George Park

What Happens At The Bottom of The Garden.

So there’s George happily working from home, successfully creating a gallery of his own photography, tackling increasing numbers of framing projects for family and friends.  Other jobs are starting to come in from the first efforts at marketing, but still he has to work from his kitchen, using any space around the house to store supplies as well as keeping safe artwork before and after framing.  It is at this point that most peoples’ minds turn to workshops and sheds. 

In fact these thoughts hijacked George’s and his wife’s plans for a rather elegant summerhouse and combined work area.  They had been looking at plans for Colonial Barns on the internet as the ideal solution; however the anticipated building costs (0ver £10,000) led them to ideas of building their own summerhouse using a company in the UK.  This also coincided with George putting the finishing touches to his training, so he now realised the need to “spread out” so that he could take on a wider range of framing jobs.   A summerhouse would mean that they still have a space to sit out and enjoy barbeques in their garden “after hours”, but it could also provide that space for George to work comfortably on his framing.  It also addressed the dilemma facing most of us: invest in a workshop in anticipation of increased custom or manage with the kitchen until you have had enough work to afford the workshop?

Size is always an issue because the more space you have to work in, the better.  Mind you, it is also true that you will fill whatever space you have.  However, for George and his wife, it was equally important that this framing outpost did not spoil the proportions and style of their lovely garden.  In the end they have a really good sized summerhouse with an elegant porch offering an impressive 4.8 m square internal work area with a 1.5 m covered porch.

In fact all construction work was undertaken by George himself and has been finished with his trade-mark eye for detail and quality.  At DIYframing we remember hearing about him making and pegging out shuttering for a concrete base (all concrete to be transported by the barrow load into place: we did admire his stamina.  At that point it would have been so easy for us to have weakened and to have offered to lend a hand: we of course resisted because we know how important it is for George to do things for himself!!! Amazingly, the whole process, from base to having a barbecue on the summerhouse veranda, only took two weeks.

As a working environment it works well all year around.  There is an electrical power supply into the summerhouse so internal lighting has been boosted with 4 strip lights and a series of spotlights with daylight bulbs.  Heating is also easily maintained and a potential problem with damp has been avoided by using a simple de-humidifier.  Workbenches have been built to suit the space and George’s working position: without benches set at the correct height, working for long periods of time can not only be uncomfortable, it can also be very detrimental to health. Although the dehumidifier and moulding racks do mean that storage of mouldings and mountboards is not a major problem, George tends to order stock as he needs it, which avoids a build up of clutter that has to be worked around.  In all workspaces it is important to be aware of the “flow and movement” between areas as any project progresses: constantly having to clear tops or having to move back and forth between workstations can be time consuming.

Having the increased space to work in has also made George reconsider some elements of his tool kit.  He has now upgraded to a professional, floor-standing moulding guillotine / chopper (Morso) and underpinner. In fact, by coincidence, these new purchases arrived just ahead of that order from the pub for 10 framed photographs, making the whole undertaking much more manageable. 

Occasional customers make it to the bottom of George’s garden, although like most people working from home, visiting customers in their own homes is part of the service package. But those that do make it there enjoy their visits and comment on how ideal a place it is to work in.  Cats on the veranda, hi-fi switched on, fresh air, cup of coffee, a hobby turned into paid work and your own boss. Perfect? George would certainly say so.


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