Discover how the talented Bec Bayss transformed her old garage into a super millinery studio.

If something’s broken, you fix it right? Well not exactly broken but more like not working was how I used to describe my millinery workspace which was actually my kitchen island bench. A lot of you would know the struggle of pulling all your millinery materials out to the kitchen bench or dining table to work, only to have to pack it away or move it at dinner time, drag it back out after dinner then pack it all away again before going to bed. This was me and I needed a solution fast!

Our garage was mostly an unused space except by our two dogs who thought it was a wonderful oversized kennel. With a bit of planning and work, this space would make the perfect millinery studio.  Once everything was removed I had a blank canvas to work with.

I went online and researched craft rooms, sewing rooms, space saving ideas and millinery studios.  I made a list of the things I wanted in my studio then set about planning how I could fit everything in that I wanted. Here is my list:

  • Lots of storage for materials 
  • Sewing machine area 
  • Space to store hat blocks 
  • A workbench large enough to lay out fabric 
  • A cotton reel rack 
  • Numerous power-points including above the workbench
  • Hat display areas
  • Computer area
  • A bookshelf
  • Space for clients to sit and try on hats
  • Photographic area

There were a few structural features that I needed to work around such as an attic storage staircase that pulls down into the room, the garage roller door and doors from the studio to the lounge-room and laundry. Trying to fit in all my studio wants and working that around the structural features of the room was quite a challenge. It was a bit like a real life game of tetris!

Work In Progress
I am lucky enough to have a great builder who has worked with my partner Trevor & I on various projects at our home and knew that he could adapt the unloved garage space to suit me.  After a few structural changes to the room - a false wall being added behind the roller door, the addition of insulation, new gyp-rock, floating floor boards, down lights and power-points, the room was painted and ready for furnishing.

Budget was a priority for furniture so I visited my local Ikea and got everything I needed for storage, displays and bookshelves in the form of cube shelving. Because the floor was not exactly level all over, I bought adjustable furniture feet on Ebay to attach to the bottom of each bookshelf – much cheaper and easier than levelling the floor!   

A computer desk from Ikea which I already owned, now also doubles as my sewing machine space. Trevor surprised me with a framed, pegboard cotton reel holder that he had made and mounted above my sewing machine. The perfect gift!

I found the cutest vintage half moon table on a local buy swap sell site at a bargain price which I stripped, painted and had a glass top made. This table paired with a large round wall mirror and a sea-foam coloured chair makes the perfect place for clients to try on hats.  The chair also doubles as my sewing machine/computer desk chair.

Two Ikea cube bookshelves joined back to back secured to a laminate top make up my workbench.  Castor wheels attached to the base ensure it can be manoeuvred around the room or pushed aside when I need to pull down the access ladder to the attic.  The cube shelves under the workbench serve as storage space for hat blocks.  Enough leg room on all four sides make it comfortable to sit at. The bench-top is also high enough to be fit over the top of the storage shelves that are against the walls so it can be pushed up flush against the wall if need be.  

The power-point in the ceiling above the workbench ensures that when I am working with tools like a hat steamer, soldering iron, heat gun, iron or even have my LED lamp plugged in, there are no trips hazards such as extension leads on the floor.

I love to listen to music or true crime podcasts while I work. Paired Bluetooth speakers allow me to stream music or podcasts from my phone and a TV screen connected to my phone via Bluetooth allows me to watch my Hat Academy lessons on a bigger screen.

Did I Miss Anything?
The photographic area of my studio is still a work in progress. My plan is to install a pull down photo backdrop above the door to the laundry so that I can take my own photos of my finished hats then roll it back up out of the way when not in use. 

There are some really amazing studio ideas out there, my advice would be to think about what you want in your space, prioritise those wants and how they fit within your budget. Think about and research smarter ways to make the most of your space, take measurements and plan out your space.  Consider functionality, does it work for you? Is there a better way to do it? Make the space your own and have fun with it – after all, planning your studio should be a fun experience.  

Explore more from Bec Bayss | @BBMillinery | #bbmillinery

» What's your millinery studio look like?

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