The idea is to create a functional and practical work area within the home that's accessible to all family members, friends, and co-workers. If you're looking to introduce your children to the world of making, or simply make it a bigger part of your everyday life, then there is a lot of appeal in creating a versatile area that automatically becomes the go-to place to fix broken things, learn new subjects, try out new projects etc.... While many people would automatically want to hide such a space in the garage or basement, it's a nice idea to make it a very central part of the home - by giving it such a prime location you communicate what an important part of your life this is or could be, and you make it easier for work to take place.
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Step 1: Location
Me and my husband live in a very small house, and we decided to allocate a wall in our dining room, right in between the kitchen and the living room for this purpose. In this Instructable I'm going to go over each of the components of this space, and what to think about if you're looking to create your own.
Step 2: Planning
In order to utilize the space you have to the fullest extent, it's important to carefully plan out your design. You can never have too much storage, and especially if you're working within a small space, going all up to the ceiling for storage can be a great idea.
Think about what types of material and tools you're actually looking to store, and plan for storage based on that. You can obviously go for traditional drawers and cabinets, however it might not enable you to be the most efficient.
Once you have an idea of what type of storage and design you're looking to build, calculate how much material you need (plywood, wood etc...) and ideally buy everything at once, that way your process will go much smoother.
Step 3: Work Surface
A good work surface is a very important part to consider. Now what type of surface you need of course depends on what type of work you're looking to do. In general, a nice wooden surface is perfect because it allows for all kinds of work, plus you can always protect it with a healing mat when you're doing things which might leave marks otherwise. Now you can either purchase a laminated board, or glue one up yourself using lumber. Other options for work surfaces include laminate, sheet metal etc... We decided to create a pretty massive wooden counter made from rough sawn lumber. It was a long process and big job, however the surface came out beautiful and it's a very sturdy and durable place to do work.
Step 4: Storage
What type of storage you need obviously depends on what kind of material you're looking to store. We decided to make a bunch of cabinets at the very top for fabrics and things you don't access too regularly. You need a step stool to put things in and out of the cabinets, however it's really nice to have that space, nonetheless, and it's the perfect spot for items you don't access too often.
We created two cabinets under those, which we placed trays on drawer slides into so you could easily slide the trays in and out to make it easier to access things. In those cabinets we're storing photography and development items, as well as miscellaneous things.
To hold various tools and papers we made a thin drawer cabinet with 10 drawers. In order to maximize the space, we decided to go thin and plenty, and stack these drawers tightly together. That way we can have a designated drawer for different subjects such as sewing related, woodworking tools, stamping, art supplies, paper, leather work tools etc... When you think of it, most tools don't require a lot of height, so by using a thin design you can really fit a lot in a small space.
Step 5: Open Shelving
To incorporate open shelving along with closed cabinets is a nice way to get the best of both worlds. Somethings might not fit inside cabinets because of height, and then it's nice to have the option to store things out in the open. Plus, you can use wood for shelving to ground a space and add an interesting visual element. Of course there's a million ways to create shelves, we decided to use some nice sapele wood, and then created a bracket system using a 2x6 and dowels which the shelves rest on.
Step 6: Outlets
One thing that's easy to overlook is outlets. You really need more outlets than you imagine once you start working and need more lighting, an outlet for soldering iron, sewing machine, heat gun etc... so it's a good idea to plan for that right from the start. We ended up drilling through the wooden counter and ordering a flange that fits nicely within the hole which a large extension cord panel could go through so it all looked nice and neat.
Step 7: Chalk Paint
When you're working on things it's nice to have a chalk board, or white board nearby so you can write notes, plans, design etc... and a great are to utilize is actually the walls, or the cabinet doors etc... We ended up putting extra plywood on the back wall to hide the textured walls, and make it possible to put storage anywhere on the wall without having to worry about finding a stud. This smooth surface turned out to be perfect for chalkboard paint, not only does it add an interesting look, it's also nice that you can write on it.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
Because this work space is located within a home, it's important to think of it as a finished space. So whatever details you would normally add to your living room or dining room, should definitely be considered here as well - so trim work, molding, new paint, edge banding on plywood etc...
Just because it's a maker space doesn't mean it needs to be a dusty, dirty environment. It's easy to add a few finishing touches to a space to make sure it looks really nice and neat, and then to keep a few simple rules in mind as you work in the space to make it more suitable for a home environment such as
- Don't use any strong smelling glues or finishes, water based only.
- Keep dust to a minimum and make sure to have a hand vacuum or similar product nearby if you create dust so you quickly can remove it.
- If you're planning on doing woodworking, using primarily hand tools is a good idea.
- If using a soldering iron, make sure to have a fan or fume extractor nearby
- Be mindful of noise and noisy tools
Step 9: Conclusion - Watch the Video
For a more in depth look, make sure to watch the final video in our maker space series that goes over creating an amazing work space inside a home, and all the details that went into it!