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I envisioned this shed being tucked away within a large border; partially hidden yet also a focal point.

Gone are the days when a garden shed is only used for lawn mowers and rakes – today this humble structure can be reinvented  as a writers retreat, guest house or even a tea room. It can be ultra contemporary, traditional or rustic. Indeed the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

For those of us whose budget or DIY skills don’t stretch to a fully custom structure, a basic shed can be purchased at  most big box stores in kit form but the fun really starts when you consider how to personalize it to suit your style and its intended function. This may mean building on a simple porch, adding windows, shutters and skylights or being more adventurous and designing an entirely new roof profile.

Here’s the really good news; such transformed structures no longer need to be hidden at the bottom of the garden but can be featured as a focal point that offers color, interest and architectural detail year round.

Our garden cabin

The original location was just outside the back door

The original location was just outside the back door – it lacked a sense of ‘place’. (Note the skeletal tree around which I developed a large border)

When we purchased this home in late 2009 there was an existing structure on the property being used as a studio. While it offered great potential as a space it was in an awkward location – right outside the back door! Our the first challenge was to move it – you can read all about those hilarious adventures here.

The cabin is glimpsed from the front garden

The cabin is glimpsed from the front garden

It now anchors one of our main garden borders and is angled to take advantage of the view across the front garden. With its simple porch and easy-care garden it offers a delightful spot to sit on a sunny day, watching the birds playing in the fountain.

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When our daughter got married in 2013 it was pressed into service as a changing room for the groomsmen as well as a registry office. More recently it was used as a film studio and set by Craftsy when we recorded my online video class Gorgeous Garden Design; Foliage & Focal Points and I have used it as my garden office to write magazine articles, inspired by the view from the window.

Interior

My granddad built this writing desk - I'm so glad we brought it over from England

My granddad built this writing desk – I’m so glad we brought it over from England

It is furnished very simply. A small writing bureau that my granddad made has pride of place; the ink stains reveal my  early childhood attempts at writing!

Books move between my main office and this cabin

Books move between my main office and this cabin – clearly ready for re-stocking! A comfy armchair is just out of view to the right. Lots of windows flood the interior with natural light.

 

A small bookcase that was made by my dad now holds some of my favorite reference books. The pine planks used for its construction were originally floorboards in my grandparents house in England! I love that I have links both to my heritage and my family tucked in here.

A small stained glass window came from England

A small stained glass window adds a unique and colorful touch

There is even a small stained glass window added by the original owners.

Imagine this winter scene without the cabin and you'll realize how much this simple structure adds to the garden design

Imagine this winter scene without the cabin and you’ll realize how much this simple structure adds to the overall  design of this border. Winter 2014

As useful as it is, I mainly enjoy the cabin as a feature in the garden and find myself photographing it year round. Surrounded by lush foliage and enhanced by its own garden and a rustic stone path it is an important focal point. (I finally got around to painting the door a soft teal this summer which looks so much better than the original white. I wish I’d done that years ago!)

Fall 2014

Fall 2014 – that white door was so stark!

More inspiration 

Do you have a garden shed that would benefit from a fresh look? Sometimes just a coat of paint can make all the difference.

A delightful potting shed in the garden of Dominique Boltres, Victoria, Canada

A delightful potting shed in the garden of Dominique Boltres, Victoria, Canada

Look how perfectly this homeowner has pulled colors from the surrounding foliage and flowers. A wonderful shade of crushed raspberry makes this door sing while softer shades of green work for the siding, trim and accents.

Adding a touch of whimsy with decorative accents

Adding a touch of whimsy with decorative accents in this Snohomish shed

The little shed above has a lovely ‘well-worn and cosy’ feel to it thanks to a silver-grey paint color , a comfy chair, vintage rug and whimsical signs. The open door gives us a glimpse into a nostalgic scene of childhood toys and games.

For more ideas I highly recommend the book Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways by Debra Prinzing. Whether you are seeking inspiration to create a rustic retreat or something with a more contemporary vibe you will enjoy the creativity of these fascinating grown up garden sheds.

 

 

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