An artisan shed
May 7th, 2009
I only check my P.O. Box once every week or two, usually to find a lone press kit or alumni association mailing. Rarely does any personally-written correspondence show up.
Then a few weeks ago there was an envelope. The return address read “ARTISAN SHEDS.” Well, that certainly warranted opening! I opened it up to find a four-page, lovely hand-written letter from Lynn Weber.
Lynn is the owner and architectural designer of Artisan Sheds (the company’s tagline is alluring: “A collection of custom outbuildings to suit your lifestyle.“) She designs the small outdoor dwellings; her husband, Michael Weber builds them.
Artisan Sheds and Lynn’s personal story get filed under my ever-growing category: “The ones that got away.”
They are on my list of great shedistas who have come to me, each with an unique point of view, a personal narrative as to what inspired them to create a P-O-D (personal outdoor dwelling) and, of course, a fabulous little structure that I wish with all my heart that we would have discovered in time to include in Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways! Several days after reading her charming note, I called Lynn. We enjoyed a friendly chat, swapping ideas and stories over the line, three time zones away from one another.
Since she and her sheds are in North Collins, N.Y. (about 30 minutes south of Buffalo), I won’t be able to personally visit the Weber family’s garden showroom – yet. But I can share their story here with you. Lynn gave me permission to use excerpts from her letter. The photographs are courtesy of Artisan Sheds.
Late last summer, while browsing the web, I came upon your Shedstyle web site. I ended up reading about and purchasing your book, “Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways.” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Here was someone writing about something that had been an interest of mine for so long and who clearly had the same philosophy as I – the importance of an aesthetically pleasing building that one could call a place of their own; a place to escape to. Since my childhood, I’ve had a fascination with little outbuildings. . . Your book . . . convinces me, more than ever, how important in our hectic times a place to retreat to is.
Lynn continued by sharing her story. Originally, she planned on converting the second level of her barn-style garage into an art studio-home office-gathering place. Then she saw a few magazine articles featuring re-purposed potting sheds and something took hold in her imagination:
“. . . my thinking shifted from renovating the barn to the idea of designing and building a smaller, separate structure.”
Soon, Lynn was entertaining the notion of starting a cottage industry to create, build and share her shed designs with others. “With my education and background as an artist and designer, and my husband’s craftsmanship in building, I knew we could turn out some incredible things,” she wrote.
Lynn and Michael spent an entire summer on the first prototype of a potting shed, a 12-by-12 foot structure . “We moved it to a spot near the roadside and put up a sign: ARTISAN SHEDS. We had a great response from the public,” Lynn continued. “People honked their horns and shouted out compliments and gave us ‘thumbs up’ as they drove by. Apparently, they had been watching our construction progress all summer and were just as excited to see us finish as we were.”
Like many of the very special havens we profiled in Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways, the ones designed by Artisan Sheds provide small-scale backyard shelter. But they also nurture one’s spirit, inspire the inner artist, and encourage the dreamer in all.
Lynne wrote this text for her brochure – it strikes a chord in my heart: “Experience the charm of a guest cottage complete with a platform bed, storage drawers and bookshelves; or a lakeside house for boating equipment that doubles as a beautiful summer bunkhouse. Perhaps an artist’s or writer’s studio with upright storage for canvases, a sink for brushes, or a desk area for your office equipment, comfortable chairs and a built in coffee bar. The choices are almost endless.”
Sited in a grassy field near a wooded area, the inviting shed is open for customers, visitors and curious lovers of diminutive architecture. It’s not unusual for Lynn to find complete strangers sitting inside and relaxing.
She wrote more about the interior design:
I filled the shelves with pots, garden tools and a library of books. (There are) vases for cut flowers and a couple of big, comfy rattan chairs to relax in. A ceiling fan cools you after an afternoon of gardening and a wine cooler holds bottles of cold wine or water.
Most people comment: “I could live in here” upon entering. The woodsy scent of cedar is overwhelming. I play soft, healing music and light candles to create a spa-like atmosphere. There’s a long potting bench and a deep sink. A rack holds shovels, rakes, and other garden tools. This shed has a hardwood floor (no plywood in here!). There are seven push-out screened windows to provide lots of light and fresh air. The entire building is made of western red cedar, except for the interior structural fir frame.
Doesn’t that description transport you to the Adirondacks or Berkshires? In a wooded setting, where a little stream is gurgling just beyond the front door? Lynn certainly knows how to conjure up a scene in the mind’s eye.
But she isn’t all fantasy. This design firm is rooted in logistical details, as well. Lynne went on to tell me:
. . . we had to engineer the sheds to be fully portable so that we could deliver them ready to use. My husband designed the plumbing and electricity in an innovative way so that permanent connections are not necessary. A garden hose and an outdoor extension cord are all that’s needed. Just plug in and play!
I love this low-tech problem-solving. Lynn and Michael have clearly thought through some of the typical hurdles facing would-be shed owners. All without the shed buyer having to hire a plumber or electrician. I love it!
Lynn is a consummate Shedista. She closed her letter to me with these lovely sentiments: “I wanted you to know that there is a business existing that provides sheds and dwellings that are designed and built with unique and sustainable style, varied and beautiful places with many options – and that are deliverable to anyone who has a desire to have a “Stylish Shed and Elegant Hideaway.”
I hope to see more creative designs coming from Artisan Sheds and the Weber family design team. Thank you, Lynn, for sharing your story with me. You’re a kindred spirit.
P.S., When we spoke on the phone, I asked Lynn what she was designing next. Here’s what she told me: “I just designed a ‘napping shed’ with three sides, a hip roof, and hand-split western red cedar shakes. The walls go about 36 inches up and the space above that is finished with 1-inch privacy lattice. I put curtain rods across the opening. It’s made to fit two lounge chairs with a table in between them. Or, you could furnish it with a small dining table and a couple of chairs. Whether you put it in the corner of your yard or by a pool, it’s a little nook so you are covered, but still outside in nature.”
Oh my, a napping shed. I want one!