Debra Prinzing

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Shed-of-the-Year . . . you can enter!

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Uncle Wilco, as he is depicted on his web site, We *Heart* Sheds (well, this was a holiday version from 2007)

Uncle Wilco, as he is depicted on his web site, We *Heart* Sheds (well, this was a holiday version from 2007)

Here’s some background about SHED OF THE YEAR and its creator Uncle Wilco, a cyber friend who lives in the UK in South Wales, and is the creator of We (Heart) Sheds and several other projects.  I was thrilled to discover that I was not alone on this quest for finding and documenting awesome backyard structures, that many kindred spirits existed on this globe to share my journey. Here is the original story I wrote about Uncle Wilco nearly two years ago. A memorable quote about his Shed of the Year contest:

. . . the British have a love affair with the shed, so really it’s just snowballed. I was lucky to do a few radio interviews. I got the impression they thought I was a nutter . . . ! But at least people realise that I have a passion for sheds, so that’s all that matters.

Imagine my surprise when Wilco asked me to join his illustrious team of judges to represent as the International Judge for the 2010 Shed of the Year competition! The event culminates with an announcement in early July, during National Shed Week, and I’m eager to participate. I’m hoping to get over to the UK to join the others, but at the very least, I will do my part on this end. I encourage any of my readers to submit photos and enter. That is all it takes!

Thought I’d kick things off by telling you a little more about the competition. In the words of Mr. Wilco himself:

Q. You started Shed of the Year in 2007, right? So you’ve had 3 winners!
What has surprised you most about the scope and diversity of sheds
around the globe?

Tony's Roman Temple took honors in the 2007 Shed of the Year contest

Tony's Roman Temple took honors in the 2007 Shed of the Year contest

A. I have run readersheds since 2001  and thought it was time I should celebrate all these great sheds. So I started Shed of the Year. The last three winners have been very different: 1) A Roman Temple,  2) A Pub Shed, and 3) a Cabin. I look forward to shed of the year 2010 — it could be a workshop or studio or even a hut. That’s the thing — we don’t know until the public have voted and the judges have made their decisions for Shed Week 2010.

Q. Who does Sheds better, the UK shed aficionados or the North American ones?

A. Well, I am biased. UK sheds Rock- or should I say UK Sheddies rock. But you US sheddies have a different view on sheds. The UK history with sheds as mainly a man thing is very long and it’s the sheddies that make

Q. Can you please describe “wossname” and how I can explain it to US readers?

A. I am not great with words , so I tend to fill in things I can’t think about with “wossname.” So it’s a term in the UK, like a thing or a “wotsit,” when you can’t think of the real word!

Here's where Uncle Wilco hangs out and enjoys his home brew

Here's where Uncle Wilco hangs out and enjoys his home brew

Q. If you had to spend your final days inside your own shed, what three essential items would you need to bring with you?

A. That’s very difficult. I would say family and friends and  my dog, but as for items it would have to be some home brew (beer).

Q. What kind of swag can I expect for being a Shed of the Year judge?

A. What, the glory of being a judge in the World’s most favourite Shed competition is not enough?

Q. How many entries have you had from North American shed owners (in past years)?

A. Well, it’s not just North American sheds. It’s International, too. We love sheddies from the Americas, Canada, Europe and Australia and New Zealand. You can view all the international sheds entries (199 of them to join the 1200 UK ones) here.

Q. What else do you want my readers to know?

A. That we are welcoming entries to Shed of the Year 2010 now and would love to have some more  Stylish Sheds added. All I ask is that the sheddies add a few good images — including external/internal shots. The more images the better, so the public can get a  good look.

Thanks so much Uncle Wilco – I will do my best to pump up the entries from the International contingent. See you soon.

Shedstyle needs your votes

Friday, July 31st, 2009


Imagine my surprise when Walton Garden Buildings, a British shed maker, recently notified me that this blog was nominated for its TOP 10 list of the best garden and shed blogs. Yay!

Here’s what Walton + Co. has to say about

“(an) American-based blog from a Los Angeles-based author who does a great job on keeping the site updated with some great content and images.  Some of the images are excellent and really show off what can be done with a garden.  There are also some more standard articles with gardening hints and tips too.”

The voting continues and it looks like is currently in third place. That’s not too shabby (as my husband would say), since I follow the BBC’s Gardeners’ World web site (2nd place) and Alex Johnson’s, a very cool blog that advocates the work-at-home-in-your-shed movement (1st place).

P.S., Thanks to Patrick Moogan of Waltons, for selecting in the first place! You are a true “Shedista,” Patrick.

An artisan shed

Thursday, May 7th, 2009
A collection of custom outbuildings to suit your lifestyle

A collection of custom outbuildings to suit your lifestyle

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.

Hello Debra,

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.

In the winter, the artful potting shed is your landscape's only architectural focal point

In the winter, the artful potting shed is your landscape's only architectural focal point

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 Weber created a finely-crafted shed using traditional homebuilding materials and methods

Lynn and Michael Weber created a finely-crafted shed using traditional homebuilding materials and methods

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.”


A bouquet of thanks

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

I want to share a note of thanks to a few people for their recent kind words about this blog and Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways.

Judy Lowe, the longtime Christian Science Monitor’s gardening columnist, also publishes “diggin’ it,” a blog on the CS Monitor’s web site. Each week, Judy reviews and writes about favorite gardening blogs, as was the case a few days ago in a post entitled “Garden siteseeing in California.”

Here’s what Judy wrote about Shed Style:

“At Shed Style, [Debra] writes about her interests – architecture (including landscape architecture, of course), garden travels (she’s an excellent interviewer, so you learn about the creator of the garden as well as the plants), and such things as circles in gardens, which was fascinating.”