Starting your lab
So you've always thought chemistry was interesting? Well believe it or not, you can actively research it at your own home. It doesn't take a building with off white hallways and drones in lab coats, it just takes a chemist and some chemicals. Of course, you'll need to set up your lab, to make it useful and safe. You also have to first pick a location, before you can stock it.
Picking the location for your lab.
Many good places exist for running a laboratory. A popular place is a garage, which is what I use. The downsides to this include: it can usually be easily seen/smelled from the street, temperatures are not often regulated. The positives however, include: it's easy to open the door to escape, or even keep it open, ventilation is also not a huge problem, modification is often very easy, it's not inhabitted so an accident isn't the end of the world.
Another popular place is a shed. These are usually not as easily seen by many people, and are also easy to modify, but once again temperatures are not often regulated.
Basements will work. An un-finished basement is recomended for obvious reasons. The problem with basements is that it often takes a bit of ingenuity to modify if necessary. Also, any smells or fumes from reactions will often spread throughout the house.
Outdoors is fantanstic, but it does have some major flaws. Depending on how close your neighbors are, it can sometimes be very easily seen. Thanks to the media, fancy peices of laboratory glass will immediately introduce the meth-lab thought into your neighbors. Electricity has to be run through extension cords, but any form of ventilation is not needed. Umbrellas added can usually extend you into some light rain/drizzle, however much past that and it's not a good environment to work in.
Wherever you choose, make sure ease of ventilation, or ease of modification to include ventilation, is your top priority. It should deffinitely have electricity. Running water is optional, but highly recommended. If you don't have running water, you can set up water supplies such as seen here: Lab water supplies.
The Bare Essentials
Now that you've picked your location out, it's time to start filling it up. Spend as little money as possible, but don't cheap out on something. Remember, there is no "good enough"
Optional, but recommended equipment:
A sink of some sort. This is very handy for cleaning out your glassware. It is a pain to cart glassware back and forth from your living quarters to your lab, not to mention unsafe. If you're washing lots of material out, make sure it doesn't just dump into the storm drain, or out into the yard. This could kill your grass, and fill your yard with poison, etc.
A mini-fridge dedicated to chemicals. You can use a full fridge if you have an extra, but make sure it is dedicated to chemicals. In basic chemistry, this isn't needed, however once you step into intermediate and higher, it becomes almost a necessity.