One man and his shed

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862)
American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian and leading transcendentalist (busy bloke)

Well, I can relate to that. Hi, my name’s Simon, I’m middle aged and I’m a Sheddie. Modern shed culture is a growing phenomenon and now one that’s very close to my heart. Being an avid Grand Designs viewer, and having had the pleasure of witnessing friends Daren and Adi build their beautiful Groundhouse in Brittany, I had a rather absorbing revelation. Most people think they may have a book in them. I had a shed.

Driven by a strong desire to create a computer-free artistic workspace as an antidote to screen time, 2011 saw me set about my own Little Grand Design.

So here’s the first installment in the story of me and my shed, cataloguing the ins and outs of man and shelter, wood, creativity and all the joys therein.

In the beginning there was a shed. An off the shelf 4x3m number that we already had in the corner of our garden, but it needed to grow. After accommodating the pots of paint, the lawn mower, my tools and all the usual shed paraphernalia, there wasn’t room for the cat. Let alone swinging it. I wanted more space to build, create, paint and generally do shed stuff – and I added the personal challenge of doing it for as little money as possible and with reclaimed or salvaged materials wherever possible. So extending the existing shed seemed the obvious first step. Waste not, want not.

The first thing that struck me about this whole ‘shed thing’ was when my mate Jamie came round to help me with phase 1 – constructing the floor to the extension out of salvaged scaffolding planks. We were having classic man-shed time with power tools and timber when he asked, “So, have you got any drawings for this?”. The simple and rather surprising answer (from a detail-minded, plan and process based design creative) was, “Er, nope.” He laughed, then paused and said like an excited schoolboy “Brilliant. I love it.”

Sure I had a vision in my minds eye, but every step of the build then became intuitive and very resource driven; eg: Now I need to build a wall. What have I got? Some pallets. Let’s see how they fit together. Improvise some uprights to brace them together… and so it went on. As a liberating polar opposite to my meticulous design ethic this was just the best thing since sliced bread. So began several months of labour, splinters, the odd bang on the head and a whole lot of fun.

I was creating shelter with my own hands, raiding skips for materials, making frequent visits to the mecca that is the Wood Recycling Project in Brighton (when I needed to buy timber) and improvising every step of the way. I’m going to share the story of the build in following posts for those that are interested in the detail, because one thing I’ve learnt is that shed building stirs a creative passion in nearly all the people who have heard about my project – and it’s not just a man thing either…

Thanks for tuning in to my first blog post. It has been emotional 🙂

Check out: for more about Daren and Adi’s eco build
The hilariously named Institute of Backyard Studies for a whole load of great shed culture links and resources

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