And so the dream began on a chilly new years night in 2005 /2006 in an even chillier converted barn in Normandy. We were inspired by what friends had done and started wild and crazy imaginings of what we could do back in old blighty.
Luke had bought Garden Cottage in 2000, a 2 up 2 down chocolate box cottage that he had already extended convinced of his ongoing bachelor status, little did he know!!! At the bottom of the garden was the tumbling down potting shed which in a former life had served to heat the extensive greenhouses of the Cowdenknowes Estate where peaches, figs and other delights were grown in the 1800s. We figured either we could do nothing and watch it slowly fall down or we could breath life into it again and create a romantic, secluded hideaway.
The architects were commissioned in early 2006 but building didn’t begin until early 2008 giving us time to get the design just right and find a builder. The long, thin linear nature of the building and its small size meant that we needed to think carefully about the layout and how best to use the space we had. We decided on a bedroom, bathroom and open plan kitchen, dining and sitting room area. In Feb 2008, the bulldozers and diggers arrived and trenches for the services were dug, (our beautiful lawn ?!!) and then the transformation begun.
A small, cedar clad extension was added to the potting shed which would form the bedroom and the pitch of the roof was raised slightly to enable long thin windows just below the roof line, letting light in throughout. We were keen to have a turf roof but unfortunately the pitch would not allow, so we opted for corrugated iron. With the building work complete without too many hitches we set to work with our paint brushes. After seeing the idea in the Bar at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol, we decided to tile the kitchen with wine box ends. The architect thought we had gone slightly bonkers but it looks great and they are holding up well. A wood burning stove was put in and in the summer of 2008 we moved in whilst Garden Cottage was being extended (again!) with our 2 ½ year old and our new born. So much for the romantic hideaway at the bottom of the garden!!
Since the Potting Shed completion in the summer of 2008 we have reclaimed the lawn. Things had to get a lot muddier before the green grass was restored. In Aug 2010, 3 gorgeous tamworth pigs were bought in to begin the process of turning over the area and boy did they make quick work of it, rolling up the turf with their snouts like a carpet. Drainage was then put in and we rotivated the ground, spent days picking up stones, levelled and sowed the new lawn. The result was well worth all the hard work, now we just have to mow it.
We are thrilled with the result and so pleased that the Potting Shed has been restored to offer a wonderfully secluded and tranquil space whilst hopefully maintaining a sense of its former self.