A year long search finally produced the ideal artist's studio for potter Felice Hayward when she met specialist garden room designers Rooms Outdoor. Discovering that her investment also had the backing of a Lloyds protection insurance policy offered by Rooms Outdoor meant that she had peace of mind for both her family and business finances.
'I had always had a yearning for a building in the garden where I could work, but I hadn't appreciated just how difficult it would be to find the right company. Once I started looking, I found out that, although there were plenty of companies offering garden rooms and offices, many of them were simply furniture or kitchen designers that had branched out. They weren't true experts and so weren't sure of the planning or building regulations and that was very important to me to get it right. Others were so new in the marketplace that they couldn't show me examples of their projects in use by their customers. Obviously as a self-employed potter, making sure that any investment in my business was a sound one was really important. I had previously been in a rented space and knew that I didn't want to rent again but getting the right place was really important, and I spent about a year looking into the options.
'I came across Rooms Outdoor at a design show at Olympia and as soon as I saw their stand I knew immediately - that's it! I realised that I had finally found the company that met all my criteria as well as having some great designs that were quite inspiring as work studios. The quality was evident just by looking at them. As someone who works with natural materials I was also impressed with the natural products that the rooms were constructed from and the environmental credentials. They arranged for me to go and view a previous project that they completed in my local area before making up my mind. This is really important for an artist as you need to have a feel for your working space. I didn't want an 'officey' feel to my studio and the design I finally chose was from the Shomera range which had a vaulted ceiling giving a great sense of space and light. It was perfect as an individual working space.During the site survey I was also pleased to find out that the building would come with proper poured concrete pile and steel frame foundations. Other companies were talking about using paving slabs, adjustable shoes, jack pads and pre cast systems. Of the many companies that visited our property Rooms Outdoor were the only ones who evaluated the ground conditions as part of the survey and I was pleased that they didn't charge for the survey.
'At the planning stage, I also decided to have a sink installed and was also able to specify upgraded wiring to power the kiln. Once I'd made the decisions and placed the deposit it was all systems go and the team completed the job in two weeks with a dedicated project manager on site. It was extremely useful just to have him as a single point of contact meaning that I knew exactly what was happening all the time.
'After it was completed I let my son have a party in there to celebrate his birthday and the end of his GCSEs. We had 12 kids for a sleepover with TV, stereo and beanbags. They absolutely loved it and had a great time. I realised it would make a perfect room for them too but next day it was down to business with the installation of my equipment and wall-to-wall shelving.I also had a deck and patio installed around the studio and had lights built into the deck which made it a lovely focal point to look at from the house in the evening. The lights could be controlled from inside the main house which is really convenient. The deck made a wonderful place to relax whether it's in the evening or as a break from working in the day. The dog also loved it as it's a perfect suntrap and she'd come and join me while I was working. The studio was even featured in a lifestyle magazine.
'We have recently sold our house and the garden room was a real selling point when it came to putting it on the market. We added an extra £25,000 to the value of the property and everyone who visited simply loved it. The people who bought it actually looked at another house in our road and chose ours because of the garden room.
'I was really sad to part with the studio especially as we are now living in rented accommodation waiting to purchase and I am missing my own space. However as soon as we are settled I shall be commissioning another studio from Rooms Outdoor. I miss not have the creative inspiration from being surrounded by the outdoor environment. I've started to put my plans together already - this time it'll be a little larger and have a bathroom - to avoid the inevitable visits to the house! I may commission something with a living area so that I can escape from my work and just sit and enjoy my own 'home away from home'.