Q & A with author of Shed Decor: Sally Coulthard

A brief Q & A with Author and sheddie Sally Coulthard , who’s new book Shed Decor: How to Decorate and Furnish Your Favorite Garden Room is out on the 19th of Feb.

Q) Shed decor is the 2nd book on sheds you have written – are you as obsessed about sheds as we are?

I think I’m getting worse.  And it’s not just sheds – I’m fascinated by lots of different small space buildings.  One of the most exciting things is seeing how people carve out and decorate spaces for themselves, without massive budgets or complicated materials.

Humans are endlessly creative, especially when it comes to living spaces – kids instinctively build shelters and hideaways, but we often lose that drive when we get older.  It’s a pity because there’s nothing more satisfying that building your own den.  There’s the old saying that everyone has got a book in them.  Well, I think everyone has a shed in them.

Q) Is your book aimed more at female sheddies or can us male sheddies get some inspiration as well?

Shed Decor – it’s not a very blokey title really – but don’t be put off.  This is definitely not a girlie book – there’s a really good balance of sheds and styles. There are some really cool shed interiors – from railways carriages to treehouses – and my take on it is that good design appeals to both sexes.

It’s telling that over half the case studies in the book are sheds that belong to men – from architects to product designers, furniture makers and garden designers.


Q) what trends have you seen while writing the book?

Vintage is losing its grip and that’s no bad thing.

There’s only so much bunting I can take.  I’ve enjoyed seeing some of the more contemporary shed designs but I think the real difference has been people working out ways to make sheds genuinely liveable, even in cold climates.

There’s been some interesting developments in insulation and solar technology – people want their sheds to be comfortable, not just a cool room at the end of the garden.

Q) what one thing would you say to a sheddie if they wanted to just make their shed look chic on a limited budget?

If it’s cheap orange timber, paint it.  If it’s nice timber, leave it. Oops that’s two things…

Q) What’s your favourite item in a shed you have seen while on your travels

I’m going to cheat a bit and say that it’s not an item, it’s the attitude of the shed owners.  One of my favourite places was a hunting hut deep in the Swedish forest.

The owners leave it unlocked all year round – for passing travellers to rest, make a fire and brew a cuppa – I just think that’s so civilised.  It’s also a gorgeous piece of simple, rustic architecture, which always helps.

Q) what’s next in the pipeline

Busy busy.  A large part of my day-to-day life isn’t book writing, it’s designing gardens and building garden rooms for clients.  I’m about the embark on a big shepherds hut project – which I’m really excited about – and part of the fun is working out how I’m going to build them.   Further ahead, another book.

About Sally

Sally Coulthard I Went to Oxford to read Archaeology & Anthropology, where I became slightly obsessed about all the fascinating ways people have built homes around the world and throughout time.  Ploughed all that passion into a working life that combines making and designing living spaces and then writing about them.  Live in North Yorkshire in a ramshackle farmhouse that I’ll never get round to finishing with a long-suffering husband – who’s a gardener – and three tiddlers.


Pocket Guide to Sheds by Gordon Thorburn – the sequal to the shed bible Men and Sheds

Shed of the year judge and shedfather of shedism Gordon Thorburn is back with a new book – the long awaited follow up to the original shed fanciers manual Men and Sheds.

“Pocket Guide to Sheds”

Iam told that quite a few of our sheddies get a mention and you may even see my ugly mug in their if it’s got past editorial proofing or what ever these book people do, it’s out on the 16 Jun 2011, just in time for Shed Week which starts on the 4th July.

And the shed featured on the front cover of the books is non other than sheddie – John Manning and Dot’s Dooket, it’s called that as it was built for dot cotton from Eastenders!

As the globe warms, everything runs out and people become the willing slaves of small electronic machines, we have our response: the Golden Age of Sheds. We can look out from our sheds and see those unfortunates, the slaves in question, the ones who would rather be stripped naked and whipped through the market square than be separated, for one nanosecond, from their portable telephones and i-thingies, and we can smile. This book is where the smilers are. Here, you can find the man who reinvigorates the entente cordiale in wood, the woman who boils kettles, the woman who says ‘I’m Nicola from In the Shed’, the man who says ‘What’s yours?’, the dooket that Jock built, the blockhouse that Noah built, a neoclassical stately home, and all manner of things musical, yogic, animalcular, roguish, ockerish and cloudy. Whether we see our shed as a place of work, a place of fun, a welcome refuge from normality, a shaded pool of tranquility, a realisation of a secret yearning, a place to pot up the geraniums, or a little bit of all those things combined, we Sheddies, tribesfolk of the mighty Sheddici, hold one truth to be undeniable. We have our sheds, and the others haven’t.

# Paperback: 160 pages
# Publisher: Remember When (16 Jun 2011)
# Language English
# ISBN-10: 1844681270
# ISBN-13: 978-1844681273

You can preorder from amazon here

Going on holiday from the shed – you need to read these books

If you are leaving your sheds for sunnier clims then you need to get some books in.

Iam taking two of these but If i had room in my case these are the all the books I would take

Sheds on the Seashore: A Tour Through Beach Hut History

Something for the beach huts history buffs amongst you a great read by former shed judge Kathryn Ferry, but I would have liked more pictures but I think that sums up me more than the book

The Shed Book – Gordon Thorburn & Gareth Jones

The Bumper edition of the original shed men and men and sheds – so all the shed inspiration you could want in one tome.

Allotted Time: Two Blokes, One Shed, No Idea by Robin Shelton

A good read for any budding allotment owners, of course think of the shed first.

James May’s Magnificent Machines: How Men in Sheds Have Changed Our Lives

Telly’s James May from that top gear and other shows writes about things we may know already that sheds played a major part in Britains culture in term,s of inventions and making things

Maybe not with a shed bent but these are a good read

Screw Work, Let’s Play: How to Do What You Love and Get Paid for it by John Williams

Maybe you want to start something new in your shed? this book gives you the boost to try it!

Brew Your Own British Real Ale

Do you know someone looking to brew their own bere maybe in a wooden outbuilding (cough, me) then a great book if you want to try something after the basic kits.

ok a special mention goes to Alex, shedworking book, you know how great it is with lots of advice for the shed worker and great pictures but its a big for my case 🙂 so cmon alex do a Kindle version.

anyway enjoy your hols I know I will, and maybe I will come back with either a positive attitude of giving it all up and working from the shed or just brew my own beer – a mix of the two would be good.

Two great competitions to win Stuff on readersheds

We have two great new comps


1) Win Tickets to the RHS Show at Cardiff
Our friends at Cardiff Council and the RHS have given me Five pairs of tickets to give away to the excellent RHS Cardiff Show

Trowels at the ready – the RHS Show Cardiff returns to the parklands of Cardiff Castle during the weekend of April 17-19 for the first outdoor event of the Royal Horticultural Society season, bringing the best of the spring blooms from nurseries across the UK, with ideas and inspiration for the growing season ahead.

2) Win a copy of the lovely new book “Beach huts and bathing machines” by Kathryn Ferry

We have 3 copies to give away, With over 100 illustrations ‘Beach huts and bathing machines’ looks at the wonderful world of seaside sheds

More Details how to enter here

Spring gardening books

There’s a plethora of new gardening books out this spring, providing inspiration on everything from design and hard landscaping to practical planting advice for both budding and experienced gardeners.

TV garden gurus Alan Titchmarsh, Toby Buckland and Joe Swift all have new books coming out, while the famous Dr D.G. Hessayon, author of the popular Expert series, is spreading the ‘green’ word.

If you’re looking for Mother’s Day or Easter gifts and beyond, here are a selection of books providing inspiration and offering advice to both budding and experienced gardeners:

1,000 Garden Ideas, by Stafford Cliff: This is the book for anyone who has trouble visualising ideas and needs some pictures for inspiration. Each category, ranging from tiles, paths and paving, to garden benches, pots, gates, edging and topiary, is illustrated with masses of small photographs to show what effect can be achieved by using particular materials and styles, from modern to traditional. Author and designer Stafford Cliff, who has visited thousands of gardens on his travels, has recorded the cleverest solutions. (Quadrille, Apr 6, £14.99)

RHS Wildlife Garden, by Martyn Cox: Instead of an Easter egg for the kids, splash out on this gem of a book to encourage your children to get into the garden and explore, as well as do their bit for the environment. There are many fun projects including making a stag beetle bucket, growing sunflowers, keeping a nature diary and making a bird house from a flowerpot. The book is full of child-friendly pictures of how to go about the tasks and features simple information about all manner of wildlife and its importance, from frogs and toads to hedgehogs, birds and bugs. (Dorling Kindersley, £9.99)

How To Make Your Garden Grow, by Toby Buckland: This book for beginners, brought to us by the new presenter of BBC Gardeners’ World, focuses largely on specific plants which are easy to grow and can make a real impact, including allium, lavender, lilies and other bulbs, as well as cottage garden favourites such as roses, delphiniums and hollyhocks. This is a book to get you started, with basic advice on the tools you need and how to enrich your soil, as well as seed-sowing, watering and looking for pests. (Mitchell Beazley, Apr 6, £12.99)

The Green Garden Expert, by Dr D.G. Hessayon: Dr Hessayon has had a massive influence on gardening in the last 50 years and now a new version of his original Garden Expert rings the changes as it’s written with the environment in mind. It shows how to care for wildlife, the environment and your own well-being, whether you decide upon a totally organic approach or prefer to take a few steps along the eco-friendly road. (Expert Books, £7.99)

The Book Of Weeds, by Ken Thompson: Anyone who despairs of all those plant invaders who pop up just where you don’t want them should bag a copy of this little gem, which features witty, down-to-earth advice on how to stop them taking over your garden. A ‘rogue’s gallery’ will help you identify whether the weeds you have are just annual or if they are hardened perennials such as the dreaded bindweed and ground elder and how to best eradicate them. (Dorling Kindersley, Apr 1, £13)

Were you in the ShedMen books?


One of my recent sheddies Chris mentioned that he was in the wonderful book Shed Men (by Gareth Jones) which of course was the follow up to the seminal shed book, Men and Sheds by Gordon Thorburn.

I was lucky to be slightly involved in Gareth’s great book, as he contacted me a few times while it was in production and asked for some shed advice (as if I know anything) and I got a thank you in the wossname (which was nice), unfortunately I lost contact with Gareth (you know where I am)

Anyway enough name dropping, It’s about time all the sheddies that were featured in the books put their sheds on readersheds.co.uk, so that you lot can see any updates to the sheds or sheddies. (of course if you have already then contact me and I will feature you

So if you and your shed were in these two great books, then please share your shed and mention which book you where in.

Of course you can still buy these great books from the readersheds book shop (which I get a share if you buy from!)

In my onion they best shed books out there, until alex’s comes out or they do a “Readersheds.co.uk the Book”, Book

Great Shed Books for Your Christmas Stocking

Its getting close to the festive season, but here are a selection of great books that would make any sheddies Christmas, get your order in soon, otherwise you will missed postage in time…

Men and Sheds -The ultimate shed and men books, great photos of the sheds and some of them are on readersheds.co.uk

Luxury Shed Calendar 2009 – Okay not a book, but very entertaining, Shed Week is mentioned as well!

Garden Buildings Manual: A Guide to Building Sheds
– from the famous haynes manual lot, a good read with clear instructions how to build certain structures.

101 Things to Do in a Shed
– a great book, but 90& of the things you may not do in your shed, but a goo little stocking filler.

Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways
– great photos and a great sheddie in Debra.

Beach Huts
– a wonderful study of these sheds by the sea, great photos makes you want to get one.

Huts, Havens and Hideaways – not read this but the photos look good.