The beauty of the modern shed

The beauty of the modern shed has been written on behalf of Notcutts by Alex Johnson of Shed Working and offers imaginative ways we could be using our sheds at home.

Sheds have a long and noble history but in recent years have been hitting the headlines as people realise they can be used for far more than merely storing tools. A new breed of architect has also meant that the basic design has been invigorated – a small shed which once only housed lawnmowers and pots can now be insulated from the cold, fitted with its own electrics, and can link you to anywhere in the world. You could even live in them… Here are some examples of creative uses of sheds to inspire you.



Plankbridge specialise in building shepherd’s huts for all sorts of uses from garden offices to B&B accommodation. They are currently building a hut for the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show Artisan Garden designed by Gold Medal-winners Adam and Jon from Woolcott and Smith which is believed to be the show’s first ever shepherd’s hut. The garden will feature “a tranquil wildflower garden, inspired by the beautiful Dorset countryside immortalised by Thomas Hardy in his novel ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’. The shepherd’s hut will be placed on the banks of a stream in a water meadow.

George Bernard Shaw wrote Pygmalion and Major Barbara in a hut built in 1906 by Stawson’s. This had a revolving base which used castors on a circular track. The hut, at his home in Shaw’s Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, could thus be moved to improve the light or change the view (or indeed just for a bit of exercise). Spectacularly high-tech for its time, it also had an electric heater and a telephone connection to the house as well as an alarm clock to alert the Nobel Prize winner to lunchtime. Shaw particularly enjoyed the isolation since it allowed the staff at the house to honestly tell callers that ‘Mr Shaw is out’ to prevent interruptions and he also called it ‘London’ for the same reasons (“I’m sorry Sir, Mr Shaw is in London”). Nancy Astor apparently once banged on the door, saying: “Come out of there, you old fool. You’ve written enough nonsense in your life.” 

Sheds need not be on the ground. Designed and built by Kent Portman, who sadly died last year, this is a 140 square feet tree house garden office in a 100 year-old Pecan tree. It features air conditioning, heating and a skylight. Kent used it as a massage therapy studio as well as a place to meditate.


Nor do sheds have to be outside. Here are the offices of Martin van der Linden’s architectural practise in Tokyo which have a shed theme throughout. “For our new office we took a house in a residential street in the centre of Tokyo,” says Martin. “We wanted to make sure that we would not end up with a feeling of being in ‘an office’. We wanted to create a work environment that expresses what we do, we are architects, we’re creative, unusual and imaginative.”

Whatever you do with your shed, remember that a shed is me space: decorate it how you like, listen to your music as loud as you like, wear whatever you like.

If you’re interested in discovering alternative ways to use an outbuilding and are searching for a new structure to place outside, why not take a look at our range of garden buildings at Notcutts?

Alex Johnson’s blog and book Shedworking: The Alternative Workplace Revolution provides his readers with insightful information and inspirational images of how our typical garden sheds can be transformed into art, and more than just a practical space to house gardening tools.


2 thoughts on “The beauty of the modern shed

  1. I have noticed that the creative use of my garden studio has been by my two teenage kids – whether that be mending bikes entertaining friends or generally hiding from the world – I on the other hand found the place too isolated for my liking for hours on end !

  2. Have you ever thought why sheds are so popular? If you will build your home in local way it must will be so expensive but by the Shed Ideas, you can build it in a cheap rate. On the other way you replace it one place to another place in any time.Modern Shed always provide you a separate and different environment. At the time of earthquake, shed plan is an exceptional idea to deduce the damage of building. Even that, you can build it as a way, it will be replaceable. Taking a short course on modern shed and ideas, you can build your dream house by yourself. To know more you can visit –

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