Saturday, September 6, 2008
“We garden in fairly small plots where we seek to create sanctuaries that will shelter us from the pressures of our crazy lives… our personal gardens offer us enclosed spaces, retreats, where we can relax, meditate and feel safe.” – Rinda West
Perhaps it is a ritual related to starting every school year fresh in September. This month’s seasonal rhythm always contains a serious perusal of bookshelves for education and inspiration. A recently released volume which really cued my imagination is by Southern California transplant, Debra Prinzing. Published by Clarkson-Potter, who also publishes Martha Stewart and Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, Debra’s Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways features delectable text exquisitely paired with full- color photographs by William Wright.
Some of the building proportions are pint-sized architectural gems. Others are grander in scale than we normally associate with the word “shed”. As a collection of possibilities, Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways is a celebratory feast of intimate structures attached to personal outdoor spaces.
However, Stylish Sheds is more than a compilation of architecture, decoration and horticulture ideas to mimic. Each shed visited in its pages leaves a satisfying aftertaste of nuanced psychology of place. Each building is a perfect fusion of the cultural flavors and heritage of the owners. The menu of featured samplings is as varied from each other as chili is to chow mien. Before you are finished reading, Stylish Sheds will inspire you to think of how an appetizer-sized space can connect your garden to your home and dreams.
Using the matrix Debra used to explain each “shed”- this is the recipe I developed in re-imagining how my own shed could better reflect both my needs and personality.
Mission: My shed is the playhouse for my inner-child. It serves as a big treasure chest of hobby parts in support of my lifestyle (doesn’t that sound so much better than “storage”).
Must- Haves: Finger-tip storage system so that when I am inspired, I can move on a project without delay. Gardening is my most important avocation- so it will have an ample “plant woman’s pantry”.
Inspiration: The leaded and beveled window found on top of a neighbor’s trash. Think denim and lace for color and style.
Design Challenge: To imbue a friendly personality into what is mostly a utilitarian outbuilding and prevent it from degrading back to a catch-all. The storage needs to be as attractive as it is functional.
Creative Solutions: My husband and our sons got this project off to a good start when they built it by maximizing the footprint potential with a 1 ½ story design. Electricity expands the hours it can be used. Lots of open shelving. Creative use of containers. Used bricks elevate the floor just high enough above grade so it doesn’t flood.
Stylish Sheds inspired me. The once overflowing with no-one-remembers- what, is now a colonial-inspired retreat for our puppies. Vases, stained glass and other hobby supplies are attractively organized. And I have a plant pantry to be proud of! Next month I will share tips to keep one supplied for the same success in your garden as you have in your kitchen.
This is my September 2008 column From Lydia's Garden published in Diamond Bar's The Windmill.