Today Oh So Beautiful Paper turns 9 years old! And earlier this week, I turned 36 years old! I never could have imagined what a wild and beautiful adventure lay ahead when I published my first post nine years ago. I started Oh So Beautiful Paper just three and a half months after my wedding; my husband saw that I was in need of a post-wedding project, so he suggested that I start a blog. I was still working on a diplomacy career at the U.S. Department of State, so Oh So Beautiful Paper was initially my creative outlet and a way to share my love of stationery and wedding invitations with anyone who might listen. You can read more about my story right here, but even after nine years of blogging and seven years of self-employment I still can’t quite believe that I get to wake up and do this every day!
As excited as I am to celebrate NINE years of OSBP, I have even more exciting news to share: we’re opening a brand new studio space in Alexandria, Virginia called Common Room Studio! It’s going to be part photography studio and part workshop space, and I can’t decide if I’m more excited to finally have a space to produce some larger scale DIY and cocktail party shoots or to have a space where I can host people and engage more with my local community. We’re planning everything from calligraphy and watercolor workshops to cocktail classes. Common Room Studio will also be available to rent if you’d like to host your own photo shoot or workshop here! It’s going to be so fun!
Common Room Studio is on a quiet street in the Potomac Yard neighborhood of Alexandria, just a few minutes north of Old Town Alexandria. Our building is more than 100 years old and was originally built as a cafeteria for the workers in neighboring businesses, so it has an industrial vibe with a very open floor plan – which is both super rare in DC and perfect for me! I feel so lucky to have found this space after looking on and off in DC for nearly four years! We’ve been working on building out the inside of the studio for the last few months, and I thought I’d share some of the before photos and some of the progress we’ve made so far!
So here’s what the studio looked like the very first time I walked in:
In rough shape, but with lots of potential. I know it’s hard to get a sense of the layout from these photos, but the studio is around 1,000 square feet divided into two rooms. The front room (with the glass block window) is the smaller of the two rooms, but is still quite large with plenty of room for an entry space/sitting area and a small photo bay. There is a doorway into the larger second room, which contains our large photo bay, the kitchenette, bathroom, and our workshop space – all of which gets tons of beautiful and bright natural light from a large skylight!
The first thing I asked my contractor to do was tear down the 1960s-era drop ceiling and paint everything – floor and walls – a bright white (Extra White by Sherwin-Williams). Here’s what the studio looked like after taking out the drop ceiling and painting the floor:
Better, but after taking out the drop ceiling we found old water damage in the ceiling drywall, some old fluorescent lights, and random old pipes and wires. I’m planning to embrace the industrial vibe of our space, but we still needed to clean things up a bit. So we took everything down and put up brand new ceiling drywall and cleaned up the pipes and wires:
We also added a fun band of light pink (Alyssum by Sherwin-Williams) in the workshop space and painted the back door in the same shade of pink. Here’s what it looked like a few weeks ago, just before our furniture arrived:
That’s about as much as I can show you for now! I can’t wait to share more about Common Room Studio in the coming weeks – including my design plans for the entire space! And I’m so excited to finally start shooting some projects in our new space and sharing those images with you. In the meantime, if you’re in the DC area or interested in attending a future workshop at Common Room Studio, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter right here!
Thank you so much for following along for the past eight years and as my business continues to evolve and grow. I’m so grateful for all of you! I know this 9th year of Oh So Beautiful Paper will be the best one yet. xo
*A big thanks to our friends at Sherwin-Williams for providing all the paint for the studio! Painting everything white made SUCH a huge difference, and I love the pop of bright pink in our workshop space!