25th October
2012
written by Dom

George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, C4 Tuesday 24th Oct 2012. TV Review

Micro Design or Microarchitecture is what we now call small spaces converted by imaginative types into interesting and quirky homes and living/working spaces. Now we know all about that sort of thing here at OneGrandDesigns, but it seems that TV is catching on… No sooner has Kevin McCloud finished bodging and fettling his own man-made shed than Channel 4′s other resident architecty type; amiable Geordie George Clarke (of “Restoration Man” fame) crops up peeking around the nation’s “Micro Designs”.

Rob & Layla's Bedford Bus holiday home Micro Design

Rob & Layla’s Bedford Bus holiday home, featured in episode 1

The first programme offered us up a mixed bag – from the lovely couple scratching their last pennies together to convert a rickety old bus into a (truly magnificent) holiday let so that they could afford to keep their Wales smallholding together in tough times, through a thoroughly annoying Sarah Beeny wannabe with her converted horsebox to a young architect Laura’s inspired central London converted public toilet.

A slightly annoying fast-cutting between scrapbook images of interesting looking designs (unnecessary given the programme’s hour length), along with George’s own vanity project – a £300 caravan (“It’s just like the caravans I used to spend time in as a kid”) – which you just know is going to be nothing like that once his annoyingly titfer’ed TV “friend” William Harvey has finished with it only slightly spoil what is an otherwise fascinating glimpse into the lives of truly ingenious people and their wonderful creations.

I enjoyed this more than Kevin McCloud’s show – it has more genuine inspiration and ideas to offer for the person on a budget, plus there’s a tacit recognition here that people are doing these designs because it’s what they can AFFORD, rather than purely a rich man’s extravagance. Indeed, there was one quite rousing quote from the man himself which I’ll leave you with…

“if anybody is out there thinking I want to do my own small space retreat, but they’re worried about money – actually they shouldn’t be. If they can put the time and the commitment in and they can be creative about it they can realise the most incredible spaces.”

Hear Hear!

George Clarke’s amazing spaces is on Channel 4, Tuesdays at 8pm. You can watch the first episode on 4OD here

1st October
2012
written by Dom

Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home, C4 TV Review

Wow! well talk about things going around coming around… Three years ago, inspired by Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs I set out to build the nearest thing to a Grand Design that I could – hence this blog. The one grand designs shed was a response to the high concept, high budget wonders to be found gracing Channel four’s flagship property strand every week. My idea was to build as unique a design as possible for a budget of £1000 myself, as an unskilled keen amateur, begging, borrowing and recycling whatever possible as I went (see the original “inspiration” post)…

Kevin McCloud's Man Made Home

Kevin McCloud’s “Man Made Home”

…So, I’ve just finished watching last night’s (second episode) of “Kevin McCloud’s man made house”. Where Kevin McCloud is hand building on two acres of land bought for the express purpose, something sortof similar… Obviously this is Kevin McCloud – so he has a slightly bigger budget presumably, he has the aforementioned two acres for starters, rather than his back yard… He also has access to some great TV “friends” who are helping him with the whole process, but I don’t begrudge any of this, it makes for great TV, plus our Kevin seems to have dropped the puffa jacket in favour of something a bit more rustic and down to earth. I love the guiding philosophy at play in the programme – the sense of the journey being as important as the destination… Fabricating your own building gives a great sense of control and order, but it’s being a shed allows for additional, all-important sense of play, fun and exploration to creep in – You’re not building a house for your family, so you can afford to experiment, and that’s where the show gets most interesting.

My “Man Made Shed”


It’s great to see the sense of fulfilment that I got from putting the One Grand Designs shed together being shared and shown on national TV by the very man whose show inspired me in the first place – there’s a pleasing sense of closure to the whole thing. I’d love for Kevin to see my little shed, I’d love it if he “got” the comforting sense of shared adventure that I feel watching the show, but to be fair, it’s just nice to know that I’m not the only one who gets his kicks building a shed!

Of course, there will be a book which will encourage you all to go out into the woods and get creative. For those of you with the wherewithal I can heartily recommend it, I will buy myself a copy and dream of those two acres of woodland. For the rest of us, well >>ahem<< there's also a little book, which explains how to do it in your back yard... I'm just saying... SHËD: Build your own designer garden office for less than £2500

Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home can be viewed on 4OD here

17th July
2012
written by Dom

I know I’ve been banging on about making plans for the shed since forever, but I’ve finally got round to finishing "SHËD: Build your own DIY Garden Office for less than £2500". Find out more at gardenofficeplans.com

I started kicking around with the Google sketchup model that I started off with a couple of months ago, but figured that if it was going to be any use then it needed to:

  1. Be to scale
  2. Show the actual construction, rather than just the finished box

Unfortunately, sketchup isn’t a great way to build a model that actually shows the construction of this building. I kept getting about two thirds of the way through and running into the free version’s polygon limit. I committed myself to buying the Pro version only to find out that it would crash as I tried to build the various construction materials into different layers…

I had this idea that I wanted it to look like an “Ikea” plan, and loved Sketchup’s “sketchy” rendering, but the application itself wasn’t really up to the job. After various to-ings and fro-ings to architects and people with more powerful CAD packages (which I didn’t understand) I ended up with a series of fixed models which I could bring back into Sketchup in order to render – it’s less than ideal, as I’d like to offer you guys a model to download, so you can see how it all fits together… However getting the model right was stopping me from writing the plans, which is what people wanted…

In the end I discovered the concept of “Lean Publishing” – a method whereby I can self-publish my book and offer it for sale, while it’s still in its draft form. The book will (one day) be finished – to the point where I can put “THE END” at the end, but for now, it offers an illustrated set of walk-through instructions to build the shed you see on these pages. The plan is to build in feedback via a forum () so that readers/builders can ask questions or correct mistakes as they go along, making for a collaborative production and hopefully a better end product.

You can buy the book at http://leanpub.com/diygardenoffice Where you can also downlaod a “preview” version to check I’m offering what I say I am!

22nd June
2010
written by Dom

Voting has now closed for Shed of the Year 2010 and the winner will be announced during national shed week (Beginning July 5th). I’m chuffed to bits to reveal that the One Grand Designs shed has won the Garden Office category thanks to your votes!

The shed now gets judged (against some pretty stiff competition) by National Shed Week judges including Alex Johnson of Shedworking.co.uk, competition organiser Uncle Wilco of the shed blog and Sarah Beeny.

I’d best get the duster out!

21st May
2010
written by Dom

If you have liked what you’ve seen here, please take the time to vote for the shed in the 2010 “Shed of the year” competition – I think I stand to win some creosote or something but the kudos is what it’s all about ;-)
Vote for the shed here. (oh, and please RT, forward etc!)

21st January
2010
written by Dom

As anybody who knows me will attest, I have transferred my nicotine addiction to a far more pernicious and expensive addiction – Apple equipment. I have recently bought a second Apple Express ‘Airtunes’ extender – this allows me to stream music from any of my computers to any combination of other computers/stereo’s/speakers in my house – I have 8 devices I can now stream to – so, when I crank open Spotify on my Mac I can now send it to my new speakers in the shed (more later), the g4 imac in my kitchen, the stereo in my back room, the telly in my front room, the appleTV in my bedroom and airtunes speakers on the PCs in the kids rooms as well as the iPhones/iPods.

I’ve always had the problem that I want to listen to my music as I wander about the place, but I hate wearing headphones. When I was a teenager this was simple – I had a big old Kenwood 160W amp which I just used to crank up – this would annoy everybody in my street, but I thought it was pretty cool – I’d put the speakers in the windows just to make sure everybody else could hear it.

What I can do now is far more grown up – I can listen to the same piece of music – at a perfectly acceptable volume – throughout the house as it is streamed to all the speakers – I was trying to explain this at work the other day but my colleagues just looked at me askance – “How much money?” they asked – well – I don’t have loads of stereos, I only have one – speakers are generally a lot cheaper – I have a par of logitechs in the kitchen, and the kids have various quality 2.1 setups in their rooms. The Living room and our bedroom are served by the speakers in the tellies (both Samsung 26″ LCDs) – I reckon the whole setup probably cost less than one big fat 40″ LCD TV but is WAY cooler – it’s just VERY luxurious walking around the house hearing the same music coming from everywhere.

I do still have that childish streak however and have today installed my personal favourite purchase. – A set of Acoustic Energy Aego -M 2.1 speakers now adorn my shed. These puppies are VERY powerful – way more so than the Kenwood Amp of my teens, yet also clear, pin sharp and unobtrusive. I’ve spent the evening in the shed just listening to music – and the Kingspan insulation seems to work a treat for sound as well – nobody seems to be particularly bothered by my booming shed… Rock on!

Those tiny (white) speakers are among the loudest/clearest I have ever heard

Those tiny (white) speakers are among the loudest/clearest I have ever heard

21st January
2010
written by Dom

OK – fairly sure nobody’s actually watching any more – but let’s try(!) – The shed has been a functional (if wet at times) space for the last few months, but I’m finally getting round to making it somewhere I want to be… I had a damp-proof course issue which led me to install a “floating” floor – I didn’t realise that I was actually trapping any water which might make it down between the yard wall and the shed back wall in a non-breathing “swimming pool” in the bottom of the shed. This led to a fairly depressing couple of months where the (water based) varnish was lifting up off the floor and base of the walls – indeed in some sections the walls were beginning to develop a coating of mould – not good.

However, pulling the DPC in from between the brick foundation and base of the back wall and putting in the floating floor (loft boards screwed into standard scant) has utterly changed the interior. Pulling up the varnished plywood wasn’t easy but it’s allowed me to replace it with more comfortable (and far more practical) Coir matting – that’s doormats to you and me (5 of ‘em, great big ones – total cost about £60 – it’s like hard-wearing shag pile!)

instant carpet - been wanting to do this for ages - they're big doormats

instant carpet - been wanting to do this for ages - they're big doormats

26th November
2009
written by Dom

Since replacing the Home Hub this morning, my Airport Extreme router has come to life with all sorts of useful stuff – like a real-time wireless signal tracking graph.

Of course, once you load something like that up you can’t help playing with it…

I'm a slave to my technology

I'm a slave to my technology

Turns out my shed is rather too well insulated, and that the best place for me to be is in bed.

Well, if you insist…

20th September
2009
written by Dom

There's more stuff in there than my old shed - which was three times the size

There's more stuff in there than my old shed - which was three times the size


love the contrast between office and shed here...

love the contrast between office and shed here...


I’ve done the back of the shed now (in stealthy shiplap), but spent most of today in a happy, contemplative stupor packing all my stuff into the shed… I took Clint Eastwood’s garage in Gran Torino as my benchmark – I love that movie, and it’s sad, but the garage is one of my favourite parts of it. I can’t fit a 1970′s Ford Gran Torino in there, but I don’t think I’ve done too bad.
I’ve managed to get everything that was in the old shed, plus the contents of under the sink (mostly car stuff – axle stands, t-cut etc), under the stairs (tools, drill bits and more car stuff). Very happy with the whole Santa’s grotto feel of it.
Plus (as you can see in the second photo) I love the way it’s hidden away in the sleek modern box… It’s kinda like visiting one of those minimalist houses you see in magazines, opening a cupboard and seeing a great pile of every day sh*te just fall out all over the floor (Kids toys, dog bones, wires, teenagers clutter – you know; the sort of stuff which always seems to be missing from these houses)- of course, it’ll be a while before the rest of the back yard looks like a clean, minimalist box, but I’m working on it ;-)
15th September
2009
written by Dom

Finally found an angle where I can fit it all in! (standing on the garden wall)

Finally found an angle where I can fit it all in! (standing on the garden wall)


mmm sharp edges

mmm sharp edges


Managed to clear the worst of the crap outta the way(!)

Managed to clear the worst of the crap outta the way(!)


Exterior is just about complete now – I have to finish off the rear and side (I have some shiplap panels kindly donated by my father-in-law) which will make the shed look quite normal and boring from these angles (this is how I want it – it’s kinda “stealthy”) – means burglars hopefully won’t notice it from the back entry.
Only other exterior job is to smooth off the roof edge and fit the “splashproof flashing”

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