As a schoolgirl, Rachel Holcroft used to walk past a stone-built council shed which was variously used to house a truck and a steamroller for repairing the roads. The old shed on The Causeway in Cartmel eventually fell out of use and in 2010, Rachel and her husband Ian, who live next door, were delighted to be able to buy it.
Their plan had been to use it for storage but the building had begun to deteriorate and the couple decided to give it a new lease of life as holiday accommodation, which they called the Old Roller Shed.
They had the roof replaced using local Burlington Stone tiles and renewed the exterior woodwork. They replaced the old wooden doors with aluminium and glass doors which let light flood in and create a feeling of space, while remote control electric roller blinds provide privacy.
Inside, the shed has been divided into two floors, with a bedroom for one couple created on a first-floor mezzanine level. The ground floor has an open plan kitchen-diner and sitting room and a separate bathroom.
Linking the two is a ‘floating’ steel staircase with oak treads and toughened glass panels made by the Ulverston-based award-winning metal worker Chris Brammall.
“The stairs are Chris Brammall and are just amazing but I must admit a massive shout-out goes to our builder Joe Shaw,” says Rachel.
Whatever she and Ian asked for – from the mezzanine to display alcoves – Joe, who is based at Haverthwaite, was able to accommodate.
The ground floor has underfloor heating and the floor tiles in the sitting room and kitchen-diner, which were chosen for their subtle markings, are from UK Slate at Flookburgh.
The kitchen, which was supplied by Webbs of Kendal, has high-gloss handle-free cupboards, granite sparkle work surfaces and upstand and glass splashback all designed to be smart, contemporary and easy to clean.
The high stools, which Rachel picked up half price in a sale, were from Debenhams.
The bathroom is from the Builders Supply Company at Ulverston. Rachel selected square fittings, including the monsoon shower head, wc flush panel and door furniture, so that they would tie in together. The distinctive curved sink was chosen to soften the effect.
The patterned tiles in the walk-in shower were from Smart Tiles at Kendal, which also supplied the floor tiles. Rachel says the shower tiles lift the neutral decor: “It was going to be a cream box otherwise – those tiles just give it something.”
She designed a corner unit for towel storage and so that guests would have a place for their sponge bags and bath products. The unit was made by Cartmel Joinery and finished with a granite top supplied by Stoneworld in Kendal. In the first-floor bedroom, the sloping ceiling means that the bed has to be positioned away from the wall. Rachel says that if sockets had been fitted in the standard position, low down on the wall behind the bed, it would have made them difficult to reach and potentially left cords trailing along the floor. Electrician Robert Coglan, from Backbarrow, came up with a solution of fitting a wooden pillar either side of the bed to house the electrics.
“It’s better than I ever thought it would be,” says Rachel of the building. “I do love it but I still worry about it all the time. I still get nervous when people book in because I want everything to be absolutely perfect.”
Some guests have already made return visits and the Old Roller Shed has firm fans: “One of my guests said if Carlsberg made sheds, this would be it.”