A Prefab Art Studio Adds Space to Play in Julian, California

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Nestled in among cypress and cedar on a small farm in Southern California, a young girl peers out the window of her MONO mini art studio and traces the lines and colors of the mountain view onto the canvas in front of her. Just a few feet away, her parents sit outside a small farmhouse enjoying the slow pace of life on the farm and avoiding, for now, the inevitable return to the noise and action of the city.

When the father of the young artist, Brian Snow, first saw the acreage, with its gorgeous trees and historical farmhouse and bar, he loved it. But while he foresaw warm summer evenings on the patio, with the scent of Jasmine in the air and a Californian wine in his hands, he wasn’t so sure his young daughter would enjoy weekends in the country as much as he would. Instead of moving on to a property that sacrificed his vision for a more family-friendly home, Brian turned to DROP Structures to create a custom art studio that his daughter would love.

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“[DROP Structures] have done a nice job all around and we're looking forward to many years of our daughter enjoying her studio”

– Brian Snow

The perfect family retreat

Brian had been looking for a weekend retreat for some time before he found the historical farmhouse. He’d looked at undevelopped acreages, and modern homes with plenty of land, but when he saw the farmhouse, he fell in love. The only problem was, the farmhouse was tiny – 1,000 sq/ft and only one bedroom, leaving no where for his daughter to play.

With visions of relaxing weekends in his head, the last thing Brian wanted was for his daughter to resent each trip out to their new oasis..

“No parent wants to hear from their kid, ‘Hey I don’t want to go out there this weekend. I want to stay home.’” Brian said. “So, we decided to build her her own art studio on the property.”

But simply building another structure on the property isn’t so easy in Southern California. The building permitting process is winding and arcane, requiring research, time, and sometimes dumb luck to get your building properly permitted. So, Brian decided to branch out from the tried and true.

“We started thinking about how we could use different modular designs to enhance the property without having to go through a permitting process.”
— Brian Snow
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The search for a prefab building

A student of architecture, Brian began to look beyond stick-framed buildings, and into the world of prefab cabins and annexes. He didn’t want to settle for a drab, uninspiring building – especially not for an art studio. He wanted a structure that would add to the beauty of his new weekend retreat, and give his daughter a place that would continue to inspire her as she grew up.

He found DROP Structures while scrolling through his Instagram feed during a long search that included local and national builders. Impressed with what he saw, Brian called DROP Structures and outlined his needs. After some discussion, they decided a MONO Mini would work best, with a few custom modifications including a window at the back to allow for more natural light, and give an inspiring view of the mountains.

Quick delivery and well-managed installation

Brian was keen to enjoy his new purchase, so he imposed a ninety-day deadline on the project. So, while Brian had his hands full making sure master landscaping project would meet the deadline, his MONO Mini was being built thousands of miles away, in Canada.

Despite the tight timeline, the MONO Mini arrived a week early for installation on the property. With solid preparation on Brian’s part, and a good foreman on site, it was placed within two hours of its arrival.

“It was turnkey,” Brian said of the installation process.

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Dreaming of more DROP Structures

Today, when the Snow’s find the time to get out to the farm, their daughter heads over to her studio to get to work on her masterpieces, but she’s not the only one who loves the building.

“The cool thing about DROP Structures is that it’s really informed the design of the materials we’re using on the barn. There are so many design elements that we’re trying to cascade through to the barn project.”
— Brian Snow

Once his neighbours in the city saw a picture of the new art studio, they got inspired to follow a similar route on their country property, and called up DROP Structures.

With his hands full on the barn redesign, Brian’s working hard to make his new retreat even more beautiful, but once that’s done, he’s got another DROP Structure project sitting in the back of his mind: a wood-working studio, coming soon.

If you are interested in visiting the Mono Mini or the property, it’s available to rent on AirBnB, at Stone Acres Julian.

Jordana Gagnon