Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Water's Running!

After many months of plumbing and electrical adventures, my new dyeing studio is up and running!  This room, formerly a kitchen in the original part of my house, is small. Eight by ten feet.  In this small space, I've packed a lot of functionality and storage.

While designing our new kitchen a few years ago, I learned some valuable lessons about space planning. I learned that setting up stations or work zones for different activities is crucial.  When planning my studio, I knew I needed to set up work zones for a number of important activities:

* Waxing zone: at least 4 feet of running surface at counter height for applying melted wax to fabric with outlets above the countertop surface for electric saucepan
* storage above the worksurface for waxes, paintbrushes and other tools for applying wax
* Dyeing zone: two sinks for dyeing and rinsing fabric, with washable, easy to clean space on either side of the sinks for placing supplies during dyeing process
*storage above the sinks for chemicals, dyes, paints, measuring cups, scales, plastic containers
* Ironing zone: 3 to 4 feet of running surface to be used as an ironing station
* Mailing zone:  countertop area for measuring and weighing fabric and preparing mail shipments

* Photo zone: blank wall area, preferably lit by indirect daylight, that could be used for photographing larger pieces of fabric

In addition to my lengthy requirements, my other family members also wanted to use my new studio for their crafting fun, like painting models for table top role playing games (Lord of the Rings, Warhammer). A lot of activity to pack into one small space!


My first and best decision was to buy a stainless steel sink from a restaurant supplier. I bought mine from
GalaSource and am thrilled with it. I initially was drawn to a self standing sink because I thought the installation would be easier than installing a countertop with a drop in sink.  When I started researching prices of double stainless steel drop in sinks versus self standing stainless sinks, I really got excited. The restaurant style sinks are a bargain.  Also, they come in many different configurations, with choices in sink size, drainboard size, and number of drainboards. I opted to go with two sinks and two drainboards, and am glad I did.  Always "size up" when you're planning a kitchen or work area -- don't cheat yourself and regret not spending an extra $50 here and there to get the extra functionality you will need.

Once the sink decision was made, I had to figure out what to use for my worksurface for my waxing, ironing, photograpy and mailing stations. I opted to use a storage cabinet that I've had for about 10 years that I already was using to store craft supplies. This terrific cabinet, made by IKEA, (part of their VARDE line) is a pain in the royal arse to assemble, but is a tremendous value. It's sturdy, attractive, and most importantly, holds lots of stuff. At 47" wide, it just fit next to the stainless steel sink, with about an inch to spare. Phew!  The cabinet has a natural birch countertop that I varnished with spar varnish. It's very durable. Water spills wipe up easily and with adequate padding, it even works as an ironing board! And, because this cabinet is designed for a kitchen, its height matches the height of my restaurant sink, so the overall look is uniform and organized.

One of my pet peeves about most American kitchens is mounting height of the wall cabinets. Usually cabinets are mounted so that there's only about 17 to 18 inches between the counter and the bottom of the wall cabinets. For me, this feels very claustrophobic. When I'm waxing or ironing fabric, I don't like to feel as if I'm in a cave, with cabinets on top of my head. So I purposely chose wall cabinets that are 24" tall, mounted under an existing soffit. This left 25" of wall space between my countertop and the underside of my wall cabinets -- a much better proportion of space.  In an eight by ten room, those 6" of extra wall space really makes the room feel less cramped.  Even though I'm petite at 5'2", mounting the cabinets a little higher still allows me to reach everything on the first shelf of the cabinets, where I'll be storing everything I use on a regular basis. Items that I won't need every day go on higher shelves, where I'll need a stool to reach them.

My wall cabinets are also from IKEA, style STAT.  The cabinet fronts mimic the beadboard we installed throughout the room and add a cool white contrast to the warm orange walls. Amazingly enough, the white of the cabinets actually matches the white of the VARDE base cabinet, the white beadboard, and the white trim paint I have used throughout my home (Benjamin Moore's Cotton Balls)! How's that for lucky decorating?

Stay tuned to see what comes out of the sink!

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