When we bought our first home together, the shed was a major drawing point of the property for my boyfriend. It had electricity and plenty of worktop space; when we viewed, it also had upper and lower cupboards fitted, as well as a small chest of drawers and a pine cabinet, but we weren’t sure whether these would be staying or going with the previous owners. As it happened, we got the shed, cabinets, cupboards and all, which had the potential to be an effective workspace for my boyfriend. He just had to clear out what he didn’t need, clean up the space and tailor it to purpose.
Clearing Out Outside
The shed had a small gate and gap of about 1.2m to its left. Friends suggested we get chickens for this space, but before we could consider that we had to clear the area; old garden furniture, a ladder, large pieces of felt, pipes and wood, chicken wire and other sundry items had been stored there in a ramshackle fashion. On seeing this, I felt ashamed that our new neighbours to the back had had all this in plain sight from their home and garden: it was an eyesore.
After we moved in the summer, we made the most of the good weather in clearing out the ‘rubbish’ that had been stored behind the shed. After surveying what was there, sorting what was to be recycled and what could be ‘upcycled’ (the garden furniture, of which we had none, and perhaps the ladder, although later we decided against this).
After buying some UPVC cleaner, we went through the process of scrubbing up the garden furniture to see how it cleaned up. Firstly, we washed each chair with soapy water and allowed them to dry in the sun; we then applied the UPVC cleaner, scrubbing with small circular motions; finally, this was washed off with clean water and dried in the sun. The process was repeated twice on a few of the chairs. There were eight garden chairs and one sun lounger in total; when we’d cleaned these up, we decided to keep four and recycle the rest. Space in the shed was precious, we decided, and after storing the lawnmower and other necessary garden equipment, we didn’t want to be storing furniture we would likely not use. However, it was good to know we had four chairs for those odd occasions when a number of people were over, and that we had upcycled them.
Additionally, the shed roof was partially covered in a curtain of bindweed, obscuring the little window out to the garden and potentially damaging the roof. This stemmed from the compost heap positioned in front of the shed, which we dealt with separately. Additionally, behind the shed was covered in briars, stemming from allotments which our garden backs on to. Fortunately, the bindweed came away relatively easily when pulled so we weren’t too concerned about damaging the roof in the process. Removing the briars just required thick gardening gloves, sharp shears and determination. After keeping a close watch on the area around the shed for a few weeks, we applied weed killer to stave off regrowth of both; this will be an ongoing battle.
Clearing Out Inside
During the autumn, my partner then focused his attention on clearing the space inside the shed and making the space his own. There was copious storage space in the shed: upper and lower cupboards, a chest of drawers, a fridge and a large dresser. My boyfriend determined what he wanted to keep and went about emptying and cleaning each cupboard and drawer over a period of dark weekday evenings. His handheld hoover was useful here. He decided not to keep the fridge, as it was covered in mould. I suggested slotting in the fridge he had in his room at University, still in storage, for times such as Christmas and New Year when extra fridge space is useful, ultimately this was his space and he saw that leaving the space vacant would provide the perfect area to store his workshop stool and sufficient leg room for him when he was sitting there at work. Even trying to sell it as a beer fridge, for when he was out there in the summer months didn’t swing it in my favour! The local recycling centre took fridges, so we happily deposited it there.
A Working Space
His attention then moved to the workbench, which ran along the length of the shed; having cleared this of debris and cleaned it, he set about making it more ergonomic. From a large piece of plywood left over from boarding the loft, my boyfriend cut a sheet to make a backing board running along the length of the worktop. This was to prevent small pieces of material falling behind the cupboards and workbench. He then fitted a cable duct to this backing board, to tidy cables from the power tools.
Finally, he installed a multi-socket power adaptor for charger and power tools, clearly labelling these for ease of use.