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.

By Andrew Wilcox

I love sheds Founder & judge of Shed of the year - Wilco writes mainly about sheds. About the blog Enter your shed into #shedoftheyear