The lowly backyard shed goes by many names but having a small out building is a plus for any home.
Small backyard sheds are trending. These may be called she-sheds, bar sheds, she-caves, he-caves, or a writing cabin like the one at the edge of an Ontario, Canada cornfield where author and blogger Ann Voskamp [top] types out her best selling books. Furnished with rugs, a sofa, and a desk, the cabin allows Mrs. Voskamp, who describes herself as a “farmer’s wife,” to work at a remove from her six children.
Sheds are may be art studios, potting sheds, garden sheds, cabin sheds, mini barns and back houses. Today, they look like little houses, barns or cabins but from the 18th century through the Victorian era, they were elaborate Roman temples, rustic towers, mills or even pyramids lurking on the grounds or in the woods around the manor house. Constructed purely for atmosphere they were often crazy looking and crazy expensive which is why such a building was called a “folly.”
Today’s follies are purposeful — usually. But as these show, we still love our crazy. And they don’t come cheap. On a tour of my local prefab shed vendor today, a 10 x 14-foot Patriot Quaker shed [above] with a cupola ran about $5000 and the interior still needs finishing. Larger sheds ran up to $25,000. Old or new, sheds come in a wide range of styles, sizes and colors. The modern-day equivalent of an English folly, the shed has become an expression of a fantasy and individuality. And, like a folly you see in an English costume drama, there usually is no electricity, heat, toilet or lighting.
Style for My House. If I were to build a custom shed, I’d go for a style with cedar shingles and white trim — since that would match my house. On the folly scale, this building is merely a 2, since its noteworthy features are an overhanging porch and a trio of skylights. Part potting shed and part greenhouse, the skylights help seedlings along. A stone pathway leading to the shed links it to the house and garden, as does the abundant foundation planting.
Polychrome Pagoda Garden Shed. A multicolored garden shed has an outrageous pagoda-style roof and a late Victorian color scheme. I love this one even for the just-bigger-than-a-phonebook size and the very English colors.
To optimize the space a pair of doors open out to reveal a brick floor and built-ins done with repurposed shutters. The combination of khaki and pine greens is sophisticated, decorative and sheer perfection.
Little Chapel under the Tree. Gothic windows, salvaged from a church, give this potting shed a unique “little chapel” character. Divided light doors also allow the owner to use it as a painting studio but with the white picket fence and birdbath, this looks like something from an episode of Miss Marple where the Vicar’s wife, emerging in her gardening hat, finds that someone has tragically fallen from the ladder.
Victorian He-Shed. A story in Country Living explained how a couple from Iowa, who love to renovate, found a run down Victorian home in Eureka Springs, Arkansas called Rose Cottage, bought it furnished, and brought it back to life. The extraordinary board-and-batten shed, with half-fan windows above wonderfully detailed doors, is used to garage his vintage Toyota Land Cruiser. A he-shed for sure. Lucky he’s not married to me.
Behind the Blue Door. A small shed at the edge of a pond embodies the modern day spirit of the English folly — tiny, picturesque and slightly eccentric with its blueberry colored door. The photo was posted by a Gardenweb user under a thread about ponds entitled “I’ll Show You Mine if You Will Show Yours.” The pond does make the shed remarkable, I think.
IKEA Cottage. A vintage Scandinavia cottage style shed features a hayloft door and tin roof. The sweet look makes it so decorative it would look good in any backyard. While this IKEA ad is likely selling the table and chairs they get lost in the charm shuffle of the tree decorations and meandering chickens.
Nissen Hut Parlour. Little known fact: The Nissen Hut, also known in as a quonset hut, was the patented invention of an English Major in the Royal Engineers of the British Army. Created in 1916, for use in World War I, the huts were designed of semi-circular corrugated steel to be economical and portable. This blue beauty, in and English yard, was a contender for a Shed of the Year contest in 2013. Unlike others, this shed is electrified and the interior is outfitted for entertaining like an old-fashioned parlour including wallpaper, furniture and even an Oriental rug.
(Source: A Holy Experience, BH&G, Flickriver, Country Living, Gardenweb, IKEA, Telegraph.co.uk)
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