STYLISH SHEDS AND ELEGANT HIDEAWAYS: “A charming, happy, very pretty book full of ideas for building, furnishing, and enjoying your backyard shed or writing den.” — Old House Interiors review, July 2009.
My Stylish Shed partner, the very talented Bill Wright, is a frequent contributor to Old House Interiors magazine. His photographs of luscious historic interiors and architecture are always a treat for the eyes. So when we learned recently that editor Patricia Poore planned to feature Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways in the magazine’s July 2009 issue, Bill and I were thrilled.
Patty decided to excerpt a chapter from Stylish Sheds, one about Michelle and Rob Wyles’s dreamy garden shed in Eastern Washington.
We called our chapter “Sun Catcher,” which aptly describes the shed’s design that utilizes ample antique windows to draw sunlight into the 20-by-20 foot cedar-shingle-clad structure. OHI titled the chapter “Garden Hideaway” and I’ve included the edited story here, along with Bill’s images:
GARDEN HIDEAWAY: In Washington, friends meet in this sun-catching sanctuary of glass and cedar, where tended plants thrive amidst old furniture and favorite collections.
By Debra Prinzing | Photographs by William Wright
More summer cottage than glass house, this hideaway in Washington State is the centerpiece of what Michelle Wyles calls her “farmer’s wife’s vegetable garden.” It functions not only as a greenhouse, but also a place for collectibles and friendly gatherings.
Two Gothic windows, which Michelle and her husband Rob hauled home from Hayden, Idaho, are bracketed by fifteen-light French doors installed as windows. Besides being a master gardener, Michelle is an antiques dealer who’d stockpiled architectural fragments. More Gothic millwork appears above a doorway, and vintage stained glass is mounted at the peaks of two of the building’s four gables.
Her design process was anything but logical, Michelle admits. “You can be unrealistic and impractical when you’re making a garden building,” she says.
“The beauty of this one is the juxtaposition of its fanciness with its humility. It’s not supposed to be la-di-da . . . it’s a manifestation of things that make me happy.”
In the summer, doors and windows are flung open to infuse the garden house with the fragrance of roses and lavender.
Rob and Michelle host parties here, and benefits for charities such as the Yakima Area Arboretum, their local public garden.
When the stars are shining above, the music is playing, and revelers are gathered at the large round table, Rob says it’s magical: “people and plants in their glory!”
Challenge: To build a sun-filled garden sanctuary that emulates a greenhouse – lots of light, air, circulation, and humidity control – without mimicking its structure.
Program [Must-haves]: Big windows, running water, floors of native Cascade mountain rock, display shelves for pottery – and “room for a party.”
Inspiration: A plain, Nantucket-style cottage of weathered shingles with lavender trim.
Design features: Four symmetrically placed gables and four window-filled walls. Salvaged Gothic-style windows and French doors. Hinged panels for air flow, and a ceiling fan for circulation.
The story ends with this sidebar, featuring three other of our favorite Stylish Sheds:
“A room of one’s own” doesn’t have to be in the house. Backyard structures sometimes bear no resemblance to the cobwebby garden sheds of suburbs past; today people are using them as studios, writing rooms, playhouses, dining pavilions – hideaways of all sorts. Look for lace curtains and window boxes, and cedar shingles instead of corrugated walls. Even toolsheds, of course, can be artistic.