Rachel, a busy management consultant, asked me to convert her garden shed into a home office at the end of her Oxfordshire cottage garden. It needed to be a work space that Rachel really wanted to be in but also one she could separate from home at the end of the day. I have had some experience of shed conversions. I once turned our wooden summer house into a home office for a Marie Claire 101 ideas magazine interiors feature. There is something quite magical about creating outdoor rooms and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one!
Small space interior design ideas
Thinking smart about how to design a small space to create a beautiful but functioning home or work space is now one of the most pressing design issues of our age. From young people renting to those stuck in starter homes with small children (unable to afford a larger house) to older people downsizing or finding that they too are back on the rental scene means that people are searching for solutions on how best to maximise their space.
Work life balance
Rachel spends weekends in the main family house with her partner Martin and their son Fergus (when he’s home from University) in Herefordshire. During the week, Rachel lives in their Oxfordshire cottage for her work in Berkshire. The shed in the Oxfordshire garden seemed like the perfect place to turn into a home office.
She Shed, He Shed … or Shoffice
For a long time, I was calling Rachel’s shed her Garden Home Office as neither She-Shed, nor He-Shed seemed appropriate ways of describing Rachel’s space. However, it was Rachel who coined the name Shoffice (shed home office) and so it was christened! Brilliant.
The Shoffice needed to be somewhere Rachel could have a desk for her laptop and printer and have storage for her files and books. It also needed to feel homely and not too officey. Rachel has also recently trained as a part-time humanist celebrant for weddings and wanted her new garden room to be appropriate for meeting wedding couples.
I put together some ideas for Rachel and Martin to consider. The ideas covered everything from colour to flooring, paint, fabric, lighting, chairs and bespoke storage. Once chosen, I project managed the carpentry, ordering and installation of the products.
The colour palette of green, white and ice blue was chosen to follow through from colour scheme in the house. I suggested that the exterior of the shed be painted white (always looks pretty in the outdoors) and that the green be used inside. Although the shed has been well insulated, white can sometimes look a bit cold on internal walls in the winter where as green has such a cosy organic warmth to it.
Green room fashion
We were ahead of the curve in the spring when we chose this shade of green for Rachel’s shed as Little Greene launched their new green card in collaboration with the National Trust in September with almost the exact same hue!
Rachel was unsure whether she could use a Victorian table she had as her desk but because of the dimensions of the shed (2.5 m x 3.4 m long) I thought it best to design bespoke storage and desk which would maximise the space. I designed a streamlined wall-to-wall desk under the windows as well as a storage unit on the opposite side of the shed. The desk was made using a wooden IKEA kitchen worktop with open shelf storage in MDF below which amongst other things houses her printer.
For the storage unit, I took inspiration from those old postal sorting offices on trains. The dimensions of a train carriage were very similar to the shed. The dresser was made of MDF with shelves at the top and with skirted open storage beneath for larger items. This runs two thirds of the length of the left-hand side of the shed leaving room for an additional chair at the end. The curtains created a more feminine, less hard-edged feel and were ready-made curtains from IKEA. I added a handsewn pale blue grosgrain ribbon detail.
Rachel adored the Cambridge Imprint document boxes I showed her and we both agreed that it was essential that storage should be pretty!
As with any interior design project, lighting is crucial. I came up with a varied lighting strategy including table lamps, dimmable pendant lights and fairy lights (wound round the ceiling supports) to create different options for ambient lighting. We chose Laura Ashley’s theatrical shell lamps to go in the bottom of the storage dresser, two B&Q table lamps with lampshades in beautiful ‘Beech’ fabric by Lewis & Wood, which were for the desk. These were beautifully made by Fiona Sharp at White Wolf Lampshades.
Fiona lives in the Slad Valley near Stroud and started her part-time lampshade company two years ago. The name came from her beloved white long-haired German Shepherd dog (who is in fact called Teddy). Fiona sells on Etsy but will also be at the Tetbury Christmas market in December. For updates on future products and fairs you might like to follow Fiona on Instagram at: White Wolf Lampshades. (BTW: the lampshades were beautifully made and packaged and each came with an extra gift of pot pourri!)
The overhead pendant lighting took longer to source because of the ceiling height of the shed. Rachel and I were both so pleased when I came across these plastic pendant lights (on dimmer switch for ambience). They made us laugh as they are a cross between blousy garden blooms and 1930s swimming caps. Perhaps the best bit is that they were only £25 each from Dunelm Mill.
I suggested made-to-measure jumbo white faux wood venetian blinds for the windows – perfect for privacy and for screening sunlight.
Shed exterior decoration
The exterior was painted in a cheerful and contrasting White Daisy by Cuprinol Garden Shades at Amazon and I found a sweet dragonfly door knocker for the door.
Thank you so much for reading. If you have any space in your home or garden that you need help designing then please don’t hesitate to contact me. Please see my styling and copywriting services. Oh, and don’t forget to follow the blog so that you can receive email alerts for future posts! Just press the large blue ‘Follow’ button either at the beginning or end of a post.
With many thanks, Charis x