From ugly office to photo studio, phase 2 – and a celebration


My house is really difficult to photograph in. The day has to be juuuuust right with plenty of sunshine. And anyone who resides on the Wet Coast of BC Canada knows that just isn’t happening this year yet at all.

So rather than just whine about it, I’m doing something about it.

Remember this room I deemed The Ugly Office, Phase One?

The best thing that ever happened to me was having a work computer crash on me during a power surge. (was that too optimistic? I’ll try and tone it down)

You see, I was pinched for room with this new staging thing taking shape, so my needs were changing at a pretty fast rate. I needed room for my stuff. So I cleaned up the desk to get a decent photo shoot of it to sell.

I had it all nice and uploaded to craig’s list when I realized I didn’t want to sell it at all. So I gave it away to a good cause instead.

And in moved my… junk.

Please don’t hate me for my good planning here…

You see, I had planned for the far wall to house floor to ceiling storage for the staging riff raff. But my needs changed in the nick of time yet again. It became apparent that I had to loose the junk room because I REALLY needed the room for a photo studio instead.

This is the best little room in the entire house to take photos. The natural light is the charm.

Β The view of the dug up septic tank isn’t half bad either!

It really pays to have a good sense of humor, doesn’t it?

This beautiful pine ceiling has been in this unfinished state for… 2 years now? Or is it 3? I don’t remember. Can you tell painting pine planks wasn’t on my list of fun that day? I quickly got the nitty gritty done before the electrician arrived and called it a day year/s.


Down came the bulletin board walls. This end wall will be the main background for most photoshoots.

The (woof!) contractor above requested a proof of some potential cool in the room, so I started playing abit…

Hmmmm… yeah, that might work…

My favorite spackle in the whole wide world to date is Shur Stik. It’s got a whipped consistency which makes drying time fly and is very easy to sand smooth. LOVE this stuff.

I generally do 2 coats total, sometimes 3, allowing each to dry in between followed by a light sanding with a sponge sander.

This is one sad tale. In a nutshell, the wiring in this room wasn’t completed, so I attempted to move the works out of the room. And lost the net connection in the process. I’m not good with numbers nor wires, so back it all came and there it sits, further taunting me.

All primed! Talk about instant sunshine!

And whoever came up with the notion that darker colours make a room appear smaller wasn’t here today to witness the opposite effect. Dark colours push walls back. White makes walls come forward. But I have some cool plans ahead. Let’s hope they all work out.

And with that wet primer on the roller and brush, the ceiling got hit too.

Helloooo makin’ headway! The primer I used as an indoor outdoor latex with a stainblocker, which is best for unfinished wood.

I personally love Cloverdale Paint found in Canada. Any paint suppliers wish for me to try others and talk about it? Call me. I’m FAR from finishing this house. πŸ™‚

Ohhh, I’ve been waiting for this moment forever…

Even though the carpet was in PERFECT shape, I couldn’t fathom it in every photoshoot. I needed much more versatile plans,Β  so…

… I cut it and held my breath. And was pleasantly surprised there was no gunk attached to the concrete below! I’ll be ripping it up and crossing my fingers I don’t find dreadful surprises… eep.

And let’s also take a moment of silence to say goodbye to THESE. My (not what you think) Ikea purchases await install day!

Stay tuned for more updates on the photo studio, what I did with my junk and…

what I’m doing with my clothes that are strewn all over my hallway upstairs. I had commissioned my son to help me build a closet tonite. He went to bed at 7:30 instead. Huh… if that’s all it takes to get the boy to bed early, I’ll buy more closets!

Seriously, he’s just excited about our plans. His theory is the earlier he hits the hay, the sooner tomorrow comes. No worries, the closet will wait for him just fine. πŸ™‚

Curious… do you have issues with photos indoors as well?Β 

How do you get around it?

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71 thoughts on “From ugly office to photo studio, phase 2 – and a celebration

  1. Love your new space, so bright! Yes, taking photos indoors here on the “wet” coast is a challenge! I take photos in my kitchen which is bright or wait for a sunny day. If all else fails, every light that isn’t nailed down comes into the room that needs to be photographed.

    Happy Birthday Donna!

  2. Can’t wait to see the finished project, have a really great Birthday tomorrow… I thought that you might have been celebrating your 5000 follower also sometime this week, I just saw that you had surpassed that big landmark and well maybe you might be whooping it up at bit……

  3. HI Donna, I’m sorta new to the blog world here. i love following your blog. I was wondering if i could use that awesome photo of the nikon camera that looks like a red velvet cake on my blog at the bottom of the page. Its so darn cute. I don’t know a thing about the rules with that. It jsut didnt seem right to take it without asking.My email address is
    Look forward to hearing from you.

  4. Donna, Happy Birthday wishes coming your way for the best year ever! You’re going to have so many awesome things happen to you, your head will be spinning like crazy. You and your son deserve to have an awesome day tomorrow! I like his thinking about going to bed early and making the party start early! Have fun! Annette

  5. Happy happy birthday!!! And I love this post! Your musings and changes make me smile. I so do the same thing. Change is the nature of my life…I love it and I love your changes too!!
    Enjoy them and I am looking forward to seeing what images you will have to share!!
    What a hoot!!

  6. Happy Birthday Dear Donna. May your day of celebration with your son be full of fun, love and laughter, and good things to eat.

    I look forward to seeing more of your room re-do.

    Hugs ~ FlowerLady

  7. I love that you show us your before in all it’s unvarnished messiness. Can’t wait to see what you do with the studio. I have one room with windows on three sides that has incredible light at any time of day. Unfortunately it’s my living room so one corner looks like your office.

    Happy birthday!

  8. Happy Birthday Donna!! I love that you are an April baby too… Cannot wait to see more of this room as I adore your reveals. xo

  9. happy birthday Donna! Have fun whatever you do~you rock! PS I bought two vintage turqoise metal garden chairs last night off craigslist…couldn’t help thinking about your garden challenge!

  10. I just have problems with photos period. I’m just not a good photographer (but I”m getting a little better). Love that ceiling! Happy Birthday! I’ll be hitting that number later in the year!

  11. Happy birhtday to you! Woo-hoo! That is so funny that we are always side-by-side, even in our birthdays. πŸ™‚

    That cake is so cool. At first glance, I thought you had run your camera through the table saw on accident.

  12. ❀♫❀♫❀.β€’*Β¨`*β€’..ΒΈβ™₯☼β™₯ ΒΈ.β€’*Β¨`*β€’.♫❀♫❀♫❀.

    ╔═════════ ೋღ❀ღೋ ═════════╗

    ೋ ❀❀❀~~HAPPY BIRTHDAY~~❀❀❀ ೋ

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    . ❀♫❀♫❀.β€’*Β¨`*β€’..ΒΈβ™₯☼β™₯ ΒΈ.β€’*Β¨`*β€’.♫❀♫❀♫❀.

  13. Happy Happy Happy Birthday to you! I hit the big ole 49er this year too! Of course, you look fabulous in 49 and I not so much! Love your new space! I told my hubby that darker colors make rooms look bigger and he didn’t believe me until I painted our room dark. Wow! I might know what I am talking about!

  14. That looks awesome! I wish I had your energy. My workspace is in need of some help. I LOVE your Kitty!!! I have one too, her name is Pixie. Can’t wait to see the finished room & happy birthday!

  15. Donna HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!! the office is a lot of work but well worth it in the end can’t wait to see it all put together.. Have a wonderful day.


  16. How brilliant to make a photo studio! Leave it to you, girlfriend. I’m so glad those bulletin boards came down–they were an eyesore. I love your slatted ceiling, it looks so crisp in just the white primer. I forgot we share birthdays! I hope yours is wonderful, I’m having my coffee and surfing my favorite blogs this a.m. Hugs, Kim

  17. Hi Donna-

    Happy 49!!
    I love what you are doing with your room making it into a photography studio. I wish every room in my house had a window like that. I could happily live in one of those houses with glass walls!! Can’t wait to see your finished project.

    As far as figuring out how to take photos when the light is bad – I am still working on it and I will let ya know if I ever figure it out πŸ™‚
    My best – Diane

  18. Regarding indoor photos, I constantly tweak the settings on my camera for exposure, use a tripod if necessary, then do some editing with Picnik which is super easy to use.
    Could you hang a mirror opposite the big window to reflect some light into the room? Also, a lot of people build/buy light boxes, but I’m not that serious nor would I even know how to use one.
    Happy Birthday!!!

  19. Good morning Donna! And a very happy birthday to you!

    Oh how terribly exciting! I can hardly wait to see… the finished room, the book, the closet! I know the room is going to be lovely when finished! Now I have to admit I am beginning to question myself… I am needing to paint to make our rooms seem larger and had thought of adding white in the kitchen. Maybe I’ll keep my walls a smidge darker and just lighten the cabinets. Oh the decisions… and now contractor has informed us we need to start thinking about the flooring for the addition (but it is ALL good!! we gain a little bit of breathing room in our cottage-like home! yippee!!!!)

  20. Can’t wait to see your finished room! Lighting is terrible in my house… I painted the dining room white and it has a huge window in there… it’s adjacent to the porch which doesn’t get any sun… very shaded… but I thought I would get better pictures in there even still… uh not!! I have this lamp I carry around with me trying to add light… sometimes it helps but most of the time it just cast shadows…

    Happy Birthday!! Hope you and your son have a fantastic time whatever you do!! My B-day is in April, too! April is a good month!! πŸ™‚


  21. I just go outside for photos! And that isn’t always possible, as you know. An indoor area with great lighting would be nice.

    I love that you show all the photos leading up to the beautiful room. It helps viewers understand that the process isn’t actually fast magic like we see on T.V. You help us feel normal. Working around that mess of wires looks just like something I’ve dealt with on every renovation project. You help readers to see that even when things aren’t exactly right, it pays to just work around them. So thanks for sharing.

  22. Happy Birthday!!! You are inspiring with all of your beautiful, creativeness!!! We share the same birthday! Hope your day is FABULOUS!

  23. Well Happy Birthday girl! I’m probably six months older than you and the dreaded 50 is coming up sooner than I want.

    I have weird light problems in my house, so I use one of the garage stand lights that you had suggested in one of your older posts. My husband only let me borrow his for a few weeks and once he realized that I really was going to keep it in the house I had to go out and get my own.

  24. Happy Birthday Donna!! Hope you have a fun date.

    I have big lighting issues here. I’m always dragging stuff into the familyroom since I have skylights in there. But then sometimes I get awful shadows. It’s a problem I tell ya.

    You are bringing that desk back in there aren’t you? Can’t wait to see it all.

  25. It looks like your room is getting you excited for your next venture in life. Can’t wait to see the big reveal.

    Happy Birthday Donna. Hope you have a fantastic day with your son.

    Hugs, Deb

  26. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DONNA! I should have known you were an Aries! My birthday is the 11th….the big 65! Ugh!
    Love the post, great job you are doing and the light in that room….to die for! I also have light issues in my house and we have had so many gray days here…for way to long! Here’s hoping the sun will shine for you on ‘your’ day! (One way or the other!)


    My birthday is this month too! The 23rd. Looks like April is a good month to have a birthday, huh?

    Hope you and the little man have a fun time on your date…and get some sleep afterwards… πŸ™‚

    Happy Wednesday!

  28. Happy Birthday to you!!! The room is moving right along…but it makes me tired just looking at those pics. πŸ˜›
    That cake is the coolest!!


    I hope you and you son have a great fun filled time! How does 49 feel-wonderful I’m sure-and I will find out in July! Thanks for sharing your talents with us Blog watchers.

    Cheers and here’s to another very successful year for you two!


  30. Way to go on priming the walls and ceiling. You’re on a roll, so you can’t stop now! Can’t wait to see it all done! I live in Oregon, and my tiny space for photographing has a very limited time window of opportunity for getting the optimum light. My natural light exposure is from the East and indirect South, and if they’re not just right, the pics don’t happen. That’s just the way it goes…….

    P.S. Welcome to the 49ers Club! The best is yet to come……….

  31. Happy Birthday!!! I hope you and your son have a fabulous date!

    I cannot wait to see the final studio reveal! I love how you keep it all real. In working on my bedroom remodel, it created a mess in other areas of the house. My poor guest room turned into a storage area and I can barely move around in there!

    As for lighting, my house has terrible lighting. Thus, between bad lighting and shaking hands, I typically have poor indoor photos. It also does not help that I am such an amateur photographer! Sometimes I will take things outside to photograph or just maneuver things around inside to try and shine light on whatever it is I am trying to photograph.

    ~ Tracy

  32. Hope you have a fantabulous birthday!!! Love your blog…been lurking for sometime now….Wish you could come “junk my house”!! LOL.

  33. Happy Birthday Donna! Hope you had an awesome day. I rarely take any photos inside but if I do it is in a room with East exposure.

    I love the whiteness of the room, it’s fresh and very neutral and photo friendly.

    Now about that septic thingy…does that mean your garden is gone? Great place to have a garden though…fertile ground!

  34. Wishing you a most blessed Happy Birthday!I love your birthday cake.Lighting for photos inside is not very good but outside it’s great here. Your studio is comming along pretty well and I too am looking forward to the reveal with excited anticipation. As for the comment about removing the water marks on your photos….I would suggest leaving them so no one can print a copy from their computer to use for their personal use.It also assures your copyright protection. With Funky Junk decor on the rise Funky Junk art work will be also. Just my thoughts on it.Best Wishes!

  35. Happy, Happy Birthday to you! What a year you have had. Highs and lows, and a lot inbetween. But, you soldiered through and kept moving. I predict that the next year will be your most rewarding EVER. Love, Ann

  36. Happy Birthday Donna! I hope the coming year is absolutely wonderful for you. My husband’s birthday is today and mine is in two weeks πŸ™‚

    I love seeing what you’re doing in your house. I use my dining room for all my photos…it has great light.


  37. Yes, I have issues with photos. All the time. I don’t know how to take them for starters!!!!

    Love your space. It’ll be so worth it all.

    One question tho:
    Last year you were 46, which was supposed to be 47 according to someone who knows you really well….so how in the world are you 49 this year????????????????????????

    Did I read that all wrong OR better yet…remember it WRONG?!

    Happy Birthday…LOVE the cake! (it looks like it might taste kinda nasty, though!)


  38. I know it will all be so awesome..
    I wish I had a back yard with a cute shed in it…:(
    Well, I do have a back yard but…no cute shed.

  39. Happy Birthday, Donna! Mine is tomorrow, April 7, (and I have a few years on you & Miss Mustard Seed, too). πŸ˜›

    The photo studio looks great already. Can’t wait to see the upcoming progress – and yes, I am very jealous. I live in a tiny apt., which I really, really wanted and I *do* love – but I have no room at all. Right now, I’m going bonkers trying to fit everything I need into my teeny bedroom – it has to be both my bedroom and office, as I don’t have any other space.

  40. I just blew out my candles (which weren’t lit) and sitting here waiting for my birthday Survivor to come on while my son pours my decaf coffee for me. We still have other plans after our show… I know… I’m being so mysterious. πŸ™‚

    Kolein, you aren’t far from wrong. For two years I thought I was older than I was. Imagine my surprise when I was told I was younger! This will now be my 2nd year of being 49. Oh well, beats being 50 for 2 years I guess. πŸ™‚

    Off to watch Bugs Bunny until my real show starts!


  41. Hey Donna;
    Happy B-Day!!! I hope that you had a very Wonderful B-Day today, and many many more!
    I can not wait to see your blog every day, as it makes me so very happy and you give me so many wonderful ideas to make my own home so much more Beautiful.
    Your Home looks so Great, that I wish that I could come and visit you and wander from room to room screaming with sheer joy over all of the Stunning ideas that you are able to dream up!!! πŸ™‚

  42. Happy Birthday Donna! So cute that you have date with your son πŸ™‚ Indoor photo shoots are tough, but it looks like you have it nailed. Can’t wait to see the final results and thanks for showing us the progress.

  43. Donna I wish you were my neighbor I need help too. I love what you do. I’m sort of like you I was left alone too but by death. Have lost all energy to do anything at home. But you have inspired me to try to do a few things. I’m going to be home all next week. . .so here goes.
    Love your blog, Thank you.

  44. Happy Belated Birthday! Wish I’d seen this yesterday, but my power was out since Monday night. Ugh!

    Hope you enjoyed yourself. You do not look your age at all!

    Can’t wait to see the finished room.

  45. What a wonderful room that’s going to be when you get it finished. Love those huge windows. The ceiling is looking amazing — that alone would have brought in so much light. Can’t wait to see it all finished.

  46. Happiest of birthdays Donna!!!
    Have fun with your sweetie!!
    My Dads is on the 6th as well!!
    Love what you’re doing in that room xo
    Come on and visit..Im having a giveaway!

    Deborah xo

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