View Full Version : Work Space

Roger Hicks
11-04-2009, 13:32
Studio, kitchen, study... what's important when you're laying 'em out?

I'm currently switching my studio from an outside workshop to one accessible from the house without going outside; Frances just re-floored the kitchen (Italian tile) and I'm half way through building a couple of new work surfaces (marble and tile); and before the appendicitis I started to reorganize my study.

Without false modesty, I reckon I've got a pretty good handle on what I need. Without false immodesty, I can always learn. Any offers? All contributions gratefully received -- the more so as I'm hoping to do some more cookbooks...

Come to that there's the darkroom:http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subscription/darkroom.html What would you change?

Tashi delek,


Dave Wilkinson
11-04-2009, 13:52
Dear Roger, it is of course difficult to make constructive recomendations - unseen, it sounds good from the mental pictures I get from your descriptions on other threads - etc.. So just give a lot of carefull thought to the wine rack location - and that prospective lathe! ( you'd really love one! )
Cheers, Dave.

11-04-2009, 14:14
When designing a work space, I am of the opinion that there are three things you can never have too many of- power outlets, trash cans, and shelves.

Tom A
11-04-2009, 17:26
I agree with Merkin here. You cant have to many power outlets and shelves - and most important - tabletops to work on.
My current darkroom is only 10x13 feet - but it has 7 outlets (all 4 "plugs") and on 3 different fused circuits. All the outlets are 6 feet above the floor, so no tangled cords on the floor and only one powerbar (used mainly to turn multiple appliances on/off).
If and when I redo my workspace adjacent to the darkroom I will plan for a similar amount of wall outlets - all above the table top surfaces!

11-05-2009, 06:20
Whether you are using the workshop for photography or other hobbies, having separate work areas for different jobs can be real time saver. Try to set up so you have a linear work flow, instead of going back and forth. Keep frequently used tools on a peg board or open rack right at the work area, so you don't have to dig them out of a drawer or cupboard every time. Give each tool its own spot so you can see at a glance if something is missing. Replace the tools as soon as you are done with it. If you need the same tool in more than one work area, get mutiple copies so you don't have to keep going back to get the tool you need. The one you need is always on the other side of the room.

11-05-2009, 06:38
The triangular path, list the three things you use most fridge-cooker-sink (or whatever), arrange those itmes in a triangle and keep that pathway clear of anything else.

Then do the rest of the design round that, an old trick but it may just work.

11-05-2009, 07:19
Wine rack, a small bar, and a light table.

11-05-2009, 07:56
I know one is supposed to turn wine bottles in storage but I still think the lathe and the wine rack shouldn't be any where near each other...

More seriously, Roger, it seems to me that you've been working for a long time in the house you're now in so I would simply suggest you consider what has not worked well so far and adjust accordingly--the change from having to go outside to get to your studio is a good example of this.

For my work spaces, I prefer and need good lighting and lots of flat surfaces. Whenever I have been able to I've changed the typical fluorescent lights* to at least daylight balanced tubes, for example.

For my hobby, I want a big table/desk, good lights--though not so bright as my kitchens--a comfortable chair, and a separate table for wine/coffee/snacks. (I started doing that a long time ago after spilling soda all over a 25 page school report I'd just finished typing and had to re-type the whole thing. And I was not a quick typist.)


*most of the restaurants I've worked in used what ever cheap 4 foot fixtures and tubes the owners could get on sale. Made for "interesting" looking food at best.

11-05-2009, 08:16
I say the most important component is storage. A work area free from clutter offers enhanced productivity. I have a lot of stuff some people might call junk, but I can easily find whatever I need quickly, and this saves a lot of time.

Having lived in a loft, good natural and artificial lighting is an enhancement. Also having a clear open raw space is another asset.

If it were me I'd eliminate the phone and internet, because I am in my workspace, and I need that protected space that is free from distraction. YMMV.

Seperate the clean area from the dirty.

Also a fine tube stereo adds to productivity and extends work sessions.

Most importantly, thank Frances for her support and understanding for the developement of your space.


11-05-2009, 08:34
Deep sinks, floor drains, and lighting that can be directed easily without standing on a ladder.

11-05-2009, 10:05
Big windows - even if it means making new window space in a wall - or making a skylight - all with suitable curtains/shades/blinds/blackouts. All for photographic reasons of course. And dont forget the pull down projection screen for when you decide to acquire the big 6x7 Goschman :cool: if you dont have one already :D



11-05-2009, 10:27
What works for me:


Select a corner of the room that find most appealing (e.g., an outside view). Place what you use the most on a daily basis (desk/chair/computer, etc..) at ground zero. Then start radiating out based on use.


I just follow the obvious: separate wet from dark, and work in linear fashion.

11-05-2009, 12:03
As I get older, and it seems to be quicker every day, I find lighting is of paramount importance. So for the workbench make sure you have not just general lighting but some sort of 'spot' to light just that area where you want to remove gungy black seal from your latest camera project. Whatever you think you need it will have to be a bit brighter!
I'll now go back to digging out black gunge from the corners of my Oly OM-2!

Roger Hicks
11-05-2009, 12:44
Thanks everyone. please keep 'em coming but here are responses to the first batch:

Dave (#2): The wine rack is in the kitchen at the foot of the stairs from my study. The main wine-stores are in other rooms, including the old stable where I hope one day to have the lathe. Running up and down stairs is much of the exercise I get!

Merkin (#3): Yes, lots of cupboards are planned, though I expect to get by with one trash bin in each room, and because we're dealing with French buildings between 150 and 500 years old (maybe older) I have to rely on extension cables more than I would like. Fixing power sockets to centuries-old stone walls is not really an option!

Tom (#4): Almost enough power outlets in the darkroom, but see #3 above. Flat surfaces: yes in the kitchen, but cupboards/shelves in the studio are safer and my study is tiny (about 2x3 metres).

Pompiere (#5): Point about multiple tools well taken -- I keep reading glasses al over the place, have 2 staple guns, etc. -- but I fear I'm never going to be as well organized as you. And I can't even FIND pegboard here in la France profonde.

Stewart (#6): Elegantly stated, and the new layout does indeed come a lot closer to this, but there's always the kitchen table to walk around.

Sisyphus (#7): Wine rack already accounted far; most booze in same room. Light boxes: small one (Wylie Viewtower with daylight print evaluation as well) in my study, another (much bigger) next door to it in the guest room/picture storage room. You're right: light boxes are VERY IMPORTANT.

Rob (#8): Your thinking exactly parallels my own: change what DOESN'T work. I have to make do with a low, wide shelf for the drinks in my study, because of space constraints, but this is something I realy learned in the 1970s: art directors + drinks + images = disaster. The point about good light is essential. In the kitchen we have the main central lights + alcove lights + over-the-sink light + over-the-stove light and I'm thinking of adding more...

Calzone (#9): Yes, yes, yes on storage -- lots of cupboards -- and separating clean/dirty. I'm moving the chemical bench from the stables to the studio, but in an opposite corner from the main shooting area. The stereo doesn't work for me -- I can't listen to music and work at the same time -- but there's music in the darkroom which is more Frances's realm (and she thanks you kindly for remembering her).

Bill (#10): Deep sink already in, floor drains impractical (300 year old wine cellar, with an earth floor when we bought the house and no fall on the drains, though we're still working on that), and point well taken about lights.

Dunk (#11): No choice on the windows: centuries-old stone walls about 2-3 feet thick... Besides, in the studio, I'm as happy with all-artificial light (though not in the study or kitchen). Actually, I almost never project images.

kxl (#12): I used to like a desk with a view but now I find I can concentrate easier (and see the monitor easier) against a 'dead' wall. Also the window in my study is very low and in one corner, though on the bright side it's the only window in the house from which you can see the 1000-year-old castle on the top of the hill north of the back of the house. The house faces dead south. The long, thin darkroom goes dry (paper/enlarger end -- mostly Frances) -- wet (sink, CPE-2, mostly my end) -- dry (film loading, etc., my end).

Jesse (#13): Not only do I get older faster, but I need more and more light, so your point is very well taken. I have to arrange a light over the chemical bench. Maybe a fume hood too.

Again, thanks everyone. This is making it much easier to assign priorities. I'll try to shoot/post some pics of the work spaces soon.



Roger Hicks
11-05-2009, 13:05
Our house is was made by linking two very small cottages, the former servants' quarters for the Grand House next door. Originally (c. 1600-1800) this was a rich merchant's house. Now it's the Town Hall for a village of maybe 1200 people.

That's why we have the outbuildings (such as the stables), the wine cellar, the new studio in the old hay-loft, etc. We live well, but we sure as hell ain't rich!



11-05-2009, 13:25
As to the trashcans, if you tend to be a well organized, tidy person, one per room is just fine, as various debris will end up in the bin promptly anyway. If you tend toward clutter as you are working though, I have found that a small trashcan at each individual work area within a room works wonders, because it is, at that point, just as easy to trash something as it is to set it down to deal with later.

Roger Hicks
11-05-2009, 13:48
As to the trashcans, if you tend to be a well organized, tidy person, one per room is just fine, as various debris will end up in the bin promptly anyway. If you tend toward clutter as you are working though, I have found that a small trashcan at each individual work area within a room works wonders, because it is, at that point, just as easy to trash something as it is to set it down to deal with later.

Excellent point!

In my study, it's easy: the room is so small there's only room for one.

In the darkroom, there's one at each end (I said it's long and thin).

In the studio, it gets chucked on the floor and cleared up later.

I'd not realized this until you said.



back alley
11-05-2009, 20:24
a small but decent stereo.

11-06-2009, 02:39
As part of the furnishings a number of trays could be useful. Probably make them wooden and with handles at the ends. Lay in a piece of white paper towel and you have a useful working surface that helps if you are doing a dismantling job. Not only that work in progress can be moved to oneside, and, if you are dealing with liquids and spills you have something that restricts flow. The system also protects best surfaces - bits of cork mat stuck on the bottom of the tray is also a good idea.

Roger Hicks
11-06-2009, 02:44
Dear Jesse,

Great idea! Thanks!



11-06-2009, 06:34
When I have used up all of the clothespins in my darkroom with prints drying, I put towels on the bed shown in the attached image and place the remaining prints there to dry. With more than 500 cookbooks and more than 200 photography books in my possession, I needed more shelf space, so my mate and I bought two wooden bookshelves, emptied the closet shown, and placed them on the left and right. (The one in the center has been there for several decades and has cookbooks on its shelves.) Once we'd emptied the closet of its previous contents such as Billingham bags, Leica leather camera cases, and various other stuff, we transferred that stuff to other closets which was easy because we are not clothes hounds. Now, books are no longer stacked in various rooms. In fact, the old Leica Photographie magazines shown bound in red in the center of the photo fit nicely on the top shelf therein and we are now clutter free.

11-06-2009, 07:05
a small but decent stereo.

Better yet a mid-sized sound system sir. 1500 watt amp and couple of PV's. Yeah, baby.

11-06-2009, 07:07
When my mate and I bought and moved into our house in 1978, I immediately began buying cookbooks in order to learn how to be a better 'chef'. My fascination was primarly with French and Italian cooking, but that didn't stop me from buying others. But those two cuisines are still our favorite, and it is so wonderful to smell an earthy cassoulet or a sumptuous Bolognese ragu sauce simmering on the stove while I am working in my darkroom! The attached image shows only a portion of my wonderful French cookbook collection, almost all of which are no longer available unfortunately.

Bob Ross
11-06-2009, 08:26
On the subject of lighting the print viewing surface when you have various clients, a variety of light types may help head off problems with color or tint tone. This is the old "print for the light in which the prints will be viewed".
Can't comment on actual dark rooms, since mine is actually a storage room and the storage room fairy has made a total mess of it.....:o