Revive your garden by transforming a shed, greenhouse, cabin or hut into a delightful outdoor room with stylist Selina Lake’s sustainable tips in this extract from her new book ‘Shed Style’
STYLIST JANE CUMBERBATCH’S PRETTY GARDEN SHED IMAGE: RYLAND, PETERS & SMALL
A Painted Summer Garden Shed
This quaint painted shed is owned by my fellow author and stylist Jane Cumberbatch. I have had the pleasure of styling it for various photoshoots over the years, and I’m delighted to be able to include it in my book.
The shed’s exterior is painted with Little Greene exterior eggshell in Cupboard Green, while the interior is zesty Kitchen Green, with the trim painted to match the outside. Natural wood always works well with painted surfaces, so outside Jane’s shed I erected a makeshift table made from a weathered wooden door on two sturdy trestles and gathered together a collection of plants for a decorative display. If you have a piece of new wooden garden furniture but prefer an aged effect, leave it outside in all weathers and it will soon develop the desired patina.
Inside the shed, a vintage wooden apple rack sourced from a flea market looks striking set against the painted walls and inspired me to create another display combining seasonal plants with vintage gardenalia and terracotta pots.
Jane has a very pretty country-style garden with borders that explode into colour from early spring. The area in front of the shed is laid to lawn, making it a good spot to position a dining table – somewhere to enjoy a relaxed lunch on a sunny day. The table was originally painted to match the shed but has since faded, creating an appealing distressed finish. The slatted wood and metal chairs (a lucky find at a flea market) are typical of Jane’s timeless style.
CHOICE COLOURS: Before painting your shed, give some thought to selecting the right colour – one that matches your chosen decorative style and works well with any furniture you already have. Paint swatches on the exterior to help you choose and wait till the paint has dried completely before making your decision. My preferred colours for exteriors are greens, black and dark earthy browns, as well as off-white (but not cream).
TABLETOP DISPLAY: As a stylist and a garden lover, I’m at my most contented when putting together decorative arrangements like this one (above). It makes me happy to see a seasonal array of plants and it’s so easy to change it with the seasons. If you’ve not tried something like this before, gather together a selection of items you already have. Glass bottles, for example, can be used as vases, while ugly plastic plant pots can be disguised by popping them into a basket.
AUTHOR AND STYLIST SELINA LAKE’S POTTING SHED. IMAGE: RYLAND, PETERS & SMALL
In a world of technology, smart phones and never-ending deadlines, tending to plants has become a relaxing pastime, a way to escape into nature. Not only that, but thanks to social media plants have become a must-have accessory for our homes and gardens. Plants make us feel good, connect us to the earth, improve air quality and feed us, so it’s no wonder they are trending.
Creating a potting shed or garden work area to indulge in a botanical hobby is a great idea. If you’re sowing seeds, potting on or taking cuttings, a practical workbench is a necessity. If it’s exotic houseplants that float your boat, create a mini botanical garden in a light room, use hanging planters to add interest to a corner or arrange pot plants on a windowsill.
HUB AND HAVEN: My potting shed is a little botanical hub situated at the bottom of our garden. It’s the place where I sow seeds, arrange cut flowers and escape for some peace and quiet. We inherited this old shed when my husband Dave and I bought our house a few years ago. It needed a new roof and a door, but luckily Dave is a DIY expert and soon got to work. I love having this little space to indulge in the pure pleasure of growing and gardening.
CARPENTER PETER WALLIN BUILT THIS GREENHOUSE FOR HIS WIFE: IMAGE: RYLAND, PETERS & SMALL
A Keen Gardener’s Workspace
This wood and glass structure was built by skilled carpenter Peter Wallin especially for his wife Lena. And people say romance is dead! The couple live in the Swedish countryside and their garden lies at the edge of a forest, meaning they have lush views from their greenhouse all year round (you can follow Lena on Instagram @lenasskoghem). The building has been ingeniously designed with an apex glass roof and a salvaged stained glass window inserted into the back wall to allow in maximum rays. The layout enables Lena to grow crops in built-in brick raised beds, and there’s also space for a couple of armchairs for when it’s time to relax.
The plot naturally slopes up towards the forest and Peter has cleverly factored this into the design. Outside, a woven hazel fence separates the lawn from the gravelled area that surrounds the greenhouse. Directly in front of the door, Peter has built a selection of raised wooden beds for hardier crops such as root vegetables. Lena has given this area a welcoming feel, with a natural theme that’s in keeping with the style of their garden and the surroundings. Her treasured collection of pots, baskets and watering cans is neatly displayed both inside and out. It’s a good idea to choose accessories that are both practical and match your aesthetic. Peter screwed a couple of handy hooks directly into the wall so that Lena can hang lanterns, and metal tubs and barrels have been recycled to make interesting planters at the entrance.
BAMBOO REVIVAL: This natural material was all the rage in the 1970s and has made a huge comeback in recent years. It’s hard-wearing and ages beautifully, making it ideal for outdoor furniture and a brilliant and sustainable alternative to plastic. Look out for second- hand bamboo furniture that can be given a new life. Lena sourced this chair from a vintage shop and has cosied it up with a padded seat cushion and draped throw.
A SHED MAKES AN APPEALING BACKDROP FOR AN AL FRESCO SUPPER: IMAGE: RYLAND, PETERS & SMALL
Relaxing & Entertaining
For me, the ultimate setting for a sit-down meal is the interior of a lushly stocked greenhouse. Greenhouses have an unmistakable charm that is difficult to replicate in a regular dining room. I have been lucky enough to visit some gorgeous greenhouse restaurants. Rosendals Trädgård in Stockholm, Sweden, is one of my favourite places, where three glorious vintage glasshouses are used as a café, shop and event space. On a recent family holiday to Italy, we ate at O’Parrucchiano in Sorrento – a restaurant with a greenhouse overlooking a lemon grove, plus the Italian cuisine was delicious…take me back!
To style a setting for entertaining, a certain amount of space is required, so perhaps it’s time to declutter? The prospect of a lovely garden dining room will spur you on to clear out old plant pots (these can often be recycled at a local garden centre), rusty tools or other junk. Once you have made space, utilize a table that you already own. If it’s old and has seen better days, that’s ok – chipped paint or worn wood will add to the rustic effect.
Mismatched chairs work well – wooden kitchen chairs interspersed with metal garden chairs – or two long benches are a practical way to seat multiple visitors. Now you need to prettify the space. Do this by adding cushions (and a linen tablecloth if the table has seen better days). The final decorative touches are flowers, plants or foliage. Cut whatever is abundant in the garden at the moment. Last but not least, add a scattering of tall candles and tea lights to illuminate the table as night falls.
MEET ME IN THE GARDEN: Squeeze a table into the widest space inside your shed, greenhouse or garden room. Round tables often work best, as you can fit in more seats. For an easy-going afternoon gathering, style up an old wooden bench or bamboo garden chairs with comfy floral-print cushions. No space inside? Use your shed as a backdrop for an informal outdoor cook-up; a selection of log stumps set around a central stove make a sociable spot to hang out (above).
DESIGNER AND SHOP OWNER CATHERINE COLEBROOK’S VERANDA: IMAGE: RYLAND, PETERS & SMALL
Verandas & Porches
A roofed structure attached to the exterior of a building, such as a veranda or porch, is the ultimate transition between outside and in. It can be partly enclosed or have one or two fixed walls at the ends, leaving just the front open. This type of garden building offers shelter while letting you survey your plot and appreciate all your horticultural endeavours.
When the weather lends itself to alfresco entertaining, a veranda is the perfect backdrop. When designer and shop owner Catherine Colebrook hosts parties, their mobile pizza oven is dragged out from under the veranda and she sets up a dining table with her assortment of vintage Ercol chairs. As the evening draws in, guests like to wend their way back under the veranda to relax in the comfy bamboo chairs.
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