CABIN FEVER How a cou­ple from County Wick­low turned their gar­den shed into cosy guest ac­com­mo­da­tion

Us­ing re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, Char­lotte and John Dou­glas cre­ated a cosy home for guests packed full of cre­ative flair

25 Beautiful Homes - - CONTENTS - Fea­ture Penny Craw­ford-collins | pho­tog­ra­phy PHILIP lauter­bach

The old proverb ‘ne­ces­sity is the mother of in­ven­tion’, ap­plies per­fectly to the County Wick­low home of Char­lotte and John Dou­glas who, want­ing some­where for their guests to stay, came up with the clever idea of con­vert­ing their gar­den shed. ‘It seemed to make sense to do it up and use the space for our friends and fam­ily,’ ex­plains Char­lotte, a teacher. ‘But as it didn’t even have a bath­room, kitchen or any heat­ing, there was quite a lot of work in­volved to turn it into a live­able space.’

De­spite the ob­sta­cles, the cou­ple de­cided to give them­selves just 10 weeks to turn the out­build­ing and its plot into a com­fort­able and prac­ti­cal home. ‘ With a big fam­ily gath­er­ing com­ing up, we had a tar­get to work to,’ says Char­lotte. ‘John is an en­gi­neer, and is al­ways very hands-on, so to keep costs down, he de­cided to do as much of the work as he could him­self. He was also work­ing full-time, while I was rac­ing around try­ing to source fur­ni­ture, paints

and fab­rics on a shoestring bud­get, as well as look­ing af­ter our chil­dren.’

The cou­ple needed to work with some­thing that would be cost ef­fec­tive and quick to con­struct. Look­ing to Pin­ter­est for in­spi­ra­tion, they opted to build a steel and tim­ber frame struc­ture rem­i­nis­cent of a farm build­ing us­ing as many re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als as pos­si­ble. ‘ We knew that most of our bud­get would go on the heat­ing, plumb­ing, electrics and in­su­la­tion, so we kept the costs down by sourc­ing what we needed from sal­vage yards and us­ing in­dus­trial ma­te­ri­als,’ ex­plains John.

In a mat­ter of weeks, the new struc­ture was com­pleted. The lay­out was de­signed to be as open plan as pos­si­ble, with two bed­rooms and bath­rooms on the ground floor, and a fur­ther two bed­rooms up­stairs. To make it cosy, the cou­ple fit­ted in­su­la­tion, un­der­floor heat­ing and a wood­burn­ing stove, and in­stalled French doors to bring in lots of nat­u­ral light. These open onto a pretty court­yard, which pro­vides an ex­tra

area for en­ter­tain­ing in sum­mer. On the ground level, pol­ished con­crete floors keeps the look in­dus­trial and raw, while sisal car­pet­ing up­stairs adds nat­u­ral tex­ture.

When it came to the decor, Char­lotte and John chose a pal­ette of earthy neu­tral tones, with colours that work per­fectly along­side the cor­ru­gated iron and tim­ber. Fur­nish­ings are rus­tic and sim­ple, and some pieces didn’t cost them any­thing at all. The leather so­fas were saved from a skip, and old wooden elec­tri­cal cable spools have been given a new lease of life as side ta­bles in the sit­ting room and bed­rooms. ‘We wanted the place to feel spa­cious and un­clut­tered,’ ex­plains Char­lotte, ‘so we tried to keep every­thing quite un­der­stated, but, at the same time, a lit­tle bit un­usual.’

A few years on, the cou­ple have now de­cided to rent out their quirky pad from time to time. ‘There seems to be a real move to­wards the in­dus­trial style we love,’ says Char­lotte. ‘ We hope our guests and friends will en­joy stay­ing here as much as we do.’

sit­ting room this spa­cious area fea­tures sal­vaged so­fas and fur­nish­ings in earthy hues. Ke­lim rug, £206, Ferm Liv­ing, is a close match. For knit­ted pouffes, try Homescapes, £60. Pooky sells sim­i­lar green pen­dant lights, £125 each

Land­ing Char­lotte and John have max­imised ev­ery inch of space. sofa cov­ered in Par­quet, £51m, Har­lequin. skold sheep­skin rug, £130, Ikea

Bed­room To recre­ate a farm­house feel, John used low-cost cor­ru­gated iron and wooden cladding. halden lamp base, £39, Made, has the same look. For de­tails about rent­ing the prop­erty email enquiries@ birch­hill­house.com

en suite a cor­ru­gated iron shower em­pha­sises the rus­tic look. hamam towel, £18, No­ton­the­high­street.com, is sim­i­lar

mas­ter Bed­room With lim­ited space, the cou­ple used some clever stor­age ideas. sim­i­lar throw, £75, tolly Mcrae

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