Never underestimate the importance of the garden shed. According to a recent survey the average man (not sure who he is but let’s run with it) spends around three and a half years in their shed seeing to those endless DIY projects, tinkering, mending things, having a crafty beer and a sneaky ciggy. Men use their shed as a place to escape to, their own private world where they can be busy . . . or busy doing nothing . . . or doing whatever they like.
Almost 40% of men “pretend” that they are busy in their shed when they are actually doing nothing at all, and who can blame them. Escaping to the shed is a great opportunity for a little time out from the partner, the kids, the pets, the telephone and even the world.
Let’s take a look at some of the weird, wonderful and downright ingenious stuff people do in their sheds, and we’re not just talking about men now.
1 – The Office – at the bottom of the garden. Well away from the daily distractions of normal life. A place where you can work, study, write, read and do other office based stuff. A garden shed makes the perfect retreat where you can focus your ideas on “officy” stuff rather than family based stuff. A shed can make the perfect office environment, particularly if it has a window looking out across the tranquillity of the garden. A much better option than being under the stairs or in the old pantry don’t you think?
2 – The Library – kind of like an office but with more books, you don’t need a desk, you don’t need a computer, you don’t need a telephone line . . . all you need is a comfortable chair, a decent amount of light and perhaps somewhere to place the odd glass of wine. The garden shed is perfectly suited to being fitted out with row upon row of bookshelves, particularly if yours is insulated and lined. This option is quiet and undisturbed, a haven where you can retreat and lose yourself in your favourite book.
3 – The Animal House – a garden shed makes the perfect winter quarters for all types of animals and pets. You can make your hut into a play area for Fido where he can chew his favourite toys to his heart’s content without being tempted by your kitchen cupboards, dining chair legs or your new shoes. They are a great place to keep guinea pigs or rabbits nice and warm without making the house smelly or messy. How about an aviary? The humble garden outbuilding has endless opportunities with just a little imagination and surprising little investment.
4 – The Music Room – you can sound proof your shed if you like to play your music LOUD or if your teenager has aspirations to be the next Ringo Starr. If your shed doesn’t have sound proofing you need to make sure that it’s as far away as possible. On the other end of the spectrum perhaps you just want somewhere quiet and peaceful where you can enjoy listening to Andre Rieu playing his waltzes without being constantly interrupted.
5 – The Bar – I bet you thought we’d never get there. The garden shed can be converted into the perfect retreat by adding a bar, a few glasses, an optic or two and of course, a beer fridge. Throw in a little mood lighting, a comfy sofa, a couple of bar stools and a juke box and it’ll be like heaven. You will have the freedom to determine your own opening hours, your own cocktails and your own clientele. You’ll probably find that your popularity soars; you’ll be able to enjoy a garden party without having to worry about the inevitable rain showers as soon as the invitations go out.
6 – The Games Room – so maybe your humble hut won’t quite stretch to a pool table, table tennis or even table football but there are plenty of other options. A wooden shed can make the perfect environment for a relaxing gambling retreat whether you’re playing for pennies, pounds or chocolate buttons. A shed can make a fantastic, cosy atmosphere where a group of friends can meet for a weekly game of bridge, chess, back gammon or monopoly. If you double it up with the bar idea you could certainly be in for a few nights to remember.
7 – The Teenage Hangout – looking at this from a different perspective, instead of hiding away in the shed to escape from a house full of teenagers, how about sending them to the shed and you staying in the relative warmth and comfort of your own home. Your shed could be their own private space where they could listen to their music, fill the walls with artwork of their own choosing and just enjoy their own living space. All it really takes is a comfortable chair or two and leave the rest to them. You might be pleasantly surprised at just how creative your teenager is and how much pride they show in their den. On the other hand you will probably be sorely tempted to go in and tidy up at least once in a while . . . resist the temptation – it is their space so leave them to wallow in their own mess. It’s much better than having to worry about leaving their bedroom door open when the in-laws come around.
8 – The Ice Cream Parlour – on a different level than that of the bar, this could be somewhere you actually make the ice-cream, or partake in any other hobby which takes your fancy.
9 – The Smoke Room – this is entirely different from the “sneaking out for a crafty cigarette months after you’ve stopped smoking” smoke room. How about adapting your garden shed into your very own smoke room – where you can smoke fish, bacon or whatever else takes your fancy. This prevents your house from being filled with the aroma of freshly smoked fish which is nice in moderation but soon becomes nothing short of repugnant. This could be the start of a real cottage industry – or should that be shed industry? Anyway, all it takes is a little imagination.
10 – The Hobby Room – you can enjoy all sorts of hobbies in a well adapted garden shed which not only gives you the peace and tranquillity to enjoy your most relaxing of pastimes but also means that you don’t have to move everything from the kitchen table ready for breakfast time. We’re talking sewing or dressmaking – how annoying is it to just get everything pinned out and have to move it to make way for dinner? We’re talking painting and other artistic pursuits. How about pottery? There are so many things which are perfect for a garden shed where you don’t have to worry unduly about making a mess, spilling on the floor or tidying up after every session. Of course, you will need plenty of natural light in your den if you want to pursue something like painting.
11 – The Potting Shed – let’s not forget that the majority of humble sheds are still in use as simply garden storage spaces, somewhere to keep the lawnmower, the barbecue, the bicycles, the forks and spades, the seed trays, the plant pots, bags of fertilizer and wellington boots. Many people love pottering about in their sheds doing just that . . . potting, and just because there are lots of other things you can do in the shed it doesn’t detract from this, traditional usage. For all tips on garden and planting related topics we found The Green Garden Forum to be a big help.
12 – The Workshop – many people use their garden shed as a workshop where they can tinker on their latest DIY or repair projects. A hut can make a perfect tool shed for working on motorcycle projects, bicycles and any other “we can rebuild it” type work. Some men just love taking something old, rusty and battered into the shed and unveiling it many weeks, months or even years later when it is shiny and working. If that’s what makes them happy then who are we to argue.
13 – The Summer House – a garden shed can also make the perfect summer retreat, somewhere to sit on a sunny afternoon when it’s not quite as sunny as you’d hoped! Somewhere for civilized sorts to enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of tea whilst looking out over the newly mowed lawn and the neatly pruned rose bushes. A summer house can help you to unwind in a relaxing atmosphere a million miles away from the stress of the home . . . yet only a few metres away and close enough to see when the delivery guy arrives with your much awaited parcel.
There really are so many options and possibilities when you start to dig a little deeper into the world of the garden shed. New ones can be bought with specific use in mind, old ones usually be renovated and refurbished for very little cost, effort and time. Open your mind to the fun stuff you can do!