Garden enthusiasts, out-building aficionados and shed superstars are gearing up to enter one of the most iconic events in the UK - the 2019 Shed of the Year competition.
The much-loved national competition, sponsored by woodcare brand Cuprinol, returns for its 13th year with entries open until June 17th.
Last year’s winner featured a self-sufficient space in which ‘self-watering’ technology, designed and developed by winner George Smallwood, allowed vegetables, herb gardens, bugs and bees to thrive. Aptly named the ‘Bee Eco Shed’, the creation impressed the judges and took home the title.
Cuprinol has long supported a natural approach to the great outdoors, which this year has inspired an extra category in the competition - ‘Nature’s Haven’.
The new category addition represents a new opportunity for entrants to submit designs inspired by nature, demonstrating the shift towards an un-landscaped outdoors, as keen gardeners nationwide embrace a trend for garden maintenance that allows the natural to thrive.
Research from Cuprinol recently revealed that more than a third of Brits (35 per cent) will allow nature to take over part of the garden this summer, leaving a section unmaintained to embrace the wild outdoors.
Entries should be developed to work alongside and within a natural habitat - in much the same way as Cuprinol’s woodcare products, which are specifically designed to complement the natural environment, with colourful and protective formulations inspired by the great outdoors.
Entrants will be invited to submit their shed for one of nine categories, calling out for creations that celebrate the ‘unexpected’ to the ‘historic’ and everything in between, including the ‘#notashed’ category which launched in 2017.
Founder and Head Judge, Andrew Wilcox, AKA Uncle Wilco, says: “Since the competition started 13 years ago, we’ve seen some brilliantly creative uses of sheds across the UK.
“We’ve always had designs that highlight their natural surroundings but creating a space that works seamlessly with the environment and supports the growth of the garden it’s in is an impressive achievement. That’s why we’ve introduced the ‘Nature’s Haven’ category into the mix.”
Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Cuprinol, comments: “There is so much more to our sheds and outbuildings than storage for DIY tools gathering dust - Shed of the Year is a celebration of great British creativity.
“The garden is an extension of the home and a place where people are increasingly looking to spend more time - it’s like adding another room to your house if you get it right. Using colour is a great way to enhance the natural environment and Cuprinol Garden Shades range is a simple way to inject new life into the garden, whether on a fence or shed.”
Entries, which need to include at least two photos of your dazzling designs along with an explanation of your inspiration and what makes your shed stand out, can be submitted via Readersheds.co.uk up until 17th June 2019.
NOTES TO EDITORS;
About Shed of the Year
Shed of the Year is a celebration of the great British shed in all its forms. From the miniature to the massive, the modern to the traditional, the cosy to the minimal and everything in between, you'll find sheds of every conceivable shape, size and function in the annual competition.
The man behind the competition, Uncle Wilco is also head judge. A passionate sheddie since his youth, his mission to open the eyes of the world to the importance of the shed, of course the idea came to him in the birthplace of many other fine ideas, the pub!
This year’s categories are;
- Nature’s Haven
- Pub & Entertainment
Cuprinol – for your great outdoors.
We think nature is wonderful, from colonies of bees that pollinate our gardens to plants that actively clean our air of toxins, nature is constantly dazzling us with its beauty and function. That’s why at Cuprinol we take inspiration from our natural surroundings, developing products that work with nature to colour and protect your wood.
From our Ducksback technology that keeps wood healthy by repelling moisture - just like water off a duck’s back. Through to our Garden Shades range of colours that are inspired by the natural world and designed to let the natural grain of the wood shine through.
We’re on a mission to help you make your outside a brighter space for living, so step outside, welcome nature in and turn your garden into your great outdoors with the help of Cuprinol.
UNCLE WILCO’S TOP TIPS
Founder of the Cuprinol Shed of the Year competition, Andrew Wilcox, AKA Uncle Wilco, provides his pointers for impressing the judges and what to consider when submitting your shed creations.
Think about how your shed could be unique from all other entries. We’ve genuinely seen it all over the past thirteen years - you need to consider the competition. Can your shed top a Roman temple or a shed made-out of a boat? If the answer’s no, you might need to up your game!
Get Hands On
We love workshop sheds & sheddies who make. Do you create something special in your shed, is it a hub of interesting activity like bee-keeping or a secret boozer? Is it the headquarters of your business or is the exterior totally out of sync with what goes on indoors? We love the weird and wonderful.
We’ve got a whole new category this year - ‘Nature’s Haven’. Inspired by sponsors Cuprinol who develop woodcare products to complement the natural environment. How does your shed attract nature? Is it a haven for wildlife, like last year's winner the ‘Bee-Eco Shed’, or is it a haven hidden within a tree? We’re really excited to see the entries in this category.
Who’s It For?
Is your shed a hub for family & friends, is it the venue for any neighbourhood gathering worth going to, or maybe your tranquil place where you get away from it all? We think all spaces tell a story and one man’s relaxation is another man’s mayhem - the contrast always surprises the judges so make sure to include the shed’s uses in your entry.
Does your shed inspire others to create their perfect spaces? We love it when we get entries that make us think ‘that’s genius’ or ‘I wish I’d thought of that’. Shout about why your entry is different and what inspired you to come up with it.
Q&A; GEORGE SMALLWOOD
For issue with news release;
2018 Cuprinol Shed of the Year winner, George Smallwood, shares his tips for this year’s entrants and what’s inspiring his latest projects.
Can you tell us about what inspired your design last year?
I have always liked wildlife and am an avid viewer of David Attenborough documentaries - they inspired me to change my shed. I wanted something premium that allowed me to use the space in an efficient way. The shed I built was specifically designed to encourage wildlife to share it with me - not to keep bugs, bees and birds out.
Your entry was quite unique in that you were already producing around 14 litres of honey a year - have you increased your number of hives and what do you do with the produce?
Yes - it’s a hobby of mine and I love it. This year’s batch has already been given away but I’ve kept some jars to use as wedding favours. I’m looking into how to turn it into a product too - I think lip balm is looking most likely at the moment. The plan at the minute is to do a harvest at the end of July, but if we have a good spring, I might get some in May.
This year, Cuprinol Shed of the Year has a new category - Nature’s Haven. Having won the overall competition last year with an eco-shed with a self-watering system and beehives, what do you think we might see in this category in 2019?
Hopefully one similar to mine! I think it would be great to see a design that incorporates different aspects of building and joins human requirements seamlessly with those of the natural environment.
What would your advice be to this year’s entrants?
The best advice I can give is to build a shed for yourself. You have to build it because you want to, otherwise there’s no point - personal passion shines through. Entrants really need to think about the balance between clever design and practicality as well - there’s little use in designing something beautifully complicated that isn’t fit for purpose.
How has life changed for you since winning Shed of the Year?
Well for starters, you can find me on Google - that always makes me laugh! I’ve been approached by BBC Radio 1 and am regularly talking to media which is not my usual gig. I think it’s what you make of it.
How have you transformed your shed with the Cuprinol paint you won as part of your prize?
My winning shed was fully completed, so I’ve actually set the paint aside for my next project. I’m hoping to create a glamping shed, but one that embraces nature, which is what I think Cuprinol does so well - it works within a natural environment without looking garish. I want to insulate it with sheep’s wool and use as many natural materials as possible.
What would you say is the best thing about having a shed? What are those of us without one missing out on?
For me, it’s being able to get an inside look at the nature in my garden. Working with bees is so satisfying - they take a lot of work but it’s brilliant to see solitary bees joining hives. I’ve also got a camera in my hedgehog house and seeing the changes over the course of a year is fascinating - the different wildlife that comes with the seasons never fails to interest me. Admittedly, the storage is handy too! I love being out in my garden, the challenge of using the space to best effect. Honestly, I don’t really understand people who want to cover their gardens in paving - it’s so unimaginative!
How do you like to spend time in the garden?
My garden keeps me really busy! I have different sections; one for storage, one for watering equipment and I’ve got a pond, where the water is recycled to feed the garden plants. It’s a brilliant little ecosystem. This year I’ve got frog spawn for the first year too, which is great. I’ve got a garden on the shed roof with plants that I tend to and then for chilling out I’ve got a seating area and a space I call ‘hammock world’! It’s a great space for switching off, you can hear the world outside, but you can’t see it.
What feature are you most proud of?
My design really made me consider different features - it created problems that I needed to think of solutions for, so as not to compromise on the end results - I’m proud of the solutions I came up with.
Originally, I’d planned to access different levels via a basic ladder but that wasn’t efficient, so I designed the stilted staircase which I think is a real feature. I wanted a curtain rail but couldn’t find anything in-keeping with the design, so I got creative! I used a trellis instead and gate handles to loop the curtain through.
I’m a big fan of ‘growing your own’ too, but it can take a lot of work so I’m particularly pleased with the self-watering system. I created herb drain pipes, so when it rains the water is filtered through two downpipes. I had to heat the plastic in order to bend them into shape so that the water went straight to the route of the plants. I locked in the bent sections with gravel but topped the end of the drains with soil and herbs. It means that the plants take care of themselves and I just have to keep an eye.
What feature was most impressive for the judges?
I think they really loved that the shed doubles up as a home for the bees. It’s quite unusual to find working hives in urban spaces, so that was definitely a stand out for them. They also commented on the staircase and the pulley system with my hanging baskets which was designed to keep the door open as required.
Do you still use the shed in the same way as you did?
Yes, I do, although I’m not immune to the struggles that all shed users have, namely resisting the urge to fill it with ‘stuff’! I’m still working out the best way to use the bird house and the palette board is going to be used as part of my wedding, so that’s a nice touch.
Have you made any modifications or changed anything since last summer?
I was really happy with the design when I won, so I don’t want to make too many changes really. There are a couple of new challenges; I’m keen to encourage the birds to share the space but it’s not easy to do and keeping cats off the roof means it’s even harder! I’d really love to create a bird sanctuary, so I think that would be the next key upgrade and I’m going to introduce new herbs and vegetables later this year with some more ‘year-round’ plants.
Are there any features, in hindsight, that you wish you’d included or added as part of your entry?
I’m happy with the features, but there are things I’ve learnt since that I wish I’d known when I started the project. The key one, and it sounds basic, is that every centimetre does count! The stairs are quite high, so I’ve redone the drive since I built the shed to combat that and I wish I’d sometimes built the structure closer to the wall.
I also wish I knew a little more about ventilation and roofing. I kept the roofing quite basic, but it requires regular upkeep, so I wish I’d maybe spent more time understanding the best approach to avoid any damp.
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