I turned my small bedroom into a home studio & you can too.
Since the destruction of my studio I’ve been forced to work out of my bedroom. Although this was unideal and definitely something I did not want to do, with my back up against the wall I had no choice but to make it work.
Having built up a steady flow of clients over the last few years as a part-time job my studio income was one I could not afford to lose. But the only space I had was my bedroom. And a small one at that. How on earth could I possibly bring my paying clients into my bedroom for a session I asked myself. Surely this would be too unprofessional. Growing up I was often told if there’s a will, there’s a way. So I began to think how I could transform my bedroom into a professional looking and functioning studio environment, one fit for paying clients.
I have now achieved this and guess what, my clients love it. If you take your production serious like me but you’re not in a position where you have a purpose built studio space or one you have regular access to, this guide is for you. (Please check laws in your area and get any permission necessary to run a business from your home.)
I’m going to show you the 10 steps I used in transforming my bedroom into a studio environment that my paying clients love so that you may do so too!
1. Remove all non-essential items.
If you want your bedroom to look like a pro music studio you’re going to have to 1. make room and 2. remove anything that has no relevance to the studio or is not detrimental to your basic needs. I know you love your teddy bears but they have to go!
2. Take the bed out of bedroom.
I nice sofa bed is ideal. But those can be expensive. Alternatively you can do what I did and hide your bed away
I have a nice black curtain across the final third of my bedroom, this hides my bed and laundry basket away from my clients. This has many benefits as it splits the room into two separate rooms when it is closed – taking the “bed” out of “bed-room” and leaves only the room! This focuses both you and the client. Strive to get a curtain that blocks out sunlight, this will prevent your client from seeing through and breaking the illusion!
3. A lick of paint.
Touch up any dodgy paint work, fill any holes in your walls. What condition do you expect a studio you are paying for to be in? Yours should reach that standard and above. You want your clients to feel welcome. I’d recommend neutral colours and shades such as white or cream to give your studio a clean look.
4. Plan ahead.
I once saw on a friend’s facebook status, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” I failed to plan in putting together my own studio and let me tell you it wasn’t cool. It meant both time and money were wasted! You don’t want to make the same mistakes that I did so let’s get you off to the right start.
Now that you’ve hidden away all your “essential living tools “ you can now begin to see what space you have left. If you’ve skipped this step then shame on you!
Space is everything when it comes to putting together a home studio; what kind of space do I have? What size is it? What shape is it? These are the questions you need to begin asking yourself. The space you have will affect aspects of your studio such as; table size, speaker size and positioning. Start thinking practically; what can fit in the space I have? Will I be taking clients? If so how many? Is there a place for them to sit?
What purpose will your studio serve? Do you want to record vocalist or musical instruments (guitars etc.)? Or maybe you just want to make music using software instruments via MIDI or both?
Measure the dimensions of your space so you know what will and won’t fit. With that curtain closed your bedroom is no longer you bedroom. It’s a recording studio. Treat it as a separate room, gear it and furnish accordingly, forget about all other worldly possessions!
5. Get a studio desk.
This really adds a lot to the studio as the main centrepiece in your room. Everything else will be based and furnished around and in accordance to your desk. You want one that looks nothing like an ordinary work desk but is fitted with all the trimmings of a studio desk. I have a two tier studio desk. One level for my computer and the other level where my speakers can sit at ear level for better monitoring. You may want a desk with a built in rack for outboard gear – those are sexy… I wish I had one.
You know what desk will and what desk won’t fit? Because you measured your space right? You want to put your desk on the shortest wall so that the longest walls are to the sides of you. This helps with back wall reflections.
6. Get two chairs.
Add some style to the room with a nice chair for your client especially. Remember studio work can be long. Think ergonomically, your back will suffer over time if your main studio chair is not well suited for long usage.
My last one broke and almost killed me.
7. Let there be light!
Help create a better mood with a bright daylight fluorescent light. This will keep the room well lit especially if your daylight is blocked by a curtain. Being in a dark room for long hours can also be depressing, I’ve been there.
Strategically placed lamps can also add a nice touch and contribute to the rooms vibe or “energy”. Don’t under estimate these seemingly small touches – The mood you’re in whilst you are writing or making music has a drastic effect on the end result. Maybe you don’t want great lighting for this very reason.
Remember your planning, what do you want for your studio, what energy do you want it to create in your music.
Artist choose different studios not just for the gear but for the energy a studio provides.
8. Acoustic Treatment.
Sounding like a bedroom is just as bad and probably even worse than looking like a bedroom. Bedrooms are generally quite small and sound awful for recording. Remedy this with acoustic treatment.
Bedrooms are not only bad for recording they are bad for monitoring and mixing. If you’re reading this post then you’ve probably got gear already, monitors (speakers), MIDI controllers etc. (If not pause and check outEssential tools for a Home Studio). You may already have some amazing studio monitors already with “an amazing flat response” but what is the use if your room sounds like crap? Your room will colour every sound out of your speaker to your ear turning that amazing flat response sour and untrue. Hence why acoustic treatment is so important. Convinced?
I used 1” thick rigid fibreglass panels furnished in fabric. This is what I would recommend up to 4” as they look nice and have amazing absorption.
Check out this great article on acoustic treatment.
9. Vocal booth.
In regards to vocal booths this is where you may have to get creative. Purchasing vocal booths are crazy expensive and take up huge amounts of room.
I’ve experimented with many different vocal booth set ups in the past all with very different results. Have a look here. I’ve found now with my room kitted up with fibreglass panels this and just the reflector shield suffice and give some nice results. Not boxy but not too live. I bought a new circle base stand for space reasons but man even if I had a lot of space I’ll never go back to three legged stands, the circle stand is a lot more solid and better looking!
10. Set your standards.
Last but not least stay professional by staying organised. Have a couple of boxes for all your wires, guitar tuners etc. Don’t leave things lying around. Allocate yourself a day once a week or more to dust and vacuum your studio. Remember it’s no longer your bedroom; leaving food or clothes lying around is no longer acceptable (not that it should have ever been anyways, but I know how it goes!) Respect your studio and clients will respect you. All my clients pay on time every time because they understand I am running a professional business and although I am currently working out of a bedroom I take my role seriously and you should too!
What challenges have you had to face whilst setting up a home studio?
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