BOOK REVIEW: Shedworking

IN ENGLAND THESE DAYS, “working in the garden” has new meaning. Apparently it’s very popular there for people who work at home — a growing number of them — to set themselves up with a separate little office in the backyard. These can take the form of quaint cottages, modernistic pods, Victorian gazebos, Airstream trailers… the possibilities are endless, as they say in the real estate ads.

There’s a longstanding website about the movement, founded by Alex Johnson, a freelance journalist, who has also written a new book, Shedworking: The Alternative Workplace Revolution to be published this June by Frances Lincoln. Naturally, it was written in a little green wooden office in the author’s Hertfordshire garden, pictured on page 19. “I can watch blue tits whizzing in and out of the bird box next to my window, check on the development of my onions, and then start up a video conference on my laptop with a business contact in upstate New York,” he writes. Who wouldn’t prefer that to commuting?

The main point, I suppose, is the simple phrase that kept cropping up as Johnson interviewed shedworkers around Britain about their garden offices: ‘I love it.’

There’s something exciting about the open-ended design possibilities of a 10’x10′ building that larger structures, with their greater functional demands, cannot provide, and this book is chock-full of inspiring images.

My favorite part of the book is the chapter on historic sheds, most used by famous writers and artists as places to work undisturbed. There are pictures of Mark Twain’s 1874 octagonal garden office in Elmira, N.Y., Edvard Grieg’s composing hut in Norway, Dylan Thomas’ clifftop writing shed in Wales, and the revolving office where George Bernard Shaw wrote his masterworks. There’s also a comprehensive guide at the back to suppliers of pre-fab sheds here and in the UK.

Shedworking, to the office-bound, must be an irresistible concept. I actually have plenty of room in my garden for such a shed. But my kitchen table is pleasant enough for now, with its view into the woods, and I can’t help thinking that if I had a garden shed, I would use it…as a garden shed.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in BOOK REVIEW, COTTAGE LIVING, ENGLAND, GARDENS & GARDENING and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to BOOK REVIEW: Shedworking

  1. This looks like a fab little book. I will put it on my wish list……along with a shed!

  2. Great to see the main comment being “I Love it” when people work from a “shed”. We run a business in England building offices and studios in peoples gardens and the thing that constantly makes me smile about my job is the fact that our clients are always saying “I Love it!”

    I think it is so interesting that we (Swift Garden Rooms) have built our “detached extensions” as my wife cleverly named them, in the gardens of some very impressive houses… with great accomodation. However, the release from everyday life by taking a short stroll down the garden, gives people a real sense of purpose. Looking at your garden from a different perspective and being in a dedicated space just… works!

    I think that we all need an opportunity to escape. A sanctuary from the day-to-day stuff that distracts us form quality time. It doesn’t really matter whether it is an old shed that has cost a few hundred (pounds or dollars.. there’s not much difference right now!) or, like ours, tens of thousands. The key is being happy there and getting some “me” time.


  3. kathleen says:

    Sheds might be my very favorite subject. Hoping to build ours by October.

Got something to say? Please say it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s