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I live in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, so needless to say, space is tight. I run my decorative painting business from my place, use the kitchen as a darkroom now and then, and create paper crafts when I have the time. After years of making all of my art on the dining room table and cramming art supplies into tiny closets, it was time to make a decision: either find a studio space to work in that wasn’t on the other side of the river ($$$) , or build something in my apartment to let me work properly. I decided to bite the bullet and build.

I wanted to design a big wall unit for my living room, twelve and a half feet long by eight feet high, and started looking for a cabinet maker. Since it was custom built, here was a chance to get exactly what I needed.

After a lot of sketching and erasing and visiting furniture showrooms to get ideas, I finally saw this piece of furniture below at Room & Board with a 60-inch wide fold-up desk, which sparked a two-desk invisible office idea.

Here was the plan: two work surfaces, a wet desk for making paint samples and a dry desk for computer and paper craft work. Once that was figured out, the rest fell into place.

After starting with the two desks, I added storage space for art and office supplies, file drawers for client files, flat files for pads and decorative papers, a place to hide my printer and scanner, and lots of room for books.

Here’s the wet desk. The white surface is styrene (plastic), easy to wipe and scrape down. The work surface is 20 x 60 inches. I stand when I paint samples.

This is the dry desk. It’s also 20 x 60 inches, but a few inches lower, for sitting.

This is the area between the two desks, with the file drawers, storage for sample boards and skinny drawers for pens and stuff.

Last but not definitely not least, when the day is over, it’s all invisible. The desks fold up so everything can be hidden away and my living room looks like a living room again, although I tend to leave the dry desk open.

I’ve had this now for several years, and it works well for me. The double desk was the answer. As for the darkroom in the kitchen, that’s another story.

Kudos to my awesome cabinet maker, Tyler at Codfish Park Design.

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