A Builder's One Bedroom Workshop

Tech Tour

Name: Chris Zeppieri
Location: Boston, MA   
Size: 550 square foot apartment + 140 square foot bedroom/workshop

We've often lamented, "If we only had the space for a workroom" while imagining an ideal space to work on DIY projects for both personal and professional reasons. Space (or there lackof) has always a consideration, but no longer an excuse, after seeing Chris' workshop inside his one bedroom Boston apartment. Inside this modest student apartment, Chris has built himself a workshop where his inventor/builder dreams come true, yet still allows him a living space from where to live and entertain. Take a peek inside a space where the tools rule.


AT Survey:

My/our style: I am a builder and inventor at heart. An an equal love for tech has me torn between the two worlds-- the rough and jagged edges of the hand built, and the beauty of minimalist tech.

The inspiration for my home office/home theater: Tech blogs, Unplggd and DEFGRIP, well-designed workspaces, clean and simple industrial design.

Favorite element in your space: My bedroom is divided and I can't honestly choose one side. When I’m knee deep in a building project I never want to leave my workbench. When I'm on the tech side I can sit and work for hours, totally plugged in, answering emails, working on websites or product designs. It's difficult to share my time evenly. The ultimate challenge is trying to work on both sides.

Biggest challenge in designing my space: My bedroom began as a typical student office 2 years ago. As I grew  more interested in building and design, the room was forced to adapt. I changed the layout last year and added the second desk for my computer and other electronic. With limited square footage, it's difficult to find space for everything. I'm always adding finished pieces and  material for new projects. 

What friends say about my space: The rest of my apartment is pretty standard and well designed. My mother is an interior designer. She furnished the living room, hallway and kitchen. Friends are confined to the common space.  When they do get a glimpse of my room they're blown away.  It has been called a workshop, a laboratory, a command center, a garage, you name it. It;s also somewhat shocking to know that I also sleep in the space.  I have fabric panels on a ceiling track that I close around my bed to keep out dust and shut out the work space at the end of the day.

Area where there is room for improvement/future projects: I would  consider converting my living room into a full blown workshop, but I do entertain and need a place to relax when I'm not working. I've made the apartment work because of my ability to solve issues and create a somewhat balanced environment. I'm looking for a way to soundproof.  I have neighbors that don't like hearing the band saw running for hours on end.

Proudest DIY (do it yourself) project: A lot of the things in my space are DIY, but the most useful has to be the rotary tool holder at the corner of my desk. It keeps my cutting blades from getting broken, and allows me to work with both hands on a piece and operate the speed from the foot pedal.

Biggest indulgence with respect to my space: Probably all my tech gear and tools. Aside form the Macbook Pro I use a Canon t2i with various lenses, and a Panasonic DVX100b for shooting photos and videos of sculpture work in my studio. If I can't buy it, I'll make it. With the right tools, there's always a solution and a way to create what I need.

Best advice about organizing or incorporating tech into the home: Everything needs a home. It took my father telling me that for years for me to finally understand it. Every item needs a place to rest and then you will be organized. Even if its place is a box of miscellaneous stuff, at least it belongs and it isn’t out in the open.  Organization is key.  Being able to locate a tool is essential to the creative process.

Dream source for stuff: IKEA and an unlimited Home Depot budget. With this I could build and buy, create and manufacture to my hearts content.

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Resources
Home Tech Hardware:

  • 19” HDTV
  • 19” Dell Monitor
  • 17” Apple MacBook Pro
  • 9” Dell mini 10 (hacked running Apple OS X)
  • Various Western Digital Hard Drives
  • Wacom Tablet
  • 13” White MacBook (in the process of restoring and rebuilding)
  • Mitsubishi 100m projector (Living Room)
  • Stamina100 Stationary Bike (Living Room)
  • Logitech 5.1 Computer Surroind Sound (Wired to an AV splitter for TV and Xbox 360, Living Room)
  • DIY 85” Projector Screen<
  • Craftsman 3 speed drill press
  • Craftsman bench grinder
  • Tradesman 9” Bandsaw
  • Craftsman 10 Gallon shop-vac (under desk)
  • Tadesman flex shaft grinder with foot pedal
  • Chicago Electric Jigsaw<
  • DeWalt 12v Cordless Drill
  • Ryobi Mini Cordless Drill
  • Various hand tools from Craftsman to Harbor Freight Brand

Furniture:

  • The desks are IKEA kitchen counter tops with standard desk legs, I found they work the best for a custom workspace and a relatively cheap.
  • The chair and lofted bed is also from IKEA, but the bed cut down from a taller height to be less of a hassle to get into and out of, while still providing storage space.
  • Most of the drawer units are again, IKEA.
  • Lately I have been building things, as I need them.

Accessories:

  • A few whiteboards to organize thoughts and write down ideas/ to do lists.
  • Sliding curtain track along the edge of the bed to keep dust out, purchased at Ikea.
  • Various DIY shelves, drawers, and organizing tools.

Lighting:

  • Standard track lighting on the ceiling with 100w high efficiency bulbs ( I feel they give off more light than the flood bulbs I had in previously)
  • 2 IKEA folding desk lamps

Organizing Tools/Accessories:

  • Various small plastic cups/ bins (usually get them from the dollar store)
  • Various steel cups for pens/markers (also from the dollar store)
  • 4 shelf small part organizer (from Home Depot)
  • Computer cord organizer (IKEA)
  • Pegboard for tools (from Home Depot, possibly the best purchase I made in the last 3 years.)

Additional Elements:
Many things in my space are made on the fly as the occasion calls for them, I have found that no matter how hard I try and plan for a shelf, or a box to do a specific thing, it always winds up changing, or being changed, to do something totally different. That is what is so great about living in this work space, if I can think of something I need, chances are I can build it, and if I cant, its an opportunity for me to find someone who can, and learn how.

Photos by Chris Zeppieri

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