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Converting Your Storage Shed into a Darkroom: Tips and Ideas

Converting Your Storage Shed into a Darkroom: Tips and Ideas

If you're a photography enthusiast, you know that developing your own photos is an essential part of the creative process. However, visiting a commercial photo lab can be time-consuming and expensive. That's where having your own darkroom comes in handy. But what if you don't have enough space in your house for a dedicated darkroom? That's where converting storage shed kits into a darkroom can be a great solution.

photo reveal

Benefits of a Darkroom

If you're a photography enthusiast, you've likely considered setting up a darkroom for developing your own prints. Converting a storage shed into a darkroom is a smart and budget-friendly way to have full control over your photo development and unleash your creativity. Here are some of the benefits of creating a darkroom in your storage shed:

develop pictures

Better Control of Photo Development

When developing film or prints, it's essential to have complete control over the process to achieve the desired results. In a darkroom, you can control the exposure time, contrast, and dodging and burning techniques to produce unique and beautiful prints. You can experiment with different types of paper and chemicals to achieve different effects. By having complete control over the process, you can produce prints that are tailored to your liking.

increase creativity

Increased Creativity

A darkroom is a space where you can experiment and let your creativity flow. By having full control over the development process, you can explore different techniques and push the boundaries of traditional photography.

You can experiment with double exposures, photograms, and other creative techniques that are not possible with digital photography.

budget friendly


Converting a storage shed into a darkroom is a budget-friendly option compared to renting a studio or purchasing expensive equipment. With a little planning and some DIY skills, you can create a functional darkroom for a fraction of the cost of a professional studio.

You can also save money on prints by developing your own photos instead of relying on a lab. With a workshop conversion, you can also have a space to work on other projects and hobbies.

Preparing Your Storage Shed

prepare shed

Before you begin converting your storage shed into a darkroom, you'll need to prepare the space. This involves cleaning and clearing the shed, ensuring proper insulation and ventilation, and addressing any electrical and plumbing needs.

Cleaning and Clearing


The first step in preparing your storage shed is to clean and clear the space. This means removing any unnecessary items and debris that may be cluttering the area. You may also need to sweep or vacuum the floor and wipe down any surfaces to remove dust and dirt.

Insulation and Ventilation


Proper insulation and ventilation are essential for creating a comfortable and safe darkroom environment. You'll need to ensure that the shed is well-insulated to prevent temperature fluctuations that can affect photo development.

Additionally, proper ventilation is critical for ensuring that developing chemicals do not build up in the air, which can be harmful to your health.

If your shed is not already insulated, you may want to consider adding insulation to the walls and ceiling. You can also add weather stripping to the doors and windows to prevent drafts. For ventilation, you may need to install a vent fan or air conditioning unit to ensure proper airflow.

Electricity and Plumbing


Depending on the equipment you plan to use, you may need to address any electrical and plumbing needs in your storage shed. This may involve installing additional outlets or wiring, or adding plumbing for a water source or sink. If you're unsure about any electrical or plumbing work, it's best to consult with a professional to ensure safety and compliance with building codes.

Equipment and Materials


Once you have prepared your storage shed and installed insulation, ventilation, electricity, and plumbing, it's time to start thinking about the equipment and materials you will need to convert it into a functional darkroom. In this section, we will cover the essentials you need to get started.

Darkroom Essentials

The darkroom is the heart of your setup, and you need to make sure you have the right equipment to get started. Darkroom essentials include an enlarger, safelight, trays, tongs, timer, and a thermometer. An enlarger is a device that projects an image onto light-sensitive paper, allowing you to create prints from your negatives.

A safelight is a low-intensity light that won't expose your paper, and trays are used to hold chemicals during the development process.

Tongs are used to move paper and negatives from tray to tray, and a timer and thermometer ensure that your development times and temperatures are precise.

Developing Chemicals

organize your darkroom

Developing chemicals are a crucial part of the darkroom process, and you will need to stock up on them to get started. The three primary chemicals you will need are developer, stop bath, and fixer. The developer is used to bring out the image on the paper, the stop bath halts the developing process, and the fixer makes the image permanent.

Photography Equipment


In addition to the darkroom essentials and developing chemicals, you will need some photography equipment to get started. This includes a camera, film, and a negative carrier. You may also want to invest in a light meter to ensure that your exposures are accurate.

As you begin to set up your darkroom, you may find that certain pieces of equipment are more or less important to your specific needs. Be sure to experiment and find what works best for you.

Now that you know what equipment and materials you need to get started, it's time to start thinking about the design and layout of your darkroom. In the next section, we will cover essential workstations and proper lighting to ensure that your darkroom is functional and efficient.

Design and Layout

organize and plan

Now that you've prepared your storage shed for your darkroom transformation, it's time to think about the design and layout of your new space. Organizing your darkroom effectively is crucial for your comfort and productivity. Here are some tips to help you create a functional and efficient space.

Organizing Your Space

organized stations

Before you start setting up your darkroom, consider how you will use the space. Think about the type of photography you will be doing and the equipment and materials you will need. Create a plan that includes workstations for developing, printing, and washing your photos. You may also want to include storage areas for your equipment and supplies.

When organizing your darkroom, consider the flow of the space. You should be able to move around easily and access all of your equipment without having to squeeze past other items. Keep your workstations separate and make sure that you have enough room to work comfortably in each area.

Essential Workstations

organized work stations

There are three essential workstations that you should include in your darkroom: developing, printing, and washing. The developing workstation is where you will develop your film. The printing workstation is where you will make prints from your negatives. The washing workstation is where you will wash your prints.

Each workstation should be equipped with the necessary tools and materials. For example, your developing workstation should include a film developing tank, chemical trays, and a timer. Your printing workstation should include an enlarger, a print easel, and a timer. Your washing workstation should have a print washer and a drying rack.

Proper Lighting


Proper lighting is essential for your darkroom. You will need a combination of safe light and white light. Safe light is used when handling light-sensitive materials like film and paper. White light is used when inspecting your negatives and prints.

When setting up your darkroom, make sure that you have adequate lighting for each workstation. You may need to install additional light fixtures or move your existing fixtures to provide better coverage.

Remember, your darkroom should be a comfortable and functional space. By organizing your space effectively and creating essential workstations, you'll be able to work efficiently and achieve the best possible results.

Safety Precautions

 safety precautions

When converting your storage shed into a darkroom, it's important to take proper safety precautions to ensure the health and safety of yourself and anyone else who may use the space. Here are some essential safety measures to keep in mind:

Safe Chemical Handling

Handling chemicals is an integral part of the photo development process, but it's important to handle them safely. Always wear gloves and goggles when working with chemicals, and make sure to read the labels carefully. Keep all chemicals in clearly labeled containers and store them out of reach of children and pets.

Protective Gear

In addition to gloves and goggles, it's a good idea to wear protective clothing, such as a lab coat or apron, when working in the darkroom. This will help protect your skin and clothing from any spills or splashes.


Proper ventilation is crucial in a darkroom, as many of the chemicals used in the photo development process can release harmful fumes. Make sure your darkroom has adequate ventilation, either through a window or a ventilation system. Consider installing a fan to help circulate the air and reduce the risk of inhaling harmful chemicals.

By following these safety precautions, you can enjoy the creative freedom and control that comes with having a darkroom in your backyard. Remember, safety should always come first, no matter what type of space you are converting your storage shed into. 

Tips To Optimize Your Darkroom

photography rooms

When it comes to converting your storage shed into a darkroom, there are a few tips that can help ensure your success. From experimenting with different techniques to keeping your space organized and well-maintained, these tips can help you get the most out of your darkroom.

Experiment with Different Techniques

One of the benefits of having your own darkroom is the ability to experiment with different techniques. Whether you're interested in black and white photography, color photography, or alternative processes, your darkroom can be a space to explore and push the boundaries of your creativity.

Try experimenting with different developing techniques, such as solarization or push processing. You can also explore different printing processes, such as cyanotype or platinum printing. By trying new things and stepping outside of your comfort zone, you can discover new ways to express yourself through photography.

Keep Your Space Organized

Keeping your darkroom organized is essential for ensuring that your workflow is efficient and that you can easily find the equipment and materials you need. Consider setting up a designated space for each step in the process, such as a developing station, printing station, and drying area.

Invest in storage solutions such as shelving, cabinets, and drawers to keep your equipment and materials organized and easily accessible. Labeling containers and drawers can also help you quickly find what you need.

Don't Neglect Maintenance

Maintaining your darkroom equipment and materials is crucial for ensuring that your prints turn out as expected and that your darkroom remains a safe space to work. Develop a routine for cleaning your equipment and surfaces, including your enlarger lens, trays, and developing tanks.

Regularly check your chemicals for expiration dates and store them properly according to their specific requirements. Replace any expired or contaminated chemicals promptly to avoid compromising the quality of your prints.

By following these tips, you can make the most out of your converted storage shed darkroom. Remember to prioritize safety and organization, and don't be afraid to try new things and explore different techniques.


Converting your storage shed into a darkroom is an exciting and rewarding project that can take your photography skills to the next level. With the proper preparation, equipment, and layout, you can create a functional and comfortable space that allows you to develop your own photos with ease.

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About The Author

Andy Wu - Resident Expert

Andy Wu - Resident Expert

Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

His main focus is on sheds and generators!

In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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