How to create your garden retreat

She shed

I’ve looked at no end of pretty she sheds on Pinterest, but the shed that has most influenced me has to be Roald Dahl’s. I wrote about his marvellous place over on my family travel blog, Parentshaped Travels. When we move house next month, the summerhouse is getting a makeover and I want it to be a place to write. Although, I think each member of the family has a different plan for it. So I’ve been getting my research in early, just so I am ahead of the game.

Dahl’s shed was basic, but perfectly formed for his needs, from the pot of perfectly sharpened pencils, to the cockpit like winged armchair, the green baize covered writing tray, to the side table covered in curiously inspiring objects. His routine was engrained too, he would set out twice a day from the house, with a thermos of coffee for a two hour stint of writing.

Road-Dahl-writing shed

More and more people are using sheds as an extra space to retreat to, which has redefined a whole host of amazing possibilities. If you’re considering a garden retreat, here is a six step plan:

Define its purpose

Sheds can be so many things, a place to write or craft, a place to hang out with friends or family, a place to work. Or maybe it’s a place to work out or practice yoga? Think about why you need the extra space, what activities you haven’t enough room for? What do you prefer to have peace and quiet to complete? Once you know it’s true purpose the ideas will begin to flow and the space will become one you feel compelled to use.

Choose your structure

There are options for all budgets, from a shed, to summerhouses or a purpose built garden office. You could also choose to renovate an existing structure, it is amazing what a lick of fresh paint in an un-shed like colour can have to a log forgotten playhouse, summerhouse or shed.

Choose a spot

If you have the flexibility, it is time to think about things like: views; where gets the sun; how your shed fits into your garden design.  How can you make appreciating nature part of your garden retreat?

Make it inviting

Incorporate elements that lead the eye to the shed, like signs, an archway, a path, steps, plants in pots or window boxes.  You and your shed guests want to feel intrigued and excited, rather than put off by a fight through the weeds and uncut grass to reach the retreat.

Cosy the inside

This doesn’t have to be costly, instead look for old pieces of furniture you can improve on with chalk painting and re-upholstery. Junk shops and charity shops can be great places to find picture frames to spray paint, crockery for entertaining and curtains, fabric or signs for decoration. A shed is the perfect place to indulge all your wildest Pinterest shed fantasies, a space where you can indulge a style the rest of the family doesn’t share!


Whether you need a fridge and kettle for entertaining or know that a thermos of tea will be enough, having some kind of refreshment possibilities always makes a space more inviting. How about jars with some special treats, special wine glasses or mugs, or a hot chocolate station with marshmallows and chocolate flakes? Creating rituals around a space is a great way to ensure it gets lots of use.

I’m feeling totally inspired now, just need to convince the others of my vision.

Collaborative post.

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