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Inside Job

Inside the Custom Studio This Designer Built from the Ground Up

Inside Job BY liz 05/29/2018


After three years spent running her namesake jewelry line from the Portland basement she shared with her two employees and her husband’s record label, Natalie Joy knew she had to make moves. Wary of the rising local rents, she decided to act on a longtime dream and renovate a freestanding garage on her property. What followed was an unexpected gut renovation, during the winter, that she helmed as a D.I.Y. general contractor. But one look at the sunny, high-ceilinged results proves it was all worth it.

Medium smaller progress picture 1

Medium smaller progress picture 1 crop

“I had always had it in mind that I wanted to convert our detached garage, but it was an early 1900s building with a gravel floor—I didn’t even know where to start. In the end, I served as my own contractor and hired out each job individually—it turned out the walls were rotted, so we basically lifted up the roof and built all new walls. I started last September, and we finished in November.”

“We opened up the rafters, so now it has these 20-foot-high ceilings. I got all this wood, and my partner and my partner’s parents helped me stain all the wood and hang the ceiling. It was one of the most intense things I’ve ever done, but it is the focal point of the space and was so worth it.”

Circle windows

“There are lots windows and natural light. I had my heart set on these circle windows, and every single person involved with them was like, ‘This is a pain the butt, just get square windows.’ But I knew I wanted them, and they really make the space, in my opinion. You look up, and they frame the sky and trees so beautifully.”

French doors into the garden

Office and assembly crop

“Before, we had such limited space that we would have to pack everything up after one task to start the next one. Now every task has a dedicated area! I built a cabinet that’s soundproof for the metal tumblers, so now I can shut the door and not have to wait to run them at night because they’re so loud. We also put a beautiful hood vent in the soldering space.”

Nataliejoy pamnecklace 1
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“The two garage doors in the front were a big thing for me. I wanted to keep that style so I could open them wide if I wanted to, for the air and to be able to have studio sales and things like that in the future. I commissioned a local guy to make these big farm doors. They’re super pretty, and they’re another one of those details that defines the space.”

Custom wooden barn doors  w  me

“Interiors-wise, I wanted three main elements: wood, white walls, and black tile. I kept that as my grounding visually for everything that came into the space. The black tile was hardest to source—I knew I wanted subway tiles, but I didn’t want the standard ones. So I hunted down these almost mini-size ones that are matte black. I really didn’t want them to be shiny. Then I painted the french doors black to match.”

Solering black tile

“My employee Jessica Koenig is an incredible fiber artist; she has a line called Fika Craft. She made this hanging quilt customized in white, brown, and white. That was such a special detail, and I couldn’t run my business without her and my other employee in the pictures, Erika Brotzman.”

Medium smaller custom wall hanging by jesscia koenig

Medium smaller nataliejoy studio crop

“This whole project was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I planned do it in the summer, but the contractor I hired bailed. So I ended up building it myself during the  Christmas season, our busiest time of year. On a personal level, I proved to myself I can handle all of these things at once, and I’m proud of that. I also dealt with a lot of men during process who would tell me how something had to be done, and being able to say to them, ‘I respect your opinion, but I think we can make it work my way,’ felt great.”

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