Some Wonderful Homemade Backyard Sheds

Gavin Thomasson, 42, design manager, Ipswich

This is my pandemic project: a garden pub shed, called the Doghouse. It is custom-built from timber with a Firestone rubber roof. Lockdown finally gave me the time to build it and I tried to reuse or recycle materials where I could. The doors and windows were from a friend’s old conservatory. The timber herringbone and boards, plus the back bar shelving, are pallet wood, which I burnished with a chainmail pad, and oiled to give it a nice worn look. I built the bar and canopy from scratch using leftover framing timber. The bench was built from a recycled bed headboard and I used a mattress for the seat. The table and chairs were a local Gumtree find, and the bar memorabilia and pumps were from eBay. I’m probably proudest of the bar. It has the feel and character of a little local pub – we often eat dinner there for a change of scenery. Our two children love it. But we will, of course, still support our local pub whenever we can.

Simon Critchley, 43, architect, Manchester

We’ve wanted a summerhouse for a few years so I decided to design and build one myself. Clad in Welsh larch and timber framed, insulated and wrapped in a breathable membrane, it will hopefully be watertight. It also has a green sedum roof, which magpies have loved to steal from for nest-building. It is fully lined with timber panelling inside, as well as power for lights on dark evenings. There was one close call with a circular saw, but otherwise it’s gone smoothly. I use it as an escape to read in and be in the garden regardless of the weather.

Donna Richards, freelance graphic designer, London

This shed was completed during the first lockdown, channeling the designer Morag Myerscough and painted using paint from half-used cans. The bright candy colors remind me of childhood beach holidays, candy floss and rock. It shines in the sun and is a cheering sight on grey rainy days. We got a bit carried away so the bin store was also painted the same way. This project was fueled by being in lockdown, plus the sunny weather and the odd G&T.

Adam Bradbury, 39, product developer, London

I have the view that allotment sheds should not be neat. Their charm is that they can be cobbled together. I wanted a combined shed and greenhouse and started to think about different building materials I could use. I came up with the idea of the door shed, using discarded doors for the whole exterior. I built it in three days with some help from my wife. As with any allotment, the jobs keep on coming. I am trying to decide whether to paint it or just seal it and keep the different colors. While my job requires a good level of accuracy and thoroughness, an allotment – with its structures, growing plans, and the plants themselves – does not conform to a strict schedule. It’s a good life lesson to get comfortable with the level of minor chaos that nature brings.

Hywel Jones, 55, projects officer with the Snowdonia National Park Authority, Y Felinheli, Wales

The shed took me about a year to build in the evenings and on weekends. I hate waste and I wanted to build from discarded materials as much as possible, which included about 120 pallets, waste plywood, firewood, salvaged glass, old wooden gates and a dumped flatbed trolley, among other things. The end product is about 95% recycled. I also wanted the shed to blend in with the area in which we live. The wavy roof and use of wood in the panels are designed to reflect the Menai Strait and an adjacent woodland. During lockdown, we used the shed extensively: I kept my exercise bike there and my son used it to practice his guitar. Now, as lockdown has eased, it’s just a nice space to relax, preferably with a cold beer.

Alix, retired, New Jersey, US

When I first saw the garden, this was a storage shed. But I immediately saw it in my mind’s eye as a chapel. It’s a beautiful space set aside for quiet moments. A retreat that’s as lovely in the snow as it is when things are in bloom. I wonder how many little chapels there are in the world.

Lori Moore, retired art teacher, California, US

This shed was built by my landlord for the storage of sundry items such as toilet paper – but I knew it could be much more than that. My husband and I live in a tiny cottage, so this has made a beautiful place for me to keep my art supplies. All of the drawings, prints, paintings and photos on the walls help inspire those who sit down at the table. It’s so small (only 8x10ft), that all you need – scissors, tape, paint, water, paper – is at hand. For my grandchildren in particular, it became a place where they are always welcome when many other locations were closed, and it gives us break from our routines.

Michael Ashwell, retired CEO of small rural social enterprise, Shropshire

My wife and I designed this shed with a local designer and eco-builder. It’s mostly made from recycled building materials and “hempcrete” (a mixture of chopped hemp and lime). It’s very well insulated and has a small wood burner. We retreat to it during winter days and summer evenings. It has an amazing view across the valley to the Long Mynd. It has a green roof using a variety of sedums and is just big enough for two people, plus the odd cat or dog.

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2 thoughts on “Some Wonderful Homemade Backyard Sheds”

  1. My family name is JONES so I’m a Welshman, five generations removed. Seeing these incredible creations is inspiring. I bought a small mountain in the High Desert of SoCal (part of the greater Mojave Desert) sixteen months ago and have now built three structures on it. The first two were rock and cob only but the third is a post and straw bale construct built into the side of my mountain using large boulders for the walls with a stone foundation from the site on the fourth wall topped with straw bales. I have done this entirely by my hand with no power tools, using sand and dirt from the site with donated lumber and clay I have dug from the dry lake a mile west of me. I have used boiled linseed oil to water-proof the exterior and harden the floors. The interior has parts of a donated piano made in London and sold in Scotland. I have been working in triple-digit temperatures but even though the house is still open the interior is much cooler than outside. When finished and enclosed it will be a constant 65 degrees year-round. I have a cooler buried in the ground that maintains 50 degrees inside with no ice. Aye, the old ways still work. I am proud to be a cobber today and a Welshman as well, stranded as I am in the Mojave Desert of SoCal.


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