I've been reading and watching the old darkroom portraits thread for years. Like a lot of people, I've had temporary setups in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and garages; making prints meant I'd have to set up in the evening, get to work, clean up and finally clear out before dawn. I've been printing like that for over fifteen years.

I am proud to say I have had a new permanent darkroom for about a year now, a little different than most but one I am very pleased to have. The room is six feet by eight feet and incorporates several ideas that I've seen here on APUG. There's much that I'd like to point out in the layout--apologies in advance for the gushing info dump below.

My enlargers rest on a heavy industrial grade solid maple wood workbench. Behind them the wall has multiple electrical outlets--they're all GFCI protected and are also all on a separate new line I had installed from the main house electrical panel. Above the enlargers is a Panasonic vent fan (these are wonderfully quiet and are well worth the cost!) Hanging underneath the workbench are a set of fiberglass drying screens on hooks. The screens are pulled out and are placed separately on a homemade collapsable PVC pipe frame (seen lying flat against the wall at right) for wet fiber prints. A paper cutter, print washer, RC print dryer, trays and dry mount press on mobile rolling carts (from all my temporary in and out setups) finish off the space.

There wasn't enough room for a wall length sink on the other side of the room (the door would have been partially blocked) so instead I put in a standard stainless steel kitchen sink. Worth pointing out is that I have two faucets in the sink. This allows me to be able to wash film or paper, and have the second for cleaning up or mixing fresh chemistry. Two faucets are a **huge** time saver. Trays go on the countertop as space allows. Liquid and dry chemistry I keep in spill-proof plastic bins under the sink. Graduates and mixing containers are also kept there. A squishy extra thick anti-fatigue foot mat lies in front of the sink cabinet for long printing or film developing sessions.

Next to the sink I have a metal rolling tool chest with multiple drawers for lots of storage of the numerous small bits and pieces needed for printing. It's also useful as a paper drawer to keep unexposed enlarging paper safe and out of the way (in the original packaging) and is also great for keeping precoated papers for cyanotype and van dyke browns sufficiently dark until they're used.

On the right corner on top of the tool chest countertop is my film drying cabinet. It's my own design and I built it myself. The cabinet allows me to dry two rolls of 120 film or multiple sheets of 4x5. The cabinet is made of clear acrylic and uses a high quality air filter and a quiet twelve volt fan to aid in allowing film to dry inside without any worry of dust or damage to wet freshly developed film.

Directly above the sink is a safelight I built, using an extra long row of red LEDs that goes the length of the wall. The LEDs are mounted to the flat side of a little section of baseboard molding turned upside down. The long illuminated length allows for soft and even light to be bounced off the walls and ceiling--so there are no hotspots or pools of light for the entire room. The LEDs are connected to a dimmer (the small box mounted on the wall) made to safely dim LED lights so I can set the brightness as low or bright as needed.

Things I'd do differently and goofiness: the maple wood work top is beautiful and it feels wonderful to the touch, but if so much as a single drop of water lands on the surface it raises the grain of the wood and leaves a rough patch when it dries. The wood must be periodically oiled, and any unabsorbed oil easily transfers to paper or negatives placed on the wood. (What was I thinking?) I should have bought laminate for that side.

There are preexisting windows (really silly for the "dark" part of "darkroom", hmm?) I didn't cover them up nor did I want to. They can't be blacked out well enough for printing during the day, so I can only print at night. However, I can develop film just fine in daylight tanks during the day and the windows do let in lots of nice indirect natural light. It's surprising but having a window to look out makes a twenty minute film processing run go by much more quickly.

One other little bonus: on nice weather days (or nights) I can open the window and the door to the outside. After decades of souping film indoors and endlessly staring at my reflection in bathroom mirrors or gazing at the multitude of settings of the laundry machine for the thousandth time, doing a film run or rocking paper in a tray with those open portals makes for a very different experience.