The prettiest outhouse-turned-stylish shed I’ve ever seen
April 21st, 2009
I love it when I receive surprise “Shed-Mail” from Shedistas like Suzanne St. Pierre. Suzanne and her husband Scotty Thompson own Living in the Garden, a cool nursery/emporium in Pullman, Washington. We’ve swapped a few emails, originally prompted by Suzanne’s note saying she loves Stylish Sheds as much as I do.
Recently, while planning their own version of a spring flower show, Suzanne and Scotty recycled an old cedar outhouse from their 2-acre property and tricked it out to be a too-cute cottage for their nursery. She sent me a sweet note and some photos and gave me permission to share them with you.
Hello, inspired by your Stylish Shed book, my husband and I jazzed up an old outhouse we had on the property (to use) for a focal point in our Sweet on Spring event at Living in the Garden. It was a hit!! I wanted to thank you for the inspiration and tell you that I enjoy your blog.
I just caught up with Suzanne by phone and we had a good ol’ gab. It felt like I was talking with a long-lost friend. She described how this little structure found its way from humble to haute:
Originally, the cedar “box” was an outhouse over a pit toilet. The couple actually used it while living in their tiny “sugar shack” when they moved to the two-acre property about six years ago. After they built their residence and started running the nursery, they had a “real” indoor bathroom, so the 3-by-3 foot outhouse was no longer needed. “We filled in the pit and just moved the building around,” she says.
When preparing for Living in the Garden’s “Sweet on Spring” event last month, they decided to create several indoor garden displays (it’s still pretty chilly out there on the Palouse in March). As Suzanne explains, “We wanted to create our homage to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.”
Once she and Scotty decided to dress up the rustic outhouse, the creativity exploded. Suzanne told Scotty: “We have to use everything we already have on hand.”
Like most artist-builders (Scotty is “incredibly handy and artistic”), the couple has all sorts of project piles and cool materials had saved for future endeavors. Clearly, they love to re-purpose what others might toss into the landfill.
This detailed photo illustrates how they used flattened tin cans, layered like gingerbread shingles, to clad the upper portion of the structure. Scotty added a window and the arched doorway, plus the cool corbel-style brackets and scallop-trim fascia board around the shed roof. It even has a skylight! I’m dying to see an indoor shot (maybe Suzanne will send it to add here!) because apparently she decoupaged the interior walls with pages from old gardening books someone had given them. I guess Suzanne broke her own rule about using on-hand materials when it came to paint. She confesses that she did actually buy the hot pink paint as a finishing detail. Fancy!
I love this couple’s philosophy of truly LIVING IN THE GARDEN. Suzanne grew up in a family nursery and purchased and ran her parents’ former nursery for 12 years after graduating from college with a horticulture degree.
“But I burned out. I was never getting my hands dirty,” she confides. Several years (and a career in the wholesale plant trade) later, Suzanne realized how much she missed retail. “I just wrote on a piece of paper what the perfect job would be: Work from home. Work with Scotty. Work 4 months of the year for 4 days a week.”
Wow. How seldom do any of us have such an honest conversation with ourselves? Guess what? For the past six years, Suzanne and Scotty have been doing exactly what she wrote down on that page. “My commute to work is just 113 steps,” she jokes. “We’re working on our farm and making people come to us. It’s really wonderful.”
Living in the Garden is open from March through June (Thursdays through Sundays). Earlier in the season, beginning in February, Suzanne starts work in their production greenhouse, growing geraniums and plants for their own hanging baskets. By summer, the couple is off on trips in their camping van (complete with solar panels on the roof!) and touring around the Northwest and beyond to see other nurseries and commercial greenhouses.
They believe in “marketing with a cause,” so during the summer months Suzanne and Scotty encourage local charities to use their extensive and beautiful display gardens for fund-raisers or donor-appreciation events.
By September, just about the time Suzanne is “missing” her customers, Living in the Garden opens for one spectacular autumn weekend.
When you arrive, don’t be surprised to hear the mellow sounds of Gregorian chants drifting through the garden and conservatory. “Gardening is my religion,” Suzanne concludes.
Check out the nursery in person or read more at Suzanne’s blog, Living in the Gardens.
April 21st, 2009 at 2:43 pm
This is a wonderful article and tribute to two extremely creative people! I love it and I love returning to Living in the Garden time after time to find ever more beautiful items and plants on display. Go Suzanne and Scotty!
April 21st, 2009 at 2:43 pm
That is no “dump!” I like the creativity behind this transformation.
Shirley Bovshow “EdenMaker”’s last blog post..Front Lawn Versus Edible Gardens: You Choose!
April 22nd, 2009 at 10:19 am
i’M JUST POPPING MY BUTTONS. I couldn’t be more proud of my brother and sister-in-law.
April 23rd, 2009 at 7:01 am
I discovered Suzanne’s blog this year and was enchanted enough to talk my husband into a 7 hour drive (each way) to attend the Sweet on Spring sale. So glad we did! Suzanne & Scotty have created a truly artistic home, garden and shop. Their work is inspirational. As beautiful as the blog photos are, they don’t show the amazing detail this talented couple have worked into every nook and cranny. I’m planning a return trip (with girlfriends this time) to soak up some more of this creative atmosphere.
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April 23rd, 2009 at 9:25 am
I am biased because I fell madly in love with Scotty and Suzanne decades ago. Together, they are the most impressive and positive life force that I have ever known. And I remember their home site when it was a vacant lot. Now it sings of life in every direction. One can not walk there without an overwhelming sense of love and respect, for everyone, and for this planet. At my home, in White Center, Washington, I have a drift wood fence that people compliment me on. I always say that my dear friend Scotty pushed me to think of it, by pushing me to use material again and again. He was always pushing me to see new uses of old items, and to look outside of the box that defines so many in American society. And Suzanne is not only beautiful and really smart, but she has a gift of reflecting, in her smile, the life force of the flower or plant she is holding in her hand, or looking at. The world is way better because of these two people.
April 23rd, 2009 at 4:43 pm
Debra: Great post! Love the hot colors on that window frame and the use of the can lids. I’m always in awe of such creative talent. How ya doing with that article? Looked great when you sent it to me. BTW: Fine Gardening deal is cinched! We’re calling it Sustainable Landscaping: Cool Green Gardens by Billy Goodnick. Launches May 4. Thanks for your help.
Billy Goodnick’s last blog post..WAY Off Topic…
April 28th, 2009 at 12:49 am
I was in the waiting room at the doc’s office a while back, and I picked up a magazine with an article about a shed repainted in bright primary and secondary colors. Now it’s got me to thinking… hmm… the Villa (our shed) could use some color… but I can’t remember the name of the magazine. It was something like Better Homes, but I can’t seem to find it.
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September 20th, 2011 at 5:24 pm
i’ve been here this year!! you should see all the new stuff!! an awesome 12ft tall approx mosac’d Cactus! 🙂