Malvern Garden Buildings customers Hema and Ajai on their wedding day

From First Dates to garden dates…

You may have seen Hema on your screen back in 2016 on Channel 4’s First Dates, where she met her now-husband, Ajai! The couple had a Malvern Garden Buildings studio installed in their London garden earlier this summer.

We were absolutely wowed by Hema’s enchanting autumn/winter styling of her Studio Pent, and caught up with her to find out more about her background, what led her and Ajai to choose a garden building, plus get a dose of décor advice!

Malvern Studio with door ajar owned and styled by Hema Kalia

Food and photography

“I became an image retoucher 16 years ago, straight out of university. I’ve worked both full time and freelance along the way, retouching everything from fashion, food and beauty. I currently work at Estee Lauder Companies as the Senior Retoucher, managing a small team.

I am also a food photographer and an avid home cook. I first got into food photography about 10 years ago when I decided to make a cookbook for my Mum’s 50th birthday, containing all our Mauritian family’s recipes. Since that moment I’ve been addicted to taking photos of food, spending most weekends testing out new recipes of my own, styling the dishes, photographing and retouching them!”

A space to relax, rest – and game!

“After moving into our first home 18 months ago, we’d planned for various renovations to start this year. As both of us work from home part of the week, we wanted to create extra space so our working environments didn’t encroach into the bedrooms or living areas. Ajai had been working from what we’d planned to be our dining and entertaining area, so we wanted a separate space for him to be able to work from home comfortably without interruptions, but also a space where he could relax and use as a gaming room.

We’d come across Malvern Garden Buildings on a visit to the Ideal Home Show. We only ever went to the show for browsing purposes, but as soon as we saw Malvern’s buildings set up as work from home offices, we knew it could be a great idea for our home.”

Malvern Studio with door ajar owned and styled by Hema Kalia
Malvern Studio with door ajar owned and styled by Hema Kalia

Date nights in the garden

“Once our Malvern Garden Building had been installed, we wanted to make it cosier and decorate it that so it felt like part of the house. We painted the walls and laid our own flooring.

Prior to Ajai’s WFH office furniture going into the building, we managed to fit a few ‘dinner date nights’ in. Whilst the space was emptier, I was able to get creative with the styling – plenty of floor cushions, throws and candles can really transform a space!

Since then, the electrics have been installed and he has fully setup his WFH office in the studio. We’ve also added a few cosy furnishings for movie and games nights – rug, sofa, side table and lamp.”

And why “Rodney”?!

“Ajai is originally from Nottingham and one of his favourite pubs in there during his youth was called The Admiral Rodney, so he wanted a little reminder of home.”

Ajai at his desk in his work from home Malvern Garden Buildings garden office
Malvern Studio with door ajar owned and styled by Hema Kalia

Hema’s top tips for styling your garden building this winter season

Whether you’re planning a cosy date night in your garden building, or want to curate a sanctuary to relax and unwind, here are Hema’s recommendations for creating an inviting setup…

1. Plenty of cushions and throws
2. Candles of various sizes
3. Warm colours – oranges, reds, greens and creams
4. Dried flowers or foliage picked from the garden
5. Rustic tableware
6. Great food and wine!

You can find more of Hema’s gorgeous food and photography on her Instagram.

If you’ve styled your building for the cooler seasons ahead, or have wined and dined with loved ones in your garden retreat, we’d love to see!

Share photos of your Malvern Garden Building with us and you could receive a £20 John Lewis gift voucher! Simply email them to [email protected] and don’t forget to tag us on social!

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