Simon Foxton on the importance of sheds
Photograph Simon Thiselton
Menswear stylist Simon Foxton relaxes the strict door policy on his ‘hole-and-corner’: the shed that is his refuge from emails and a space to ‘tinker and mend’…
A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere you go to escape the world, to be inspired, to contemplate and create. Where is your ‘hole-and-corner’?
My hole-and-corner is my shed. It’s an 8ft x 8ft kit that was erected on site in my back garden in Ealing, West London. I’ve had it about 20 years now. It’s a kind of refuge for me. It’s where I like to mend and tinker with things. I tend not to take any computers or iPads etc to the shed, otherwise I just get bogged down in work emails and the like. It’s a hands-on, analogue environment. Music is my one concession to the modern-day in there.
Do you think it’s true that every man craves a shed?
I’m pretty sure that they do. There are very few men I know that don’t either have or want a shed. It’s that primaeval cave-dwelling thing. Or maybe more a grown-up playroom. We’re all just big kids really.
A hole-and-corner lifestyle is one that’s lived hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world – do you find that having a place of escape is increasingly important today?
Well, that is certainly true for me. As I get older I become less and less enamoured of the pace of life in the city, and the travelling, and the noise. It’s a very comforting feeling to squirrel yourself away, surrounded by your own things. I’m sure I’m not unique in feeling like that.
Is the shed for you a place for ‘doing’ or for contemplating?
During the daytime it tends to be a ‘doing’ kind of place – rewiring lamps, painting things… In the evening it’s more of a contemplating / drinking space. I like to listen to music in there while enjoying a glass or two of wine.
What’s the latest creation to have emerged from your shed?
I’m attempting to fix an old art-deco-looking HMV room heater I bought last week at a car-boot sale. I’m no expert, so it will probably end up burning the house down!
Do you have a view from your shed?
The view is of the garden and the back of the house. The garden is quite lush and leafy. ‘Rousseau-esque’ is what I’m going for, but my partner has a somewhat park-keeper mentality, so things tend to get pared back or corralled with twine and wire a bit more than I’d like!
What elements are needed for the perfect shed?
Light and heat obviously, then I think it’s all a matter of personal taste. Music, comfortable seating and plenty of knick-knacks all work for me.
Do you let other people into your shed, or is it just for you?
I do allow people in, but only a very select few. It has quite a strict door policy actually.