If you need me, I’ll be in my studio

Lunch from Minkie’s; tablecloth from Ikea; ‘Studio 24’ from London Garden Studios; blue skies and sunshine from Mother Nature...

Ever since my friend Chris Stevenson had built his modernist man shed on Kempe Road, I’d had shoffice envy.
I watched his flat-roofed studio pop up in a matter of weeks: a slick private office masquerading as posh garden shed. Pining from my upstairs flat of our Victorian terraced house for my own contemporary creative space, I’d watch him take his 30-second commute to work, then plot up at his laptop.

When we moved a few roads over towards Kensal Green, we loved our yard – a flower- and fruit-filled bubble of shrubbery. But when the property at the end of our garden chopped down their huge leafy fig tree, it exposed a row of less-than-picturesque backs of houses; we took this as our cue to copy Chris.

Having spied Lou Rota‘s home studio (right), another Kempe Rd neighbour, we asked who the creator of her cool backyard cedarwood-clad cubby was. She signposted us down the street, to Mark Salamon and his London Garden Studios business. Marc popped over, had a butcher’s of our garden and emailed a sketch of how ours might look. Weighing up whether this was a pipe dream or practical, we canvassed opinion.

Some estate agents said we’d be better off converting the loft as a studio (which would also cost five times as much) wouldn’t necessarily add value to our property. Sure it took us a while to save up for the deposit, but we decided to take the plunge concluding it wasn’t even about massive investment, it was adding an extra room easy on the eye and an enclave of tranquility for this journo who often works from home. Anyway, I think in fact our enhancement is an investment – it’ll surely prove a big clincher in swinging potential buyers when we do go on to sell.

Taking about six weeks from start to finish, (it can take less), the garden was a bit crazy during the building process – but we loved having Marc around – and of course we are thrilled with the results. We didn’t need planning permission due to the size, but it may be required depending on your local authority, the size of your studio, the size of your garden and whether you are in a conservation area. Electricity is supplied from the main fuse box and all studios are fully insulated.

The studio was built on-site from scratch, with minimal disruption – all the work takes place in the garden. We enjoyed our daily visits from Marc and Nicky and their Radio 4 soundtrack. The only miniscule regret? The project start a bit later than we’d originally planned, which meant it was completed late autumn rather than late summer, so we had to wait the whole of winter before the lawn recovered we could start nuturing the plants. (Our tip: get it done earlier in the year so clement weather has the surrounds looking green and leafy again sooner.)

Finally, having found a nature-complementing desk that I like looking at through the glass sliding door (my pal Ian Williams created a great gin-inspired juniper-berry iron table that fits nicely), I’m reading for this great unveiling. (Beloved Ian has provided much carpentry wizardry for us too, see our shutters in the sitting room.)

Prices vary as studios are designed individually but they start at about £10,800 for 2m x 3m up to almost £20,000 for a 5m x 4m building; this includes skylights, foundations, electrical work – everything you need to walk in and start working!

‘If you factor in the value you can add to your home and what you might pay if you had to rent an office, it can prove an extremely cost-effective way of expanding your living/working space,’ says Marc. And he’s right.

And now when friends come over, it’s them with the shoffice envy.

Contact Marc Salamon of London Garden Studios for more information: ring 07958 511195 or email  mail@londongardenstudios.co.uk

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