Last year I was very nearly forced to quit the hobby. Find out why after the jump.

My family and I recently moved house to a pad with no spare room/loft space. Combined with the fact that the children are still pretty small and inquisitive we reached a bit of an impasse last year.

If I was to continue in the hobby a solution needed to be found. Because I like to paint watching TV with my wife in the evenings, then the lounge was the only location. However significant challenges presented themselves. Up till now my hobby area had been open plan, left out from day to day. This clearly would no longer be possible as superglue and hobby knives don't mix with preschoolers, play-dates and dinner guests.

I'm sure I'm not the only one in this dilemma, so let me talk you through my solution as it unfolds. After MUCH consideration I decided on one of those old writing desks. The great thing about these are the fold away capacity and that they lock. The challenge you'll have is finding on with an underneath cupboard rather than drawers. It means you can access the stuff udnerneath while working.

A few days on ebay (as usual) proves fruitful. £50 later and my basic shell is ready to roll.

Next is basic layout. With limited space you need so be pretty clever. Even more so as it was my intention to fit not only paints, but lamp, compressor an extractor AND my extensive bits collection. Fortunately I'm of quite an organised mind.

In the picture below you can see that my extractor lives at the bottom. You'll see it folded out later on. Also down there are my boxes of bits.

In the top half is the compressor (left, Iwata smart jet pro) and lamp (right, argos cheapy with a daylight bulb). Top shelf is misc bits, basing, priming, etc.

For basic brush painting the desk folds out. I used some left over scenic blue foam board and created a 'stepped' system which pushes back into the belly of the cabinet to store my colours. Neccesity dictates that I'm pretty strict on which colours I keep due to limited space, so I run with about half the colours I used to. Hasn't affected results too much. You can see I've overspilled slightly onto a hanging spice rack in the top half. I lift the lamp down onto the fold out desk top.

The gap in the steps has a purpose (its not just wasted space!). When aribrushing I use a mini extractor. It folds away quite nicely and fits, just, on my desk. The extractor hose protrudes quite a way out of the back of the unit, hence the gap in the painting steps. You can see if you compare the pics either side of this paragraph the gap I've left for running the hose. I bought a long hose from ebay (3m) so I can run it to my living room window. Everything else stays where it is and I'm ready to start laying paint down.

And thats my setup. This is one area of life which requires compromise as we get older and have families. For those of us who started out in the late 80's and are now hitting our mid 30's mark this kind of problem is common. For every hobbiest who has the luxury of space to create a man cave (Garfy, I look enviously in your direction) there must be two or three who can't. I hope that describing my set up shows you that not only can it be done, but that high standards can be achieved from a very small space.

Whats your space like? Do you have similar considerations in life? Tell me I'm not the only one!