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shop at home

Roy Underhill’s shop, as seem from the front porch of his house.

Here’s a little something that kicked off my crazy over the last year: Wanting a home that has space for a nice shop.

shop at home

The view from Roy’s back deck. Yes, the shop has a back deck.

For those of you who are new to this blog, I had my house on the market for six months in 2013, because though I do like the place (and have a put a lot of work and money into making it a nice home), when I bought it 13 years ago I didn’t know I wanted needed a shop. The one major thing (seriously…the one and only major thing) I didn’t touch (other than paint, a new faucet and new appliances), was the kitchen.

That old, barf-board-cabinet-ugly-laminate-counter-broken-tile-floor kitchen was cited time and again as the number-one “problem,” even by potential buyers who otherwise really liked the place.

I hope they weren’t lying. Because since then, I’ve  completely redone the space with custom cabinets, butcher-block countertops, a cork floor. But for the few finishing touches I still have to do, it is 100-percent new. (And awfully nice for the price range in which I’ll be listing come March, if I do say so myself.)

So, I hope this spring – early summer at worst – it sells. Then the cats and I can find another run-down house to fix up (I think this is the last house rehab I have in me, so it’s gotta count).

When I bought in 2001, I wanted a working fireplace and a driveway (I got neither). This time, I want a working fireplace, a driveway and appropriate room for a proper shop (and no, Chris, for the last time, I do not think the dining room is appropriate). I’d pass again on the fireplace…assuming there’s room for a wood stove in the shop.

So, my overriding holiday wish for 2014 is that by this time next year, I’m not still moaning about wanting a home shop (pretty sure a lot of you would like me to stop moaning about it, too).

shop at home

Kelly Mehler’s shop, with machines on the bottom floor, and benches and hand tools on the second floor. (I could make do nicely with just one floor, but I wouldn’t say no to this.)

Ideally, said shop would be in a separate building (on the same property) and surrounded by trees…in the inner city neighborhood where I wish to stay, and at a price I can afford. That’s not going to happen (unless the house is condemned, and that may be a pile of paperwork too far).

So a garage, or a large and dry basement with exterior access, would suit me just fine (as long as there’s a working fireplace in the living room).

— Megan Fitzpatrick


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Showing 11 comments
  • schmitz

    Megan, So happy to see you want to stay in Northside!, I was concerned, at first, you where going to bolt when I first read this post. Many unique property’s there, and more hidden gems then should be allowed for one neighborhood, I think you will find the perfect one. I was lucky, being just up the hill in CH, found a great 50’s ranch with lots of basement shop space…dust, well..we just live with it!
    Good luck with the search!, see you around the hood, or in ours (CHCC perhaps).
    Enjoy your work, and the magazine very much!

  • kerry doyle

    Just when you urban pioneer your home & shop space in some overlooked lot near your work, the executive decision will locate it in some exurb or worse: in some more expensive cityscape. It seems like building from reclaimed and industrial materials is not only trendy, it becomes necessary. Does not the parent company have connections with endorsers ( much like Norm’s tools on New Yankee Workshop) to fund Megan’s humble project?

  • Danny H.

    Although I do have a 600 sq ft dedicated shop in my back yard in a nice rural area of So.Cal, I do feel your pain. My wife was gracious enough to let me take up nearly half the back yard to build mine,and it even has ten foot high walls ! And as far as fixing up a home to sell , it seems like any more it doesn’t matter what improvements one makes, the new owners want to come in and tear it out at least some of it to meet their own tastes .Best wishes in the New Year !

  • gumpbelly

    Probably not very hard to find, IF you give up your idea of a good location. Choices, choices. I wouldn’t have to think twice, and yes I have a 32 x 48 shop building away from the house. Life is good 🙂

  • hmerkle

    Actually, I am looking forward to you finding a place – it feeds the blog and threads into what “we” do every day – some other “Finer” magazines would have the average woodworker believe if you are not making art then you are not a woodworker!

  • Jim McCoy

    For more than 17 years, ever since we moved into our current home, I have wanted a real shop with four walls and enough room to actually work in. The few times I’ve been able to save up enough money to afford a pad and the framing something else has always come up that was more important, or at least more critical. Now that I’m retired and living on a fixed income it seems even further away than ever. I keep hoping but I’m not holding my breath. I hope you are more successful than I have been. Good luck.

  • pogo930

    When I got remarried she kicked the shop out of the living room. Now it’s all nicely decorated and it never gets used. She claims I created too much dust. That’s what they make Pledge for isn’t it?

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