Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sheds in art in the new Idler magazine

The latest issue of the excellent Idler magazine is out now with my usual columns on sheds (this time on sheds in art) and snooker (which also features my dad, The Goodies, and my mum teaching me to bowl like Derek Underwood). Here's a snippet:
Artists' sheds have always featured heavily in the annual Shed of the Year competition. One of my favourites is artist and gallery owner SerenaHall's Southwold Glass Hut which was a finalist in the competition in 2017. Produced as a tribute to her late parents over a period of three years, the glass panels of the shed have all been decorated by hand using a range of techniques including sandblasting and glass fusing. A work of art in itself, Serena also works and writes in the shed which is usually in her studio.
Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, April 29, 2019

How to build a successful garden office

This is a guest post by Dean Horsley, owner of Cheshire Oak Structures, who offers his advice on building an oak home office.

Over the last 12 plus years that we have been in business, we have seen substantial changes in the way people are working from home. Before the arrival of broadband, home offices were often seen as an extension of a place of work, rather than a substitute for it. They were places where our clients would have the opportunity to do those extra hours at weekends or work the occasional day from. But now, with fast internet speeds both ubiquitous and wireless, the home office has become the de facto place of work for an increasing proportion of the population.

And as this move away from the commute has taken place, we have seen more demands from those who want their own home offices, and with over twelve years in the oak home office trade, we feel we have some pointers to those who are thinking of 'commuting away from the commute!'
1. What is the home office needed for?
This question defines what your home office will need to be. And it should consider more than just the here and now. Will you need space if you need to take someone else on to help with the business? Will you entertain clients on the premises? If you are a limited company then where will you store the six years of records you are obliged to keep? Will the office need to have any special equipment which might require different utilities or a dedicated internet line?

All of these questions will help decide the floor space necessary for your home office. At Cheshire Oak Structures, we have built many offices and workshops for our clients over the years, and no two have been exactly alike. Because of this, it is worth remembering that oak offices are capable of being quite bespoke to the needs of the client – and we can give you the benefit of our years of experience in suggesting what would work in your case.

We designed and built this oak frame garden office (pictured top) at the request of a client who wanted a calm, tranquil office sympathetic to the garden surroundings.  We achieved this by positioning the oak structure amongst the trees and shrubs in the garden and using a cedar shingle roof which tones in beautifully. The client even moved in before we finished the build as he was so pleased with the peaceful, calm environment and could really concentrate on his business. The oak veranda give an additional seating area and allows the oak office to used for garden seating.

2. Don’t be afraid to make it your area

One thing we have found in our long experience at Cheshire Oak Structures is that a home office should have the style of its owner imprinted upon it. It’s not just a cosmetic design but an actual intrinsically important aspect of your home office: if you are to work there successfully, then you need to feel confident in your abilities and one way to help facilitate that is to be the master of your own surroundings.

In recent years, especially since the turbulent times of 2008, we have seen a move toward interior designs that reinforce individualism and also a trend toward what could be described as ‘mindfulness.’ Often using natural materials, with less clutter, and with ample daylight available, our oak wood home offices are a good starting point to help you reconnect with a more natural feel in your daily life.

When a project design brief requires natural light, a bright and airy atmosphere, our designs can feature oak patio doors, French doors or full height oak windows to create a light, bright, airy office ideal for keeping your mind clear and uncluttered.  Exposed beams and rafters also create a light, airy environment. There’s nothing like good light and fresh air to help with working efficiently and creatively which is what this client included in their design brief to us.

3. Design your home office for easy maintenance

This sounds like common sense but it is often overlooked in the excitement of building and planning your perfect oak home office. And yet, being able to keep the office clean and well maintained helps ensure two things. Firstly, it helps you feel in control of your office - a disorganised office is the sign that things are generally not well with the individual or business running it. The second reason is that it simply helps you enjoy it more.

With this in mind it is important to start with the basics: so the type of desk and how easy it is to clean the floor area. Even simple considerations that help ‘manage the dreaded paper flow’ are important, so positions of in-trays and bins are important to avoid any paper mountains emerging. Dust will show up on darker surfaces sooner than on lighter ones, and any glasswork that is exposed to sunlight will illuminate marks and dust on its surface which, if not in direct view, would normally not be so apparent.
Our office designs can include allowances for built in cupboards and storage to make the most efficient and streamlined use of the space. Planning storage at the design stage ensures effect use of space and avoids unnecessary clutter building up in the future which is what often happens if you don’t build in storage at the start of a project.

4. Don’t forget, a home office adds some value

Setting up an oak home office at your property should not be considered solely as an expense. It is actually an investment in the property itself, and a good home office can improve the value of your home. Combine that with the reduced need for commuting, the extra time saved, then the cost this, over time, will become increasingly attractive. It won’t be enough to offset the building overall of course, but it will be useful nonetheless.

Our structures are very versatile and can incorporate two or more functions in one building.  This oak frame building is an office and also garage area with patio seating area within the garden, adding useable space, facilities and value to the original property.

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

Friday, April 26, 2019

Feature about Haynes Shed Manual in The Herts Advertiser

A jolly piece in which the paper's property editor Jane Howdle looks at my new Haynes Shed Manual and includes some of my shed back history. As she says: "The 8'x6' is still up for grabs, so if anyone would like to own a little piece of shed history the opportunity is there to “buy the shed of the book of the shed”, laughs Alex." I also threaten to write the first great shed novel. You can buy the book here and I also have a couple at home which I can sign and drop round to you if you live in the St Albans area or post if you live further afield. -------------------------------------------------------
Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Men's Sheds debated in Scottish Parliament

It's not often that sheds are debated at the highest levels so hats off to the Scottish Parliament for their recent debate on Men's Sheds in Scotland (you can find the Scottish Men's Sheds Association here). Here was the motion under consideration:
That the Parliament recognises the important contribution that the Men’s Sheds movement makes to people’s wellbeing; notes that there are now sheds running or in development across the length and breadth of the country, including in Lauder, Galashiels, Peebles, Mayfield and Roslin; understands that the activities and groups vary from community to community but that, by and large, the sheds provide a meeting place for men to undertake activities in a friendly, supportive and social environment; believes that such groups can have a positive impact on men’s mental health and wellbeing by providing supportive groups that offer an opportunity for them to feel more able to open up about anything bothering them as well as helping them build positive ties in their community, and hopes that more sheds can continue to be established.
You can read the full debate here or watch it in the video below - it's rather heartwarming and I'd strongly recommend it - but here is an excerpt:
[Christine Grahame, SNP] The fight for facilities and funding pulls the men together from the start. The shed is theirs and of their making and their shaping. Because there is no predetermined, one-size-fits-all format, it is up to the members, and that is exactly how it should be. Those members have diverse skills, and the retired accountant and the retired joiner are equally useful. What they do is up to them. Galashiels Men’s Shed has made 60 feeders for red squirrels and carried out furniture repairs for the Aberlour Child Care Trust.
Thursday posts are sponsored by Cabin Master: garden offices and studios to fit any size garden. Top quality contemporary or traditional buildings.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Shed Manual reviewed in KentLive

A nice interview with John Coupe (pictured above making the shingles for a shed roof) on KentLive by Mary Harris about our new Shed Manual for Haynes. Here's a snippet:
“Sheds are for everyone," he said. "There is a section in the book on ‘she-sheds’ - so that’s a thing. And there’s a Men’s Shed Movement and there is one in Tunbridge Wells. They’re all around the world. They are a place for people to do their stuff. That means it might be tinkering with car engines or woodwork or escaping from the family or gardening.”
Well worth a quick read. And you can buy the Haynes Shed Manual here.
Wednesday posts are sponsored by Eurodita, the leader in serving smart dealers

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Nigel Nicolson's writing gazebo at Sissinghurst


The Shedworking staff gave itself the weekend off over Easter and motored down to Kent and more particularly to Sissinghurst. Not only is the National Trust property home to Vita Sackville-West's writing tower but also her son Nigel's marvellous writing gazebo which is next to the moat and has quite lovely views over the surrounding countryside (though none back towards the house). 

He built it in 1969 as a memorial to his father, Harold and after restoration work is now open again to the public. Nicolson used it as an office - he wrote his famous Portrait of a Marriage here - even when visitors were coming to the garden around him. Intriguingly, it is built to the same spec as the Apollo 11 lunar module (which also happily coincides with the oast architecture of the area). The NT is restocking the shelves with the same editions of the books he worked with and kept in the gazebo.

Here is Nicolson writing about the gazebo at the start of his book Long Life:
"It is a midsummer afternoon and I am sitting in the gazebo at Sissinghurst, having locked the door to separate myself from the strolling tourists. The windows face outwards on a familiar view, my favorite since childhood. In the foreground is the angle of the moat flagged with yellow iris, then a hedgerow rose in flower, then the green of growing corn and the darker green of trees, fading into the washy blue of the horizon ridge. I can see from here only two buildings: a white oast and a red roof. The view can be little changed since Jane Austen's day. The only movement is of an elderly lady dressed in white walking toward me up from the farm track.

"This is my summer office, but an office without telephone, light or heat, so I cannot use it in the winter. But of all places where I have lived, the Sissinghurst gazebo is the one with which I would most like to be identified. With the help of Francis Pym, the architect, I designed it and dedicated it to the memory of my father, Harold Nicolson, who died in 1968, the year before the gazebo was built."
And here's that view today (well, last Saturday morning).

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

Monday, April 22, 2019

How healthy are shedworkers?

An interesting study of 406 shedworkers and other homeworking freelancers by PR Unlocked looks at their physical and mental wellbeing. The results show that
* A third eat lunch at their desk and 3% don’t take a lunch break at all - 41% take at least a 30-minute break and 21%  at least an hour
*  A quarter exercise every day or most days, a third are active some days, and 16% at least once a week. A fifth never find the time to exercise
* Just over a third have days when they don’t speak to or meet other people during working hours
An interesting survey - well worth a look, via the link above.

Image courtesy Smart Garden Offices

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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Garden office tiles

The harsh weather of winter can wreak havoc on the exterior of your shed, so come springtime, it’s no surprise things can look a little tired and run down, writes Suhayl Laher from Tiles Direct in this guest post. But, fear not - it’s easy to spruce up the outside of your shed to give it a whole new lease of life.

First things first, you should think about the entrance to your shed. Tidy up tired decking, patios and pathways leading to your shed with some stylish outdoor tiles. Hardwearing, durable and low-maintenance, this flooring choice is designed to withstand the elements and provide you with a practical solution - they even come with non-slip surfaces for that added element of safety.

Once the entranceway is done, you should then think about the exterior walls. Typically made from wood, a simple fix is to give your thirsty wooden wall panels a much-needed lick of paint or varnish.
Alternatively, why not use decorative outdoor tiles on lower walls or window sills to give a colourful and hardwearing touch to the exterior? Opting for a vibrant shade of tile is guaranteed to brighten up your whole garden, but if bold tones aren’t quite to your taste, you can always stick to a more neutral base colour complemented with pale pastels for a stunning, yet subtle finish.

With many traditional designs, the inside of a shed can often feel dark and gloomy even with a light and several windows. To counteract this, we’d always recommend decorating the interiors with a pale colour that will brighten the space up come rain or shine. Whether you want a minimalist Scandi-feel with pure white tiles or something a little more eye-catching such as Moroccan style zellige tiles or ornate, Victorian inspired designs, make sure your shed’s flooring is helping the aesthetic shine. ---------------------------------------

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

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Singing teacher's garden studio

A nice example of a music room garden office from Booths Garden Studios. It measures 3.6m by 3.6m with a 1m flyover roof and decking. Features include anthracite windows surrounded by oak. French doors, and a storage area with book shelves and filing cabinets. Singing teacher owner Roz told Booths: "It's the best thing ever - I love it. It sometimes a den for the teenagers - they go in and play music too loud but it doesn't bother anyone. It's  been totally and utterly nothing but completely brilliant."

Saturday posts are sponsored by iHUS Projects, specialists in the design and build of granny annexes for elderly and disabled care.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Garden office showrooms: Green Retreats

We're kicking off an occasional column on garden office and garden room showrooms with a look at Green Retreat's offering at Westcott Venture Park between Bicester and Aylesbury, which they describe as the UK's largest indoor garden room showroom. It has been up and running since March last year and includes a range of fully finished garden room spaces including garden offices, gyms and social spaces. Free tea and coffee on arrival if you mention Shedworking (though to be honest, free tea and coffee on arrival even if you don't) and £200 off your order following a visit, even if you don't place it during your visit which is a nice touch.

Among the company's new models is The Annex which they describe as a "turn-key solution for those looking to easily add extra living space to their home that offers more privacy". It features living space, a bathroom, kitchen and bedroom.
Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Knock for Sale garden office property start up

Shed-based property startup Knock for Sale has raised £150k during its seed funding round, attracting investment from key players in the property industry including flatshare entrepreneur Rupert Hunt, founder of SpareRoom (who has invested £75k), Felix Milns, founder of Zulufish Residential, and actor and angel investor James Murray.
The platform, run by co-founders Kerrie Powell and Chris Allen from a garden office in West Sussex (pictured above), aims to boost the number of private home sales by providing a service that prints and posts cards from buyers to homeowners whose properties are not listed for sale. Rather than referral fees or commission, the site is funded by the fee for sending a card, which costs £5. The company will donate 5% of its profits to homeless charities.

Chris Allan and Kerrie Powell have worked together for 22 years and run a graphic design agency called Powell Allan alongside Knock for Sale, operating from the converted barn in their garden.

Speaking exclusively to Shedworking Kerrie said: "As designers, Chris and I share a common love for unique spaces. In 2011, after the birth of our son, we upped sticks to West Sussex. The prospect of having a detached workspace, in a rural setting, sold the property to us. Our workspace was once a 19th-century farm building, used as a piggery and cow infirmary. We also turned a tractor shed into a carport. Initially, we commuted to London, but now the studio has been renovated, there is no need. It is light and contemporary with a high pitched ceiling, exposed beams, wide oak floorboards with visible saw marks and a notable black pod that houses a bathroom and separates off a spare sleeping area. The space lends itself to creativity and buys us flexibility. Generally, we can juggle work and home-life seamlessly."

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

New sheds raise value of homes, says new report

A new shed was the third most common home improvement made over the last five years in the UK, according to figures from Post Office Money, just behind garden landscaping and a new kitchen.

The report suggests that homeowners added an average of £40,000 to their properties by doing the improvements, with an average spend of £14,015. Overall, nearly two thirds of homeowners made improvements to their homes over the last five years, spending £295bn in total across the UK.

Post Office Money's analysis based upon the median asking price of a three-bed semi-detached home in the UK (£286,000) found that properties with these kinds of improvements were on the market for more than 19 per cent higher than the local median asking price.

Chrysanthy Pispinis, Post Office Money spokesperson, said: “Over the past few years, house price growth has slowed, so homeowners have turned to other options to add value to their homes with renovations being a clear opportunity. Making the right changes to your home can increase its market value significantly. If improving your home’s asking price is your priority, it’s important to keep in mind the cost of the improvement and the value it could add.”

While only 5% of those who have made home improvements in the past five years did so with the express intention of moving, one in four improvers  did so because they thought it would be a good investment and would add value to their property. The most popular reason for making home improvements was to improve the look of a home (59%).

Image courtesy Warwick Buildings ------------------------------------------
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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Garden office for Squeeze's Chris Difford

Singer-songwriter, guitarist and co-founder of the band Squeeze, Chris Difford is also now settling down to the life of a shedworker in a new garden office designed and built by Mark Burton from Tiny House Cabins. Chris has written an excellent blog post about the build (including his intriguing way of funding it...). He writes very lyrically about what he describes as "a place for me to sit and write to all of my hearts content." Here's a snippet:
"Mark and his team have built such an amazingly inspirational space to work, its kind and it’s calm. It sits underneath the many rooks' nests in the trees around us, they make a good sound, one you can’t really avoid. In my room I have my desk and my many things that keep me in my place, the womb of creativity I hope, where words will be tossed and fried, hung up and ironed out, found and stolen."
Well worth a read.
Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, April 15, 2019

Save 25% on a Dappr Aeropod

We reviewed the Aeropod three years ago here and Dappr, who make them, are now offering a quarter off the price when you visit them at their Grand Designs Live stand L190 next month. Read what we said about them at the above link and here's what they say about themselves:
DappR upcycle decommissioned aircraft parts into spectacular furniture, art pieces and garden office "pods". Combining aviation-grade materials and expert craftsmanship, DappR are pleased to offer you a piece of aviation history in a highly functional and eco-friendly garden office or summer-house space.
Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

How to get married in a shed

Lusty Glaze, a beach-based events service at the eponymous beach near Newquay, have announced plans that mean you can get married in a beach hut in what they call a Beach Hut Elopement. Here's how they describe it:
You can now escape to the coast and elope in front of one of our pretty blue beach huts. You’ll be able to book a Beach Hut Elopement for any time of day; whether it’s during the day with a stunning seascape backdrop or as the sun sets below the horizon during the golden hour, it’s guaranteed to be beautiful – just the two of you, up to four of your loved ones and the ocean.
 We would be interested to hear from any readers who decide this is for them. ---------------------------------------
Sunday posts are sponsored by eDEN Garden Rooms. Stunning, bespoke high quality garden rooms, to suit your unique space and style

Friday, April 12, 2019

Haynes Shed Manual: Buy the garden office of the book

Just a reminder that the garden office made for and featured in the Haynes Shed Manual is available to buy. More details at John's site secrets-of-shed-building here. Pictured top is the exterior, now nicely weathered from its original appearance in the book, a close-up of the roof's handmade shakes/shingles, and the current interior. Contact either John via his site link above or me by email for more details. -------------------------------------------------------
Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

How to build your own garden office: updates

We've been following several garden office builds on Shedworking this year. Above is Tracy Goodyear's who is nearing the end of her build. Here's her latest update:
This Friday, the electrician is coming to fit the Cat5 cable and the armoured electrical mains cable which will run from the house. As soon as that’s done, we’ll be ready to add the drywall and skim it. I did a Level 1 Plastering Course a couple of years ago at a night school at a local college, so I’m looking forward to dusting off the tools next weekend! Easter holidays can’t come soon enough!
Tracy is also the world's first owner of our brand new Haynes Shed Manual (see below) and was kind enough to say the following about it: "Really wish I had come across this book sooner as I probably would have been a little more adventurous with the style of roof and some of the other designs for the office- but this is a great read and takes you through the specifics, regardless of your experience."

 Elsewhere, Jack McConnell continues his video updates of his build. He's now onto the floor...

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

How to design your own garden office

A fascinating piece by freelance writer and interior design blogger Stacey Sheppard (who writes at The Design Sheppard and many other places) about designing her own garden office at an interior design course at Juliette's Interiors. It's a great post looking at everything from playing with layout options to choosing furniture, soft furnishing, design schemes, and creating mood boards (pictured above and below). Here's a snippet:
We worked on three possible options before settling on our final layout. We also had an opportunity to draw one elevation of the room to show how this would look. I actually really struggled with this aspect of the course. I don’t have a mathematical brain and I’m not very good at visualising spaces so this was a real challenge for me. I had to redo my floor plan three times as I kept making mistakes, but I was very proud of myself once it was done and it is such a useful skill to learn. I do wonder though whether I would have found this aspect a lot easier had we have done this on the computer. But either way, it was a really valuable part of the course and I learnt so much by doing it.
You can read the rest of the post here. Well worth a look.

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