An Old-Time Garden Shedcomments (4) April 29th, 2009 in Blogs
by David Edrington
There’s no obvious connection between burying utility lines and putting up a garden shed, but that’s what happened at our house. After years of trying to get the power company to streamline a patchwork of wires that crossed over our backyard, the work finally happened. It meant that at last we could improve our yard without worrying about a trench carving it up in the future.
So we fixed the drainage; terraced the slopes; and built rock walls, a brick patio, and a pergola. We also left a spot in the southeast corner for a garden shed.
|A tiny building with a big presence. In the southeast corner of the lot, at its highest point, the garden shed helps to define the borders of distinct outdoor spaces, including a formal garden with a fountain at its center. Drawing: David Edrington||Make it look old. Exposed framing with diagonal sheathing harks back to early-20th-century building practices. Recycled windows, an old Dutch door, and used brick emphasize the rustic feel.|
Make it more than a storage bin
Initially, the shed’s purpose was to store garden tools and supplies that were clogging the garage. Its role evolved into a place where we also could have tea and maybe even camp out with the grandchildren. The shed’s most important purpose, however, was to anchor the corner of the yard visually, giving shape to a series of roomlike outdoor spaces. (To view the yard, click here.)
Starting points for the design included a porch (teatime shelter on a rainy Oregon morning), a steep roof (18-in-12 pitch to relate the shed to the steep roof of the existing house), and no modern construction materials. We did use a modern design tool, though. Creating the design in SketchUp let us build the shed on-screen, right down to the number of studs. Our builder, Marv Glover, used both two- and three-dimensional views as he assembled the shed.
|Almost like a four-poster bed. Surrounded by bracketed posts, the porch extends the architectural details and colors that characterize the main house into the backyard.|
|It’s a sleepover shed. Camp-style beds in the loft slip into dormers on both sides of the steep roof. The hatch in the floor between them leads to a pull-down ladder for access.|
We compromised a bit on our old-materials-only directive. Besides an electrical system, we installed 1-1⁄2-in. foil-faced rigid insulation under the roof and wall shingles to boost thermal performance. We also mixed our own weathered green stain for the shingles and used gloss enamel paint on the trim and other exposed wood.
The shed is a pleasure to look at any time we’re in the garden, and it’s a wonderful retreat from the house. We love it. The grandchildren love it. In the summer, it is the last spot in the garden to be hit by the late-evening sunset. It glows.
—Architect David Edrington is a frequent contributor to Fine Homebuilding. He’s based in Eugene, Ore. Photos by Kent Peterson.
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