Spreading the gospel of the garden shed

On the eve of National Shed Week, Emma Townshend meets a man who wants to give us all some hut love

Alex Johnson loves sheds. Not just your common-or-garden, poisonous-chemical-harbouring, rainy day at the allotment sheds, though. He likes Virginia Woolf's shed, a delicate affair with a fold-down desk for writing. He likes Le Corbusier's shed, a cabin painted with abstract murals perched on a hilltop overlooking Monaco. Just don't mention the Reverend Jamie Allen, the vicar who said recently that men need a shed as an escape from marriage. For Johnson, a garden shed is not a sanctuary; it's a genuine place of work.

His passionate advocacy of the "garden office" led him to set up a website devoted to the subject, called Shedworking. And today he's in his shed putting the finishing touches to a book that will be the complete guide to relocating your business to the end of the garden, answering questions such as how to offset your shed against tax, and "Will my children take it seriously and not disturb me when I'm working?" (The answer: "Yes, but they may kick their football against the outside.")

Johnson is spearheading a growing trend. In the past, homeowners needing more room had a choice of a loft conversion or moving house. These days a garden building is often the best way to add more space to your home: adding up to five per cent to its value, according to estate agents.

The average garden office costs from £6,000 to £10,000, and there are plenty of options, from elegant Swedish creations that could sit beside a lake to perfect English summerhouses that conceal expensive multimedia systems.

But the Gospel of Shed has spread further than any of us might have imagined. Johnson is linking up with the internet's most famous sheddie, Uncle Wilco at Readersheds.co.uk, for National Shed Week, which runs from 7 to 13 July (see Uncle Wilco's site for more details).

Competition is in progress for the coveted title of Shed of the Year: owners from Salford to San Diego have uploaded details of their sheds in categories from bike shed to beach hut. (There were so many Doctor Who Tardis sheds that these now have their own group.) There are sheds which are pubs, and sheds which are games rooms, but all represent the desire of their owner to have their own space, organised in a totally personal way.

As Johnson says: "It's having some privacy, allowing you to think away from distractions. People don't usually share their shed. It's a space of their own. And my journey to work is through the garden." Which, for me, is the best argument of all.

www.shedworking.co.uk

Sheds heaven: Relocate to the garden

Garden2Office imports sustainable Swedish timber components, combining triple-glazing with sleek Scandinavian looks. www.garden2office.co.uk

Artisan Shepherd's Huts hand-makes huts in Lindfield, the prettiest village in Sussex. The huts are pretty gorgeous too, costing from £10,720. www.artisan-shepherdshuts.co.uk

Sanctuary's "gardenbuildings" aren't cheap – £15,000 for a 7ftx10ft shed– but they're not exactly your average shed either. www.sanctuarygardenoffices.co.uk

Scotts of Thrapston makes Britain's poshest sheds, under licence to the National Trust. Have your very own replica of George Bernard Shaw's revolving hut. www.scottsofthrapston.co.uk/nationaltrust

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor