When the lease on my central London office came up for renewal I had the choice of either signing up for a huge increase in rent and overheads, or taking the plunge and moving my business to a different location. After months of searching, I realised the answer was on my doorstep. Or to be more precise, at the bottom of my garden.
Running my business from home presented the perfect solution. Not only would it allow us to control costs and offer clients better value for money, but also save me up to 4 hours a day spent commuting.
The first problem I faced was one of choice. Or rather, a distinct lack of it. Standard home office kits offered plenty of scope, provided all you wanted was a glorified shed. The designer options offered a lot more flexibility, but put the budget back on a par with staying in town. They also made no allowance for the location, which was on steeply sloping ground. I also wanted something that would be versatile enough to fulfil several roles 'a self-contained office, home cinema, bar, party area, summer house - and still fit visually within the garden space.
The only way I was going to get what I wanted was to design and build it myself. I purposely created a design that would have a traditional feel on the exterior whilst providing a light, open minimalist space that would be inviting and comfortable to work in.
el Shed' is a traditional wood build, designed to comply with standard planning regulations. Making the most of the garden meant building right up to the boundary, limiting the height to 2.5m at the very back. To overcome this I opted for a step down approach from the main structure into a lean-to kitchen/bathroom area.
Having pre-cut the timber to the exact measurements off-plan, the main structure was erected quite quickly using timber from a renewable source. I wanted the building to be an extension of the indoors, so it needed to be well insulated with a high quality roof. The construction consists of 4x2 roof joists clad with v-groove t&g to give it character from the inside. On top of this are more joists, 50mm celotex, a cavity to allow the structure to breathe, roofing membrane and finally, fibre cement roof tiles to keep the elements out.
Walls are also fully insulated and feature painted internal MDF panels within 4x4 structural beams. These are clad externally with redwood shiplap to give the shed a more natural look that fits in with its garden environment.
The floor is suspended on 8x4 joists, insulated between with 50mm celotex, 22mm t&g chipboard flooring and topped with oak engineered flooring.
Large bi-fold doors take up the front elevation, allowing the space to be opened up completely onto the adjoining deck area, further extending the inside/outside feel. Double-glazed Pilkington-K glass filled with argon adds to the building's energy efficiency and an LPG condensing combi-boiler provides heating and hot water on demand.
All wiring and networking cables are concealed to keep it 'clean and tidy' and make the space aesthetically pleasing and practical whether being used for business or leisure.
In addition to a large open work/play area, 'el Shed' also has a separate kitchenette/bar area and fully fitted luxury bathroom (complete with bath, shower and toilet).
Task and mood lighting serve both practical and cosmetic purposes, making the structure as welcoming at night as it is during daylight.
Desking is purposely built-in and contoured to give it a softer, more organic appearance. We are fortunate to have Granite Transformations as a client and this gave me the opportunity to really put their composite granite surfaces to the test. The floating desk is designed as a single unobstructed run, visibly supported by just one single leg that also provides decorative shelf space. With tight sweeping curves and ergonomic shaping, it was a challenging task for the fitters that set new standards in how the product can be used. The end result is a practical, aesthetically pleasing workspace that looks as if it has been carved from solid granite 'a real work of art and an instant conversation piece.
The same material was used for the kitchen worktops, complete with a waterfall end for the bar area. The bathroom shelving was also covered and high-gloss cupboard doors supplied for the kitchen units.
el Shed' was a labour of love that took meticulous planning and months of hard work. Most of the labour was done by myself, but I was lucky enough to have plenty of hands on help and support from family, friends and clients.