Building storage into the garden is not so much a luxury as a necessity. As our homes get smaller – and our accumulated stuff not so much – architects are obsessed with squeezing storage into every room, in new and innovative ways. Gardens are no different; the primary focus is creating an enjoyable, liveable space, which requires clutter be tamed and tucked out of sight!
What do you need to store?
Bikes pose one of the biggest storage conundrums – almost every family has a collection, and their size and awkward shape makes them tricky to accommodate. Sports equipment generally is a big one, with surfboards and golf clubs often needing a weather-protected spot outside. Pools also pose a storage issue, with pool equipment and pool toys requiring a large share of backyard real estate. And that’s before you get to all the basic garden equipment: bins, lawnmower, hand tools – even the hose reel needs a home.
Storing your stuff well
One of the first things we’ll do is ask a client to draw up a stocktake list of all the items they need to find homes for; a real list – not an imaginary, ‘my ideal minimalist life’ list – gives us a concrete idea of how much storage is required and also how we can best configure it. For example, if we put in horizontal wall racks for those two surfboards, we can neatly fit the lawnmower or a bike or two underneath. Or, if we configure it this way, how easy will it be to access the golf clubs on a Sunday morning? Even, when it comes to bin storage, which one will be used most often and therefore needs to sit at the front.
This stocktake list also prompts us to explore new storage solutions; for example, bike storage is quite incredible, with innovative options including hinged hooks, so bikes can be hung vertically, then turned in towards the wall to take up less space.
What and how much we need to store will also help us decide whether to make something custom for the project, or use a prefabricated shed. If the client needs a lot of watertight storage, the latter can be significantly cheaper and easier.
Out of sight storage
Good storage should be accessible but virtually invisible; the aim is to create the necessary storage to keep all your garden essentials tidy, but to do so discreetly, either by integrating as much as storage as possible – the opposite of plonking a giant shed in direct eyeline – or by building facades to trick the eye.
Sometimes there’s no getting around needing a big prefab shed. They’re comparatively cheap and effective, but when you stick one in a bijou Paddington terrace courtyard, it’s going to an eyesore. A façade is a simple design trick we’d employ in this situation; the right material will blend into the surroundings and the eye will skim right over it.
We’re always looking for opportunities to hide storage out of sight. Bench seat storage is always popular – though best for items that can stand getting wet – while barbecue cabinetry is often underutilized; an idea we love is to use this space for hiding the garden hose by building in a tap and poking the nozzle through a strategic hole in the cabinet.
Every project poses a different storage challenge, but for an organisation obsessive – or just someone who likes a tidy garden – the opportunities are exciting.