before & after: photo studio makeover

Today’s second transformation provides another jolt of spring color, this time in the form of a gorgeous original 1930s turquoise wood ceiling and a well-chosen palette of plum, white and yellow with complementary gold touches. Monika Merchant designed the space to be a studio and office for her friend, photographer Apryl Ann. Despite its tiny 120 square feet, this room feels spacious, elegant and cheerful. The photography is showcased beautifully, and I love how the fresh blooms feel at home with the color and pattern, but everything is scaled down wisely so as not to overwhelm the space. Nicely done, Monika! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: 3–4 months

Cost: $2000

Basic Steps: This studio is located in Dallas, TX, within a one-stop-shop event-planning studio called The Bell Jar. Just recently opened two months ago, The Bell Jar is a renovated 1930s home that features a florist, two photographers, a wedding planner, a custom stationery designer and a lighting/sound production company. Apryl Ann’s photography studio is located in what was originally the house porch, but it was converted into a chiropractor’s office in the 70s. We tore out the 70s tile ceiling to reveal the original 1930s turquoise wooden porch ceiling, which we left untouched. We scoured antique shops, estate sales, flea markets and bargain stores to furnish the studio on a budget.

Our first step was to find a fantastic chandelier, the wow factor that would set the mood for clients coming in to plan their wedding. Then we had to find the practical furnishings Apryl needed to run her business. The pieces had to have style, be functional, and be properly scaled since her studio is only 120 square feet. Apryl’s favorite color is yellow, so we decided to incorporate that into the stenciled graphic on one wall (from Royal Design Studio). Most importantly, we wanted to display her beautiful work for potential clients looking for a wedding photographer. We put her favorite prints on canvas and in a gilded frame and also made a gallery on one wall with dollar store frames painted white for a cohesive look. The end product is a romantic, bohemian atmosphere with modern and industrial touches.

If someone is trying make a functional workspace out of a small footprint, my biggest piece of advice would be to keep the furnishings scaled as small as possible. We looked around for a while before finding the slim vintage metal cabinet in Apryl’s studio, but it was worth the search, and we kept the conference table small, as well.

When on a budget, it’s important to determine where to splurge and where to save. Splurging on the chandelier was worth the impact it makes in the space. Look at consignment stores, thrift shops, antique stores, Craigslist, eBay and your local trade days for items that have good prices and a lot of character. And of course, Ikea is an essential visit when doing a budget project! — Monika


So beautiful! I am so jealous, what an inspiring place to work in! You deserve it after all your hard work.

Abby Grace

I’m in the process of designing my very first office (I’m a photographer, too!) so this post makes me really happy. The turquoise ceiling is awesome, and I love the terrarium on her desk!

Laura @ Found Beauty Studio

Oh goodness, I am absolutely in LOVE with that space. The mix of industrial pieces like those fabulous chairs paired with traditional elements like the chandelier and curtains is just fan-flippin-tastic. For some reason I always fear painting ceilings in small spaces, but this has given me the confidence to re-evaluate my own tiny space!

Stephanie Poli

I’m more than a little obsessed with purple right now, so I’m swooning over those curtains. The color combination is unexpected but it all works together beautifully. Good show!


I love the colors and the way the book shelf runs along the top of the room. Clever use of space. This is such an inspiration.


This room looks amazing in comparison to how it looked before. Massive infusion of colour has done the trick! Love it!

Heather / It's So Suburban

Are those chairs from Overstock? I just got some for our dining room, and while I love them, my husband says they are uncomfortable. Here’s hoping some cushions or sheepskins will help!


Looks great! I have the same corner windows with blinds in my living room, where did you find corner curtain rods? I’m having a hard time finding basic ones. Thanks!


Please please please…must know how/where you found the desk and if you found it as it is or refinished – it’s wonderful!


Would you mind sharing your paint colors? Love the pale gray.

Apryl Ann Photography

Heather – the chairs are from World Market!
Rakel – the curtain rods are from IKEA where they sell an inexpensive saw to cut them to the size you’d like
Cynthia – the desk is vintage and is from an estate at the Dallas Arboretum (they did a renovation and sold a lot of furniture). My fiance and I refurbished it with a tutorial from right here on design sponge!

julie @ tractorgirl

yes that ceiling! and yes those colours play off each other wonderfully. But I adore that high bookshelf too, such a great way to use a small space.


Sorry to bug, but is the pedestal table west elm? Thanks, very preset.