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An uninspiring rectangular plot has become a multi-purpose area for leisure, working and entertaining
‘Somehow, over several years, we had ended up with three overflowing sheds in a garden that we rarely used,’ says the owner of this pretty plot in Berkshire. ‘My partner Chris and I had decided to upgrade our house with a one-storey extension, and as the garden had become a complete mud bath from the building works, it made sense to revamp the outside at the same time.’
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The owner is an interior designer and decorator and often paints furniture for customers, but her sitting room had ended up as her workshop. ‘Before we even started the renovations, I had a major clear-out and replaced the sheds with a large summer house with windows, where I could both relax and paint furniture,’ she explains.
The garden had previously been divided up into several areas, which made it feel small, so the couple opened it up into one whole space. ‘In such a small plot, it was important to make the layout work visually. We settled on quite a formal-looking design with a shed at the back and symmetrical raised beds to frame a dining area.’
Ahead of the building work, they put in new fencing, gates and a concrete base for the shed. ‘I couldn’t find the perfect colour for the fence so I mixed my own with Urban Slate and Smooth Pebble from Cuprinol Garden Shades,’ says the owner.
Get the look
Buy now: Midnight Black limestone paving, £26.40 per sq m, London Stone
Enquire online: Garden shed, £2,000, Woodcraft Timber Buildings
Buy now: Festoon lights, from £35, Cox & Cox
Raised beds better define the space and, as the plants are at eye level, you really appreciate them. They were built using breeze blocks which were rendered then painted. Finishing them in white lets them blend into the background, drawing your focus to the social space.
‘Chris lined the sides with membrane and put gravel in the bottom for drainage before filling with compost and leaf mulch,’ says the owner. ‘The last big job was laying black limestone slabs between the raised beds. Chris’s company Distinguished Gardens did our planting. He’s passionate about planning carefully so that we have colour throughout the seasons.’
The centrepiece that completes the space is the fantastic weathered wooden table that the owner found on eBay for £80. ‘ I removed the paint, then scrubbed bleach into the top and left it out in the sun,’ she recalls.
‘I washed the table top then repeated the same process several times, finally sealing it with clear matt exterior varnish and painting the legs to match the summer house.’
Once the landscaping and planting work was completed, the couple painted the summer house. ‘I furnished it gradually in a boho style, using treasures from Pedlars Place, eBay and car boot sales – the original Seventies hanging chair, for example, was an eBay find. I can’t see myself getting bored of the style because anything natural and earthy looks timeless.’
Get the look
Buy now: Shed painted in Farrow & Ball Railings acrylic exterior eggshell, £27 for 0.75ltrs, Homebase
Buy now: Alseda stool, £25, Ikea
The inside of the shed is painted white for a spacious look.
Get the look
Buy now: Shed floor painted in Brilliant White acrylic durable eggshell by Johnstone’s Paint, £25.95 for 2.5ltrs, Decorating Warehouse
Buy now: Graphite chalk paint used on desk, £19.95 for 1ltr, Annie Sloan
But now: Mask print by Pati Robins, from £9.99, Nickie Kelly
‘The officer’s army trunk was a car boot find and it’s where I keep a lot of my paint cans,’ says the owner.
Another makeover: Before and after: we turned our garden into an outdoor living room
We’ve enjoyed so many celebrations with friends and family in our finished garden, and it’s also proved to be a fantastic space for me to work. Gardens as small as this can be tricky, but we’ve achieved everything that we wanted.’