The joy of sheds

Unusual shed designs - a shepherd's hut

Unusual shed designs - a shepherd's hut - Credit: Archant

Shed envy is a quirky characteristic of the modern world and if you don’t know why, we’re here to help. From functional to beautiful and everywhere in between, sheds at the very least provide an extra room in our outdoor spaces.

Unusual shed designs - a TARDIS shed from

Unusual shed designs - a TARDIS shed from - Credit: Archant

If I think of a shed, I image my Grandad’s old cluttered shack which contained various cans and pots of mysterious ‘important’ stuff, ‘useful’ old tools and things that needed repairing - and an assortment of mismatched garden chairs in their different life cycle stages.

My Grandma and Grandad had enormous fabulous gardens and the summerhouse was not unlike the shed but much more up market. It had a ‘balcony’, proper windows and the most impressive collection of beer mats you’ve ever seen, lovingly attached individually to the walls. This was a chill out zone to rule them all. With cushions, coffee tables and magazines. There would be no chance of any accidental insect dwellings, wonky watering cans, deflated footballs or random poking out rusty nails in here. This, my friends, was where I got my first inkling of the glam-shed dream.

This was decades before swanky shed competitions and televised design shows. Programmes such as Channel 4’s Grand Designs and Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year reflect an increase in our national enjoyment of sheds in recent years. And everyone loves a den, don’t they? I don’t reckon we ever grow out of that blankets over the clothes rail stage. Getting your own shed is an extended part of den building.

And there are so many amazing garden buildings around today; from the half shed, the TARDIS shed, the beach-hut inspired ‘beach-shed’, and even a shed painted to look like a camper van. But my favourite is the multi-purpose geodesic Garden Igloo – a funky German-designed dome, which can be used in winter and summer and looks like a mini version of what is seen at the Eden Project. Weatherproof and rust resistant, it can be used as a seating area, for storage, eating, playing or as a conservatory or greenhouse. It’s made from rot-free recycled materials and is easy to assemble. Not bad for £620.

Unusual shed designs a half-shed from

Unusual shed designs a half-shed from - Credit: Archant

Far from the £400 quid slightly damp orange wooden mess we ‘inherited’ from the previous occupiers of our home - which is not really a suitable habitat for the pair of five-inch spiders I found in there last week, let alone to be used as an office - the more stylish property writer knows that a decent well-kitted out shed can be the difference between peace and chaos, space and chaos and order and - you guessed it - chaos. Basically a good shed can sort your life out by being your very own antidote to chaos. A simple solution to all the madness! But they don’t come cheap and it can take time to find the right shed for you.

Property journalist and creator of Shedworking blog Alex Johnson explains how a shed can add sheer pleasure to any garden - for practical and aesthetic reasons and to increase the value of your house.

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The 47-year-old shed expert works from his Prospect Road home in St Albans. He said: “Financially, shed working is a lot cheaper than a loft conversion or an extension and yet still adds value to your property. The uses are limitless – gyms, art studios, writing rooms, teenage chill out spaces. But overall your garden room is very much ‘me space’, so you can do whatever you like in there. It’s certainly easier to restrict children, spouses and pets invading if you’re based in a garden room!

“In terms of using one as an office, there are numerous advantages. It’s a much shorter commute while providing a little ceremony of ‘going to work’, which is important psychologically in marking off where you work from where you live. And it means you don’t have to double up on space so dining room tables are kept free from paper. It’s also an impressive place to meet clients.

“Expect to pay at least £5,000 and realistically more like £10,000 for a decent building you can work in. But prices do vary considerably so it’s well worth shopping around rather than plumping for the first thing you see. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours. There has been a real upsurge in shepherds’ huts over the last few years and there are other possibilities from entirely circular ones to the Tetra Shed, a very angular design that has, perhaps a little unfairly, been described as the kind of shed Darth Vader would own.”

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show increasingly includes garden buildings and there are some interesting ones this year – notably TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin’s The British Eccentrics Garden, sponsored by Harrods, which features a wooden shed full of contraptions created by cogs, wheels, straps and parts of old bicycles.

If ‘glamping’ is glamorous camping then why not get yourself a ‘poshed’? Pronounced ‘posh-ed’, this rather wonderful new word will be all over the Oxford English Dictionary by next year, y’know. Possibly.

Alex’s blog can be found here.

Shed facts

According to Cuprinol, 67 percent of us would rather stay in a shed than a caravan, cottage or tent.

And two thirds of Brits own a shed with 44 percent of those who don’t wishing they did.

They’re not just for older folk either: 63 percent of Brits under 25 own a shed.

More than 30 percent of those living in the UK admit to spending quiet time in their sheds.

Community sheds

A national shed grant fund has been launched to urge local communities to set-up shed spaces for group benefits, such as coming together to design and run the shed spaces, sharing tools, resources and skills to create, learn and develop social networks.

The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) with funding from the Asda Foundation have established a Sheds Grant Fund to provide small-scale funding to help set up or early development costs.

Jo Phillips Sheds Project Manager at RVS, said: “Shed activities often involve traditional crafts such as joinery, furniture renovation, metal work and mechanics but each shed meets the interests of its members and many now are developing a broader range of activities, such as gardening, model making, photography or renovation.”

It follows a blueprint from Australian project and since the first Men’s Shed opened in the UK six years ago, there are more than 300 with three sheds opening each week. The fund is supported by each of the national Sheds Associations.

Mike Jenn, chair of UK Men’s Sheds Association, said: “Most sheds are started by local groups coming together to meet a common need and this funding will be a vital help, particularly to those that have just formed.

Grants are between £250 and £1,000 with applicants encouraged to apply for some of the tools and equipment they need for activities or ongoing costs. Applications must come from established community groups and be submitted by July 3. More information is available from here. Or follow @rvssheds on Twitter.