Harry Villiers' home office in the garden

Harry Villiers' home office in the garden

Harry Villiers, of furniture making brothers Villiers Brothers, took some steel, wood and glass and built an enviable bolt-hole in his Essex garden

Noah Dugall
Villiers' home office/den is has a wood floor bought on eBay. It's decorated with objects he's found while sourcing for Vintage Archive

It's 7m long and 4m wide, it's got big windows and no one can go in without his permission. Harry Villiers designed his elegant and supremely well insulated garden bolt-hole and built it with the help of  a local builder and his two sons for around £20,000.  Inside it's full of fascinating objets he comes across while sourcing for his new venture Vintage Archive, which offers an electic and ever-changing range of antique, recycled and upcycled furniture and decorative pieces.

Many of us long for a shed in the garden. We look at wooden flatpack ones, but then think if only it were bigger, and had more windows and looked a bit more interesting..and had lighting and electricity and oh...that'll cost a fortune... so it never happens.

So let Harry Villiers inspire you to action. He'd spent a long time wishing he had a space of his own in the family home, and finally decided to sketch the sort of thing he wanted - in the garden, it should be a simple rectangular shape, have big windows, a flat roof, and look modern. And because he's not got a city pocket handkerchief garden, it could be quite large.

Villiers is a furniture designer, with a background in making props for film and advertising, so he's very practical. It also helped that his furniture company, Villiers Brothers, specialises in metalwork and its workshops were able to manufacture the steel frame the building sits on.

 

Interior decor changes frequently
The salvaged oak floor was sourced from eBay
Villiers is very happy on his own in his shed, which isn't quite the right word for it..

But his point is that this uncomplicated structure can be scaled down for smaller gardens, and if you get advice from your local authority, find the time to source materials, and enlist a good local carpenter/builder, you can achieve what he's achieved at half the price you'd be charged going to an architect or a company that 'specialises' in what you might call designer garden rooms.

'This cost about £20,000, which is far less than a company would charge for a room this size,' says Villiers. Who, it has to be said, doesn't want everyone calling at once for him to come and do them a garden shed - he has precious little spare time as it is with Villiers Brothers and his new venture Vintage Archive.

The building, which didn't require planning permission, took 10 weeks to put up. No foundations had to be dug, but four concrete pads were made in the ground, and steel girders were laid on them. The structure and walls were built from softwood, and the exterior of the building was clad in cedar. The office/shed was insulated with Celotex and is consequently warm, even in cold weather. The walls were plastered and painted, and Villiers sourced the oak floor on eBay. 'It was salvaged from school and still had bitumen on it. We melted it off and used it to secure the oak to the subfloor.' 

 

Find a builder who can help you build an interesting garden room
The building is made from materials that can be recycled, wood, glass and steel

Villiers is delighted with the result. 'It's obviously not a DIY shed, but it was not difficult to build. For me, personally, I used to have my bits and pieces spread all over the place, but now I can keep them in the garden office, and it's a great room for me to come to when I need to focus.'

Harry Villiers works with brothers Tom and Hugo at Villiers Brothers, and he has launched Vintage Archive with his friend, graphic/web designer David Riches.

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