An Englishman’s Castle is His Shed

AN ENGLISHMAN’S home is no longer his castle. It is in fact his shed. The humble garden shed, now often upgraded to a “garden room”, has been quietly undergoing a rather spectacular makeover in recent years. Annual awards are now given out for the best shed and there are websites dedicated to sheddies and their fabulous creations.

Cheaper than an extension, the Oval from roostuk costs £17,630 plus VAT

After all, who secretly doesn’t want a shed. It’s about so much more than a place to stash the lawnmower. Paul Barton, of Roomworks, says: “It’s a place to escape and what’s great about it is that a bigger shed is not necessarily a better one so for once there’s no pressure. It has a lot to do with nostalgia – it brings memories of carefree happy times, playing hide and seek, having a crafty fag, maybe a first kiss.

By Roomworks

“But the changing economy has also made a difference. People are losing their jobs and re-evaluating the way they work and play. For some it’s about pursuing a long held dream to start their own business, for others it’s about splitting their job between home and office working.


Barton, whose creations have included a floating office shed for someone who had a river at the bottom of his garden, says the joy of designing a shed is that it doesn’t have to fit with the style of the house so you can really let your imagination rip. “Remember – this year’s teenage hangout could be next year’s hobby room or office. Be imaginative and remember that if you want to use it all year round you need something that is fully insulated.”

Which means, in a nutshell, that you will have to pay for it. Alex Johnson, author of Shedworking The Alternative Workplace Revolution, says for about £5,000 you should be able to get a very good home office. “If someone starts working from home and saving several thousand pounds a year in commuting, then a shed can start paying for itself very quickly,” he says.

Now, you do need to be aware that there are rules about the size of the shed you can install before you need to seek planning permission. Under the new laws that came into force last October, sheds are considered to be permitted development, which means they don’t need planning permission, as long as you stick to a few guidelines (full details can be found at  Planning Portal. As a general rule of thumb a shed should be two metres away from the boundary of your property and then you don’t need planning permission. If your land isn’t big enough for that you can ask for permission to put it only one metre away and as long as you get on with the neighbours and keep them informed it shouldn’t be a problem.

The joy of a shed is that it allows you to reclaim the spare room. Then you can move to the bottom of the garden for work, music lessons, or even put some gym equipment in there.  Just make sure that the locks are good, the windows are strong and ring your insurance company and have its contents added to your policy.


Once you have decided on what you want to use your shed for, it’s about how much you want to spend. Obviously it’s a lot cheaper than an extension and, as most of them can be assembled in a week, it’s a lot less dusty and disruptive. It’s worth pointing out that a good shed will create some prospective buyer lust for those of you who plan on selling one day.

As with many things in life, it’s about what you can afford. B&Q have a basic shed from £699 although that is a basic garden storage model. Roostuk have some fabulous creations that are just short of £20,000. So it’s up to you and your bank manager to decide what you can have. Let’s not forget that George Bernard Shaw worked from a shed at the bottom of his garden – albeit a revolving one that moved to catch the sun – so buy yourself a shed, a best-selling publication may follow and you could recoup your money.




Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.