The idea of a little garden summer house came from two different concepts; firstly, the farmer opposite our house was getting rid of loads of various different size cable reels. Which got me thinking.... what could I make with them?!?
The other thing was that I wanted to make a chicken hut and decided that a reel would be the perfect base.
Once I had put the chicken hut together, I wanted to make something bigger. That is the back story for the summer house.
Step 1: The Making of a Summer House and Natural Pond/plunge Pool
Unfortunately, I have a serious issue that is not helped by Instructable! If I see an idea, and decide that I want to build it, that's all I want to do. Also, I have no patience, meaning that I can have several projects up and running at the same time. Whilst I was in the beginning of the summer house, I saw a youtube video for a natural swimming pool. I loved the aspect of the natural non chemical water in the garden that wood entice wildlife, but not quite as big. After doing the research, and seeing how much service areas needed to be plant, I also decided that I would create a plunge pool aspect in the middle. 1 thing at a time though.
So the summer house started with a tractor tire and large reel.
The reel was measured and I cut 2 x 4 size wedges out for the structure to feet snugly into. As you can see in the pictures, I have 7 struts made out 4x2's. They are in the reel cutout whole, but also touching the ground for extra strength.
I must mention that not only did I want to do this as economically as possible, but also as eco friendly and with only basic tools and little but no building skills.
The steps are made from an old oak beam given to me by the farmer, which I chainsawed up( it could not be used for much else before you shout at me!)
The roof was made of 2x4 and cut to lean in on each other. I ended up adding a 2x4 strut inside just in case to take the weight of the live roof. (see images later)
Step 2: Outer Layer, Roof, Windows, Doors and Cladding
Once the main wall and roof supports were in place I needed to start adding support to the roof. I have added a pdf of the basic spiderweb style that I made. I used old pallet wood and screwed them to the main 'beams'.
I then covered the whole roof in old canvas, then a layer of thick clear plastic. I a wooden lip all the way around the top to prevent any of the soil and live roof to drop off. Then covered the whole thing again in a clear plastic sheet. I covered that in hessian/burlap bags which wood act as water retention, then made a mix of compost and the water retaining beads(made out of pottery).
The sides were made out of plywood. I didn't bother with marine plywood as I was going to cover it asap.
The windows were put together with bits of wood I had about, and the 'glass' is actually perspex.The window that you can see in the image has hinges and can open. The other is set in place.
The door was donated by the neighbors, (cheers Gary and Fe) and I cut it in half so that there would be less strain and weight on the structure. I also prefer the look.
To the right of the door, as I had no plans of making a window, I added a small detail. I found an old glass vase, and cut in into the plywood.
The aim was to use cob, so I also added some cladding, but then also surrounded the whole structure in chicken wire just to be safe.
The cob was made of sand, lime, and clay from the garden and nettles, however, this soon became apparent that the amount of clay needed was not going to be possible. Also, I tried a variety of recipes, and some worked better than others. I left different patches of mixes on the outside for a couple of days just to see the outcome. I ended up using sand, lime, dried nettles and cement. Just because I wanted it to last.
This was spread on using hands(yes gloved) all over to get the rustic cottage look.
Once the render was dry, it was painted in masonry paint, cottage cream I think.
Step 3: The Inside, Furnishing, Wood Burner
As mentioned before, I was a little worried about the weight bearing capability of my carpentry skills and roof =-0
so I added a support in the middle. This went in the center whole of the reel, then middle of the roof. I added a skim board table which can be stowed away up against the ceiling.
The inside is covered in an old canvas tent and stapled, The ceiling is the same, but a orange canvas tent. I built a fire resistant block wall at the back for my gas canister wood burner( I have included the link for my blog which shows how I made this :http://jedisurvival.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/wood-burner-from-gas-canister.html) and also added some old galvanized roof to the wall directly above.
I then used an old reclaimed beam for two of the benches and cut the at 45 degrees to fit into the circular space. The back rests are made from plywood, an old duvet for the cushion and some curtains. All cut to shape and stapled at the back, then screwed into place.
On the floor of the reel, there are multiple wholes, so I took a mold and made clear resin covers, under the summer house I fitted some fairy lights, and stuck them under the resin covers, this gives off a cool atmosphere at night.
There are some lanterns that I got from a local auction and are now used to hold little candles.
In the future I would really like to set up some solar power system just for a radio and light.
Step 4: Done! Not Yet....
The summer house may be finished, but as I said, I like to do multiple projects... So what summer house is compete unless it has it's own natural plunge pool I hear you shout! Exactly.
Bring on the digging....
I am fortunate to live in the Lincolnshire Wolds which is an AOAB (area of outstanding beauty) but the terrain is hell to dig! It starts with about a foot of earth and stones, then goes into layer upon layer of flint! It was like trying to dig into a bank vault.
The plunge part is 1 x 1.5 meters and a meter deep. Just enough for 2 people to sit in on a warm day. The whole pool measures about 3 meters in diameter. Once the hole was dug, I reinforced the plunge pool with cable reels, then lined it with old carpets. Then I used pond underlay to cover the whole area, added the lining, and covered again in underlay. This i for two reasons; 1, the dogs can paddle and I can relax knowing that the lining is a little protected, 2, I would like the sides to grow with natural vegetation to hide the lining, and I thought that a fibrous material would be better for the roots that the lining.
I have used another cable reel as a dock. The regeneration area has lots of oxygenating plants and water lilies.
Finished it off with some rope and pickets.
The Mrs has spent the summer putting in stone paths, and has finished it off nicely.
Just waiting for nature to take over, for the plants to settle and voila .....
Hope you enjoyed it, I learnt a lot whilst doing the projects. Please don't assassinate me, I realise there are things I could have done differently (better) but this is it. Please comment, leave ideas, and look up my blog for my other projects.I will be adding some more intructables in the future.
Please vote for me. I am in the first instructable, outdoor structures and outdoor contests.