Like so many people, it had been a dream to build own own home one day. When looking at the cost of land and realising it wouldn't be possible for us we put the idea to one side. It re-emerged however when we needed to build a workshop in the garden of our new home. We could have someone else design and build it, or this could be our opportunity to fulfil that dream. And so design work began.
Whilst our business was growing, we worked from various different outbuildings and so had a very clear idea of what we wanted and needed from this space. This is such an important area to focus on when planing any sort of project. It really helps to have clear idea of your priorities and to know what you like and what you don't like. Our priorities were being able to see outside and work in natural light (having worked from a windowless garage for the previous year may have contributed to this!) and having good storage space so that everything had a home. These priorities, amongst others were to focus of our design and because of their importance everything else worked around them.
Whilst how the building appeared visually wouldn't impact directly on our ability to work in there, we were conscious that the design needed to work within the plot and existing building. It's not easy to design a new building to work alongside a thatched cottage and 1960s black timber clad outbuildings! Getting the balance between conforming to a predefined style and doing what you really want is difficult. We wanted to be brave and try to do something different but still be sympathetic to the surroundings. One such topic we had many discussions about was the direction of the cladding for the workshop. It was already a different size, shape and colour to the black outbuildings but would it look 'wrong' to change the direction as well? We think we made the right choice :)
Something we quickly learnt is that by being involved in every step of the process your work has a knock on effect on the next stage. If the concrete you poured is not level... then everything from that point is out. This can be frustrating and invigorating at the same time! Frustrating when you rush something and find yourself having to correct it later but so rewarding when the time and energy you pour into something pays off and you get to reap the rewards.
This is the same within our business and why we both initially wanted to move away from working in establishments where we were one tiny cog in a big wheel. One of the most joyful parts of having our business is that we are involved in every aspect of it. As with our workshop build, there is no opportunity to pass the blame to someone else but because you are responsible for the end result, you take so much more care over the earlier stages.
This is a workshop but it is also somewhere we have built to hone our craft and to be able to enjoy designing and making on a daily basis. This influenced a number of decisions within the interior setup. We wanted to celebrate the engineering calculations within the structure which is why we decided to leave the metal brackets on display with the huge bolts fixing the entire structure together. A simple reminder of everything that went into it. Our friend commented "this is not really a workshop is it, it's a gallery for your tools!" But we spend every working day in there and so wanted it to be a positive environment that would remind of of what we are capable of achieving and help continue to generate inspiration.
The success of our early business days was what enabled us to buy our home with enough land to build a workshop. This building is a result of the young LayerTree business and means we have been able to grow LayerTree into a business that will provide for the two of us.
If you would like to pin this post to read again later you can do so below or you can watch our video time-lapse of the entire workshop building process here.