A common dilemma facing the amateur printer is creating a dedicated darkroom space within the domestic environment. Like many amateurs, I initially used a spare bedroom, hastily converted, with a simple work surface suspended between bedside cabinets, trays, buckets, and a nearby bathroom for washing. The inevitable family expansion prompted a re-think. This article looks at my two successive solutions, which provide a permanent space dedicated to computer and photographic work. The first solution combined office and darkroom equipment in a loft conversion over my garage. This 8×8-foot space contained a full wet darkroom, a computer system, and storage for bulky photographic lighting equipment. The high density and the unusual sloping walls of the garage loft caused a considerable amount of head banging (literally) during the planning stage. A subsequent solution relocated the darkroom into the back of the garage and made the loft conversion into a full digital darkroom and office. In these small spaces, maximum usage is only obtained by designing the units carefully and selecting your equipment with care.
Most UK garages are small affairs, hardly wide enough for modern cars, let alone SUVs. In my case, an adjoining garage yielded an 8×8-foot loft space with 45° sloping walls on two sides to the floor, a door at one end from the bedroom and a triangular wall at the other. The finished room has hot and cold plumbing as well as electrical outlets at f loor and worktop level. The f loor was insulated from the unheated garage below with thick cork tiles and finished with several coats of waterproof varnish to keep dust to a minimum and avoid static.