Are you looking for the perfect place to practice with your band, or mix music in peace? Renting a practice space or recording studio might be an option, but it can get expensive. To find the perfect place to make your music, you might not need to look any further than your own backyard! If you have a shed on your property, it might only take a few changes (and some elbow grease) to turn it into your own music studio.
Before you touch any materials, you will want to go through a planning phase where you decide how you want to use your studio, and what materials you’ll need to convert your shed into a music room. If you are starting from a very basic shed, you will probably have exposed studs and beams, a simple wood floor, and no insulation. Finishing out a space like this may feel like a huge task, but this means that you get to design your studio from the bottom up, and make it truly your own.
First, take measurements of your space, and either draw out a floor plan to-scale, or you can use a computer program to render a simple model of your shed. What is important is that it is accurate: planning with an incorrect floor plan can really slow your project down once you get working!
Insulation is going to be a big part of your project, and will make your floor plan smaller than the actual shed dimensions. For example, if your shed is 12×8, plan on having an actual floor plan of 11×7 once all the insulation work is finished. Soundproofing also means that the interior of your studio will not get a lot of airflow, so think about adding air inlets and outlets (protected by acoustic boxes) to your shed to keep it comfortable inside. For optimal circulation, place the inlet and outlet as far apart as possible. You can even add an AC unit if you live in a warmer place.
Your Floor Plan
Plan out where you want all your features of the music studio to be. Do you want a stage for you and your band to play on? What about a DJ booth? Desks are a must for holding mixing equipment and computers. If this is going to be a professional recording studio, you might want to make a little conversation area with a table and comfortable chairs for musicians and clients to relax in. Where will you put your recording equipment, amplifiers, and speakers? Don’t forget to plan out where you want to place lighting and electrical outlets. Your layout should reflect your intentions for the space, and your needs as a musician.
Regardless of whether you plan on playing an instrument, recording audio, practicing with your band, or mixing sound, you’ll need something very important in your music studio: electricity. Unless you are a licensed electrician, don’t try to install electricity in your shed yourself! Hire a professional to install it for you. Installing a regular breaker box is usually enough for a home studio, but talk to your electrician if you have performance equipment that has high energy demands.
One thing is certain: you will probably need more outlets than you think you will! In the planning phase, you will have identified areas of your building that will need the most electrical outlets: the practice area (where you’ll need to plug in microphones, amps, and other equipment) and a mixing or recording area where you’ll probably be keeping computers plugged in on a desk. Make sure outlets are installed on every wall. If possible, also consider having internet access and even cable TV brought into the shed!
Insulation and Soundproofing Your Shed
Unless you don’t have any neighbors, you will want to insulate your shed as you convert it into a music studio. Wooden structures like sheds don’t naturally have a lot of sound-dampening properties, so this is one step you won’t want to miss. Soundproofing materials can be quite heavy, so make sure that your shed is up to the task. If you want a sturdy shed, Jamaica Cottage Shop Inc. sheds are built from quality hemlock framing and can bear a good amount of weight.
For the best soundproofing, we recommend the ‘room within a room’ approach. This is where you build an internal room structure inside the outer structure provided by the shed. The internal walls should be at least 10mm away from the actual walls of the shed itself. This creates a pocket of air between the inner and outer wall that helps absorb any sound. Additionally, you can put foam board or fiberglass insulation between the beams of the shed structure as well to add more isolation.
Adding a floating ceiling also helps with soundproofing. This is done by placing a second set of ceiling joists in your shed, and positioning them lower before installing the interior ceiling. For flooring, you can also create a ‘floating’ floor, or use rubber mats to help dampen sound. There are plenty of companies that offer special acoustic insulation products, materials, and systems. Depending on your budget and how sound-tight you need the space, this might be something to consider.
Other Soundproofing ideas
You can also choose an easier, less elaborate way to soundproof your shed to turn it into a music studio. It won’t be as isolated, but this might be ok for you, depending on your location and desired use. Place foam boards between the studs of your shed and seal as many of the cracks as you can with some kind of sealant. Don’t neglect the ceiling – a lot of sound can get through if you don’t add insulation there as well!
You can finish you walls with drywall and add acoustic panels, soundproofing foam, or other barriers over it. You can even use fabric and carpets on the walls, floor, and ceiling to keep noise from leaking.
If your shed has windows and you want to keep the natural light, you’ll have to add secondary windows if you chose a ‘room-within-a-room’ soundproofing style. Position the windows in the same spot as the external windows to allow the light to pass through. If you aren’t doing a double-walled soundproofing, we recommend you use double paned insulated windows in any windows you intend to keep – they will help keep sound leakage to a minimum.
The finishing Details
The fun part of turning your shed into a music studio is finally putting the interior together! If you wanted your studio to have multiple rooms or a recording booth, at this point you can build out framing to create interior walls. You can take a wide variety of approaches to how you want to soundproof the rooms of your studio. Foam panels, sound-absorbing padding, and fabric are all great materials to use to further insulate the recording booth. As mentioned before, you can build in some desk space in your booth to put your microphone, mixing equipment, and computer.
Of course, you’ll want to have adequate lighting for your space. If you have a stage area, place lights at the edge of the stage and above it. Opt for multicolor LED lights for a really groovy effect. Make sure your desk and mixing area have good lighting so that you can see what you’re doing.
To save space, add fixtures to the walls of your shed for hanging up instruments, equipment, and spare extension cords. If you’re adding furniture to your shed, choose materials that will absorb sound. Fabric couches are a good option, and for cabinets and storage solutions, wood is a better idea than metal. You’ll want to make this a comfortable space for you and your friends to relax and enjoy yourselves between making music, so don’t forget to add a little décor to make your studio feel like home.
We hope you feel inspired to turn your shed into a music studio that you’ll love to use. There are many ways to do it, and tons of additional resources for you to discover. Having a place for you to spark your creativity and collaborate with your friends is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. Have fun making music!