kids love to go out to the studio to get messy and make things. We hide our rambunctious dog from visitors in it. We’ve put an air mattress in it for guests. I do my daily yoga practice here. And I’ve hosted art classes. My husband has a small storage closet to house all of his tools. I keep props for photoshoots in it. I’ve used it as a photoshoot location to shoot portraits. And all of our garden backyard things live there too. When the main house is super cold in the winter time and your feet are like ice, the studio is the place to be. Other than my daily place of work, the studio is Mamma’s place to escape. Every woman needs a room of her own to dream and get centered.
SB: What would you consider essential for this studio space?
LS: If we were to do it again we would install a mess sink. A really good air conditioner unit is essential. (it’s worth the money when you have art supplies that could dry out and a space to keep at a certain humidity.) Lots and lots of plugs, Great lighting, A good outside light.
A giant pinboard made from homosote from Liberty Lumber. (I got the idea from when I worked at Martha Stewart) At our studio in Chelsea we had walls and walls of painted homosote. We painted it the same color as the wall so it blends in but it is essential to my workflow to be able to pin things up and take them down a million times.