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All photos are copyright sheddie Chrissy Brown | View Video

Crafty Monkey at the beach...

#Shedoftheyear Garden Office Shed of the year 2015 Winner

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    Shed Features

    Hello my name is Chrissy and I've become a 'Shedoholic'!

    I'm a newbie to shed life, in fact I'm very green as the outside is still being constructed as I type - just shingles to be put on one half of the roof and then the outside trim to do before complete, oh and then the beach style steps up to it and I will then need to totally recreate the garden to fit around what is rapidly taking over my life, so quite a bit still to do but yes my "She Shed" has quickly become my obsession and I have totally fallen in love with what has become my sanctuary at the bottom of my smallish garden.

    Once inside I am transported to a happy, calm and uplifting space, blinkering out the fact I am actually situated mid terrace in a town with houses all around me. Instead, I step inside and am now at the beach listening to the crashing waves and tasting the salty air on my lips with the sun beating down and all the stresses are draining away - yes I do have a good imagination! I'm not much for urban these days and am happiest in rural settings. I love nature and I love rustic and I especially love the coast however when you live in Cambridgeshire it's not always practical to go to the beach so I've managed to recreate the feeling of being at the beach in my new log cabin!

    Not only has a lot of love, sweat and tears been poured into the creation of my new found space but I've tried to incorporate important parts of my life into the place.

    I started by whitewashing the walls (have loved the whitewash effect after living in California for a year in the early 90's) and in general feel white gives the impression of more space. White also creates a blank canvas ready for me to put my mark on the place. I am minded however that too much white may appear like an asylum which some days is where I feel I belong so maybe it's quite apt but I decided to break the white up a bit by painting the beams blue to go with the exterior of the cabin. I had set out to do it out shabby chic/vintage stylee and was originally thinking of painting the beams pink but after a few stokes of my brush with the blue my creative flair just took over and I remembered I had a 3 part canvas under my bed of a beach scene that I bought in a sale years ago - I just had to have it as got it for a steal and when I look at it I'm transported there in my mind but is it a bargain when the only place you can put it is under the bed? I had no suitable place to put it but couldn't throw it out hoping one day I would make use of it but nowhere ever seemed suitable until NOW! I rushed up stairs and pulled it from under my bed, dust everywhere and held it against the back wall of my cabin - Eureka! That was the moment it all clicked into place and the picture became a cornerstone - I knew that my new found space was to become my very own beach hut. It made perfect sense and just suits me down to the ground. I am a well seasoned traveller and over the years have backpacked to so many continents and countries and know I am my happiest with the sound of the waves crashing into the shore, sand between the toes, the saltiness of the wind rushing through my hair, time drifting by beach combing, the warmth of the sun soaking into my skin and up at the crack or dawn for walks on the beach watching the change of colours in the sky as the sun comes up or goes down - yes it makes perfect sense that I have a little bit of the beach in my back yard! In fact I find it difficult to visit the beach and not come away with a special little shell or polished looking stone which have always looked a bit out of place in my house but now I have a place to keep these little mementos of happy memories and have my collection of shells, coral, small bits of driftwood, stones etc from all the different places around the world I've visited.

    I then went through the house picking out items that would fit into my new beach themed office and was actually astounded by how many things would fit perfectly in there so in they went. I also had lots of stuff in my garage that I've held on for years, how could I possibly throw it out as 'one day I may need it' - other people may call it junk and call me a hoarder (a trait I can thank my parents for) but at last I have found a use for these things - one example being two pine shelves which I must have had for near on 20 years and still in wrapper that I picked up from a car boot and are very dated now (I used to be a sucker for a good car boot bargain whether I needed it or not!). Anyway, a bit of white wash later and they make the perfect new home for more things I had cluttering up the house! Or the wooden box that I picked up from the tip for a fiver many moons ago (how many people do you know who go to the tip with an empty car and come home with a full one?!), I love this wooden box that's been in my life a long time and has weathered with me but it recently got kicked out of pride of place as a coffee table in the living room when I got new furniture and was residing at the end of the bed in a spare room. Alas,it's now once again enjoying the spotlight in my shed. All it needed to fit in was an old brown stripy mat I had wasting away in the garage and a few seat cushions to make it into a seating area and great storage for a blow up bed and bedding for when I want to spend a night at the beach - just because I can! I love camping and sleeping outdoors and now I can glamp in my back garden! Bonus!

    My project has really given me a sense of fulfilment and I feel great as not only have I decluttered my house and garage making areas feel a lot more spacious but I've kitted out my beach hut without having to spend a penny! Yes, you may have picked up that I'm a frugal sort. I learnt it from my dad who made all sorts of contraptions out of junk, I remember he once made a conservatory for the grand total of £5, picking up free double glazing and even got old car seats for 50p from an auction. Believe it or not it's still standing - Just!

    Now for the next bit - moving the office in! I hit a stumbling block! Hold on a minute, I've just created this lovely calm space and now I have to ruin it by a boring looking imposing desk and having big ugly files staring at me from all angels. How could I possibly do this, it would take up way too much space and ruin the vibe! I seriously started contemplating keeping my office up in the small room which is a bit insane considering I bought it to be an office! On the verge of despair creativity hit again...

    While not wanting to ruin this Zen-like calm and tranquil atmosphere, and wanting to also put my stamp on my space, I was scouring ebay for a more suitable looking desk that would fit in more with the new environment - I currently had a boring looking big desk, beach coloured veneer, you know the type, the sturdy standard desks you find in most offices around the world, not offensive in the slightest but they are just there and do nothing for me. However, nothing was hitting me in the face and I'm not one for waste or detaching myself from things plus the desk was a decent size and very practical so I decided I would give it a chance and upcycle by decoupaging it with past memories. I set about getting together all those old bits of paper, tickets, bank notes from all over the world that I had left over (only small denominations before you plan on raiding me) and things that I can never throw out as they have sentimental value yet all they do is clutter up the place. I also have the very first bible that I was given as a nipper that has always been very special to me and also my first ever world atlas where as a kid I would open it up and the pages would spring alive. I'd be intrigued and daydream about visiting all the far flung places in the world not knowing that at a later date I would. Both travel and the bible are big parts of my life so it seemed fitting that I set about ripping them up and sticking them onto my desk! I did find this hard however as have a big respect for books so ripping up a bible did feel a tad wrong and the ultimate sacrilege but I justified it by the knowledge that this way I get to see them every day rather than once in a blue moon. Within the desk montage of memories, I have part of the letter from the NBMXA (National BMX Association) where I was ranked no 2 nationally back in the 80's, I have an excerpt of the book I got from University which lists me achieving my first class honours degree (another important achievement) and other poignant moments of my life. Oh and of course I had to use some old Beano comics I found to cover the legs of the desk and drawers as another reminder of my childhood. Would have liked a bit of Smash Hits too and New Internationalist which I subscribed to at the age of 13 but I'm way to impatient to seek them out! The beauty is it can be added later but happy to give Jackie a miss though as that is a tad embarrasing! Yes you could say I live in the past, holding onto all those precious childhood memories! But hey, it worked, my desk certainly doesn't look boring and I wondered if I'd gone a bit too far when I realised it would now be a mission to locate anything on it! Oh well I love it and will be too busy flitting in and out of daydreams about the good old days when I see the reminders of parts of my life all over the desk! In between being very productive at work of course!

    Now to do something about those ugly files which unfortunately are needed in most offices! I had a couple of cheap pine untreated shelving units, one which I'd whitewashed back in the 90's which has moved with me all over the place, and another one bare pine which soon got the white wash treatment and I managed to cleverly position them so that all I needed to do was cover the back of one of the units to hide all the unsightly files when sat in my calm chair. I found some cheap straw cladding used for fences and with glue gun in hand I set about uniting the unit and the straw (along with a chunk of skin from my elbow!) further adding to the beach effect! I had now created a filing area where I could also put my paints and brushes neatly creating a multi-purpose space, office and painting studio to the left and sanctuary to the right!

    So far I haven't mentioned what I do. I run a pottery painting, build a bear and craft studio called Crafty Monkey which is based in the local town (hence me having Charlie the Crafty Monkey, one of the build a bears, sat in the corner), I desperately wanted to find new premises for the business last year as it's grown and I really needed my own office. Finding a new location that met with my stringent criteria proved hopeless so I had to change the plan and decided to have the office at home. I have girls who work in the shop which frees me up to work from home where I can get more done but now I can work from the beach (well in my head!) and I've created the perfect space for painting up samples and commission pieces! Bringing me to my next bit...

    So I hear you gasp 'you run a pottery painting business yet there's nothing related to this in your space'. Well the reason for this is purely due to time, while I have samples in the studio that would fit in perfectly, I need to keep those for customers to see and I've literally only had it built a week or so ago and all my time has been spent painting the thing inside and out while also trying to get work done - yes I do keep having to remind myself I have a business that won't run itself! I didn't want to rush it but I am planning on painting a plaque for the outside saying 'Crafty Monkey HQ, The Beach Hut' or words to that effect with a beach scene as the back drop. I also need to paint up my 'She Shed - Men allowed by appointment only!' plaque as my partner seems to think it would be a great place to enjoy evenings in with friends (I may be generous and give him a few passes seeing as he helped me paint the outside and has to endure my obsession for it). I also have some pottery beach huts I want to paint up and lots and lots of more ideas for the place but I'm minded I don't want to over fill the space and for now I need to concentrate on the outside and have great plans for garden: I want to make garden furniture out of all the pallets I get from deliveries to my studio and I want to make a table out of old apple crates, I want to put lights around my pagoda and so much more - the ideas keep flowing...

    There's also still a few jobs to do inside - paint the cork board white, get a round coir style mat for the seating area, a chair for the desk (my dining room chair is in there temporarily while I scour ebay for probably a wicker style chair) and a basket to put shoes in that will house flip flops to wear for me and for guests! I also have a love of photography so a few images i've taken of beaches and boats from around the world will no doubt surface adding more to the memories. Oh and I'd best get some electricity sorted too as at the moment I'm running an extension lead from the house.

    I apologise for my verbal diarrhoea but I am head over heels in love with my new found shed!

    To finish, I would just like to thank Cupronil for producing coastal mist and daisy white, without which it would not be what it is!

    I would say The End but it's just the beginning...

    Other Shed info

    After visiting my accountant in his garden office I instantly had shed envy and knew I had to get a garden office despite the fact my garden is not very big. All logic went out of the window, I just had to have one and when I get this feeling I don't stop until it happens! I set about researching log cabins, starting off looking for the cheapest one I could find and was looking at second hand ones (I love a bargain) but then considered the time it would take to dismantle then scratch your head trying to work out what bit goes where when home and thought it actually is not probably going to be cost effective. I also thought spending a bit more for a better quality one (slow grown spruce, thicker walls, floor and ceiling, insulation and double glazing) would actually pay off in the long term so I popped along to Dunster House to take a look and walked out of there as a brand new owner of a 5x3m log cabin! A few weeks later all the bits were in my back garden waiting to be put together and the rest as they say is history!

    I actually set out to move my office from the smallest bedroom in the house to a larger area but what I have in fact done is create an oasis of calm and a place for escapism in a hectic world. Who would have thought a home office could be such a place. Also the project has also given me my mojo back, I was just trundling along in life and had got a bit lazy but this project has reignited me and got me off my backside and out in the elements getting lovely paint streaks in my hair and creating great tribal war paint all over my body, broken nails to boot and rashes on hands from wood preservative! It's reawakened my creativity with new ideas buzzing around my head and in the mornings I can't wait to get up at the crack of dawn (I'm not joking, I'm a bit of an insomniac) to work on and in my beautiful new haven!

    Shed life - you can't knock it!

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