This shed is as much about the story as it is about its transformation. The story began 3 years ago. I was looking for somewhere to run a community art project but struggled to find anything.
However there was this garden, used as a cut through into town that had been very neglected and over grown for many years. It had just been sold and the new owner wanted to breath some life into it.
It had no road access and constant planning refusals for any sort of development. So when I mentioned using it for my project and suggested a shed would make an ideal starting point, the owner said go for it.
The first issue I had was to collect this bargain shed It was a 12x12ft that I bought for a £100. I borrowed a trailer that was only 5x6ft! The wall panels were fine but the roof and the floor were not, so they had to be cut. As its final resting place also had public access, I felt it would be better and safer to erect it, although the ground did have a slight slope.
With help I got it up, but sadly the help lasted just for that day and so I could not take it down and get it perfectly straight, or make sure the floor and roof perfectly matched up, and so Perfectly Imperfect began. Not long after I got given another shed free so I joined it to the main shed.
Next was an unexpected problem, planning! An application was put in as a formality, but as a shed is a temporary building and normally you would not need planning for a shed in a back garden, we did not expect a problem, although it was on the edge of a conservation area. How wrong we were planners felt it was causing significant harm to the environment, critics said its just a shed and could never look good, once an eye sore always an eye sore.
So the next obstacle to convince both planning and sceptics and non sheddies that I could transform an old shed into something lovely. 2x applications, 1x petition and18 months later I succeeded. Well sort off, the permission is temporary for 3 years, and in that time I have to prove I could make the project and shed work, or else it has to all come down again. So of course I had to enter shed of the year to show them that there are some seriously creative sheds out there and that they can be transformed. As you can see by the before picture it looked quite a state, but the shed was solid, just a bit unloved.
The next problem was lockdown. Not only did timber prices rocket but a carpenter I had hoped to help then couldn’t. I had to re think my original plan. I slowly plodded away and started collecting bits of free timber, windows, furniture , basically anything going free or super cheap. Googling how to videos.
I had no electric power and the only tools I had were a battery operated small chain saw and middle liddle jigsaw, and a blunt hand saw which I did not realise how blunt it was, I thought it was just me being cack handed, but I did have a good drill. So I used the jig saw and chain saw for my carpentry needs like to cutting holes out of the shed walls for windows and doors.
Again all found and free. I made one panel/side of the shed as an opening door that opened up to the garden and where there will be the outside classroom under the pergola. Trying to get it to hang straight and not drop proved rather difficult especially when you are on your own.
So lots of difficulties for a single person to manage , with no decent tools. However it was starting to take shape but very very slowly. I had to juggle work and kids and energy levels. I discovered I was not a budding carpenter. Anything I cut, even if I drew a line, wasn’t straight. The chainsaw did not have enough finesse and the jigsaw not enough grunt. I then discovered that new hand saws were actually quite cheap. So I bought one and wow it was amazing, it worked so well, although I still could not cut in a straight line.
I joined the 2 sheds together with my Narnia cupboard (again free) So you enter the cupboard to get to the other side. The big shed is the class room and the small shed is split into storage (the other side of the narnia cupboard, and the little gallery and shop. Space is tight, so most things have multiple uses. I was given a table tennis table.
Each half is used as a table or when folded up to display paintings. I even have a piano which is an old parlour piano that fits under a table. I have used these doors with painted poppies, from a previous community project as wall liners and partitions.
I have some folding tables and benches which can be stored in a bench box made from an old packing carton, and more free timber. I was then lucky enough to be given a mass of free paint.
The most expensive thing I had to purchase, and it was one of the conditions from planning, was the roof which cost around £360. Again I had to put it on by myself and glad to report its stayed dry and did not blow off in the recent gales and storms.
Although not quite complete, its finishing date is only a few weeks away, Sat 21st May, when I launch the project Blandford Art Hub, and I keep my fingers crossed that everyone likes what I have done with it, especially planning.
I built this shed on my own. I had a tiny bit of help here and there, but 98% of it was done by me, a 50 something year old woman.
There was very limited money to spend on it and I had no decent power tools. So it was very much a project that evolved with what I could find and making it adapt to my needs.
For example I was given a free metal cupboard, perfect for my mini art gallery, but it was a few inches too tall, so I raised the roof (on my own!! that was hard) to fit the cupboard.
I am very into recycling things and will be starting a Wombles workshop. Remember the Wombles? So this whole project is a perfect example of creative recycling, and thinking outside the box. As for which category the shed should go into? Well it's both budget, unique, a workshop and a little bit of natures haven, the bird song is amazing. However I guess the most significant thing is the non existent budget and what I managed to do and find for free.