In honor of National Week of Making, proclaimed by Obama!
Our apartment came with an enormous kitchen. An enormous, empty kitchen.
Like most Berlin apartments, it had no sink, stove, fridge, cabinets or counters. Just pipes sticking out of the wall. We bought an initial basic kitchen setup through a very kind gift from D’s grandfather.
I designed the overall kitchen wall, figured out what the minimum to start was, had the IKEA cabinets delivered and built them. Then a handyman named Tyler helped me install them.
That was only the beginning. I had never thought about combining kitchen & office & craft room, but the minute I did I was sold 100%.
So I came up with the idea of making the other big empty wall my workshop/machine room. Here’s the first rough iteration, made in November.
Normally, the tools and appliances of an office and workshop look awkward as hell in any (Gothic-Rococo-Victorian Brothel) room I design.
But it happens I like a white kitchen, and our kitchen happens to have incredible lighting.
So it was the perfect place to put things like a printer and my sewing machine, and hopefully eventually a 3D printer and milling machine.
I was enjoying doing my embroidery at the kitchen table, in the bright, even light, enormously.
So I decided there should be a worktable in the center, where we could eat if we ever wanted to eat in the kitchen instead of in the library while watching Silicon Valley.
At New Year’s when we had friends cooking in the kitchen it became clear we needed a good-sized island as well.
I agonized over the aspect ratio and measurements before finally going with a simple design that could be both sewing table and food prep surface. The whole thing cost less than 130 euros in the end, but it’s very solid.
It will have nice cute handles like the machine wall eventually, I just ran out of money.
Then I designed the machine wall in detail.
There had to be a place for the ladder, and for blank canvas storage, and the, um, annoying amounts of recycling German living generates.
I needed big flat shelves to store drawings and shelves and lots of deep drawers for materials. And of course it had to cost as little as possible. Since food comes slightly before making stuff, I focused on the kitchen part first.
I found a great handyperson, James, an Australian fellow who has all the tools in the world, and we worked together to build the rest of the kitchen side wall. It came out pretty well! We haven’t had money for a dryer yet, but in time.
There will be cool newsprint curtains over the open shelves- I hate open shelving, no matter how hot it is on Apartment Therapy.
This month we finally had enough cash to buy the cabinets for the machine wall.
Ikea delivered them and then I spent five gruelling days building them. It was a lot of work but saved us easily 300 euros even at cheap Berlin labor rates.
James and Jason, another Ozzie, hung the cabinets and suddenly there it was, my workshop.
My organization of mixed media materials is very much inspired by my beloved friend/muse/patron Monique Motil, an artist who manages her studio space as beautifully as she creates.
This Thursday was the shakedown cruise. Daria and Ian came over and we ran all the systems- printing, drawing, ironing decals onto fabric, using every tool in every drawer.
I can honestly say my design worked beautifully.
I opened the second leaf on the table and we all had room to sit and work, and any time we needed something- “Let’s cut the stickers with deckle-edge scissors!” or “Let’s see if we can use the decals to make pendants!” – I could just grab whatever tool or material we needed out of the drawers and cabinets.
When the left-hand leaf is closed, it’s a perfect setup for me to work alone- the drawers are in the right place for a lefty 🙂
We had the most incredible, exhilarating night collaborating in my new workspace.
I know we worked really hard to get to this life, but I still feel like we’ve been given a miracle beyond imagining.