Need more space? Somewhere to be alone? Glorified garden sheds are the solution of choice for Londoners. Mama investigates...
Words Pendle Harte
Who doesn’t love the idea of sitting in their own miniature house in the garden? It’s not just men in their sheds – there are writers in garden offices, designers in garden studios, party people in private garden speakeasys, crafty types in workshops and even radio presenters broadcasting from their very own gardens, all over London. A room of one’s own can take the form of a grown-up wendy house, a high-tech soundproofed recording studio or a green-roofed eco shack. All these things are very possible in your own tiny patch of green.
Further benefits are obvious. The extra space might mean you don’t have to move house. You can add value to your home for less than the price of an extension. If you are a business, it’s tax-deductible and can save you money on rent and the commute. Quite simply, most people seem to love being in a shed on their own.
Budgets can be anything from £8,000 to £40,000. You could spend even more if you really tried, depending on size and finish. If you want oak panelling, lovely floorboards and old French shutters you can creep up to the higher figure.
Marc Salmon of London Garden Studios built a garden studio for ceramicist Lou Rota; his other projects have included a 70-square metre studio that has a courtyard zen space in the middle.
Architect Nic Howett built the award-winning Rug Room for a client who makes rag rugs. It is a modest corten steel-clad plywood structure at the end of a narrow garden facing both the rear of an early Victorian crescent and a secret garden. With apertures onlooking both, it is a place to work, read, and make rugs.
Offset from the garden’s end, with entrance doors to one side and rear, the building’s angled (double layer) plywood structure is sleeved inside corten steel. With a work table that faces the house and lined in shelves full of fabrics and books, all of these elements help brace and support the structure. The Rug Room, although new, feels familiar, its age indeterminable, providing a timeless sense of place.
Turner Architects’ Garden Library in Camberwell was shortlisted for the Best New Home Improvement Project in London last year. It was devised to be a study, spare room and storage for a growing family, where an extension to their flat was prohibitively complex. The deliberately simple, lightweight structure creates a warm and friendly feel for a quintessentially family addition.
In Chiswick, award-winning JLB Property Developments designed and built a garden room in a small backyard plot that adds valuable extra space to the terraced house. The new room can be used for a variety of purposes and it utilises an otherwise little-used
Garden rooms are set to grow in popularity, whether in tightly packed urban spaces or in large country grounds. They’re a good investment and they’re a joy to behold – what’s not to like?