In the spring of 2010 I suggested to my husband that it might be nice to have a summerhouse in our small back garden. I had seen several summerhouses in magazines, in particular these in the August issue of Country Living magazine that year.
And so we went to look for some in various garden centres, but found that they were grossly overpriced for the quality of craftsmanship (or lack of craftsmanship to be frank.) Husband, a retired engineer, said that he could make a better one himself, and so that is what he did. Of course, it turned out more expensive than buying one off-the-peg, so to speak, but it is much better quality.
We have a small terrace at the back of our garden and the first job was to extend this slightly so that we’d still have room for a table and chairs.
Husband clearing some of the shrubs in order to extend our small terrace (July 2010)
And, of course, he designed the summerhouse himself. I said that I didn’t one that looked remotely like a little Swiss Chalet, with curly-wurly bits, or a balustrade outside – not that where was sufficient space for such a creation, we were literally between a rock and a hard place, i.e. a walnut tree and the boundary wall to our garden!
And so our summerhouse was designed to look like a cross between a garden shed and a beach hut. As space was so limited, it is only 8ft by 6ft, but it’s just large enough for two chairs, a table, and a trolley for a small TV.
Quite a lot of work had been done to get to this stage, above; husband made the window frame on the right, but he bought the doors ready-made, the only things which were ready-made (we had to replace these, but that comes later.)
Husband fixing the roof in place (2010)
And the whole building was insulated, even between the floorboards as well as the roof and walls (2010)
Once the insulation was in place and electricity laid on, the walls were completed with hardboard and the whole building painted inside and out and the floor stained.
Of course, this had been a mini-building site for several weeks, between July and November 2010, and so the grass was a bit torn up, but never mind, we knew it would grow again. This is how the summerhouse looked when it had received it’s coats of paint, Farrow & Ball’s Vert de Terre for the walls and Clunch for the doors, window frame and around the roof.
As I mentioned, the doors didn’t last. We couldn’t find suitable external doors, only internal doors, and even though they received several undercoats of paint and then a top coat, they quickly rotted and so husband decided to make a pair of doors himself …
This is a photo I have used before, so apologies to those who have already seen it … this photo, taken one evening in summer a few years ago, shows the replacement doors that husband made. They are not quite the same as the original doors but I actually prefer them; they are less ornate, more in keeping with a simple summerhouse.
This is the view from the kitchen window and you can see here the steamer chairs which husband is currently renovating. Beyond our garden wall is our neighbour’s garage, so this makes our small back garden quite private.
It is a very small garden, about 30ft by 20ft, but it’s large enough for us to enjoy some grass, flowers and the shade of our walnut tree.
Four years ago we bought two new chairs for the summerhouse in a sale at our local garden centre – mostly these things are sold in ‘sets’ but there were two chairs on offer, ideal for what we wanted …
Which brings me to today because, after our walk this morning, I decided to clean out the summerhouse. So I removed all the contents, the chairs, the rug, the tea trolley with the TV, and then gave the little room a good sweep and then steam-cleaned the floor. I shook out the rug, wiped down the shelf, washed the window, and put all the furniture back. It didn’t look much different but I knew that at least it had received one good clean out this year!
The more observant among you will notice the peripatetic jug of roses, which has moved from our bedroom, to the study and now to the summerhouse! As you can also see, it was very sunny this afternoon.
On the table is not only a lamp, but also a CD player. I would like this on a shelf in due course so that I can place the lamp centrally again, but it’s not essential, and husband has so many jobs lined up that I don’t like to add this to his list!
The pictures are watercolours of birds which my husband painted when he retired, 20 years ago. I love them. He copied them from pictures by the wonderful wildlife artist, Basil Ede.
What amazed me is that until he retired husband had never painted anything in his life (I mean watercolours, not rooms with Dulux or Farrow & Ball!)
The small picture on the right, next to the clock, is a hand-painted greetings’ card from the early 1930s when an uncle (whom I never met) was living and working in Peru and sent home to his father and my mother (his sister) this card, along with another one, and my mother kept them and eventually had the pair framed. They now hang on either side of the doors in the summerhouse.
The tea trolley is one that my mother had. Husband almost took it to the tip when we were clearing her house after her death, but I suggested he paint it and it is now serving as a TV table.
So, when I say I’m off to the summerhouse with a cup of tea, or to watch Royal Ascot or Wimbledon (both in due course), you will know where I am!
Photo with original doors (2011)
Until next time.