We've taken a brief interlude in the automotive department over the last few days as I suffered a critical loss of patience with the state my bedroom/office was in and decided that enough was enough and I needed to do something about it. As anyone who knows me will confirm...once I've decided I'm getting a specific task accomplished I can be something of a force to be reckoned with. I definitely got the bloody mindedness of being an Aries!
My room is a bit of an odd layout.
It's actually two rooms joined together. One smallish bedroom, then off to one side one very narrow room that's more like a large walk in wardrobe than a room. It's about eight feet long, but only about four wide - you can comfortably reach both sides standing in the middle. The main room is eight feet plus a couple of inches square...so it's a smallish room but not tiny. It is however square. You know what I've come to realise over the last couple of years? A square is a *really* awkward shape for a room! Have a look around your bedroom...What's the prevailing shape of your furniture? Rectangular isn't it...So you tend to arrange things in one main axes to make best use of the space. Things are made worse by the fact that the door is smack in the middle of one wall and the window is smack in the middle of another - so that's basically two sides of the room that are 70% spoken for before you've even moved any furniture in. The smaller room to the side was never really originally intended to be a room - it's where the monitoring systems for the various heating and energy harvesting systems that were tested out here by the BBC in the first couple of years of the life of this place (including a combined heat & power system based around a Fiat 126 engine) were housed. Sadly aside from the end of a stinking great three phase power cable in one corner of the garage all evidence of that is long gone.
Originally when we moved in I set up the main room as the bedroom, with the Annexe as we tend to call it set up to be my office.
Bedroom looked roughly like this.
The Annexe after quite a lot of effort and experimentation looked like this.
Which *looked* the part as a nice little tech cave...especially after dark...
(This is an older photo but you get the idea)
Sadly while it looked the part it really didn't work well at all...both rooms are really heavily compromising on several key points.
I think the main reason that I originally put the bed where I did is that my room at least in the early days of us moving in here was the default guest room - and that bed can fold out into a double. However it doesn't work...as once the bed is deployed then you literally can't open the door to the room.
The office really doesn't work well either, for all it looks like it's making good use of an otherwise very strangely proportioned and not particularly useful space.
Firstly, it just always feels cramped. Secondly there are no windows in there, and no matter how much light you throw at it it just always feels dingy. There are something like 300W of LEDs and 150W of metal halide lighting going on in that picture, and it still felt dimmer in person than it looks. Turns out that having no windows is another issue, in that once you've got the computer doing anything vaguely strenuous, it gets real warm in there real fast. Generally it was just an unpleasant place to be.
As neither room really worked particularly well, I just tended not to spend much time in there - which is partly why it became something of a dumping grounds for otherwise homeless items in the house. I was used to generally having free reign of the house while everyone was at work, so didn't really highly prioritise work on better sorting out my space. Right up until Lockdown happened anyway! Suddenly with everyone on seemingly endless teleconferences I have ended up hiding in here a good deal more.
So it was time to have a proper think about things and to see if I could improve on matters. Knowing that the bed doesn't work with both sections set up next to each other eliminated one of the original major constraints...so I decided to flip the main purpose of the two rooms. The Annexe being a somewhat cramped, dark, dingy sensory deprivation chamber really isn't an issue if all you want to do in there is sleep I reckon. With the bed out the way that then frees up a huge chunk of floor and wall space for a decent sized workstation.
Now actually rearranging things was quite a task in its own right simply because A: Both rooms are pretty small and B: I have FAR too much stuff. I describe the process as being somewhat like trying to complete one of those slide puzzles that were popular when I was a kid, where you've got tiles that you can move around to make up a picture...but where you have to repeatedly dig out enough space to make the hole to allow you to move the tiles around. Leading to scenes like this while I was dismantling the bed so I could move it.
This was what happened when I dragged (nearly) all the older computers in the room into one spot!
That's not nearly all of them I own either, that's just those which were in this room to start with! We're not even going into radios, Hi-Fi or televisions...
After the best part of a week, an unfeasible amount of swearing and a very sore back, we've ended up with this.
Peeking through the doorway into the Annexe where there used to be an extremely claustrophobic workstation we now see this.
There's still a shedload to be done obviously! The desktop is temporary, I'll be replacing it with something without a huge step in the middle in due course, and all the stuff on the shelves has basically just been randomly shoved there to get it out of the way while I've been working. A lot of the lights will come off the wall too - I just got utterly fed up of moving a lot of the bulkhead fixtures around in circles that I just stuck them on the wall as it was out the way to be honest. The one to the left of the door at least is actually a functional emergency light though.
There will be a full length bookcase going in to the left of the door (in the image where you're facing the window) which should hopefully allow me to properly find homes for a lot of the things in the "Pile o' Junk" (TM) in the corner so I can finally get rid of that. Something like a set of IKEA Kallax shelving will probably then go in on the other side of the door - The desk will then be extended right up to where it would meet that shelving. A decent sized chest of drawers will then be added at the foot of the bed (replacing the ancient Argos £12 bookshelf there that's been missing a shelf since 2008) so I can finally store clothing without having to cram it down to subatomic sizes to get it into the current drawers. In the bedroom I'll also be adding probably two shelves running the full length of the room above the bed for storage of things that I use less regularly but would rather not shove totally out of reach in the loft.
The radiator is buried under the desk (it's directly under the window), but honestly I'm not bothered. We've been in here since 2014 and I have not once switched it on because of how well insulated this place is, so I really don't see that as an issue. Getting heat OUT of this house is always far, far more of a challenge than getting it in. Air conditioning is definitely going to be happening in the next couple of years.
I don't think I've ever actually had what I'd describe as a "roomy" workstation before...I think I could get used to this!
I can even actually get at the big scanner Jim loaned to me forever ago to scan my negatives and slides now without needing to balance it precariously on top of anything any more...which is why I think about five frames have been scanned so far!
I've very deliberately kept that corner seemingly excessively deep (not *just* because of the huge scanner) as I want to be able to set up a CRT in that corner when working on old computers where that's needed without having to dismantle half the room. In this case I just scoot the printer over to the left and stow the scanner under the desk and I've got a nice deep corner to accommodate a monitor as needed.
Speaking of monitors, I want those off my desk. I really want to get them mounted on wall arms as that would then completely clear the desk in front of me. Unfortunately that involves me having to buy £80 worth of adaptor plates as I totally failed to clock when I bought the right two monitors (which was based on the image performance alone) that HP were utter idiots and didn't include any direct provision for attaching to a VESA mount. You need to buy a special adaptor from them at £40 a shot. If I'd known that I may well have gone for something else...which is a shame as they perform really well.
I'm also really pleased to finally have somewhere to actually use that old Dazor fluorescent desk light - I dragged that thing all the way back from the US back in 2014 I think it was, but have never managed to find anywhere for it that wasn't hugely in the way...until now. It now lives on and usefully lights the drawing/crafting/electronic repair area.
While most of the heavy lifting was done yesterday, today has mostly been sorting this.
Then starting to sort out some of the other related things that were displaced by my original workstation being removed - the network switch and our main wireless access point to name two things were left dangling by their Ethernet cables for most of the week. Only got the first few things hooked up yet but we're getting there.
Speaking of things that I hope Future Me thanks me for one day...Yes I'm being OCD and labelling everything. I have learned enough times now that this can save so many headaches down the road it's hard to believe.
Likewise the other end of those cables are labelled to tell me which port on the switch they're hooked to. Likewise wherever they surface elsewhere in the house.
Yes I did just manage to pull that network socket out of the ceiling... I'll sort it tomorrow.
Praying I'll get the cable routing finished tomorrow as it gets boring real quick! Especially as making Ethernet cables doesn't get any less fiddly no matter how many thousand times you've done it I find! I'm trying to keep things tidy here so am mostly making up new cables so they're actually the correct lengths.
I'm absolutely knackered, but it does feel like I'm finally getting somewhere.
I've got so many stalled art, craft and electronic projects that have been waiting for some attention that I've just not had the will to touch for *years* simply because I've had no decent space to work on them...I'm hoping that once I've got things finished here that might change a bit
Once I've more or less decided where everything is going to live I'll be getting a little more decorating done. I've always planned to use a deep red to pick out details in the room. The actual colour I'm using is from one of the most obvious things you notice when walking into the room; a lovely (to my eye) bit of late 60s lighting design, the Mazda Netaline.
Back when fluorescent lighting was still seen as new and exciting and designers were still allowed a bit of flair. I'm a bit of a sucker for that sort of retro futuristic design. Especially if you start throwing chrome detailing into the mix too. The arm it suspends from on mine could really do with a polish I can see now I'm looking at the photo.
I'd really like to get both parts carpeted as well as I'm not a fan of hard floors, especially in bedrooms. If I could get a close colour match to the aforementioned red that would be really good in my view. The Annexe is already carpeted...but in a dirty brownish grey and it's utterly worn out in several areas so needs changing anyway. I think if I got the carpet running seamlessly through between the two areas it would help increase the perceived space by removing a visible boundary.
There's too much in the way of muted tones in decoration these days... what's wrong with a bit of colour? I won't be bothering with the carpet until I find a colour I really like. I may end up going for a complimentary colour rather than red if I see something that I think works...but I'd kind of prefer to keep it to the red aside from the neutral white on the walls and ceiling.