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Oh Happy Day Studio Tour: Photo Studio

Today is the day! We’ve been working so hard on getting our new studio up and running and it’s finally time to share it. We’re going to focus each day on a new part and today is the photo studio! But first I thought I would share the story about how we found it. (ps: We are going to start renting out the space for photoshoots and small events!) 

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When I realized we were growing out of our old studio last summer I started looking for a new space. It was a pretty tall order. The requirements were: Natural light to shoot blog posts in, Warehouse for our party shop, Office Space, Location in San Francisco, and the kicker: Affordable. Real Estate in San Francisco is pretty insane and when you are competing with fully-funded start ups and Tech companies the pickings were pretty slim. Everyday I would look on Craigslist and send emails out to my network. I saw over 20 different spots and they were either too far away, too expensive, too small, or didn’t get enough light. This went on for over 7 months and was SO DISCOURAGING. There were a few that almost fit the bill but I was always compromising somehow. Then finally in February I was feeling really desperate after another space fell through and I saw a listing on Craigslist that was really vague, it didn’t mention the size, price, or have any photos, but I was feeling particularly defeated that day and it had an amazing location (2 blocks from Tartine bakery and 2 blocks from my house!) so I scheduled an appointment to see it. I walked in to a very raw giant 5000 square ft space with huge floor-to-ceiling windows. It was amazing. I knew it would need some work but we negotiated some of the specifics on the spot and I called the landlord that day to drop off the check. I seriously cried when I signed the lease I was so relieved and happy, it felt like a miracle.

Once we got the space we started on construction plans. I still can’t believe we were able to whip it into shape as fast as we did. It took a little longer to finish the kitchen and decorate it but we finished all the major construction in just four weeks! The credit for that goes to Andrea who manages the Oh Happy Day Shop. Lucky for us her husband is a contractor so she had all the hookups we needed (besides she is just ridiculously organized.) She managed all the construction from start to finish. Yay Andrea!

It was so great to have help making decisions. The hardest part about renovations for me is you have to make a bunch of expensive decisions in a very short amount of time. It was so great to have my friend Jenny Komenda, who is a designer, on speed dial. Whenever I would text her with a problem she would always throw out three awesome ideas. A lot of my favorite things in the studio were her ideas. I also owe a giant thank you to my friend Kendra Smoot, who is a stylist and has flawless taste and sent me the photo that inspired our kitchen and chose most of the features. She also was the recipient of lots of text messages asking for advice and gave so much great input. I couldn’t have done it without the help of these guys.

Here are the “BEFORE” pictures. The space was pretty raw but had so much character as-is. We didn’t want to change too much, mostly make it clean and safe and update a few things. Our renovation wish list: Remove all the fluorescent lights and add new lighting, Add more electrical outlets, Sand the wood floors, Patch the ceilings, Paint the walls and ceiling, Demo the kitchen and bathroom wall and add a new one.  It seemed pretty simple on paper but of course like all construction projects ended up to take longer and be more expensive that we could have guessed.

before studio 1before studio 4before studio 2before studio 3

The Photo Studio is about 2000 square feet. So big! We love it because we can have 4-5 different sets to shoot at the same time! It’s such a luxury compared to our old space. Initially I thought we would leave the floors their original brown but the area next to the windows had been covered in asbestos tile and needed to be sanded all the way down so we decided to just paint it white in the end. We deliberately kept the floors uneven and the flooring guy thought we were crazy but we wanted to keep a lot of the character instead of make it perfect. For the lighting Kendra suggested doing exposed silver dipped bulbs but my electrician said to make it up to code we needed to use LED bulbs. I ended up finding these bulbs from Amazon which are LED bulbs but look vintage. The perfect compromise! It was Jenny’s ideas to paint the pipes different colors (we kept the pipes in the main part of the studio painted white for photos) I love how they turned out! I knew there would naturally be a lot of color around our offices so I wanted to keep most of the permanent color understated. I like that we have just little touches here and there. We also painted all the doors an Oh Happy Day Yellow.

We didn’t want to decorate the photo studio (we just wanted it to be a big blank slate!) But we added a few functional details. We put in a few armoires from Ikea to hold our photo supplies and we added curtains across the whole wall of cloor-to-ceiling windows and also between the photo studio and office space. Jenny recommended this Ikea curtain system Vidga that were so affordable and slide on a track. They worked like a dream. The whole studio is like a giant glowy reflective light box when all the curtains are drawn. It’s amazing! I was also happy to see my vintage photo booth finally have a home after being used for storage the last year. It’s really fun to be able to share it with my team and visitors when they come. There is a little nook in the corner at the front that is great for shooting but sometimes we set up a table in it and treat it like a little conference room.

Well that is it for today! I still can’t believe this is ours! I feel so lucky that we get to work in it every day. We will continue sharing our studio tour over the next week or two. What do you think? Big difference, right?

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SOURCES: Paint Color – Untinted White Paint, White Stools (Ikea Hack), Wood Stools– Ikea, Curtains Ikea

To rent our photo studio in San Francisco for shoots or small events email: events@ohhappyday.com for information.

Photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day

  1. Kelly Golightly

    August 15, 2016

    WOW it looks amazing! Congrats! It’s been a blast watching your journey over the years just starting out until today with this great space. Kudos!

  2. Elsie

    August 15, 2016

    Great It is very large, bright and big. I am happy for you, hope you’ll have a lot of fun there and picture great ideas…

  3. Jane C

    August 15, 2016

    Would have loved white paint and original floors.

  4. ideias e festas

    August 15, 2016

    notre paysage était fantastique .. félicitations pour vos photos

  5. Tiffany

    August 15, 2016

    It’s beautiful!!!!!! Loooove all of the white!

  6. Abbey Kobylinski

    August 15, 2016

    More details on your ikea stool hack!? I’m looking at buying some for my classroom and would love to make them cuter!

  7. carrie

    August 15, 2016

    How exciting!!!

    Carrie
    http://www.wearwherewell.com

  8. Alishka

    August 15, 2016

    The day I visit SF Jordan, the oh happy day headquarters will get a whole day of visiting from me… I can’t wait to come see it!!!! And to meet you… Your work is so inspiring :) lotsa love and sunshine!!

  9. JOY CHO

    August 15, 2016

    Amazing! We are in the same exact spot as you were last year and currently looking for new space now! ;/

  10. Michelle

    August 15, 2016

    This place looks so full of potential, I’m so excited to see what you are doing with it!
    https://www.makeandmess.com/

  11. Lisa / Good on Paper

    August 16, 2016

    LOVE it Jordan and team! The transformation is amazing. I need to come and visit!

  12. Vicky Sullivan

    August 16, 2016

    Such a cool studio! Thanks for sharing.

    xo,
    Vicky
    http://www.aspiringsocialite.com/

  13. Sarah Dawson

    August 16, 2016

    I’m in love with the yellow door. I like that you painted the “storm door” to match. I have been torn about painting my front door and how it would look with the storm door.

  14. pepita Limón

    August 17, 2016

    Awesome!!! I finally find my space few weeks ago and my story could be just what you wrote. I am now dealing with construction and here in Spain August is a “dead month”, everyone on holidays. Any step takes sooo long!!

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