In case you were wondering...

In case you were wondering...

This blog exists to encourage all those who have ever wanted--and needed!--a tiny getaway close to home. A workshop, playhouse, garden shed, sanctuary, mini-greenhouse, studio, home office; whatever it is you need, it IS doable, with some sacrifice, imagination, and compromise.

It helps if you're handy, too.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Watercolor Artist Blog features the shed

Hi all--forgot to tell you that the Watercolor Artist blog mentioned the project, last week, in THIS POST.  (Of course it mostly just leads you here.:-) )

I was a contributing editor at Watercolor Artist for years, back when it was Watercolor Magic, with a regular column, and still do the occasional article.  (The current issue, October 2010, has a big one in it.)  (By the way, the term "contributing editor" really just means you contribute, not that you edit anything but your own stuff!)

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's working!

Yep, the little hot plate works fine--one of the few things we've bought new for the shed, and I love it.  Nice cuppa, yesterday morning.  (The old copper kettle is from my camping days, the lovely pottery teapot from the early days of my first marriage...I was 21, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth...)

And no, it's not this colorful, but I had a black page and colored pencils--of course I went nuts!

Our good friend Kevin stopped stopped by the show us a pottery shard he'd found near the Fishing River, and we ended up with coffee and cookies and music in the shed.  Glad we invested in that AC unit, because it was a lifesaver!

A lovely way to spend a Sunday...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Water supply

Still trying to find a different spigot for the water jug--this one is NOT good for arthritic hands.

I did really like the way it looked. and the "reservoir" was an old glass jar that cider came in--easy to carry a gallon of water, if not a whole crock!

The spigot was slow and awkward to use, though--had to push down on the top while pulling up on the hook thingie--and did I mention it was sloooow?

I could have replaced the spigot, of course...I found this one on Amazon, and since its the same kind we had at the cabin, I knew it would work.

But.  Trying NOT to spend unneccessarily, and remembered that years ago a friend built a copper cistern for me that has a nice spigot.

I wasn't sure about long term water storage. So of course, I Googled it!  Here's what I found--not only is it a good idea, but it's a REALLY good idea.  Copper kills or inhibits E. coli!

So!  We went out the cabin, brought it home, and J. brought it over full of water this morning.  The spigot works better than our faucets at home!

Handsome thing, isn't it!

And of COURSE I had fun sketching it at the shed this morning.  I'd taken my Pelikan Gouache paints over the other day, and since the page was on black paper, just had to try it out.  (They're not as rich or opaque as my professional gouache paints, but they're fun and portable!)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Utility corner

Joseph made me a neat little old-fashioned broom holder from a leftover board and a couple of wooden great.  There was a similar one on the steps to the basement, here, and we borrowed the idea....

It holds the broom's bristles upright, so it will last a lot longer...
I'd been needing both a stepstool to reach the storage area under the eaves on this side of the shed above the French doors, and more hidden storage...and voila! 
Found this in an antiques booth that was going out of was half price, beautiful condition and sturdy!

Now it holds the dust rag, the matches, mosquito coils, Windex, etc. all nicely out of sight but handy!

A possible solution for our screen door sitch...

Our small door opens out to save floor space, and the big French doors open in, because of the roof overhang.  (Usually only have the one you see open, but sometimes both.) Makes using screen doors problematical!  So far it's not a huge problem with mosquitoes and other bugs indoors, though Joseph got MOBBED on our front porch yesterday.

Considering this solution, though: hanging screen doors like these from

Or these, from bugsoffscreen:

Or from Amazon:


(We can make screens for the windows, they just fit indoors, since we have awning-type openings, instead of out, if need be!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More new links at left...

...if you had to go prefab, and didn't have the option of starting from scratch, you might look at the Summerwood Designs offerings.  COOL designs, lots of light.  More expensive than the Shed of Reality, but still...prefab is quick and a lot more stress-free, I'm guessing.  Summerwood even offers 3D!

Is this little Arkansas studio cute or what, though...??

Here's the company our friend, artist Laura Gould like: Homestead Structures. reviews more prefab sheds and cabins HERE.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inside details

This is the desk corner, as it stands now...there will be some sort of vertical cubby or shelves  or cabinet above it, we just haven't found/built it yet.  So far the only out of sight storage is in this desk drawer, though, and it won't do!

Art supplies and tools on the shelf  along the west side, under the eaves--now I've dragged a set of colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and gouache out there...

Trying to decide if I want an artists' lamp for the desk or just make do with the paper Japanese lantern that's on order.  Since it was wildly inexpensive, we'll give it a test drive first!

Obviously the desk works fine for what I need.  Finished editing my book out there the other day...the top of the desk will raise like a slanted drawing board, if I want that...will probably bring my lightweight table easel over, though, it's versatile...

We tried out a gel-fuel "hot pot" with citronella for the mosquitoes, in lieu of screens on the doors and windows.  Charming, pretty, and the mosquitoes loved it.  Fooey.  The smoky old mosquito coil worked better...but I do enjoy the little fire on the deck (NOT inside.)  Plus I feel the need to monitor it constantly...if it got turned over and that burning gel fuel ran all over?  EEEP.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Sometimes it's just being in the right place at the right time, with the right this case, my little digital camera!

J. was not at all sure about using the door with the broken safety glass in it, at first, but it's sturdy and--magic.  A few people have said, in horror, "did you know your window is already broken??"  But most get it.  Recylcing at its best--it's beautiful, and I love it.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I mentioned the other day about things that bugged us...for me, it was the visible electrical box...ugly!  Hence hanging the painting over it, for now...

It drove Joseph nuts when it looked like this for so long, with the big yellow wires...

And I finally got the last of the spar varnish on the wood (except for that darn damp board), even though the new "satin" finish doesn't match the OLD "satin."  Oh was lovely to get the foggy plastic the door came with peeled off, after the varnish dried, and the glass cleaned! Took a whole lot of paper towels...

Wow. We can see OUT.

It took 3 layers of oil-based spar varnish, but the wood is well-protected now.

Except for the damp board, of course...

Then the other night Joseph fixed the stationary door so it opens and closes better...

The little bits of progress are fun, too...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Playing with Pages

Blogger in Draft has a new option to add pages in tabs at the top of the page...I've been playing with that!  (One totally disappeared the other day after telling me the page didn't exist, then showed up in the afternoon in my draft file!)

I've been putting the planning sketches all together in one document, HERE...and since I can edit the pages, I'll be adding more later.  Feel free to pop in!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Live and Learn...

You can't actually put latex paint over oil-based spar varnish successfully...I had to wash this back off and sand the spar varnish, then use mineral spirits, THEN the paint adhered...

More noodling and planning...bookshelves-to-be

Thinking about how to fit the bookshelves in the shed, and what configuration we want...I did the original sketch at top right in my journal, then made a couple of flaps I could flip down with different designs.  J says the water crock, just to the left of the bookshelves here, can go up on the table at left.  That makes more room for bookshelves and art supplies...

Still haven't decided...but here's plan two, wider with closed storage at the bottom.  (J. doesn't like this one as well...)

Plan 3 offers the most storage room, I think...

And speaking of shelves, J. got the little under-eave extension up yesterday!  Great use of otherwise wasted space.

There will be some Shaker pegs on the bottom support, for coats, jackets, art supplies, whatever.  Because of the angle of the roof, I could only put very small things up even the tea caddy fits without risk of landing on the floor.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Today's lovely surprise...

Well, wow. This morning my husband snuck in the old painted canvas floorcloth that he'd had in his kitchen in Virginia.  I LOVE it, and loved it then.  It's beautiful (I've always liked the compass rose), it's cool on my bare feet, it's easy to clean...PERFECT for summer.

What a wonderful surprise first thing in the morning!  So who cares if I ever find the stencils? 

Got the amenities taken care of, too, at least the basics.  This is the AC, and an old water crock I'd had for 20 years...just in time, 'cause the tea set I found on eBay for $4.99 arrived today, too.  (Two Japanese-style cups with infusers and lids.)  J. found his electric kettle and we're good to go, for now.  I can take the French press over, too, for coffee.

And I got a temporary solution in place for something that was bugging me--ever have something like that that just sticks out like a sore thumb?  For J. it was how long the big yellow wires stuck out of the wall, here, before the electricity was hooked up.  It was better, after that, but I hated seeing the metal switchbox!  I hung a painting by my young friend Steve Gillispie over it for now--it always reminded me of a winter ocean, and the colors are serene and restful.  Till we come up with something more permanent, I'm happy!

Working area!

Joseph surprised me by bringing the little desk over yesterday morning!  (Thanks, babe!)  He bought this years ago when he lived in Virginia--in a junk shop, missing a drawer, which he built--and offered it to me for the shed. 

Could I say yes fast enough??  As you see, the top can slant like a drafting table, or lie flat.  PERFECT for the working artist, and perfect size for the shed...

In situ--and yep, the window IS a bit low.  I should have sat on something when I told Mark where to put it--I was thinking the eaves would be in the way anyway, which they would...oh well.  It's FINE.  It makes light, and I can see out.

Originally I'd thought to put the desk facing the room or even on a diagonal, but then the chair would be behind it (obviously!) and I'd have to climb around.  This way all I have to do is turn my head to see works!  Kind of less distracting to face the wall, too, to work...

Now we're noodling how to build the bookshelves...

Thursday, August 12, 2010 out, though!

I'll try again with our old camera when I can, it is MUCH easier to do night settings on!  
This is pretty, though...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Interior IS filling up...WORTH IT!!

Soooo...this is a fan, a camp chair and a TV table, plus the folded camp chair in the corner.  Definitely filling up...

But we decided we really needed AC if I'm going to work out there at any time but morning!  (After hitting the emergency room with heat exhaustion a few years ago, I don't do hot really well...) 

We've only got the one window  that could have fit, but it's awning type.  Won't work for AC and sure not going to get central air for a shed!

I hated to cut a big enough hole for a window unit in that south wall, and we didn't really want to make it too obvious we found a small freestanding portable unit on sale.  It came last week, and it was finally cool enough this morning to work on installing it!  MUCH smaller hole necessary than for a whole unit...

My handy man lined up the holes and cut the second one from the outside...electricity ROCKS.

Fine-tuning the hole...I'm inside, he's outside with the saw...

And yep, it DOES take up more floor space than either of us imagined.  WORTH IT. 

Especially later this morning!  For some reason the electricity went out at home while J. was out running errands, and though I thought I switched the errant breaker in the basement back on, nothing happened.  It was nice to go to the shed and be cool till he got home.  (Guess guy fingers are better than mine for flipping that switch--it worked immediately for him!)

Now if we could just figure out WHY the breaker blew...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Indoor progress

We got the second coat of paint on the floor, the woodwork touched up, and the trim around the small door painted white, plus the second coat of spar varnish on the French doors.  Bought the wood for the baseboards and shelves, but it's been a bit too hot to get them cut, painted, and installed.

We're still trying to dry that waterlogged trim board by the door, and one day when the weather was nice this week, I just sat out there keeping an eye on the heater and loving the space--sketching, writing, reading, drinking coffee, working.  Delightful...

The AC arrived this past week, but turns out we need a 5" hole saw...we had borrowed a 4" one.  Maybe THIS week...

As we play around with ideas and space, I realize how really small 10' x 10' is, and how much I like the open, airy, serene feeling of the uncluttered space.  So we'll only be adding a few things at a time.  Right now we've had two chairs like this one inside, a folding TV table (which will be replaced for the coffee space), and a small stand, and the space feels fairly full, already.  I still plan to add the small desk, though WHERE may change...we'll see where it works best. 

The original plan for floor to ceiling bookshelves seems as if it would take too much floor space, so we may start them higher on the wall so there's room for the chairs to fit there if need be.  

It evolves...

Meanwhile, J. offered me this rug that was in his living room in Virginia--it's 5' x 7' it will be lovely in the winter when I need warmer feet!  If we can get the dust and musty smell out...we're airing it!

So progress!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yep, still sketching...

I haven't had as MUCH time for sketching and journaling lately, what with building, painting, and working on the new North Light book, but I have gotten in a total mess when I paint was just too funny not to document!

And this morning while Joseph put the second coat of paint on the floor, I kept him company, sketching the summer woods off the end of the deck.

More about the squirrels on our group blog, Sketching in Nature.

Good news!

Wahoo, we just found out our homeowners' insurance ALREADY covers the shed, no additional expense! I like.

Floor paint

We've decided that for now, since they don't make my favorite pattern of vinyl flooring any more and we've spent almost enough on this project, we'd go with paint right on the plywood floor.  It's a bit rough, but then so is the floor in our 110+-year-old houses.

We looked at a variety of vinyls, tiles, cork, etc., and even thought about using another layer of underlayment on the floor that would be smoother than the plywood--but maybe we're getting tired!  Just wanted done, and usable, and this was quickest.  If we decide on something later, we can always put it over the painted floor.

Soooo...Joseph just poured it direct from the can and spread it with a roller.  YEAH.  Instant serenity.

My stencils have gotten moved somewhere, so I'll either get more or find them, or make one just for this project, to add a decorative touch here...I think I'm too tired for anything very complex, and we'll be using rugs in winter, anyway.

I can haz in?

This is the end of the shed workday yesterday; visiting kitty Peppy can't understand why he can't go inside, as usual!

This morning while it was still decent outside, J. did the second coat, cutting in around the perimeter with a brush; the remaining gap will be covered with a simple baseboard.  (Knee pads helped with this step!)

Then he did the second coat like the first, with the roller, after smoothing some of the rougher spots that were easier to see once they had the first coat of paint on them.

I sat on the deck and supervised  er, sketched while he worked.

OH yeah.  Looking GOOD.  Love that morning light...

We're planning to keep it pretty simple and uncluttered inside...a shelf at the top of that far wall, the desk, a couple of chairs, wastebasket, shelves on the south wall for books and art supplies, the coffee/tea/water station next to the French doors on the south, heater and that's it.

For now.  :-P


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