I’m so pleased to be finally publishing this post! I started my garden makeover way back at the start of the year and some days it felt like I’d never get to a point where I could sit back, take stock and write about it. But, here we are!
I started the garden makeover mainly because the garden at the back of my house is on quite a steep slope, so I wanted to make more of the space by levelling it out and different zoned areas at varying heights. A (really good) local garden designer terraced the slope for me at the start of the summer, creating me two raised areas using railways sleepers; one for planting and one as a gravel seating area, then it was over to me to do the rest.
I’ll write a full post on the garden as soon as it’s bedded in a bit more and I’ve lots of lovely flowers to show you! But the one thing I can share with you now is my brand new summerhouse / writing shed.
I’ve always wanted a writing shed, because two of my heroes have them: Roald Dahl had his writing caravan at Great Missenden and Monty Don has his writing shed in the white garden at Longmeadow.
Now, I realise my garden isn’t exactly Longmeadow, and I’m no Monty Don, so I had to scale my ambitions back a bit – to a 4 x 6ft plot to be precise. But I was determined to squeeze a shed in somehow. What I’ve ended up with is a teeny tiny summerhouse / writing shed tucked away in the corner of my garden, with room for one chair, a reading lamp and a few books. And it makes me very, very happy!
This was very much a a DIY project as I didn’t have the budget to buy a fancy summerhouse and have it installed (those things can cost thousands), so it was down to good old DIY.
There seemed to be a period of the summer where every single weekend involved trying to rope friends and family in to repair fences, shift gravel, dig up turf… On some of the hottest days of the year I found myself trying to persuade them to help me build ‘just one more bit’ of the summerhouse. But they did me proud and I’m exceedingly grateful, after all that hard work, to finally have my own little writing shed / garden hut / summerhouse retreat.
Are you ready for the ‘before ‘photos? The photos below show you a little glimpse of the new, terraced garden before the summerhouse went in. I had marked out the top right corner for the summerhouse all along but when the terrace was finished it suddenly seemed rather small!
I searched high and low to find something that I could squeeze into the 4 x 6 ft space and I nearly bought a regular shed, but then I stumbled across this perfectly proportioned and affordable 4x6ft summerhouse online from a company called BillyOh that was the perfect size and not too expensive (around £400).
Putting it together
The summerhouse arrived flat packed, in many, many pieces, and I also bought a base and several bags of cement to secure it. As you can see from the photos above, assembling it was a fairly labour intensive process, and fortunately one that I didn’t have to do myself!
The bulk of all the heavy lifting and building was done my my boyfriend who gave up many weekends and evenings to help slowly put it together and also my dad who, as ever, got roped in to help too (my dad is pictured above installing the doors!)
Painting the walls and interior
Once it was installed it was then over to me to paint it. I chose a dark grey woodstain for the exterior (Cuprinol Urban Slate) and a bright, white matt emulsion for the interior. The interior took absolutely ages as I had to cut in around every single panel and it needed two coats all over to create a smooth, even finish. I’m not a patient painter at the best of times, but I persevered!
One I’d finished painting I then had to install the windows (all 14 of them) and paint the slim wooden batons that fit around the inside of each window to hold the perspex in place in place (all 56 of them. I counted them as I painted. I had to pass the time somehow).
Tackling the floor
The final job was to stain the floor – I used the same Cuprinol paint as the walls (Urban Slate) although if you are going to be walking on the floor a lot then you should probably use a tougher, floor varnish or paint. But I knew I wanted to put a rug over most of it, so I just painted them to look smart.
I knew I wanted a seagrass or jute rug in here, and I planned to find one a bit smaller than the shed floor, so you could still see a line of floorboard around the edges. However, I measured wrong (!) and the seagrass rug I bought from Dunelm ended up filling the entire floorspace and covering up those carefully painted floorboards. But still, the rug looks great, and at least I know that underneath the rug is a pristine floor…
I knew right from the start that, as this was to be my writing and reading shed, a comfy chair was important. I hadn’t realised quite how small the interior would be until the summerhouse was built, but there was just about enough room to squeeze in a full sized armchair, so I went on the hunt for one.
This rather bright pink chair was in the window of my local British Heart Foundation shop, but something about the shape caught my eye. A quick look underneath (they kindly let me take the cover off in the shop) and I realised it was a really well made armchair with beautiful turned wooden legs, brass casters and a cream linen base. It was £75 and I bought it on the spot and squashed it into the back of my Micra to drive it (very slowly) home.
I’ll recover it properly when I get the time but for now I’ve covered the seat with some ticking fabric I already had and I’m very happy with the way it looks. More importantly, it’s spectacularly comfy.
I had a lot of fun kitting out the rest of the summerhouse – these photos are a peek at how it looks right now but I’m sure it will change as I add bits and pieces to it. I’ve put a stockist list at the end if you want to find out more.
I wanted the hut to nestle into the garden rather than be really obviously new, so I’ve planted a rambling rose against the left wall which I hope will climb up the side next summer and help to cover it a bit. I’m lucky enough to have a lovely honeysuckle already on the other side which is doing its best to scramble up and over, so I hope it will soon look as if it’s always been there.
So that’s my summerhouse / writing shed makeover! Hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for a full garden makeover update soon and do let me know what you think in the comments below.
Summerhouse: Tete a Tete range, BillyOh
Exterior Paint: Garden Shades in Urban Slate, Cuprinol
Interior Paint: Matt White Emulsion
Flatweave Jute Rug: Dunelm
Chair: British Heart Foundation
LED Lantern: PK Green
Turning Hare artwork: Cox and Cox
Brass Door Numbers: Homebase
Brass Door Handle: Homebase
Photos: Victoria Harrison