I have been doing my own darkroom work since high school and I am now retired. I started in my parents’ house bathroom. After college graduation and the first job, I moved into a rent house that had a darkroom, and then I built one in another rent house, one for an employer, and two in houses that I’ve owned.
My second and first dedicated darkroom was in a rent house just out of college. It was only a coincidence, I did not rent the house because of the darkroom. In fact, I didn’t even know about it until I moved in. The landlord had been an avid amateur photographer and had built a dry (no plumbing) darkroom on the back of the laundry room, which was in the carport. The room was about 4×6, with plenty of counter space. Painted flat black on all surfaces except the floor. I don’t remember the floor, but it was likely some kind of sheet vinyl or linoleum.
The room shared its only common wall with the laundry connections. So, it was an easy task to poke through the wall – with the landlord’s permission – and install a second hand kitchen sink and a faucet (with the help of a brother-in-law). Hot and cold running water and a proper drain. Who could ask for more?
There was also no heat or cooling – and no insulation. However, a 4×6 room doesn’t take much. I bought a small electric heater and a used window AC unit. Again with the landlord’s approval, I installed the window unit in the wall. Readers who think air conditioning in a darkroom is unnecessary have never lived in Texas!
With the help of my Dad, we painted the wet side and the ceiling of the little darkroom white. It took at least 4 coats! I left the wall on the dry side behind the enlargers black.
I had bought an Omega Chromega B enlarger, a dichroic color enlarger for up to 6×6 negatives. I had both the Omega and the Lucky installed. At this point I was experimenting with color. I developed color slides and was printing both slides and negatives. However, color just never really “took” with me back then, so after this darkroom, I never set up to do color anymore. But, that’s another blog post.
I also installed an extension telephone. In the years before email, people would actually call you, and it wasn’t a robocall. This proved valuable and fortuitous when I received a call about a positive job change while in the darkroom one day!
After years in the bathroom, this little space was like dying and going to darkroom heaven.