This page was last updated on May 31, 2001.
My wife has taught piano lessons from our home for some time now. She recently completed her Masters degree in Piano Performance. When we moved to our current house in 1998, the basement was really not fit for use, so we completely replaced all carpet, repainted, and did a major cleanup. The large room in the basement seemed to be the ideal location for her upright piano, organ, and her new grand piano.
Unfortunately, we did not have a driveway in back of our property to provide access to the walk-out basement entrance, so students had to come in the front door and walk through the house and down the stairs. Worse, she had no way to monitor the upstairs, and the front door had to remain unlocked so students could come in. Also, the room really was not set up well, and it was much larger than what she really needed, especially since we planned to sell the organ.
Next to this large room, there is a smaller room which we had converted into a play room for the kids. It has a large doorway, and two of the walls are completely underground. The other two walls are interior walls. This is important, since exterior walls with windows are not desirable for a piano studio, since temperature and humidity fluctuations and direct sunlight are hard on pianos, especially a grand piano. After doing some careful measuring, it was decided to convert this space into her piano studio, and turn the other room into a family room. I began the project in Feb. 2000.
As you can see, the exterior walls were bare concrete block, painted and decorated with the kid's palmprints. We hated to cover them up, but I felt it was necessary to insulate the room. The plan was to build 2X2 framing, put styrofoam board insulation in, cover it with plastic, and cover that with drywall. The two interior walls already had drywall, and the wall adjoining the family room had paneling, which we planned to remove.
The framing was fairly straightforward. I attached it to the wall with a power nailer which uses .22 calibre charges and special nails. These are available in most hardware stores. While they are noisy (wear ear protection), they are very quick and efficient. Once the framing, foam insulation, and plastic vapor barrier were in place, I attached drywall to the framing. I also built a framed box out of 2X4 stock around the house electrical box, which is also in this room. I attached it to the wall with angle brackets and the power nailer. I planned to install a louvered cabinet door to make it less conspicuous. I also needed to cover a window that used to go to the outside, before a garage was added many years ago. I caulked around the window and frame, nailed on a hardboard cover which was also caulked, then put the framing over that. I will eventually fill the window opening from the garage side, using bricks or concrete.
Once the drywall was all up, and the old paneling removed, we decided that rather than do all the drywall taping and sanding, that we would install new paneling. We selected a textured paneling on composition board. It gives the room a warm, yet office-like feel. The panels were glued to the drywall. I also relocated the light switch for easier access. The one interior wall that had no paneling originally was simply repainted.
I was originally going to use wood trim, but as I walked through Menards, I noticed some synthetic trim that was very lightweight, and had an excellent wood look. It is made from a plastic foam, and has a vinyl wood grain film laminated to it. It can be cut with a saw, knife or a cutting tool like the Craftsman multi-cut. The ends were easy to contour for tight butt joints, and the end result is very satisfying. Best of all, they were about 1/2 the cost of wood trim, with no staining, sealing or sanding required!
The finished room is warm, dry, and very professional-looking. The pianos, bookshelves, and drumset fit nicely. The project took me several weeks of part-time labor, but it was well worth it. Now that we have a driveway on the back side of our property (a long tale in itself), students come in the walk-out door, and have direct access to the piano studio. Parents and students can wait in the family room next to it. Best of all, the front door can remain locked, and access to the house and piano studio is easily controlled.
The next step is to upgrade the lighting in the room. The single fluorescent lamp is really not sufficient. I plan to install multiple track lights for more even lighting. May 31, 2001 - Still haven't upgraded the lighting, but in the past year we have added a driveway in the back, a brand new boardwalk to go from the back door to the driveway, put in concrete pavers under the back deck, and numerous other improvements to make the back yard look more presentable. The piano room is holding up well and gets a lot of use.
This page was last updated on December 5, 2001.