New Darkroom - Need layout advice
I've planned a tentative layout for a new darkroom, and want to see if any of you have any suggestions or changes to recommend. The walls are framed, so the door locations are fixed. The walls, however, have not yet been drywalled so I would like to plan the layout before I hang sheetrock to make sure the plumbing access points, electrical wiring, lighting, and ventilation are all in the right places. Note that the small circle on the north wall is the sewer access pipe, which probably determines where the sink and laundry tub should go.
The south door is the entrance. The east door goes into a small utility room where furnace, water heater, etc are located. This is also where the water manifold is located; it has a few blank hot and cold leads so it will be pretty easy to run water lines from there to any location in the darkroom.
The sink is 5 feet long and should accomodate three trays for processing 16x20 prints. The tub is a standard deep laundry tub. It and the and desk to the left of the sink are for additional trays and washes as needed.
The fridge and desks can account for needed surface space for working with negatives and paper, etc. The desks were purchased from a local elementary school when they upgraded and are the kind that have the builtin book trays.
Interesting layout - illustrates creative way to stuff a darkroom into a very long and narrow space.
1. If it were me, I would really like to see more separation between the sink and the "dry side". I note that you appear to be thinking about a wall (?) between the enlarger and the sink, but in my experience, it is really helpful to have counter space on either side of the enlarger.
2. You should plan on ventillation. I suggest that air should exhaust through a vent (or vents) over the sink, but it's not immediately obvious where it should enter. In my darkroom, air enters near the enlarger, but that wouldn't work very well here with the sink and enlarger next to each other - given the length of the room, that would result in stale air at the two ends of the room.
3. Why the dual doors? In a perfect world, a darkroom should have two means of egress (that's a good policy in any "confined space" and is mandatory in industrial settings in the US). But do these doors actually lead to separate means of egress, or do they go to a common space? If they go to a common space, then one of the doors is not necessary and is actually a constraint on how the darkroom could be laid out.
4. What is the height of the fridge? If it is a small fridge, then there really is a counter space disguised as the top of the fridge. If it is a tall (standard height in the US), I would suggest moving it all the way to the right corner of the room. While it's sometimes convenient to have a fridge in the darkroom, I think you will find that you won't need to get into it more than once or twice per session, and having it out of the way will make sense.
5. You will want a lot of electrical receptacles. Estimate the number you think you need, and then double that number. Be sure to put at least two behind the enlarger, and a couple more above the sink. The receptacles behind the sink should have GFCI functionality - and it wouldn't hurt to have that on all of the receptacles.
6. I would consider putting a sheet of "homosote" (compressed fiberboard) on the long wall behind the sink - use it with push pins as a place to hang work prints. Looking at work prints on the wall over time is a good way to assess whether you want to make fine prints of them.
7. Is the sewer access point at floor level? If not, are you going to have a gray water pump to move waste from the tub up to the sewer? Note that putting the wet side near the sewer certainly simplifies the design, but there are ways to move water around if you choose to arrange things differently.
8. Where and how will you be drying negatives? Where and how will you be drying prints? Are you planning to have print mounting facilities in the darkroom, or will that be elsewhere?
9. Final thought - I would suggest that you consider a drastic change in floorplan. Put the sink along the left wall. Move the utility tub far enough to the to the right to permit you to stand between the sink and the tub. You can still have a drain line that runs along the wall and around the corner to drain the sink into the tub. Think about constructing a hinged "lid" over the tub that permits it to be a counter space when you don't need to use it as an auxiliary sink. Move the fridge into the right corner, and put at least one desk adjacent to the enlarger to have a place to lay down paper boxes and/or negative sheets while printing.
Show us some pictures as your proceed through construction. And have fun with the project!
Take a look at the thread "Darkroom Portarits",
At this point there are 224 posts, many with darkroom pictures and 32,494 views. There is just an amazing wealth of ideas. Pack a lunch.
You don't mention what you plan to do in the darkroom. For example, do you have a separate area in which to dry prints and negatives? What format film will you be enlarging? Why limit the sink to 5 feet + utility sink vs an 8 ft sink? Will you have a print washer?
In addition to what has been said, the first thng that pops out at me is have you considered pocket doors?
Monophoto has made some very good suggestions.
"He who expecteth nothing,
Shall not be disappointed." Robert Willingham, 1907
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It just won't work, there is no coffee pot anywhere!
You get used to working in the space you have. It doesn't look that bad. Consider that some folks don't have a space at all and have to use the bath room or closet. If you have water and a sink then you will do fine.
By the way I want my darkroom redesigned by Jerold Harter. It's clean and well organized. Look at what he has done on the darkroom thread. I worked in hospital darkrooms for years, they were some of the worst. When we turned on the lights it was sickening. I vowed to have my home darkroom clean and organized.
1. Put a light over the sink on it's own gfi switch in adition to the main switch by the door, this will keep you from walking to the door every time you want to view a wet print.
2. Consider doing dry wall then electrical in conduit. This will allow easy changes to your circuts in the future. I have made three major changes in five years without cutting into walls.
3. Buy 4x8 sheets of "Frost White" from home depot,this is the material they make cheap dry erase boards from. Have them cut to 2x8 and mount them to the walls and you will have note boards all over.
4. wall mount a stero and speakers up out of the way.
DIGITAL IS FOR THOSE AFRAID OF THE DARK.
I'm going to question your idea of 3 trays for 16x20 prints...
I'm assuming your going to be printing 16x20's in fibre, then you'll probably want 5 (dev, stop, fix, rinse & hypo clear) before getting into the wash. Speaking of which, how are you intending to wash a 16x20? Drop the rinse before the hypo clear and you've still got 4 trays. Add a toner tray (selenium) if you do that at time of printing (I don't). Also, remember the trays are actually a fair bit bigger than the print you get in them. Maybe think about stacking them.
How committed to using the desks are you? By building customer enlarger table and shelving you probably can make it more functional, but it would cost.
My wet area is a sink made from acrylic sheet, which has 4" high sides (plus 2' splashback I use for squeegeeing prints). If I was to do it again (and I might cut down my existing one) I would get minimal 'sides'. I don't spill stuff that warrants the sides. A few drops of something dripping off a print between trays is about it. I reckon a few strips of 5mm acrylic stuck around a benchtop (formica, etc) would give enough insurance against spilling a tray (1-2litres most likely) as by the time it spreads out, it won't be very deep at all.
I'm not sure what I'd do with your sink/utility tub. Does it have to cover the drain or can a pipe be angled to it? The tub would be good to mix chems, wash hands etc, but no good for washing big prints (probably ok for 8x10s) or washing your big trays. Probably comes back to how you're going to wash the buggers. If you were to stack your trays, maybe 2 stands of 2 or 3 trays depending on how many you need, you could have room for a tray for the wash. Need to make measurements to see if there's enough space.
I like a bit of room around the enlarger to be able put the timer, a neg file, focus finder, dodging tools, pens & paper etc. I'd see if I could do something with the sink to be able to do something similar to the rough layout I've attached.
You can't have a big enough sink. But 8' is the cheapest pre-built sink you can find. I agree with all of the previous posts. Good advice.
Consider moving the filing and miscellaneous stuff to another room. Most of the storage, matting, framing, etc, is better suited to other space anyway. I would not want a refrigerator in my darkroom because of dust, noise, vibration, etc. What is the point of that?
Putting the enlarger on the short wall seems like a good idea. Especially if you could make a drop table and use storage along the sides for paper safes.
I have spent many hours obsessing about these sorts of things. I have settled on the single tray method of print processing. Check out Lloyd's website:
In a small space it makes the most sense and reduces fumes. I have made my own alterations but it works well once you get used to it. I have also come around to his method for drying prints although I have yet to implement it. I just bought some clothes lines to string up.
Wherever you put the enlarger, you should put a switch next to it that will shut off all of the room lights.
I am fond of the Jobo minilux safelight which is like a little flashlight that you wear around your neck.
If you spend much time in there, consider an anti-fatigue (on my list):
Put electrical outlets above and below cabinet height. A couple of electrical outlets in the ceiling for safelights is nice. My ceiling outlets are on a switch.
If you put a vent fant in the room don't forget about return air. I use a Delta light proof louver which works well.
I would use semigloss paint. Most people seem to prefer flat paint because itis less reflective. However, it is a pain to clean and gets scuffed up. If you deal with light leaks, the semigloss had nothing to reflect and is much easier to clean.
If you are still framing in, consider a central vacuum system for the house in general and especially the darkroom. Well worth it if possible.