A shed for all seasons

PA Photo/Handout

PA Photo/Handout

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Take your dreams off hold if you’re yearning for a quiet retreat or private space to enjoy that all too elusive ‘me time’, because it’s probably already there - at the end of your garden.

Turning your attention to the modest shed - surely wasted on spiders, a lawnmower and a clutter of discarded possessions - could pay dividends, providing that longed-for sanctuary for relaxing or hobbies.

If you’re still unconvinced of that shabby-shack’s potential, there’s plenty to inspire in the finalists in the annual Cuprinol Shed Of The Year competition. Entries range from the quirky to the captivating, and include a beach hut built from debris washed up in a tidal surge, a cabin on wheels, an Art Deco-style retro diner and a Hobbit-style garden house, half-buried underground.

“Since launching the competition nine years ago, I’ve certainly seen a trend towards people viewing their shed as an extension of their home,” says Andrew Wilcox, founder of the contest - which will also feature in Channel Four’s Amazing Spaces series later this summer.

“Our brilliant winners in the past have included a Roman Temple shed, a pirate shed and sheds with a pub or music theme. There’s literally no limit to what people can create, and it’s great to see the Great British shed getting the recognition it deserves.”

Another source of inspiration is a must-have guide for aspiring sheddies, Shed Decor: How To Decorate And Furnish Your Favourite Garden Room.

The book’s author, Sally Coulthard, confirms the growing trend to recognise the value of sheds, or their more expensive alternatives - summer houses, garden rooms and home offices.

“In the last few years, sheds have gone from being a niche interest dominated by enthusiasts to structures which are now viewed as a real asset to a property. The trend reflects the fact we’re more likely to stay and improve our homes, rather than move, and we’re looking to make the best use of every inch of space,” she says.

“After all, where else can you carve out a space that’s completely and utterly your own, decorate it as you please and lock yourself away for hours relaxing or enjoying a hobby?”

Those already wooed by sheds - 21 million of us own them - will spend up to a year of their lives in them, according to a survey by Cuprinol, and splash out hundreds of pounds doing them up.

Whatever your budget, Coulthard says a shed’s importance can’t be over-emphasised.

“There’s something really important about creating a space in your life where you can be yourself. So many of our waking hours are spent doing things for other people - working, commuting and domestic chores.

“That’s not to say we don’t enjoy the comforting, familiar chaos and routine of daily life, but it’s also crucial to save something for ourselves. Sheds give us the freedom and permission to do something that’s life-affirming, creative or just really good fun.”