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Thursday, 25 February 2016


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My house (which is one of a row of 4 identical 1950s terrace houses) was originally built with a small internal one car garage. A previous owner converted the garage into a dining room/study. The two middle houses in the row still have their garages. The house at the other end of the row has been significantly remodeled and a garage has been added to the side of the house. Except...when you open the garage door there is a wall behind it. The owner had a similar idea. At the moment the extension is the office for their language school business but my neighbour told me he wanted to give any future buyers the option of having a garage. Hence the fake garage.

Mike, quick suggestion drop the pool table, and set up a 501 c(3) a not for profit charitable corporation for educational purposes, and then fund the gallery from Kickstarter. It sounds like a wonderful idea, and you probably could get some of the local business leaders and public officials involved in the idea to make a true "public purpose" out of the concept. You would save money in lots of ways from both a tax standpoint and maybe some additional grant funds. I could see a place for art lectures and exhibits as well as classroom work. Maybe you could enlist the local community college in the process. Just a suggestion.

Why not sell that car instead of paying interest. Then put a pool table into the garage while crowd-funding the gallery!

Or... skip the pool table and just immediately crowd-fund the barn-gallery. Most TOP readers would prefer an amish-barn-gallery to a pool table, and I guess you would too.

If you try to fund it through future print sales you'll get neither the amish-how-cool-is-that-barn-gallery nor that pool table anytime soon.

So, billiard or gallery? Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday, Mike. I turned 57 in the middle of January, so I know what you mean. 57 seems much nearer than 56 is to 60, and much further away than 56 is from 50.

Happy birthday Mike. Cheers, you're an inspiration!
Go for the "Garage".

I like the jokes, actually. Belated Happy Birthday, Mike!

It would have to cost a lot more or be a lot more impractical to be "crazy" in my book. A building that size has all sorts of potential uses.

But it may cost more than you think if it affects your property valuation and taxes, or if you need to rezone.

I personally don't see an ethical problem with raising money for a gallery that will also house a pool table. At least no more a problem than if it were to house a computer with a solitaire game and internet access, or a deck of cards, or a chess set. Especially if your intent was fully disclosed, and especially if the pool table had mission-oriented uses to contribute, which it does on more than one level.

Even without windows or skylight, indirect daylight would be nice. I don't think it's that tricky, though obviously it would add cost. I assume you have some sort of light-baffling entry style in mind.

I know you know that a gallery is allowed to have more than four walls. That would mean relocating the pool table though.

Crazy or not, I'm envious, and look forward to visiting.

Yeah. You're crazy. And I love the mutually justifying "it would also work as a pool room/exhibit space". Now, like many crazy ideas, I love it. Tell me House on the Rock is crazy. Just try. Or any of the other eclectic houses throughout Wisconsin. (Sorry, I know Wisconsin, not the northeast.) And really, is this any crazier than, "I'm going to write a blog for a living". I seem to remember thinking that was crazy while believing you could actually pull it off...somehow. Same thing here. If you're dedicated to it, passionate about it, it'll totally work. You've got the knowledge and connections to make it work. I'm all for it...but I may be crazy too.

Happy Birthday Mike. This is not a bad idea. You may want to consider framing in a couple of windows, like your garage door suggestion, so that windows can be installed in the future by you or the next owners. Also I assume it would have heat and possibly AC. I know my garage gets very hot in the summer.

If you're going to play pool, then you need some tunes, so add a wireless Blue Tooth based audio system & explore that frontier while you are at it. I want to read about that some Sunday.... Of course that table could be used for ping pong with the cover on it, too.
OR spend the money to hire a cook - sorry, a Chef.
"...So Happy Birthday To You!"
As sung by the Beatless (sic) (oops - that's gonna be stuck in my head the rest of the day).

How about building your new one-car garage, keeping your car there, and converting the existing one?

Happy Birthday Mike!

I know that it is sometimes hard to not think about the aging process. I have ten years and nine days on you. So, believe me when I say that I have thought about getting older but, I try to keep in mind what the ageless Satchel Paige said once when asked how old he was. "If you didn't know how old you are, how old would you be?"

It dawned on me a while back that here at work, I still think of myself as the youngster of the group even though there are people working here that are younger than my granddaughter. I hope that I can keep that perspective as time keeps moving on.

As to your question, I think your project sounds fantastic, certainly not crazy. Not to get too schmaltzy about it, "If you build it, they will come." I am pretty sure a lot of us would love to make a special trip and visit you in your new garage/gallery.


No time to read the whole article, but congratulations on your 59th anniversary.

Happy Birthay, Mike! I like the idea of your one-car garage-sized gallery building. First, just to be clear, is the two-story, 2-1/2 car barn on your property used as your current garage? What's upstairs? I'm just trying to get this clear in my head. Because if that structure is yours, is there a way to use the second floor for your stated purposes?

Assuming that's not the case, I think you need to consider climate control inside your gallery. Sure, it'll have an insulated slab and no windows. But that won't be enough. Cold winters and hot summers have a way of seeping through. You'll require some kind of heating and cooling.

You could have a hole left in the wall tailored for a through-the-wall air conditioner with heat pump for the winter. But electric heat can be very expensive and you'll have to replace the unit every few years. A larger heat pump/air conditioner as used in many homes in the Sun Belt is also possible. Again, electric heat ain't cheap. You don't plan on plumbing the building, so I guess no gas lines. How about propane? How do you heat your home?

If it's possible to use the second story of your barn/garage, You might spend less money insulating that structure and even adding proper heating and cooling. Your vehicle might appreciate that last flourish as well.

Would you have enough room to furnish the barn well enough to spend an occasional night in it? Fold-out sleeper couches, hot plates and small dorm-style refrigerators are cheap.

Whatever your decision is, good luck. You gotta live the dream.

Mike, I think it's a great idea and also that you should, indeed, 'Kickstart' it. Good luck.

> (Things like that are why Xander hates my jokes.)

It's not a bad joke, it's a dad joke!

Happy Birthday, kid.

Sounds like a completely wonderful idea! You should definitely do it. For yourself, not for others.

It sounds crazy, but a good kind of crazy. It could be a very nice 60th birthday present to give yourself.

Happy birthday, Mike. And, tomorrow, enjoy the first day of your 60th year. :-)

There are several things worth considering with respect to your current pet project.

First, is local zoning compatible with such a use? Your ideas sound like they might be considered, at least in part, commercial. It that allowed on your lot?

Second, is a windowless building viable for what the code likely considers "habitable space?"

Third, acquisition cost is only the start. How will this new space be conditioned? What are utility and maintenance costs for the system which will do that?

Finally, what will the ongoing impact on your property taxes be?

I hope this was gentle enough. Imagine how rough people might be if it weren't your birthday. :-)

Happy Birthday Mike! Having passed the 60 mark 3 year ago, I can relate to your timeline of birthdays. I swear I was 45 just 8 months ago...I think it's a tear in the space/time continuum or maybe a speed bump on the gravity waves.
Your idea is crazy....but don't ever let that stop you. I would however, suggest a rethink on the plumbing - a bathroom would prevent having to leave the confines of what could be a marvelous place to hang out. Why spoil the momentum of a good game or perusal of the walls, especially when the weather is more challenging?

Happy Birthday Mike! Having passed the 60 mark 3 year ago, I can relate to your timeline of birthdays. I swear I was 45 just 8 months ago...I think it's a tear in the space/time continuum or maybe a speed bump on the gravity waves.
Your idea is crazy....but don't ever let that stop you. I would however, suggest a rethink on the plumbing - a bathroom would prevent having to leave the confines of what could be a marvelous place to hang out. Why spoil the momentum of a good game or perusal of the walls, especially when the weather is more challenging?

First, happy, happy birthday!

You know your building will need a source of heat and cooling, right? Artwork needs a narrow range of temperature or it will suffer, IMHO.

And sofas and comfortable chairs and a cabinet for fine spirits.

I'll come see you if you invite me!

It sounds like a wonderful, quirky man-cave. Now, get out your graph paper and work out the floor plan with pool table dimensions, necessary space to swing a cue, optimal viewing distances, object display pedestals, etc. I know 16 x 20 might sound palatial but I have worked in a 16 x 20 stable house and my memories of the experience are that it was cramped and forced extreme economies of space. Of course I was doing some serious woodworking and had a workbench, 8x4 assembly table and some serious machines. Also, don't expect a 16 x 20 building to give you 16 x 20 of floor space - those are the outside dimensions. It will be more like 15 x 19 inside. In your calculations don't forget insulation and heating. I now work in a shop that is the equivalent of a three-car shop and it still feels cramped. The real luxury is that it rests on a slab that boasts radiant heating. The shop maintains a very even 60 degrees F. throughout the winter. That's fine for woodworking but perhaps a bit nippy for pool. I suspect the cost once the final inspection has been done could be twice the figure you postulate. If you do end up doing it, be prepared to chalk up most of the expense to your enjoyment of the space. It might easily only pay back pennies on the dollar when you sell.

A couple of thoughts: why not convert the second story of the existing garage and put in an outside staircase. Should be cheaper and may even be a bigger space. Hard to know without seeing it though.

If you end up building a structure put in some windows, even if you end up with blackout curtains. More expensive, but a building without windows situated in your location would be a crime.

That's my 2c worth...

What you really want is a club where you and your friends can sit around, play around and just hang around shooting pool, looking at pictures and telling stories.

Happy Birthday!

To quote from a distinguished television program: This is making insanely good sense to me.

Though I do have one important criticism: when I read the term "current pet project", I was reflexively expecting involvement of Butters and Lulu, and I'm properly disappointed now. Well, maybe you can perfect the project while it's in the funding period.

Happy birthday, Mike.

It sounds like fun.

One thing that would concern me if I were you -- how much can the visitor stream increase before it starts to become a chore to you a significant amount of the time? I imagine you mostly have pretty superior visitors (I can say that, since I never did manage to get that far over into Wisconsin), so perhaps it wouldn't be a problem.

HB Mike
Good idea, also good idea to frame for a garage door, could also do the same for windows.
Extra cost but consider plumbing. Visitors inevitably need to pee. Do you want them going in the house? Similarly you could plan for a sink, microwave and coffee maker if you hold talks or workshops. Do not have to finish all that at first but "roughing in" the plumbing is best done at the construction stage, not later.
now then, use: visitors invited or not = time. Do you have the time and inclination to chat with folks on speculation? That might be enjoyable or not, that's your call.
Lots to think about and it seems you have time, enjoy the process.

I'm older than dirt. Might have even been around when water was invented. So happy birthday! Embrace your inner cranky old man!

This sounds like a fantastic idea to me. Two questions do occur: 1) Would it be substantially more expensive to have it as an addition rather than a freestanding building? The former would add more value to the property, and be more useful. 2) What are your plans for environmental control?

Go for it. Happy birthday and may you have naught but sunshine on your parade. I have entertained less practical ideas.

Sounds like fun. Don't bother with the faux opening for the future garage door, though. I wouldn't think it worth the bother. It's not that difficult for a good carpenter to put one in if/when needed.

Happy birthday!

Mike, Happy Birthday !
Oh, to be only 59 again !
I think your Idea is a great one. Moving confidently in the direction of your own dreams KEEPS you young, interested and interesting.

Think 16 x24 though .... it gives you 4 feet of out of sight storage,
Makes a great shooting space /studio (Don't know your orientation but a strategically placed skylight could make a great Northlight studio) (same for some solar power)
I know you said no plumbing, but one option is to have just the rough-in that would need to go through the slab installed -just so you have that option, later.
Those proportions also work as a small boathouse, as well, thus doubling it's appeal.
With traditional construction (non Truss) you can have free loft storage.
It could also be rental space for small gatherings, think soaring white space with art on the walls and a huge table already there, and a nice sound system in the rafters
Remember Artwork needs tempered space.
I'm sure you'll get more suggestions than you need because it is something many of us have thought about.
I have a small library in my home where I have surrounded myself not only with books, but pictures and the artifacts of my life.
It is a wonderful place to be happy in.
Go for it, I say

What a neat idea! This combines two of your passions, and might provide an opportunity for you to scratch your teaching itch. Sure, it's impractical, maybe even crazy. But, so what(?/!) (I couldn't decide if that was a question or an exclamation.)

The Louvre style is a bit too crammed for my taste, but your description of where you'd go with it is sort of like Philly's Barnes museum (https://www.barnesfoundation.org/about/). The difference would be, you would have photographic tchotchke.

Happy birthday, by the way. Ah, to have the vigor of a 59 year old again! (I just turned 74, though a replacement knee has made me feel ten years younger.)

Not every thing has to make sense Mike! Sometimes it's more than enough for it to just feel right!

Sounds way cool! I say do it.
Being of nearly identical vintage, I'm also painfully aware of how few years I have left before things grind inevitably to a halt. My kids recently linked us to their Netflix account. I watched the first 8 minutes of the first episode of 'Breaking Bad', and then quickly turned it off. It was so snarky and brilliant, I was close to being hooked. Binge-watching the whole series would consume time I really can't afford to spend.
Time's a wastin' at our age. For instance, I have discovered that it takes about 5 years of diligent discretionary-time effort to become a reasonably competent plein-air oil painter. I'm greatly enjoying it, but...damn it, I wish I had started years earlier. I may not have enough time left to become really good, and my eyesight isn't getting any better.
So I say, go for it. Dreams are for living.

60? Old? I wish!! When you were being born, I was in college, playing 3-cushion billiards (I mean, why put holes in a perfectly good billiard table??) And I took photos. Now, I can still see, sort of, and still make photos, and greatly, enjoy the technical advances such as digital cameras and post processing. Now I don't have to take up a whole room with darkroom gear and toxic chemicals, and I can do things to the original file I could never do to a negative. So, my suggestion is, if you are going to wail two or three years for the 'gallery', think bigger. Both the amount of outdated gear, and your selection of things to display are likely to grow. And don't waste money on a POOL table. Learn 3-cushion. And enjoy your next 30+ years.

As I say to my friends quite often, are you asking for a blessing or a justification. Just do it. Once in the grave we're not so different.

Happy Birthday, Mike!

And yes, do it!

I was curious about Woodtex, so I looked them up. Good stuff! One little thing - they're Mennonites, not Amish :-)



Happy birthday!

You also would not want to waste the ceiling space. You could hang monitors or high def TVs down in the center of the ceiling similar to a mini-jumbotron. It is there that you could have your jpeg displays.

You could have the monitors hanging quite low - maybe a couple of feet above the table. Playing pool, you will be leaning over. Using the covered table, you will generally be seated.

Who cares if it's impractical. Impractical is food for the soul. You're not hurting anyone or doing anything to harm yourself so why not?

Build the "shed". Get lost in the project. Change you mind half way through. Have an adventure in your own backyard. Do it for the reason we all slave through work days. To make yourself happy.

And Happy Birthday To You... You live in the zoo... etc.


Happy Birthday, Mike! Wishing you happiness, health and prosperity for the next year.


Happy Birthday, Mike!

I think it's a good idea. Have you considered also making it suitable as a portrait studio, with accommodation for backdrops and places to hang lights and accessories?

Also, if you're getting increasing numbers of visitors, do you need an outside toilet to avoid people having to go through your house?

First of all, happy birthday. I can't tell you how much your blog means to me, and I'm quite sure many others feel the same way. A unique place on the interwebs, and that's saying something given the Web's size and scope, and all the many websites devoted to photography.

But, anyway, and for what it's worth, I think this is a fantastic idea. I mean, why not? It will add spiritual value to your life, as well as to the lives of those who see it, and add monetary value to your property. What's not to like? And it sounds like a fun project to work on, too.

Put the idea on the back burner for a year--what's one year relative to six decades? If by that time you're still not sure, let the idea simmer for another year.

Funny how the further we move away from age one, the faster the years fly by. Actually, It's not really all that funny.

Happy Birthday, Mike!

Sixty is the new 40. (You're only 59, right?)

The way you rigorously exercise your mind writing lucidly daily, mind your calorie intake, relax with Zen restoring hobbies taking pictures and playing pool, you will be running TOP and its brick-and-mortar timber site for the next 40, long after the barn will have paid for itself in depreciation deductions. So, go for it!

You don't have to worry about decorating a barn. The pictures will take care of it. As for electricals, how about roof lights and maybe a laser pointer. You'll need artificial lighting only when playing pool after hours.


I think it is the perfect project for you: It will do a lot of good things for you AND will keep you focus and entertained (that is the best thing for your ageing concerns.

One note for tour international audience: the size is 4.9m x 6.1m.

I would increase the size of the room little and here is why: For the art discussion and for the exhibit you will need some chairs. And you should have room to place the chais _facing the walls_ with the back to the "work" table and at the _right_ distance from the walls. You know better than me what is that minimum distance for a relaxed art appreciation, but I think with your planned size is a little too close.
When your room is in recreation mode you can always move the chairs to the wall.

Additional note: Those chairs should have (minimum) arm rests.

lot's of luck,

Can't comment on the barn - seems a nice idea if you can keep it warm - I live in a country where building anything even in your property is a little nightmare legally, so you don't even think about it - but hey, happy birthday!

Happy birthday Mike. And you're right, youngster: I also look hardly a week older than 58 (seems like I'm exactly one week older than you, young lad).

Time flies, eh? Yesterday I was a 6-year-old, sitting on my grandparents' doorstep, looking at awe at the sun rising and illuminating everything. Today I find myself giving tips to the younger ones, but my world seems to be lightyears away from theirs. Nothing much has changed...

British architect John Soane built a house for himself which included a quite small (about 12' x 12') picture room. There are hinges panels taking up most of the walls which give it as much wall space as quite a large gallery space would normally have.

The house is well worth a visiut if you are ever in London.


I think is a great idea. A perfect place to enjoy photography and pool. A pity that I live thousands of miles from you.

Of course, if you wanted a bit more wall space you could always settle for a snooker table...

Happy Birthday!

IMO, go for it, if it makes sense for you, that is all that counts!


Perhaps this is just the thing to get you looking forward.

It sounds a great idea , more than that it sounds a fantastic idea. A private gallery area and a hobby room - in your case pool. Maybe large enough for a snooker table :-)

This space may enable you to realise your ambition to teach?

The potential to convert back to a garage makes it a useful investment.



Hi Mike That is totally barmy! What a good idea. I'm 65 and I would just go for it. Would not a proper pool/snooker table with a removable cover be better than the other way round? Go on, Do it!

OK, now that I've taken some time to read it, I don't think it's such a crazy idea. Having a space where two of your hobbies can coexist wouldn't be crazy; rather some sort of well-to-do daydream. If you can afford it, why not? It'll surely allow you to spend some quality time. Playing pool surrounded by wonderful pictures? I certainly wouldn't say no!

Sure, go right ahead. Sorry, what was it you were saying ... ?

Happy Christmas by the way.

Expanding your empire will not increase your peace of mind.

Why not spend far less but hire a good website designer to create a wonderful higher resolution gallery... the ultimate online display for not only your collection, but for other photographers whose work may otherwise be lost to the world? I don't mean reinventing Flickr, but rather a curated, thoughtful exhibit available to the world rather than the few who journey to your cottage?

And then with part of the money endow the thing with a trustee and the cash to keep in online for the rest of your lifetime plus another 20 years.

While the designer is at it you could also have them clean up and secures this website so it works better going forward and ensures your continued livelihood. Just a thought....

My biggest regret with outbuildings: not big enough. Go as big as you can afford.

I have a dream like yours, but in the middle of the room is a 9 foot Diamond or Oldhausen pool table.


Good Morning Mike.
I would be proud to come visit a brother with such ideas. And in my
possession would be a few prints(not all mine)and my favorite pan.
I am about to be seventy and can both appreciate and concur with
your descriptions of events as we move through the ages.
I will cook for us and we will lift a glass for having made it this far. After
our meal we will gather at your shape shifting table and rack 'em up
and count our blessing with every pocket made.

Happy birthday Mike!

Keep the leaves on the table when people come visit the gallery or when you have guest speakers. Then shoot pool late at night when they're gone. No one will know.

Not crazy. I think you have all angles covered in this plan.

Sounds like the best use of $20k I could think of for a man in your position and with your interests. Now, if I only had a yard and some friendly local Amish...

I think that if you build a 16x20x9 structure you will soon wish that you had built a 32x40x18 structure...then a 64x80x36....

after a great deal of research we had a building 30x40x10 (usable space) erected on "the farm".

the builder told us that in five years we would wish that we had built bigger. of course he was correct.

at one time 20x24 two story wood frame "barns" were considered the ideal multipurpose rural/suburban structure. you might explore that.

I lived part time in a 16x20 building for a couple of summers. you quickly find a garage is a garage.

however if that footprint is your ideal, I would suggest higher walls.

that's my nickel's worth but you can have it for free.

happy birthday.

Happy Birthday Mike, I had mine last week and let me tell you being 59 feels just like yesterday until I look in a mirror.
Re the Gallery of the Louvre painting - bottom centre right - isn't that the Mona Lisa mixed in with all the others? Last time I visited the Louvre it had a room to itself, was behind bullet-proof glass and you couldn't get closer than 10feet!

Sounds like a fine idea to me. Shouldn't everyone have their own wunderkammer?

I have a barn that's always begging me to make a studio of it, but gets filled up by itself (and relatives). It's squirrels members only, mostly. There must be a quote somewhere that figures in the "keep" stuff vs. "done-with-the-experience" stuff. Maybe make the room into a classroom of sorts for periodic visitors and their portfolios...

Dear Mike,
1. Happy Birthday!
2. You'll need two exterior doors for safety's sake. A building with one door and no windows is a firefighter's nightmare. The lack of visibility of what the fire is doing from the outside alone is a hazard. You may be willing to take the risk, should something go wrong, but they shouldn't have to.
3. Consider putting a dry moat around it. Having experience with unexpected torrential rain overwhelming conventionally sized drainage systems and gutters, there's no substitute for shaping the land around any structure - particularly one sitting on a concrete pad - so that water goes away from it.

4. This actually sounds like a really cool idea. But leasing a gallery space in town, and packing that to the walls, might be a more efficient way to play with this sort of thing.

FWIW, I agree about the ventilation. I would argue that it's worth putting a window or two in. I know it adds to the expense, but it lets you air the place out, and it would also let you install one of those window air-conditioners. This place will get HOT in the summer. Otherwise you might be able to install some sort of fan/ventilation system in the eaves under the roof. But I question how effective that will be. (And windows will increase resale value in case you decide to move to Texas or California for your next act...

Best regards,

Happy Birthday Mike.
First comment here though having your blog on my daily reading list for years. If it is any comfort - I think you are getting better over time - like other excellent things, you seem to age well.

Like other comments, I highly recommend going for it - but also really considering how to speed up the process. Ideas includes allowing readers to donate specifically for this project (should you do so, count me in for 100 bucks....) or alternatively considering 2 prices for future sales of prints - ie pay 250 USD and get the print - or pay 300 USD and donate 50 USD for "The Barn Gallery".

Nothing wrong with your idea if it gets your juices flowing. I would suggest that you try to take advantage of what might be open to you through "the system" and look for some tax advantaged way to do it; maybe a foundation, as someone else suggested.
I have a few years on you (73) and can tell you that, if you have an idea that you are passionate about, go for it. The clock seems to accelerate as time passes. Happy Birthday Youngster.

Be careful what you wish for Mike......

Happy Birthday!

I believe you are having a "red convertible moment." Which is not a bad thing. However, I don't think building a monument is the way to go. It's just adding more responsibility to your life.

Instead take the 20k and have a once in a lifetime experience. Go somewhere cool and do something special. I think you will appreciate the memory a lot more on your 70th birthday than you would having another building on your property.

As you have written recently that you find the iPad the best way of viewing photographs (maybe not exact quote) I would suggest that a modern solution to your gallery problem would be to make slide show on an iPad Pro and stick it on the wall/door of the smallest room in the house and ply your guests liberally with the local vino.
The pool table? Is there a pool/snooker simulation for the iPad which would provide a matching solution mounted horizontally?

"The years are crawling over him like wee, red ants." -- Ogden Nash

mike--i'm a museum photographer working in the design section of a history museum. we design & fabricate the exhibits as well as document the collection. i can totally see your idea about the exhibit of your collection--but what I would suggest is making sure you have some environmental controls. heat/ac--keep the humidity down to under 50% year round. you don't want it bone dry, but it needs to be cool & dry year round, which is harder to do than it sounds. you have these materials--gelatin & paper in prints, glass & plastics and gelatin for negatives & plates, and then wood, leather, metal & glass etc for cameras. there are optimal ranges of temp & RH for these. mold is a really big issue, as well as swelling of wood & paper etc. there all sorts of museum publications available to the public as guidelines---you don't need a degree to figure it out. good luck--sounds interesting

Mike, Happy Birthday
I don't know your current layout but is there anyway you could do the project as an addition on to your house rather than a separate building. 25 years ago, when I was your age, I built a darkroom/studio that was also 16x20 but was separate from the house. Never liked going outside to get to it, and in Arizona we don't have your winters, so just last month I closed in the walkway making another room to connect the darkroom to the house. It make it much more usable space.

I'm the guy that offered you a Brett Weston print from my collection when you were raising money for your last Wisconsin house. You didn't need it then but when your gallery is done you may like a print for the gallery.
Cheers, Jim

Sorry Mike it already has. http://petapixel.com/2016/02/24/federal-judge-says-photographing-police-not-always-protected-1st-amendment/

Dear Mike,

Only point I would add to the advice you've already received is remember it'll take twice as long to complete and cost at least 50% more than you initially planned. But don't fret over that now, enjoy your birthday!

Best wishes,

Happy birthday!

Most of my thoughts are already out there, but I'll go ahead anyway.

Sure it's a crazy idea, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. I'm 10 years ahead of you - turned 69 last month, just about the same time David Bowie died just days after his 69th birthday.

My great regrets in life are the things I didn't do, wasn't bold enough to do. I tell folks my single greatest regret is I had a chance to travel with the circus and let my "practical" friends talk me out of it.

So I say go for it, so long as you can find a reasonably safe way to fund it. By that I mean without too much risk of losing your house or have to go hungry too often. Crazy is fine, foolish is another matter.

As others have said, you'll need a "powder room." You won't want to trudge though the NY snow just to go. And if you plan to hold conferences or even just host guests you really need facilities. (And for guests, especially groups, you need to think about privacy, such as sound insulation.)

You will also want storage, maybe generous storage. At least enough for art you don't want to display. Most likely you will have work that rotates in and out, or work waiting for the next time you rework the showing. Or things you want to pull out for guests but may not care for on permanent display.

My current craziness is a rolling portrait studio based on a small cargo trailer. Not exactly a normal approach, but it is making some nice pictures and it cost less than a D810. And yes, it includes an RV toilet.

You didn't mention heating or cooling. I can see photographs getting ruined in short order between humid summer heat and dry winter cold.

Happy 59. Your plans sound both ambitious and possible. I'm guessing you'd want some kind of humidity control.

We have a large mid-seventies Brunswick that the previous owners somehow crammed into our basement. Walls and a beam are too close in spots so there's a short stick we share for some shots. I've been wanting to line the walls with photos as well... It's on my to do list.

Happy Birthday Mike!

I say go for it! You only live once in this current lifetime :-)

Happy Birthday (yesterday at least). Just turned 60 myself, oops, did that almost half a year ago, the time does fly by as you get older, know what you meant about being 54 a couple of months ago. I'd have to say the bad outweighs whatever good there might be, the bad being especially the growing awareness of the clock ticking.

Also, ordered the big book yesterday, thanks for making it available.

Happy Birthday Mike! And from someone who is going on 66, I strongly suggest you rethink the plumbing. As you get older it becomes less about the convenience and more about the necessity.

Happy Birthday Mike!. Your comments about time and years made me think about a great post that will put things into perspective like nothing your will ever read:


All the best from Spain!

Late to the party.
First thing: is the plural of story [as in storey], story? Caught my attention.
Rather than going to a USA or a Russian example, take a virtual tour at Sir John Soane house-museum, in London.
For the "overcrowded" look you are after.

Is it worth?
Personally, yes. Specially if you are willing to turn it into a separate office space as well [hey, just a desk, a computer, and some other stuff]. I´d rather put a physical separation between houselife and work.

Finally, if I understood well, do not take down any tree. Save the trees.
Will cost more, though.

3-stall garage.
Kickstarter/ GoFundMe


My warmest birthday wishes! May you have many more!!

As for the gallery idea? One word; proceed.

What could be better addition to your darkroom than a gallery :-)?

Go for it, Mike.

Start saving now—by the time you've gathered enough cash to do it, you'll be able to finance the next idea that comes along to replace it...

Happy birthday!

Build a little tower into the building, with a camera obscura. There's a lovely scene in the 1946 film A Matter Of Life And Death where Roger Livesy has one at his home and he and David Niven are looking at the surrounding village life.

In the US, the film was released under the title Stairway To Heaven

And... the guitarist Brian May had an exhibition of stero photos in a tiny gallery, and if my memory serves me right it was an old police box - just a few feet of wall space.

Happy birthday, Mike!

If you've got pictures, you need a place to show 'em. Simple. But not easy.

Sorry to rain on the parade, but I think this is a terrible idea. The internet is full of people telling others to "go for it", when it is not their money or future that is at stake. But, when you are in your late sixties in a month or two, will you be able to kick back with a glass of wine in that red chair with no money worries at all? If the answer to that is not a total 'yes!' then you need to think about a retirement plan, not build an income destroying museum. (Incidentally, I think it would cost twice what you suggest, and then will be far too small for what you intend.)

Anyway, it sounds like you have a couple of years to research all this – be sure to consult an accountant as part of the research. You should get boring, unexciting, but valuable input. Sorry again, but you did ask.

Well happy birthday then(in case you missed my stealth greeting in the Sigma post).

My father wanted to build a little building for a pool table. My mother thought it was a good idea but that is would be better with an small art studio added to it. I put in for a darkroom, and as long as it was going to be plumbed my mother wanted to move her potting wheel into the studio. While we were at it, it seemed like a good idea to move the laundry into the billiards house too. Then a small office got added. Adding a bedroom snuck in somehow and then a bathroom and an indoor fishpond. And a bridge over the fishpond.

My favorite German restaurant in the world, the now lamentably closed Haussner's in Baltimore, was decorated in exactly the style you plan for your shed of dreams.

Here's a link to a picture of the place, from the almost-as-diminished Baltimore Sun:


Yes you should, but add plumbing and two good chairs. Enjoy,

I haven't read the comments, so I apologize if I'm repetitious. Do it, and make it bigger, it won't add that much to the cost and at some point you will need the space. If this is a detached building, add a bathroom.

In-floor heat would be nice too, but we all have to make compromises.

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