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Last summer we needed to replace our large garden shed, which was falling apart. We were considering a straight replacement but, mindful of the chaos and clutter that lurked inside, we sought a more ordered approach.
The solution was to buy three smaller structures (each 6ft by 8ft) and to allocate each shed a specific function.
Influenced by a recent visit to the picturesque beach at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk, which has a host of brightly coloured beach huts, we decided to decorate them in a similar vein.
Our garden faces north-east, which means the sun sets at the front of the house, plunging the main patio into darkness and denying us the benefit of the balmy summer evenings we are blessed with in the UK. The solution was to build another patio at the bottom of the garden in front of our new huts. We thought long and hard about which colours to choose and finally agreed on the pastel option — cream, green and blue. To get the job done we organised a painting party with friends and family one Sunday with the promise of a barbecue and refreshments once the sheds were finished.
The huts soon filled up: garden-related items in the first, bikes and tools in the second. The third was given a double function as a hang-out for the kids, who are all in their early 20s, and, more importantly, as a mini pub for me (and family and friends).
Hours on eBay resulted in a stream of fittings and fixtures being delivered, including bar stools, beer pumps, mirrors and a dart board. We drew the line at a grand piano and snooker table, but have recently added electricity, a sofa, WiFi, a television set with Netflix and an imitation log burner.
The kids have enjoyed many happy evenings there with friends, allowing us some peace and quiet in the sitting room, which had become a no-go area (there is only so much low-budget reality TV we can take, after all).
We are delighted with the final result and feel the huts make a pleasant feature at the end of the garden. We have invested in a large, good-quality teak outdoor furniture set and are planning to add a patio heater and some subtle outdoor lighting. British weather permitting, we are looking forward to spending long summer evenings outside.
Where Orpington, London
Date The base was laid in May 2014, the sheds were delivered a month later and the painting party was held in July that year
Worst moment Waiting for the sheds to be erected, in case I’d miscalculated the size
Best moment The grand pub opening in August
Best tip To remember that it’s only a bit of fun
Total cost of build, fittings and furniture £5,180
Cost of summers to come Priceless
Graham Parrish is the FT’s deputy graphics editor
Photographs: Lynn Sammonds