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.
Shortly after leaving the security company (See: Part 4 of 6), my new job required a transfer to another city. The house we bought had no good place for a darkroom. However, I was traveling a lot and really didn’t give it much thought. I did set up in the laundry room once, but there was a window and two doors (one with glass) to deal with. Plus, there was barely room.
The house also had no place for my wife, a painter, to work. She needed studio space. We looked at a number of options, including adding on to the existing house and even purchasing a very small, older house in a nearby run-down neighborhood. The option that won was to build a separate building on the back of our residential lot. She got a studio, and I got a darkroom. We called the building the “Art Dept.”.
The new building was 16 x 24, and two story. The upper floor was hers, and the lower floor was mine. I had the option to partition off as much of the lower floor as needed for the darkroom. For some reason that surely must have seemed good at the time, I built the darkroom at 7 x 10 feet. The darkroom I had left at my previous job was really not functionally any bigger, since it was all on one side. This seemed to me to give 18-20 feet of linear work area, which was larger than what I had had at the company.
I partitioned off a corner of the lower floor. In hindsight, I should have extended the partition all of the way across the short end of the building so that the darkroom was 7 x 15 (“nominal 16”), rather than 7 x 10.
My splurge purchase for this darkroom was an 8 foot sink. This became the wet side, with a small table to hold the print washer just to the side of the sink. On the dry side, an old 9 foot door – salvaged off of a neighbor’s trash pile – was repurposed as a counter top over a couple of cheap melamine cabinets.
Heat and AC was supplied by the central system for the building. Plumbing was run from the main house. Initially, I was still using the Chromega B I had bought for that first rent house darkroom, but another photographer let me have an old, well-worn but serviceable Omega D5 for not much money. I made all my exhibition prints for the Texas Church Project and printed my 2006 and 2008 portfolios in this darkroom. ( http://silverdarkroom.net/?page_id=188 )