For Parents

Tips on Building Your Home Studio

1:30 PM

To piggy-back off my 7 must-haves post, I thought I'd share with you how to build a great home studio! I know when I was in school I was always dancing at home. I was lucky and had wood floors in my bedroom...  But some of us don't have the right facility! So here's how to create a dance room that is safe and works well for your dancer.



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First of all, let's talk shop: why is it important to have the right kind of dance studio? Can't your kid just dance wherever there's space?

Here are a few things to consider:

1. Your dancer is used to dancing on a special kind of flooring that keeps her from slipping. Practicing at home without this flooring makes it both difficult, and dangerous.

2. Your dancer's floor in the studio is sprung, which prevents stress fractures, compacted joints, bone spurs, and shin splints. It's important not to dance on certain surfaces in order to avoid injury.

3. Things like a barre, mirror, and sound system might be optional, but space is not. Your dancer should be able to stand in the middle of the room and kick their leg in all directions safely without hitting anything. Ideally 9 feet square is the smallest amount of space you want to work with for a dance "room," and 4X6 feet is the smallest you want to work with for a barre.

Now let's get started!

To create the floor


1. You'll need to make sure your floor is flat, and isn't slanted or dipped. Use a level to measure this. If the floor is uneven, lay down a large piece of plywood as a foundation, using smaller pieces of material in the low sections to even out the ground. If the ground is flat, lay down plywood over it to create a foundation that you can glue things to that won't damage the floor.

2. To create the "spring" in the floor, you have a few options. Use those foam squishy squares that pre-schools use, or you can get foam blocks and space them out. Don't cover the whole floor, but rather space them out over the ground. Attach with very secure glue.

3. Put down a final piece of plywood on the floor, and attach firmly with glue and nails/screws.

4. Using Gafter's tape, cover the plywood with Marley, or shower pan liner (basically the same material, but way more affordable). If you want to remove the lines on the pan liner, use Sol u Mel, or rubbing alcohol.

Congrats! You now have a suitable dancing floor!

Check out this adorable home studio that Koryn made for her daughter!






For the ballet barre

There are several great options for a barre. First decide if you want the mirror to be on the barre wall, or the opposite of it. Then, decide if you want a portable barre, or a wall barre.

Portable free-standing barre - these are best for larger spaces, and older more advanced dancers, as they require more core strength. Personally, I recommend this one, as it's adjustable. I've used one of these at an old studio.

adjustable center barre


Wall barre - these are more difficult installation, and may require studs or supports, but are more sturdy. They are much more permanent.

They are, however, fairly affordable. You can pick between a single barre and a double barre, and they're really just a bracket with a pole running through.
Single barre

double barre


Ballet on the Go - a suction cup barre designed by a high-school student, this barre is portable, adjustable, and not permanent, but still has the convenience of a wall barre.

Get it here


Stretch Ladder- Sometimes called a Swedish Ladder, this can be used instead of a barre, and is great for dancers of all ages and sizes - there will always be something the right height to hold onto, and it can double for stretching. It is permanent, difficult to install, and needs to be attached to a very secure wall. These are also great for conditioning, and for attaching a suspension trainer, pull-up bar, or yoga strap.

This ladder comes with a suspension trainer, so that's cool.
This ladder available here


For the Mirrors


Mirrors are not completely necessary, but most dancers prefer them for a reason. The mirror you pick should depend on the space you have.

Portable mirror - definitely the most convenient option, a mirror on wheels or free-standing will work for any room, and can be easily moved to be in the most convenient spot. Depending on the size, you may need several.


free-standing mirror

Wall mirror - Large mirror panels are extremely expensive, and not great for kids, but if you and your dancer use the dance room regularly, they could pay off. You can get them retail here, but I recommend looking on Craigslist or Facebook marketplaces at dance studios selling off or closing down before you buy.

 Another option is several small mirror squares attached to the wall flush together. This creates a "tiled" effect but it can be more affordable depending on where you get the mirrors.This set had fairly good reviews.

Adhesive mirror material is also an option depending on the situation.

Personally, I like some stick-on mirror on the barre-wall, just about six or eight inches high so I can see my feet, but a wall mirror across from me. I don't have a recommended material because it's hard to see online if it will work. I recommend going into a hardware store to test the reflection first.

Good luck on your home studio! I want to see it when it's done! You can send me photos at haleymathiot@gmail.com!

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