Shedquarters: Part 2 – Making it Mine

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While I spent alot of time in wellies during the build part of Shedquarters, once it was built, it was a “no shoes” zone right from the outset. While wellies and earphones characterised the outdoor phase; bare feet, coffee and my bluetooth speaker were and still are my staples inside! I cannot do anything without caffeine and music on in the background; and BOY was there alot to do to get this space ready for sewing!

Let’s start by taking a look around the inside and all that wood than needed painting! It was super important to me that Shedquarters had as much natural light coming in as possible. And this informed our choice of building and it’s position. What it also meant was four long windows, and  two french doors….plus frames. Those are gonna need undercoating and glossing inside and out…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (3)

We went for a pitched roof as opposed to a flat one for the sense of height and space on the inside (those beams also offer storage options further down the road that I am pondering!). So the ceiling and beams are also gonna need painting…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (1)

As are all four of those walls…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (2)

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And the floor and skirtings. That’s a heck of alot of wood to paint! It also needed thoroughly brushing down and hoovering inside as it was covered in sawdust which needed removing before painting could begin.

But before that there’s the outside to seal and protect. So first priority is to get the exterior weatherproof. We opted for this Cuprinol Garden Shades treatment in Urban Slate…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (6)

I LOVE this colour and as a product I really rate this too. It’s a great consistency, goes on easily and covers in one coat if you don’t skimp on loading your brush.

My method was to put it on relatively thick and push it into the grooves between the wood first, then fill in the flat areas in between with what’s left on the brush.  It all seems pretty straightforward right? Which it was on the areas of blank wall. Those took me no time to cover. But if you look at this picture you can also get a sense of all the little nooks and crannies that you have to navigate with your paintbrush. Particularly where the logs intersect at the corners…but also around the window/door frames and up and under the roof overhang and facia board…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (7)

You can just about see the rain starting to come down in this picture too! Typical British weather!

It took me about 3 days to paint the exterior and prime the doors and windows. You can see in this image we also opted to remove the Georgian style batons from the windows. Three reasons. Mainly because it gives the whole thing a slightly more sleek and contemporary look. But also because it was one less element to paint (and a fiddly one at that) and it also made the frames much easier and quicker to paint…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (8)

With all of that done I was ready to start on the inside. You can probably tell from these pics that the weather was still dull, grey and damp. So I was happy to get inside…

But no sooner had I put  a single coat on a couple of the interior walls, than the sparky turned up to hook Shedquarters up to the mains! Exciting!! You can see in this pic the cabling he’s put up on the back wall to one of two double sockets in Shedquarters. It’s grey. Dark grey. Apparently he couldn’t get white. Man did that cabling take a lot of painting to obscure it!! If you plan on doing this….get white cabling. It’ll save you at least SOME paint!SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (10)

The cabling runs under the patio from the house (we had to lift some slabs, dig in a channel and lay some conduit for the armoured cabling in preparation for the electrician’s arrival). It enters Shedquarters in the bottom left hand corner of this pic and runs up the interior wall then along the ceiling to the various sockets/light switches etc. We had 2 double sockets, an exterior socket (for the lawnmower!) plus interior and exterior lights.

The interior lighting is a strip of moveable halogen spotlights from B&Q. I’ve since (Like yesterday) replaced these with daylight/white light LED spotlights. They are energy saving (5w emits the equivalent of a 50w halogen) and I’m hoping the whiter light will help with photography during the greyer days of winter. Will keep you posted on that one!SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE 11A

These 2 pics will also give you a sense of the paint coverage straight onto the untreated wood. One coat of satin emulsion essentially gives the wood a whitewash. I was eager to have as solid a white an interior as possible to bounce the light around for photographic purposes. So ultimately I had to coat every inch of the interior at least 3 times (more in some instances) to achieve the solid white I was looking for. The wood literally drinks paint. I was having some health issues at this time too which meant my energy levels were at rock bottom. So I was only managing to paint for 2-3 hours a day. So this stage took me about 2 weeks to complete…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (12)

You can see the cabling running across the top of the window from the fuse box; and the wood at various stages of coverage from unpainted to 3 coats in places. The building was actually still “settling” at this stage too. So I would paint one day. Then by the time I came in the next day there would be horizontal cracks in the fresh paint where the wood had shifted slightly over night. I became a tad obsessive with achieving as clean a finish as I could so would keep layering the paint up to cover up these cracks. I would often step out of Shedquarters and have momentary “white blindness” I had spent so long scrutinising the walls for spots that needed touching up. But I was determined to invest the time and effort at this stage as I knew I would ultimately be happier with my space down the line…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (11)

While all of that paint on the walls and ceilings obviously brightened up the interior, it seemed to be the painting of the floor that had the biggest impact and effectively turned the whole thing into one big lightbox!! When the sun was out I would venture to say that it was almost too bright inside! I put sunglasses on at one point, ha ha! But I knew from experience (and my previous summerhouse) that this effect would soften over time. For 2 reasons. The addition of furniture, shelves etc would break up the expanse of white and give the eye other things to rest on. But also, I knew it would not remain a true white. Sap from the trees remains in the wood looooong after it is cut. And over time I knew that the remnants of this would seep through the layers of paint and soften and dull the white. Which indeed it has. Less than 6 months down the line it is nowhere near as eye achingly bright …in fact in some places I’ve had sap dripping out of the beams through all those layers of paint. The knots in the wood in particular will show through again over time…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (9)

Here’s another little tip for speeding up painting window frames. For years I masked and painstakingly cut in with a brush when painting window frames. Making it one of my most hated decorating tasks. But the OH showed me that you can paint right onto the glass, let it dry and then simply scrape the paint off the glass. This is sooooo much quicker than masking, allows you to get the paint right up into the recess and achieve a better seal between the glass and the wood, AND achieve a much better finish. I’m a convert!SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (16)

In terms of painting the inside, I found the best method for me was a combination of paintpads and a large brush. I would use the paintpad heavily loaded to cover the flat areas; and the brush to push the paint into the grooves between the wood and other nooks and crannies. The paintpad needed to be changed fairly frequently as the surface of the wood was rough in places (over the knots etc) and would get soggy and shred over time. (and forget rollers. Trust me!) So I definitely wouldn’t use your best ones. Just some cheaper ones. Use them to get the paint up on the walls in the first place, then use a decent large brush to spread it around evenly and push into the recesses. That’s what worked the best for me anyway!SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (15)

One of the benefits of spending so long painting inside was that I got a really good sense of the light and even without it finished I could tell that this was going to be a beautiful and calming space in which to work. It has a real feeling of zen calm which I think the photo below really captures for me.  I need as much Zen as I can get, as I am prone to flipping out when things go wrong, lol!SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (14)

With all of the painting done it was time to start kitting it out and moving in. The weather was changing at this stage. Summer was coming, the sun was out. And I was happily sat on the floor of Shedquarters, singing to my music, putting together flatpack furniture and looking out onto the garden as it was beginning to burst into life. I remember very clearly being sat on the floor, taking the picture below, and thinking to myself…”how frikkin lucky am I?!”SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (17)

My machine table is comprised of 2 x 3 drawer Malm units and of all things, an Ikea wardrobe door! They didn’t have the length of worktop I wanted in the width, finish and price bracket that I wanted. This wardrobe door was perfect! I unded up putting additional supporting “L” brackets underneath in the centre and fixing the top to the drawer units and now it’s as sturdy as anything 🙂 One of the beauties of custom building a space is you can put your sockets exactly where you need them. You can see mine are pretty much central to the knee space of my desk. The worktop also sits slightly away from the wall to allow machine cables to run down the back as opposed to over the front of the desk. It’s a small thing but…well….you sew…you know what I mean 😉SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (18)

My cutting table!!! Ah the holy grail of sewists! Somewhere to cut without breaking your back! So….the carcass comprises of 2 second hand bookcases I bought locally for £5 then painted with paint we already had in the shed. The chair is a second hand Ikea one that I picked up for £10. The top is a high gloss tabletop that we picked up on sale at Ikea reduced from £79 to £30. So basically this whole set up cost me around £50! I’m aware that I have mentioned Ikea alot, lol! But much as I would have like to say everything was repurposed/recycled/DIY’d….at this stage I needed to be very specific about what I needed my space to do and well….Ikea have it nailed when it comes to functionality, interchangeability and versatility. I bought what I could second hand (even then alot of it was second hand Ikea) but there were some things I just wasn’t prepared to compromise on and I couldn’t keep waiting indefintely for what I needed to pop up locally and second hand. So eventually….an afternoon trip to Ikea gave me everything I needed to finish up the inside…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (19)

 

This gives you an idea of the desks in relation to eachother…I can wheel between the two when I’m on my sewing chair!SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (20)

Talking of my sewing chair…this came out of my old summerhouse and had been in the shed for over a year. (Yes, yes…more secondhand Ikea, lol!) It really needed a makeover to be deserving of it’s place in Shedquarters…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (21)

And so began my obsession with black spray paint…

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This stuff to be precise. LOVE it. Best spray paint EVER!SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (26)

My vintage weights got a spruce up…

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As did my ironing board that had also been sat in the shed for over a year (nope. Didn’t need it inside. I don’t do ironing. Life’s too short. Outside of pressing during the making process I rarely iron anything. If the creases don’t drop out when It’s hung damp…well…)SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (23)

I dismantled the whole thing (watching me put it back together would be like a comedy sketch of head scratching and staring blankly at the pieces until I realised I could just look at the photo above on my phone! Doh!) and sprayed all the metal parts black to match my new interior scheme…SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (25)

I treated the board and my sleeve board to new covers using some vintage Conran cotton I rediscovered when I collected my stash from storage!SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (28)

And here is everything set up! Oh what a happy day!!SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (29)

 

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Shedquarters is still evolving. As I work out what I need from it and how the space flows I will make little tweaks like putting up a hook here or a shelf there. So I keep things in the place where I am most likely to reach for them. And there may well be a future post where I share those kinds of things and my reasoning behind them. That roll of tracing paper attached to the wall above the cutting table is a case in point. But for now, that’s where Shedquarters is at. It’s a light, bright sewing sanctuary. It was alot of work, and saving, and scrimping (and stress on occasion) but it has been so worth it and I feel a little leap of joy every time I step inside.

I hope it inspires someone to allow themselves some priority. Yes I have  family and household expenses. And this on the surface would seem alot of time, money and energy to spend on what is essentially a hobby and something that is just for me. Is it selfish? Maybe. But why is selfish always deemed to be such a negative anyway? We give so much of ourselves to others, day in day out, (often without much obvious appreciation!) that it’s easy to forget that we too need things that replenish and feed us. We are no good to anyone if we do not look after our own  needs too. (At least I’m not) Sewing, and a physical and head space of my own is my replenishment.  I learnt a long time ago that is something I need to stay sane. (Know thyself, right?) And I also learnt a long time ago that if I address my own needs, I’m a calmer, saner, better person in general. An analogy that has always stuck with me is that our energy and souls are like cups of wine. We drink from our cups to sustain ourselves; and we allow others to drink from our cups also, every time we give of ourselves to others. Or if their cups are a little empty, we pour a little of our wine into theirs.  If all we ever do is give of ourselves, eventually that wine will run out, and an empty wine glass is no good to anyone 😉 At some point we need to open a new bottle of wine and refill our glasses.

So Shedquarters is really not for me at all….but don’t anyone else dare set foot in it unless they’ve been invited….and then they better make sure they take their shoes off….and bring wine  😉SHEDQUARTERS - MAKING IT MINE (13)

 

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34 Comments

  1. Lisa October 19, 2015

    Wow! Congratulations. That looks like it was a ton of work, but it really paid off. It looks amazing.

    Reply
  2. Ann Marshall October 19, 2015

    Wow!! Well done Portia. What a fabulous sewing space you’ve created with all your hard work. I’m very envious. No room here for anything like that, will just have to make do with the dining table for now. We are moving house soon so hopefully I’ll be able to create myself a designated sewing area.

    Reply
  3. sew2pro October 19, 2015

    Thanks so much for this detailed and extremely helpful information. You’re my pioneer! And you’ve invested so much thought and hard work into this, you deserve every inch of your perfect space.

    P.S. White blindness – lol

    Reply
  4. Jane October 19, 2015

    After all that hard work you deserve such a beautiful space of your own. It looks absolutely amazing. Well done! How could it be selfish – you are an inspiration! I’d definitely bring wine!

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      You’re invited then Jane ?

      Reply
  5. Charlotte October 19, 2015

    It looks amazing – enjoy it:)

    Reply
  6. Joanna October 19, 2015

    Wow, this is beautiful!! I love seeing sewing spaces, it gives me so much inspiration. I especially love that you spray painted your ironing board – it looks so modern and fresh!

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      The ironing board was such a transformation Joanna. Won’t make me do more ironing though ?

      Reply
  7. Anna International October 19, 2015

    Shedquarters is simply beautiful, and so functional too. Your revamped ironing board has made me think about at least making a new cover for mine – which has only ever been used for sewing purposes too!
    I totally understand you about needing time to recharge your batteries – I do too. I am hoping I can fit sewing space into my new office when we create it, but for now, it’s the dining room table, when that isn’t covered in plumbing and parts for the new bathroom we’ve just started! At least life is not dull!

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      Ah one day soon Anna I hope! Plumbing the bathroom is a bit of a priority though! ?

      Reply
  8. Renee Gibson October 19, 2015

    You could call it a “woman cave!” It is a treat to carve out a place for creative pursuits in one’s life. When my oldest child moved out of the house, I seized the opportunity to convert her room to my ideal sewing room. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your new space as much as I’ve enjoyed mine. Fabulous job Portia!

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      Thank you Renee!

      Reply
  9. Sandra T October 19, 2015

    Spray painting your ironing board legs is sheer genius……

    Reply
  10. Dot G October 19, 2015

    I am happy for you…..beautiful sewing room

    Reply
  11. karen October 19, 2015

    Your sanctuary looks wonderful and well thought out. I envy yu. I hope you have all the inspiration, peace of mind, and focus for your projects. Good Luck!

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      Aw thanks Karen ?

      Reply
  12. Becs October 19, 2015

    Wow! Looks absolutely fantastic! I totally agree that we need space to look after ourselves and we are currently looking at creating a studio space for me in the garden too. Can I ask how big your ShedQuarters is? Thanks.

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      4m x 3m Becs ? Good luck with yours?

      Reply
  13. Melissa October 19, 2015

    Good for you, Portia! The place looks fabulous and zen-sational. 🙂 I can see doing a bit of yoga out there too. Enjoy!

    Reply
  14. Seamsoddlouise October 19, 2015

    We are in the middle of a loft extension and at the end of all that upheaval I will have !y own sewing space. I cannot wait.

    Reply
  15. PendleStitches October 19, 2015

    What a fabulous space. I totally agree about the need to prioritise a space for yourself if you can. We are moving house soon and I discount anything that doesn’t allow for a space for my sewing room. Selfish…no, because if I’m happy the whole house is happy! And my hubby won’t have to look at sewing stuff scattered around the place…so he’s even happier! 😉

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      Totally agree with all of that!

      Reply
  16. Emmely October 19, 2015

    It looks like a wonderful space to work in. One thing I wonder about is how you keep it warm and comfortable in winter. It doesn’t look very insulated. Do you use an electric heater or something like that?

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      The 6 million dollar question Emmely, lol! It’s not seperately insulated but the wood is 38mm thick and the windows are double glazed. Have just picked up some of that spongy self adhesive draught excluder stuff to stick round the windows and doors to further help. I have a hot air fan heater (the kind plasterers use to dry out a room). I whack that on for half an hour on a cold morning and that’s it so far. It warms up pretty quickly and if the sun comes out I still have to open the doors as it gets too hot! However, we are not in proper winter yet so we’ll see. I have an oil rad that I might keep on a low setting through the night. I can answer the question more accurately in the spring!

      Reply
  17. Linda October 19, 2015

    Shedquarters looks fabulous Portia! Thank you for all the information, very timely as we are decorating my son’s old bedroom so I can have it as a craft space. Some great inspiration from you!

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      Oh how exciting Linda!

      Reply
  18. Sue @ A Colourful Canvas October 19, 2015

    I’m more than a little in love with Shedquarters! Light, bright, and white! I’m mentally cataloging the window painting tip!

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      Awesome tip right?? I’ll never worry about painting window frames again!

      Reply
  19. Elaine October 19, 2015

    Loved reading your thoughts on ‘me’ space. I had a significant birthday last year and my OH wanted to take me to New York. Instead I asked for a shed. I now have a similar sized and knitted out shed quarters just like yours. Almost a year has passed and I love it more everyday. He even managed to source a vintage chandelier which I adore. I sew most days after work. But the real reason I love it is that at the age of 50 I have my own space, I don’t need to ask anyone’s opinion on what I have in it, how it looks etc. I shared a bedroom with my sister before I married and now shared a bedroom with my husband. This little sanctuary works on so many levels for me as does your beautiful space. Enjoy X

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      That’s it exactly Elaine! I have to compromise on everything in the house as the OH and I have quite differing tastes and obviously there are other peoples needs and wants to consider; and it takes forever to reach agreement on the most simple things. It’s torturous! Not having to ask anyone else is sooooooo flipping amazing. Doing just as you please is such a luxury and without it, I’d probably find all the compromises that I have to make elsewhere so much more frustrating! Good hubby 🙂

      Reply
  20. Begum Sen October 22, 2015

    Wonderful space! Happy sewing 🙂

    Reply
  21. Karen October 25, 2015

    what about heat in the cold weather? insulation? – research questions because I live where we have cold winters…

    Reply
    • portia October 25, 2015

      Well the proof of the pudding is in the eating. This is going to be the first winter. So far so good. A little chill on colder mornings easily rectified by a simple portable rad. But I’ll be able to report back in more detail in the spring ?

      Reply
      • elaine October 27, 2015

        I put one of those greenhouse tubular heaters in mine (I’m in Edinburgh so we have quite cold winters). Its on permanently from about November to March. It costs less than a light bulb to run and keeps the frost away. I also have a small oil filled radiator which I put on for half an hour before I actually go into my shed. I survived the first winter but it was a little chilly sometimes. This year I’ve ‘acquired’ some kingspan insulation boards and I hope the get these installed but the thought of empyting the shed to clad the walls puts me off!

        Reply

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