The Mission

written by Dom

This is the goal - the Ecospace Garden Studio - if I was richer I'd just buy it

This is the goal - the Ecospace Garden Studio - if I was richer I'd just buy it

I love Grand Designs. Really I do. What’s not to love about creative people building their dream home? It’s inspiring, it’s intelligent, it makes me feel good about myself as a designer. Yes, Kevin McCloud can be unbearably smug (and what is with the puffa jacket Kev?) – but he’s a smart man, passionate about his job and the people whose projects he follows. I marvel at the beautiful modern lines of the architectural wonders on display, the clean lines of the glass (always last to arrive because it’s been shipped from Germany – why is it always Germany? What’s wrong with St. Helens?). I share in the joy and secretly imagine myself and the family squatting in a caravan while we wrestle a minimalist palace out of a muddy hole cut into some obscure Welsh hillside…

… Then, about two thirds of the way through the program I start getting really angry – angry enough to throw things at the telly (or at least turn over to Britain’s got Talent)… it’s at the point where the couple in question start discussing how they’re just going to have to go another £100,000 over budget because they simply must have the taps they saw in Turin… £100k over budget?

I’m annoyed because I’m jealous of course – where do they get the money? – They’re almost always retired bankers or something or other “in the city”, moving out to the sticks to raise the next generation of Jeremys and Jocastas away from the hustle and bustle of the lives which paid for their lovely house in the country.

Well, I’m not a retired banker, I work for the council. I don’t live in London, I live in Liverpool. I haven’t bought a fabulous undisturbed plot of land overlooking a Welsh valley, I’ve got a back yard with a ropey old shed. But I still have dreams… designs… even, dare I say it, Grand Designs…

ONE Grand Designs to be exact. I live in a small terraced house with my beautiful wife, my 17 year old twin men, my 11 year old son, a bearded collie with training issues and two cats. There’s not a huge amount of space to go around. If I want to be creative I have to do it on the table in the back room surrounded by piles of ironing and clean up after myself. I dream of clean empty space. In the Guardian the other weekend I read a fascinating article about “garden rooms” (check it here) – “They’re cheap, chic, eco-friendly and above all – there is no commute. Could shedworking be the way forward for those looking to work from home?” – works for me! – where do I sign up?

Except of course as I read on I felt a familiar red mist rising – they’re not that cheap are they? … £25,000 for the sleek cedar-clad box I fancied … £25k for a shed?

Which brings us to the point of this exercise. My One Grand Design. I plan to replace my wonky old shed with something as near to this as possible on a budget of £1000. I intend to scav, borrow and bodge wherever possible to keep the costs down, but my aims are as follows…

  • I want it to be beautiful – like a grand design
  • I need a shed where I can keep the kids bikes and my tools and stuff safe and locked out of sight
  • I want a clean, insulated room where I can work undisturbed both summer and winter
  • I will not, at any point, resort to wearing a puffa jacket.

I’m drawing up plans and putting together a shopping scavving list as we speak. I hope to link out to places and people I find useful along the way. I haven’t set a deadline, but it’d be nice to get it finished by the end of the summer – watch this space!

Dom.

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