Welcome to Hooby Groovy's Workshop!

Posted on April 23, 2012 by eelengchang | 1 Comment

Ever since I started up Hooby Groovy in August 2010, I'd been working out of our apartment. Which was all fine at first until I started expanding my (still very small) range of products, which meant more and more materials kept arriving in big boxes and soon we had a cardboard box obstacle course to navigate through just to turn on the TV. 

I had always dreamt of getting my own little Hooby Groovy workspace/studio to work in away from home and with the distinct lack of storage space and work/life balance, a dedicated Hooby Groovy workshop started to sound more and more like a neccessity! Luckily, I have an awesome mother-in-law who had been repeatedly offering me the use of her house to run Hooby Groovy out of, and this year I finally put some serious thought into it and asked for her final okay to convert an outdoor shed/granny flat into a workshop. 

Actually immediately after I got her "Of course", I went out to scope the space. I'd only been in there minimally over the years and so had built it up in my mind. When I stepped in there, I was almost tempted to give up! It was a very dark place, filled with so much stuff that had been collected over the years. It was extremely daunting and if it were not for the fact that we can't go from our apartment living room to our kitchen without tripping over boxes, I probably might have abandoned the idea. But I was determined and so began tackling the huge job of turning a dark, miserable storage shed into a bright, welcoming workshop. I'd never done any DIY renovationy things before so it was really a huge learning experience!


Too Much Rubbish, Too Little Bin-Space

The first few weeks were all about just throwing away as much stuff as we could. I'm a hoarder by nature and always have difficulty throwing away my old belongings, so I was quite relieved that the shed was filled with my husband and brother-in-laws belongings so I had no sentimental attachment to it and very quickly went through all the boxes like an emotionless robot. :D There were so many digital set top boxes for some reason!! I can honestly say that I've never thrown away quite so many set top boxes at any one time in my life before. 

We also got rid of the carpets on the ground. It was a very yucky, dusty carpet and I was determined to have hard floors in my workshop. We found that it was a cement floor underneath and that was another concern but decided to worry about flooring after we'd gotten rid of the carpet first. 

It was during this phase that we ran into a big holdup. There was way too much stuff to throw away and only 2 bins that were emptied once a week! And I was trying to be cheap and not spend money hiring a rubbish tip, so that meant cutting up the carpets into little bits and trying to chuck them away bit by bit every week. 

It became apparent after a couple of weeks that I wouldn't be moving in forever if we waited til all the rubbish got thrown away before starting on other work, so we decided to just group the rubbish as best we could, move it into the garage each weekend as we worked on other renovation work and keep on throwing it away bit by bit. 


Here's the shed after our massive cleanup, but before any renovation

Yellow + Grey = Dark + Depressing

All painted surfaces including the roof were yellow, which made the room feel quite dark. So from the start, the first thing I knew I wanted to do was paint everything white. I even wanted to paint all the brick walls but upon reading how to properly paint bricks, I was quite easily convinced to give that up. 


It took us 2 full days to complete the painting, the first day was painting all the yellow bits white, the second was painting a trim pattern onto the brick as you'll see later in the After photos. We decided on doing the painted brick trims because the previous yellow paint job had left marks and smears on some of the bricks near the walls and ceilings. 



After painting, the next major hurdle was the floor. As you can see above its a pretty yucky floor! I like the modern look of super smooth polished concrete but this was pretty much as far from smooth and polished as you can get. I looked up cheap flooring options and at first settled on vinyl flooring. We even headed to Bunnings one morning, fully prepared to buy it. Luckily, the one that I had sort of liked (white and black chessboard style pattern) was sold out, and I was in an impulsive want-to-do-flooring-NOW mood so that forced us into considering other options. Which turned out to be click together laminate flooring! It was more expensive than vinyl but considering that we were only going to do a half-assed job at installing the vinyl mats, laminate flooring ended up looking and feeling about a billion times better! To further iterate this, we were fully planning on just buying big massive pieces of vinyl flooring and laying them down just like you would lay down bathroom mats, only it would be really, really big bathroom mats.

Flooring took us 2 days and ended up with giving us very, very sore arms! Trying to be cost effective (okay, more like complete cheapskates), we thought we'd buy a handsaw for $14 rather than an electric saw for $50. It only took about 2 hours to learn real regret. That first day, we almost finished the flooring except for a tiny sliver near the doors that would have needed the boards sawn lengthways. *faint*

That night, my husband couldn't go to sleep until he decided he was going to redo the floors! We'd forgone an underlay layer under the boards (being cheap and lazy again) and so the result was that some boards didn't click in properly due to the very un-level concrete flooring. And walking on it was a bit scary cos it creaked all over the place. So Day 2 of flooring was redoing the floors, this time with a thin underlay and we tackled sawing the final boards lengthways. Twice, because in my tiredness, I miscalculated the measurements! If I ever renovate anything ever again, I'm getting an electric saw!

In the end it was worth it though, the room was considerably much brighter and started looking cheerful! :)


The Final Touches

All that was left was furniture and little detailed touches here and there. I wanted wall shelves to store all my materials. From that, we learnt that you shouldn't drill and try to attach wall shelves to the grouting in between bricks. And that drilling bricks is really hard, even with a power tool! We also built a workbench that had to be redone twice. When clearing up the room, I found there were lots of extra doors in there. So I figured, I could use one of the doors, put table legs on it and voila, nice huge workbench that I could use for cutting my materials. Which was such a good idea in theory, until we put in the table legs and discovered that due to the door being hollow, the entire thing was way too wobbly to be of any use. So we ended up buying a small tabletop to make a small table and then put the door on top of that for a bigger surface area. 

As you can see in the photo above of the wall with the window, there are taps. There used to be a sink in the room and that got pulled out so all that remained were taps and a big hole in the wall where the drain used to go. Luckily, a plumber was needed for some other work within the house so we got him to seal off the taps and get rid of that frame. It was wishful thinking but as predicted, he didn't go as far as to fix that big hole in the wall. So we plugged it up with some easy mix concrete. Not very neatly but my sewing table blocks it from view mostly anyway. ;)

And so, after that, it was just down to moving all my things over, organising where everything would go and then settling in to work!

Here's the final result of our renovation:

Pretty during the day, but these solar garden lights are actually quite tacky at night! They're quite dark and have changing colours. Originally, I put them there hoping to that they would provide enough light after sunset so I could lock up. No hope there!


My friend made these awesomely cute crochet birds and were about to throw them out! I 'rescued' them knowing they'd look right at home in my workshop. :)


My door-bench, complete with sliding door handle. :) It is really awesome having such a nice spacious workbench and just the right height for me to stand at or sit on a barstool to work. A handy rack and hooks helps me keep all my tools in easy reach while not cluttering up all that wonderful big space.



My sewing table looks out to the tall swaying trees and morning glory creepers of the next door neighbour. One of the window panes must have broken earlier in its life because the previous house owners replaced it with this metal sheet that turned out to be conveniently magnetic! :) Just perfect for Totoro postcards and magnets.


My working corner forms a nice triangular formation: cut, sew, iron



A memento of my previous career, this is one of the games that I worked on and my former boss was kind enough to let me have this mounted print when the company shut down last year


This is the third week that I'm working at my new workshop and I'm settling in nicely. I absolutely love the space! What a difference from when I first walked in to inspect what needed to be done. Now, its wonderfully bright during the day and very cosy at twilight too!

There's still many bits and pieces of the workshop that I want to show and talk about but this blog post is way too long now so I'll blog about those later!

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1 Response


May 04, 2012

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