Natalie and her Opticians Hut

Name: Natalie

Area: Hackney, London

Occupation: Dispensing Optician

Describe your amazing space…

It's an optician in a little wooden shed with a belltower. I used reclaimed doors and my sister designed the wallpaper. I like things that are aged and have their own stories. I put the bell tower in so there'd be ambient light; it cuts down on the cost of lighting, and is a way of putting windows in without people breaking in. Light is so important when people are trying on glasses.

What inspired you to build it?

I was going to have a market stall and sell glasses and I always wanted an optician in a caravan, but when I thought I about it they rock and that's weird. So my design is based on a little tin church as I thought why can't you have an optician in one?

What kind of planning permissions did you need?

None.

How long did the whole project take?

It took three weeks.

What was your budget – did you go over it?

I didn't have one to start with. Initially I thought £1250, but sadly that was not possible. It all escalated and my mum put in £10000 to help. I’d been collecting stuff for the interior for ages, but we also had to buy brand new stuff for the supports. It's about half new and half reclaimed.

Highs...

  • Being in a team and making something happen. I was working with two other people who were also novices at projects like this, which meant we were all on the same level.
  • Wood is amazing. You can cut and do whatever you want with it. It’s really available, it's really grounding and it's all doable.
  • There were also some amazing people who helped us out. A guy gave us some brilliant contacts, including a cool tree surgeon who gave us two trees for free. He didn't even know me!
  • Lows...
  • Not knowing what we were doing in the beginning. I got a bit wound up with the responsibility of it all. I thought it was taking ages, but everyone else thought it was quick. It's the not knowing how well you're doing because you have no yardstick.
  • The weather was especially rubbish.
  • Would you have changed anything you did? Maybe not have done it in February!Things you wished you had known before you started? Nothing really. I loved the ad hoc things, it's a learning curve which makes it exciting.Top tips for other people embarking on a similar journey? Just get on with it! Keep on trucking. Whatever happens happens. Just keep pushing and doing it every day even when it gets hard. At the end you come out with what you want.