A few months ago, the primary purpose of the garden shed was a haven for tools, gloves and, let’s face it, spider webs – but during lockdown, when gardens replaced parks and beaches as a destination for respite and escapism, needs changed; sheds offer a place to hide from the kids (or parents), smell the roses and raise a glass.
Entries for the 14th annual Cuprinol Shed of the Year competition opened in March, inviting entrants to submit their fantastically creative builds into one of nine categories – two of which are new this year, Lockdown Repurpose and Lockdown Build.
Focusing on those who have transformed their sheds in order to help the community over lockdown, entrants in the Lockdown Repurpose category include Sarah McGoldrick, who responded to the PPE shortage in the early days of the pandemic by supplying frontline NHS staff with visors, and online teacher Ashley Bates, founder of The Shed School, a free online educational platform for key stage one children.
Meanwhile, the Lockdown Build category is for those who started construction after cancellations or loss of work. In Norfolk, Joe Melton built a back garden bar to compensate for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Florida being cancelled, while retired lecturer and mechanical engineer Michael Roberts has created a space in which to spend his time lovingly restoring clocks.
Many entrants share stories of hope, frustration and kindness: Pat Crook recreated a beach hut to provide her father (who suffers from dementia) with much-needed peace; Patrick Seaman and his son Finn teamed up to create a family hideaway after loss of work allowed the pair more time together.
A winner from each category will be decided by public vote, then an overall winner will be crowned by a panel of shed experts with a golden crown for the winning shed.
“More than ever, the events of recent months have shown us what a valuable role sheds can play in our lives,” says head judge and competition founder, Andrew Wilcox. “They are spaces where we can help our NHS heroes, educate our children and care for our family. They highlight all that is great about Britain – our ingenuity, our eccentricity and our determination to help others.”
The overall winner will also receive £1,000, a plaque and £100 of Cuprinol products. Public voting is now underway will close on Sunday 9 August. Cast your vote here: www.readersheds.co.uk.
PUBS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The Pizza Folly by Colin Naylor
Colin Naylor spent one year building Braziers End, a bijou party space made from recycled pallets, scaffold boards and salvaged ocean liner parts. Though the lodge may be rustic on the outside, inside the space is dolled up to the nines with the latest tech – an Italian woodfired oven, TV entertainment system and a Japanese plunge bath.
Pallet Hollywood by Mark Killick
From humble beginnings as a couple of dilapidated fence panels and shed that was falling apart, Pallet Hollywood (geddit?) has emerged with the glamour of Tinsel Town; think a big TV, dartboard, a double-doored bar fridge (apparently a 50th birthday present from Killick’s wife) that’s crammed with loads of beer and wine.
Eric’s by Dave Spencer
Dave Spencer used as many recycled parts as possible for his swanky outdoor bar space in Hertfordshire, from old wooden floor boards, discarded wooden shutters from the family home to a 1945 vintage khaki parachute for the ceiling. The result? A gloriously eccentric den for family and friends to gather, socially distanced of course.
The Cosy Cabin by Trevor Carswell
Made to weather all seasons with a solid base of steel and timber, this garden cabin effortlessly provides warmth during the winter – thanks to a thick layer of loft insulation – while in summer, a layer of salvaged sedum green roofing boosts thermal performance, producing a thriving eco-friendly habitat for local wildlife.
Shed Wedge By Dan Wiseman
Comprising a multi-purpose den, sanctuary and workshop, Dan Wiseman has cleverly split his shed into two distinct sections: ‘His’, made with raw timber and strong finish flooring, houses tools and motorbikes, home made wine and ‘man stuff’; while ‘Hers’ has a wood burner with copper surround, comfy sofa bed, a table and two chairs and piles of books.
Bedouin Tree Shed By Daniel Holloway
“A peaceful sanctuary to escape our urban surroundings, ideal for occasional tree hugging and entertaining,” says Daniel Holloway of his tree shed in Greater London. Featuring two mature trees, African carvings and fabric, Indian pillars, a wood burning stove, taxidermy skulls and other curiosities, the space has taken more than seven years to develop and draws inspiration from Holloway’s travels with his wife.
Jane’s She-Shed by Jane Moyle
Originally built as a Japanese summer house by the former owners of the house, Moyle’s She-Shed is a work of architectural art, transformed with a lick of pastel-hued paint and clapperboard lining. There are sunbeds, working sinks and a fridge for garden parties, leaving lucky friends and family “in awe.”
Jo’s Garden Shedio by Joanna Thornhill
Over lockdown, Joanna Thornhill decided to finally tackle her rotten shed and replace it with a log cabin, which would double as an office and extra sitting space. Using her expertise as an interiors writer, she set to work installing subtle yet cosy elements including a little sofa and old wooden panelling from a Victorian railway station, creating a space that’s practical yet visually inspiring.
The Wooky by Beth Goodchild
As a teacher, Beth Goodchild found herself particularly frustrated when classrooms of eager children were replaced with piles of marking on the kitchen table over lockdown. Thankfully, Phil, her partner, built The Wooky, a shed made from reclaimed and recycled wood, complete with a small heater, snug insulation and a stable door for Goodchild to work in.
HUTHAUS by Colin Humphrey
Influenced by Mondrian and the Bauhaus School but with a very practical shepherd’s hut design, the Huthaus was built as a birthday present (using mainly recycled materials) for Humphrey’s wife, a lover of growing plants, flowers and vegetables. She will use it as a potting shed.
Old Bill by A M Backshall
Built to look like the Wickham trolleys (a railway engineering personnel carrier) of the 1940s, A M Backshall’s Old Bill, with its crackling wood fire and cosy folding bed, is everything a cosy weekend away should be. Engineered to roll both forwards and backwards on a sloping track, the trolley has seating, a wood burner and 12 volt power running throughout.
Silas the Silo by Tim Kerridge
There are many things that spring to mind when one thinks of a silo, but a ‘cosy hideaway’ is probably not on the list. Well, prepare to be amazed, Tim Kerridge has transformed an 8ft grain silo into a gazebo built for outdoor cooking and family gatherings. Rescued from landfill, he’s made good use of his upcycling skills to cut around the circumference of the silo, allowing air flow to reach the wood fire within.
Suitcase Trains HQ by Powell Bevan
Built to mimic an old school station office, Powell Bevan’s sleek shed is base camp for her company, Suitcase Trains, which specialises in bespoke luggage with rather magical insides.
Just Lovely Darkroom by Georgina Lovell
Georgina Lovell had always wanted a darkroom but with limited space in the house for a studio, her husband stepped in to spruce up the old shed in the garden. Used as a darkroom to process both her print and photography work, the plan is now to open up the space as a darkroom printing experience for others.
Colin Furze Workshop By Colin Furze
The workshop behind the fantastical inventions of Colin Furze, an inventor and YouTuber. The ‘Hot Tub Car’, an 82mph Guinness World Record setting mobility scooter, magnetic shoes that allow Colin to walk on the ceiling of the shed, and a full sized fabricated replica Star Wars Landspeeder were all brought to life within its four walls.
The Dragons Rest by Patrick Seaman
After losing work due to the pandemic, Patrick Seaman began work on The Dragons Rest, a lockdown potting shed project, in order to keep busy. After a few weeks of team effort, with the help of wife Hattie and son Finn, the space became a bar and pub garden (as well as still serving as the garden shed) made from 80 per cent reclaimed materials. Inside are all the usual tool storage facilities plus a folding bar prep area and drop down bar counter, while outside is a secluded pub garden with seating and a fire pit.
Respite by Pat Crook
“It is my escape to the beach at a time when it is not possible to visit the coast,” says Pat Crook of her coastal themed shed made from recycled materials. “It is an invaluable resource for my 92-year-old father who has dementia and lives with me. He can sit surrounded by shells, pebbles and paraphernalia, listening to sounds of the sea.”
Budget Pallet Hobbit House by Julie Twydell
Built with reclaimed wood, this rustic shed is filled with higgledy piggledy copper pots and pans and vases of wildflowers, perfect as a reading space or family room. Though the space remains functional for storing tools, Twydell can also transform the main room into a cinema for friends and family.
Bucko’s Bar by Len Lavelle
Built as a tribute to his father, who was affectionately known as ‘Bucko’ by friends and family, Len Lavell’s shed is made to emulate a 1970’s Irish pub, complete with jukebox, electric fire and a bottle disposal system.
S.H.E.D by Dr Rhiannon Jones
Intended as an arts venue, a conversation starter, a dialogue enhancer and a research facilitator, S.H.E.D is entirely dedicated to artistic research through public engagement and co-production and has 11 possible configurations to be a flexible and bespoke designed public art space. It can be indoors or outdoors, opened or closed. It is 10ft x 8ft when closed, and up to 16ft x 30ft when opened up with multiple side and floor panels, roof options and doors.
The Bemusement Arcade by Alan Beresford
As a youngster, Alan Beresford was fascinated by seaside arcades and waxwork museums with their slightly disturbing animated machines and figures. So, upon retiring, he built The Bemusement Arcade as a workshop in order to make his own. It’s been five years since he started and contraptions – including a fortune telling machine – now fill the shed, spilling out into the house and garage.
The Shed School by Ashley Bates
For many, one of the biggest struggles of lockdown has been keeping young children entertained and educated. But those at a loss may now have a solution, for in a shed in Surrey sits a 32-year-old man dressed as a pirate. The Shed School is a free online educational platform where ks1 children can learn everyday with Mr Bates from his converted shed. At one point, one hundred or so pupils were virtually attending The Shed School.
Stand Up from the Shed HQ by Scott Bennett
This simple shed is used as a stand up venue for Scott Bennett’s weekly live streamed comedy show, Stand Up from the Shed. It also serves as a writing office for his stand up comedy and writing work during the day.
Sarah’s Shed by Sarah McGoldrick
At the beginning of the pandemic, this humble shed was transformed into a workshop to create protective visors for frontline NHS staff, escalating quickly from Sarah McGoldrick making a few hundred face masks for the local area to a Sheffield wide initiative that has raised over £6,000 and provided 5,000 facemasks for staff.
Lockdown life by Kathryn Little
Starting out as a family project during lockdown, this simple shed made from reclaimed materials was intended as a play house for Kathryn Little’s young son, who has been learning to build with his father by producing artwork for the interior, painting the walls and measuring.
Lokdown by Michael Roberts
Disgruntled by the cancellation of two holidays at the beginning of lockdown, Michael Roberts set to work on Lokdown, a shed that doubles as a workshop and home office with two double door entrances, windows, hardwood floor, power, lights (internal and external) and a stained glass skylight with light.
After a decade teaching metalwork and carpentry at Goldsmiths College, the retired lecturer and mechanical engineer now spends afternoons lovingly repairing vintage clocks, remaking mechanisms and carving the exterior decors; a passion he has had for over 50 years.
RK2 by Joe Melton
Before lockdown, Joe Melton and his family were booked on a once in a lifetime trip to Florida, but it was cancelled owing to the spread of coronavirus. Instead of fretting, he put his frustration to good use by building RK2, a shed built entirely from reclaimed or recycled materials – with a slushy station for the children.