Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Shed of the year 2020 is the Bedouin Tree Shed


A nature-inspired refuge from lockdown has won the Cuprinol Shed Of The Year 2020, and the competition’s first ever Special Commendation has gone to a shed school.

The Bedouin Tree-Shed has been an eight-year labour of love for expedition organiser Daniel Holloway, who built it around two living tree trunks in his back garden in Blackheath, south London. During lockdown it became a sanctuary for the 55-year-old, his wife Beccy, 51, and their children Sam, 12, and 14-year-old Lyza.

“When lockdown arrived, the shed really took on a life of its own, bringing us closer together as a family," said Daniel. "Spending time in it taught us some valuable lessons about appreciating what is precious and provided solace for us all during those really uncertain weeks and months. We whiled away many an hour in there listening to music, playing games and quietly reflecting."

The build began life as a conventional garden shed but has been extended and modified to encompass three levels with a footprint of 5m x 5m. Inside are mementoes from Daniel’s travels through Africa and it is built around the trunks of an ash and an oak.

“Being in harmony with nature is incredibly important for us as a family,” said Daniel. “We’ve been absolutely committed to avoid impacting the root system of the trees as we’ve been extending the shed. There’s also willow saplings and jasmine on the exterior which makes the shed almost seem part of the landscape when they bloom in the summer.”

Alongside the African artefacts, the interior is decorated with vintage etchings and specimens of butterflies alongside finely carved ancient hardwood Indian columns. A wood-burning stove provides comfort during the winter with furniture rescued from skips and reclamation yards. The floor is made of oak planks and follows the contours of the trees inside.

The Bedouin Tree-Shed topped the Nature’s Haven category in a public vote before being awarded the overall title from a panel of judges. Daniel will receive £1,000, a plaque and £100 of Cuprinol products.

And in a competition first, judges also awarded a Special Commendation (plus £250) to celebrate the efforts teacher Ashley Bates went to in order to educate children while lockdown closed classrooms.

Winner of the Lockdown Repurpose category, he streamed maths and English lessons for five to eight-year-olds from his Shed School in his back garden in Hinchley Wood, Surrey. "With so many children potentially missing out on education because of lockdown, I thought I had to do something to help. I was stunned how it took off - going from a few hundred followers to over seven thousand in just a few weeks”.

Head Judge and competition founder Andrew 'Uncle Wilco' Wilcox said: “This year we’ve been blown away by the imagination and creativity on display from sheddies up and down the country, during these unprecedented times.

“But it was Daniel’s Bedouin Tree-Shed that impressed us most. We were really taken by how sensitively he incorporated nature into the design and the role it played bringing his family closer together during lockdown. We were also wildly impressed by Ashley’s efforts to educate the nation’s kids while coronavirus closed classrooms.”

This year’s entrants competed across nine categories - with two new lockdown-specific categories introduced - Lockdown Repurpose and Lockdown New-build. A public vote through readerssheds.co.uk decided each winner. 

Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning 

Maggie O'Farrell: shedworker


Maggie O'Farrell, author of the awardwinning Hamnet which came out earlier this year, has revealed that she wrote it largely in the shed at her home. She told the Irish Times that one of the problems with writing the novel was that it contained passages which she found uncomfortable to write, especially about a young boy dying, and wanted to wait until he was over 11 years old. Here' what she says:

“I’m not a superstitious person, but I knew that I couldn’t write this book until he had safely passed that age. I couldn’t write it in the house, where my children live. So, I wrote most of it in the shed. I don’t mean a nice cosy space like Roald Dahl had; I mean an actual dilapidated shed that was probably dangerous to be inside. I wrote it in there in short bursts, between walks around the garden."
Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, September 21, 2020

Planning permission: the importance of height


Confirmation of the importance of obtaining planning permission and consulting local planning officers when building your garden office comes via a report in Edinburgh Live.

Earlier this week West Lothian Council's development management committee was called to deliberate on the case involving Megan Archibald's garden office shed in Eliburn because the decking underneath the build had raised it 40cm above the permitted height which according to the report meant it had become "dominating" and "domineering".

Megan has been using  the garden office to work in after lockdown meant she could no longer attend Edinburgh University where she was working on her Master of Fine Art degree. It is vital for her work and she is now seeking retrospective planning permission.

Happily, it appears that the council- which was unable to make a site visit during construction because of coronavirus restrictions - is happy to discuss alternatives to forcing her to take it down. 

A good port of first call for official UK information is the Planning Portal.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Garden office coworking


While there is an ongoing debate about exactly how we'll all be working post-lockdown, the idea of coworking seems, understandably at the moment, to be noticeably absent. But the idea of a place where garden offices meet coworking enivronments is already being pioneered by British company Second Home. The company has locations in London, Lisbon, and Los Angeles, with the focus very much on bringing the garden into the office. 

Pictured top and above are images of the Los Angeles operation, what they call a "low rise, open air campus" and claim is the densest urban forest in the city with 6,500 trees and plants across the two acre site. There are various levels of membership depending on the size of your operation, from one person to a whole team, and for various durations.


Sunday posts are sponsored by eDEN Garden Rooms. Stunning, bespoke high quality garden rooms, to suit your unique space and style

Friday, September 18, 2020

My Room in The Garden at London Design Festival

An interesting garden office design is on display at this year's London Design Festival, running until September 20, the My Room in the Garden office from Boano Pri┼ímontas. It's a modular prefab built out of FSC-certified birch plywood which they claim can be erected in a single day and has been specifically designed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus working from home issues. The marketing is targeting both individual shedworkers and companies with employees looking for home office solutions. The basic structure is 1.8 x 2.4m (starting at £5,000) and you can make it larger by simply adding more modules. Cladding is an unusual corrugated clear polycarbonate which is obviously excellent for letting light in. Lots more images and information at their dedicated website here.


Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.



Thursday, September 17, 2020

Garden office with a bar

Pub sheds are one of the hottest types of shedlike constructions at the moment, witnessed by their huge popularity in the Shed of the Year competition. Here's a way of combining a garden office aesthetic (plus attractive porched area) with the delights of a relaxed space, The Arctic Bar from Arctic Cabins which has just over 13 square meters of space and can seat nine people, with built-in bar.


Thursday posts are sponsored by Cabin Master: garden offices and studios to fit any size garden. Top quality contemporary or traditional buildings.


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Home office adds £17,500 to the value of your home


A home office in a dedicated room adds £17,500 to the value of a property, according to research from Direct Line Home Insurance which looked at property listings throughout the UK and found the average price of a home with an office is four per cent higher than equivalent properties in the area (£439,000). It also polled 100 estate agents, of which nearly three quarters said that a dedicated home office adds considerably to the desirability of a property (what do the other 25% think?). Nearly a third of those properties with a home office were external studios

Around 38% of those polled said they were planning to convert existing space in their homes into an office over the next year. The study indicates that 19% have already converted a garage or shed into an office or have installed a garden office during lockdown, and another 10% are planning to do so at some point in the next 12 months. However, the estate agents cautioned owners not to convert bedrooms into home office space, saying it can negatively impact the listing price for a property.

Dan Simson, Head of Direct Line Home Insurance, said: “As their home office is likely to become a permanent fixture in their lives, it’s understandable many people are now starting to think about the changes and improvements they could make to their property to make home working more comfortable. As our research shows, not only does a dedicated office help a separation between work and home, it can also add significant value to a property. Anyone considering building work just needs to remember to inform their insurer before the work is carried out and update them on any additional rooms created so they have the correct level of cover.”

Image courtesy Smart 


Wednesday’s posts are sponsored by Norwegian Log Buildings  - Log cabins and garden buildings for a better quality of life. Click here for more details.