Friday, October 24, 2014

Chancellor George Osborne backs shedworking

It's good to see highranking politicians interested in the world of garden offices so we were delighted that Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan visited Rotunda Living run by friend of shedworking, Gemma Roe.

Their visit coincided with her announcement that the company will expand its workforce by a quarter and expects to double its revenues from last year (and follows them doubling their workforce over the last 18 months).

Rotunda Living received a start-up loan in 2013 to manufacture and construct timber round houses for garden offices, extensions, and holiday lodges. The company was launched in July 2012, two weeks after Gemma had her first child. In 2013 the company received £7,700 from Start-Up Now.

Rotunda Living was recently awarded a contract to build the country’s first completely round eco-classroom for a primary school in the East Midlands. They also recently sold their first complete home. The company is now drawing up plans to expand overseas.

George Osborne said: "I was very pleased to visit Rotunda, a brilliant British start-up to see their innovative products and hear about their plans to expand into new markets."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nature-starved offices affecting employees' health

Apologies for a second post on a new report in as many days, but this one is also interesting for shedworkers as The Human Spaces Report shows employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 13% higher level of wellbeing and are 8% more productive.

The survey of 3,600 employees in eight European countries (from flooring specialists Interface) indicates that 42% of office employees have no natural light in their working environment, over half don’t have access to any greenery in their working environment and 7% have no window in their workspace. 

The top five natural elements officeworkers put on their wish list for their ideal office space were:
1.      Natural light
2.      Quiet working space
3.      A view of the sea
4.      Live indoor plants
5.      Bright colours

In related news, The Stable Company has joined the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom which promotes learning opportunities outside the classroom.

"We feel strongly about the impact surroundings can have on a child’s ability to learn," they say. "There are a million uses for timber structures that can perfectly unite the indoor and outdoor learning aims and bring some much needed diversity to the environments we teach our children." ----------------------------------------------------
Wednesday posts are sponsored by The Stable Company®, the UK's premier supplier of garden offices and garden rooms. Click here

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hobby entrepreneurs contribute £8bn to the British economy

A growing number of UK adults are capitalising on technology and turning their passion for hobbies into part-time businesses, with the average hobby entrepreneur making £1,815 a year from their venture, says a new report. In total, 9% of UK adults say they already make money from a hobby, suggesting an economic contribution of around £8 billion to the UK economy.

According to Visa Europe’s Everyone in Business report, which looks at the growth of micro-entrepreneurship, 56% of UK adults have a hobby or business idea that they believe could or do earn them extra income. Around half this group would like to pursue their hobby as a money-making venture in the future [Shedblog has an excellent post about people making amazing things in their sheds including Nicola from In The Shed, pictured above].

For the 9% who are already making money from their hobby, two key reasons stand out for their success: creative passion and freedom; and the role of technology which has made it easier to start a micro-business. A quarter state that they want to do something they are passionate about and that they like being their own boss.

For 31% the development of technology, particularly the internet, e-commerce and online payments, is allowing potential entrepreneurs to set-up and run their business with more ease. In fact, more than half of people say that the use of Twitter or Facebook is as key to their sales as word of mouth.

Kevin Jenkins, Managing Director at Visa UK & Ireland said: “Hobbies have always provided the first step to starting a micro-business. Now, the breadth of opportunity is accelerating. Hobby entrepreneurs are no longer limited to their neighbourhood audience or word-of-mouth marketing. Selling and marketing via the internet opens up the market to everyone. This is a chance for anyone and everyone to be in business with an idea or craft they are passionate about.”

Everyone in Business reveals that the economic value of hobbies varies across the UK and between different activities. Hobby entrepreneurs in the design (£3,700 per year), photography (£2,400) and building and decorating (£2,300) fields are among those earning the most income from their micro-businesses. Scottish hobby-entrepreneurs are particularly adept at making money from their micro-business, claiming to earn over £3,800 a year on average. 

However would-be hobby entrepreneurs do identify a number of barriers to starting or building their business. Over 1 in 10 (12%) fear that they won’t understand the technology to make their business profitable, while 11% are unsure of how to handle setting up payments for their business.

Kevin Jenkins added: “Accepting payments can be seen as a pain point for micro-businesses but it’s important to look at it in context. Accepting electronic payments opens up whole new markets for sellers, especially online. It’s a way to quickly scale and grow a business.

“New technologies in the payments space are also challenging the perception that payments are expensive and complex and acting as a catalyst for change. Innovations like mobile point of sale (mPOS) give micro-merchants an easy in-person way to accept payments wherever they are. And for those selling predominantly online, payment security is constantly updating and evolving, offering customers a safe, easy route to buy from hobby entrepreneurs.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dylan Thomas shed celebrations

As we've mentioned before on Shedworking, a pop-up version of Dylan Thomas’ writing shed is on the road and this week it's in London for a week of celebrations of the writer's time in the capital. Events include A Shed of One's Own, a photographic celebration of shed at The Buildings Centre in Store Street, WC1E. The nicely recreated shed will also be there if you fancy a look around (there's a nice piece about its time in Leicester here).

Shedworking factfans will also be interested to discover that while Thomas lived in a flat in Delancey Street in Camden, he wrote in a caravan which was parked at the end of the garden, a kind of trial garden office for his writing shed near the Boathouse in Laugharne (although he found the caravan a bit cold and damp apparently). It's not clear whether it's still in situ but it certainly was as recently as 1983 when a Blue Plaque was set up at the address.

Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Backyard Buildings

I've been chatting recently to Jeanie and David Stiles, known to many of you for their excellent shedlike designs and most recently their latest book Backyard Building which I can't recommend too strongly. Here are some examples from it, above, described by the Stileses themselves.

1.  Irish Garden Shed
We saw this shed while bicycling through the British Isles.  Like most things in Europe, it was built to last for centuries; it was probably used to store farming tools, but it makes a great little space for a garden shed or small office. The original was thatched, but on Long Island, New York we substituted hand-split cedar shakes; the logs are locust, from trees brought down by a hurricane.  We decided to put in a brick floor - the textures of wood & brick complement each other beautifully.  For more information and plans, go to

2.  The Perfect Shed has classic, functional proportions (10' x 12') versatile enough to be a guest cottage, playhouse, studio or home office - the relatively square floorspace enables maximum use of the space.  A full set of plans (50 pages) is available at

3.  The A-Frame (designed by Deek Diedricksen) is compact, affordable, and quick & easy to build.  With recycled materials, you could build this tiny house for less than $1,000.  The basic design can be customised, enlarged & altered in countless ways - for example, to include more space, a larger loft, add an extension or even a bathroom.  Details, ideas & inspiration and comprehensive plans at

Photos: Skip Hine and Deek Diedricksen. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, October 13, 2014

Composers' rooms

Composers' rooms is a great series on BBC Radio 3 which interviews composers about the rooms in which they work (Mozart, Mahler, Britten, and Grieg are among the many other bighitters already featured on Shedworking). Naturally, some of them do this in garden offices such as Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Roxanna Panufnik, Rolf Wallin and Robin Holloway (a snippet of which is below). There are other soundclouds from the show here --------------------------------------------------------------------
Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Roomworks' Podlets

The interesting new garden office - 'Portable micro-rooms for work and play' - which Roomworks has unveiled at this year's Grand Designs Live show in Birmingham. More details shortly. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Homestead Timber Buildings - Manufacturers of Quality Timber Buildings

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Shedworking in the Netherlands

The Bussum Garden Studio by Serge Schoemaker Architects is a rather lovely garden office which doubles as guest accommodation. Completely clad in 2,000 black-varnished red cedar shingles, it also has an attractive transparent corner and built-in desk. The interior on the other hand is transparent white-lacquered birch plywood. According to the architects: "The lightness of the material creates a calming atmosphere and its restrained, continuous finish emphasises the sculptural quality of the space."
Photos: Raoul Kramer ----------------------------------------------------
Wednesday posts are sponsored by The Stable Company®, the UK's premier supplier of garden offices and garden rooms. Click here

Monday, October 06, 2014

Sheds and working from home: latest report

A new report from Lloyds Bank Insurance (who interviewed 2,000 UK adult homeowners) reveals some interesting statistics.

For example, 28 per cent now have a home office but did not in the home in which they grew up ( nearly half had a pantry in their childhood home, but not in their current one too, though not sure this is related), while 20 per cent no longer have a shed or greenhouse despite enjoying these shedlike joys as a junior. Around 27 per cent even remember having an 'outhouse', not something that now features on their present floorplan.

On the other hand, seven per cent of people said they had a study/home office in their childhood home but do not have one where they live now. Make of that what you will.

The study shows that we spend an average of £368 a year on our study/home office, and it is worth an average of £3,083.

Professor Barrie Gunter, author of ‘Psychology of the Home’ and Professor of Mass Communications, Leicester University, said: "Modern day homes have changed to reflect changing lifestyles. In their early adult life people are making greater commitments to their careers and delaying settling down and having their own families. More are working from home, so it is not only the place where they live but becoming more integrated with their working lives. Where they live must not only cater to their needs for shelter, security and comfort, but also provide a space that serves as an effective working environment." --------------------------------------------------------------------
Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Garden Office on Channel 4

Last year The Garden Office featured on season two of Sarah Beeny’s home improvement show Double Your House for Half the Money. They were on again last night in the new season three, putting together a garden office for Birmingham-based Paul and Andrea (a 3.8m  x 3.6m model with western red cedar cladding, decking and a contemporary slatted side cheek, with a 2.4m graphite sliding door set and corner window).

"We intend to use the lovely garden building as an office," said Paul. "As we have one daughter and another baby on the way, space and peace and quiet is running low in the home! The garden office provides myself or Andrea with some much sought after serenity to conduct business/personal affairs. I am also fighting the urge to put a beer fridge in the corner..."

The Garden Office is also currently offering a £200 discount to all visitors to its all-weather purpose built indoor showroom, which features an extensive range of different garden buildings. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Homestead Timber Buildings - Manufacturers of Quality Timber Buildings