If you read the first part of this series, you’d have learned that I started a new company called Refined Auto Studio. The goal of this company was to create a one-stop shop for high-end automotive aesthetics, (wrap, tint, powder coating, restoration), but also rebrand, offering a new service to the industry – aesthetic restoration. This company is high end, something I wanted to stress a ton. Our services are priced as such, so bringing an entire experience to the client in my opinion, was a crucial key to the business. An often looked over area of an automotive business is the shop design, offices, cabinets, etc. Remember, we make our money in aesthetics, so our shops should reflect this to our clients! This visual communication is a great first step in building trust with the owner of the vehicle. I think the one to nail this the most was Matt Mooreman of Obsessed Garage. A truly OCD detailing figure that has mastered the art of a perfect garage/shop setup.
Although my shop and office are likely not quite at that Obsessed Garage level, It’s been enough to get my point across as a high-end shop as well as create a nice area to work in, or even just hang out in. I spend a lot of my time at the shop, so creating a nice environment for not only my clients, and myself, but also the guys that work with me was very important. To begin, here are some pictures of where it started when I was originally touring the place. It was essentially being used as a storage unit. My biggest concerns for the shop was the lack of discrete wiring and electrical, office paint color choices, mismatched white paint, wood shelves, and OSB on the walls. Drywall in my shop was pretty high on the list, but this place had nearly everything else, including a great location, so I went ahead with it. Apologies on the iPhone pics in this article!
Pictured above is before moving into the shop space, 2/3 offices, and the walk-in entryway.
The office space was nice, but painted a very bright yellow that wasn’t doing it for me. There are 3 “office” spaces when you walk-in, a walk in entry and front desk room as well. I will be turning these into an office for the plotter and a media/design computer, a lounge type area, and a conference/design room, showcasing many samples of different wrap colors, powder colors, tint, etc. I will also be hanging a TV in this room in hopes to use for client renders. More to come on this in the future, as it’ll be a continual work in progress. Each room got new paint and is now awaiting cleanup and stuff moved into them.
The shop received some paint work in the main work bays, lighting, clear coated floor, cabinets, and other organizational pieces. I need to order some more lights, flags, and I have some vinyl work to do on the cabinets as well as a big logo on the wall. The wash bay needs to be cleaned up and some accessories added to streamline the wash process.
After paint and floor coating:
Things I’ve Learned:
- Paint – Never underestimate the value of a fresh coat of paint. It really gave the shop and offices some life for minimal money. I prefer white/gray/black, for the darker neutral, high end/luxury feel. It also helps in the shop with lighting by not reflecting a ton and washing out the space.
- Cabinets – This was probably the most under estimated thing I had purchased throughout this experience at the new shop. The space, room for organization and tools, and the aesthetics of a cabinet set in the shop seriously changed the feel of the place. However, I custom built a budget set from Menard’s and that put me in a world of hurt… Lesson learned; buy quality cabinets. Their demo set hooked me, and built at only $1100, I thought it was quite hard to beat, at the time.
- Square Footage – Bigger isn’t always better, but when you’re working on cars, it kind of is. My unit is about 2200 sq ft. The shop is about 1800ish of that, including the bathroom. I can easily fit 4-5 cars and have enough space to work on them, but it VERY quickly filled up when I started moving things in. Get the biggest one you can afford. You will likely outgrow the space quickly.
- Vinyl Branding – Vinyl is a very inexpensive way to add design, color, but most importantly, branding to your space. We will be using tons of this in the future. From wrapping the countertops, to cutting out our logos and others for cabinets, walls, doors, etc. Create a good relationship with your local sign shop, or buy yourself a plotter.
- Flooring – Flooring is a kicker. It’s expensive. Luckily, I have a close family member who works in concrete and was able to clear coat my floor. I would not recommend this as after just a few weeks, it has degraded quite badly. The wash bay is nearly bare already, it scratches easily, and there are tire marks all over. Looks great at first and is much better than nothing at all, but if I had paid significant money for it, I would be very disappointed.
I will continually write a shop update post every few months to let you know what’s the latest and greatest, and what I’ve learned from it. Some after pics will be posted in the next post, as the shop is currently filled with garbage and vinyl wrap backing! (We don’t yet have a dumpster.) Hopefully, it helps you make decisions on what you’d like to do for your own shop or garage. In the next update, you’ll likely see a Quickjack system, some more vinyl branding work, all raw wood painted in the shop, potentially a new floor, office updates, and probably some other misc. things. Also – much better photography. In the moment, I wasn’t thinking anything of it, but I really wish I would’ve gotten some nice pictures!
In the meantime, feel free to add us on Instagram or Facebook: @refinedautostudio, or visit our website, refinedautostudio.com.