Renovations at the Studio Shop

While the clock is counting down to the 25th, things are bustling here in the shop and the warehouse, things are also coming along at the new studio shop. Renovations! It’s an exciting time, if an extremely stressful and uncertain process to set up this new space – there seem to be a lot of moving pieces, and the checklists just seem to get longer and longer.

Jon’s checklist includes:

– follow up with zoning/permits
– arrange dumpster pick-up
– meet with HVAC guy
– follow up with structural engineer guy for plans
– find a new exterior door
– remove drop ceiling
– rip up carpet that’s glued to floorboards
– fix backyard gate that jams shut
– try to salvage flooring
– pick up lighting fixtures
– find furniture that Liz likes, that is inexpensive, and not difficult to move
– ensure deerheads stay alive
– stress out about ballooning budget

Liz’s checklist includes:

– find best sunlight for plants in the new space
– tell Jon how important it is to ensure deerheads stay alive
– bring snacks

Jon has been going back and forth almost daily, and I go with him maybe once a week with the baby.  These photos are only from a few weeks ago, and I think these photos are already outdated.

Here’s one last shot of the inside of the shop before construction began. It’s hard to give a good impression of the space because it’s broken up into hallways and rooms, but as things happen – and hopefully if you one day come and visit! – you’ll see how the space comes together. The walls here will mostly be gone by the time the shop is ready.

I’m going to be sad to see some of the architectural detail of this place go, but we’re planning on opening up the first floor entirely for the shop space. We’re going to try to keep as much as possible, but it’s also made of plaster, so much of it is quite fragile.

In the shop front, there are two fireplaces, but only one of them is real (this one, I think). There’s also brick that’s slowly being exposed, a dusty thrill.

Upstairs there’s also a bit of magic happening – drop ceilings coming down, wires hanging everywhere, carpet being torn up. Actually I may be one of the few people that likes carpet – for all its disadvantages, it’s comfortable for bare feet, babies learning to crawl, toddlers lying on it daydreaming, it quiets dog’s claws clicking on hard floors and it also stops Super from doing that ineffective but very noisy scampering/scurrying in one spot thing he does. But this carpet is not the sort of carpet you want babies crawling on.

Brick everywhere! And also dust.

And hidden away in the drop ceiling: these lion… door stoppers? decorative statues? coasters?

You have to thank Jon for this photo of the dumpster coming in – I was sad to miss the event! Caleb would also have loved to have been there – I think the biweekly removal and delivery of the dumpster in our courtyard makes up for the lack of television in our household. The dumpster is already almost full from the materials from the drop ceilings and partition walls.

And here’s a peek at our third floor, which leads out onto the terrace. We’re not doing any work here, so I’m reveling in the (relatively) clean and bright space. Just imagine! A husband making breakfast for you, and bringing it up here to eat out on the terrace, perhaps with a good book and a sleepy pup. And maybe even with two babies fast asleep? Too much to ask for? One can dream.

So things are happening! There’s a saying about how no one wants to see how the sausage gets made, and I’m not sure how that fits in here: who wants to see empty dumpsters and rooms with scary wires dangling from the ceiling and weird decorative lion pieces?

Let me tell you though, from the perspective of the sausage, things are pretty intense.

Juggling preschool pick ups with scrounging in the freezer for dinner and unpacking boxes and stacks of orders waiting to be processed and Christmas shopping for in-laws and meetings with surveyors and guys who test for asbestos (what??) and the baby’s two month check up and the water tank is leaking in our bathroom but it’s okay because it’s conveniently located above the sink so it just drips right in and drips right out who cares if it’s hard to brush your teeth without weird water dripping into your toothpaste Liz just lean to the side.

Despite it all, it’s the best sort of thrill, seeing things come apart and come together. We’ve passed the first hump in the roller coaster, when you go up very slowly and you look down and you’re beginning to realize there’s no escape and I look at Jon and Jon is looking pretty serious. Now we’re just barreling forward up and down loops and hills, and I can only hope no one loses their glasses.

Every once in a while both babies are asleep (like right now) and I sit and I hum and I wonder at this crazy journey. Everything looks pretty wild right now, and the amount of Reese Pieces I’ve consumed could literally be measured in pounds at this point, but I can’t wait to see how it’s all going to turn out.

And in light of all this construction talk, I thought I’d share a lovely joke with you. At the kitchen table after school the other day, Caleb was playing with his fork, and used it to lever a book up. He looked at me and said with a grin: “forklift.”

15 Comments

  1. Jim

    I know it sounds weird but there’s so much positive energy around this move. Best of the season to you, family & the store “family” – 2017 has been rough and I’m hoping 2018 takes a turn for the good for us all.

    • wonderpens

      What a wonderful thing to hear, amidst all the decisions and changes and uncertainty!

      Thank you as well for your good wishes, and wishing you a peaceful and happy and prosperous year ahead. The best is yet to come!

  2. Nina

    I don’t know how you two do it all!! Thank you so much for taking time to take these very dreamy photos. I’m a little confused – you’re closing the current store and reopening a smaller version?
    Best of luck!!
    Have a bountiful, blissful and beautiful Christmas!

    • wonderpens

      Thank you so much! Wishing you a merry Christmas as well, and a wonderful year ahead.

      Sorry for all the confusion! We’re closing the current store (here on Carlaw) to open two new stores. The first one we’re opening is planned to open late winter, and will be on the east end. This is going to be a smaller “studio shop” that will have a good selection of our favourite and new and unusual things.

      The second one will be opening sometime in the spring, and will be on the west end. This west end one will be our “main shop” with the widest selection and where our shipping operation will be housed.

  3. Lillian Chen

    Congratulations on all the new projects, and of course the project of your growing family! Thank you for documenting and sharing the progress of all these new developments. I love the team building going on with the Wonder Pens family as well. All the best to you, Liz and Jon, your beloved babies, and wonderful staff. Best wishes for 2018. I can’t wait to come and visit at your new locations. “Forklift” … precious Caleb!
    Lillian

    • wonderpens

      Thank you so much! It’s been such a wild ride, and we’re so thankful for all your support over the years. We hope to make it back to BC one day, but even more I am looking forward to a future visit to Toronto from you 🙂

      Wishing you all the best in 2018!

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