There’s an iconic image that seems ubiquitous to British television, one that appears in most episodes of countryside crime dramas and local comedies. It is that of the old, wooden, full to the brim shed. A recurring joke is to see that these shacks are often overfilled with unnecessary and messy items. Bikes are knotted together, screws are spilt across surfaces, and a hose seems to wrap around just about everything.
Because of stereotypes like this, the shed seems unable to shift its image of being only useful for storage. And, even then, it never seems to be allowed to do a sufficiently good job. However, things seem to be changing. As more people begin moving from urban areas, searching for rural properties with garden spaces, they are bringing their sense of space with them. In cities, and especially in apartments, space matters. It wouldn’t do to have an untidy storage space because there isn’t the room to afford it. When taking on a property with a shed, new homeowners are giving sheds the same regard. Sheds are no longer being left to collect dust.
So, what’s happening instead? Well, interestingly, sheds are being more than simply tidied up. Thanks to technology, such as robot mowers and garden sprinklers, there’s less need to fill a shed with the type of bulky items we once needed. Bikes are being mounted on hallway walls and weed killers are becoming taboo. There isn’t a need to tidy a space when it’s becoming emptier and, instead, people are now looking at what they can do with the empty space.
What little is left in a shed is being stored elsewhere, leaving homeowners with an empty space that is full of promise, which begs the question, is it still a shed? If a shed is converted into a bar, is it a shed? What if it is transformed into a private workout space? These conversions are happening. Garden storage spaces are being turned into log cabins and rented as holiday stays. Others are being converted into art studios and office spaces. It seems that we need to rethink the name shed because it no longer fits.
Homes and gardens are changing too, which is encouraging different needs. As city gardens begin to be used for growing food and hosting supper clubs, have a shed isn’t as useful when compared with a wood-burning smoker or a pizza oven. And, for the large number who now find themselves working remotely, a growing number it should be said, having a private office in the garden is immensely valuable, certainly more so than a place to store old tools.
Does this mean we’re seeing the end of the shed era? Well, perhaps we are. They still seem to appear in our favourite television shows but less so in real life. Instead, it’s becoming far more common to see creative ingenuity at work when it comes to homeowners and their garden space. So, while we may be seeing less and less of our iconic sheds, they shouldn’t really be missed, since they have so much more potential.