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Embracing a Funky Old Tool Shed

Siding: Cedar Shakes, Trim: Cedar Shakes/White, Door: Red, Roof: Light Brown/Metal - This is a custom building.
Photo by Sheds Unlimited

When we moved here ten years ago, I was very grateful that our house had a tool shed in the back yard. It’s a luxury to have storage space for garden tools, pots, soil, the wheelbarrow and other various outdoor odds and ends.

Since I’ve written for home magazines for many years, I’m often exposed to fabulous, high-end homes and landscapes. Most home design writers will agree with me that this is both a blessing and occasionally, a challenge.

It’s endlessly fascinating to hear about people’s crazy remodels and sloping lots and zoning issues and architects and builders and interior designers. It’s a rare privilege to see their incredible, perfect homes. On the other hand, sometimes I return home with a critical eye instead of a grateful heart for all that we have.

I recently wrote about a beautiful lakefront home in Montana’s  Whitefish  Lake for Mountain Living magazine. The homeowners Orlan and Debra Sorensen built the most fabulous stone garden shed you’ve ever seen, complete with a sitting area and porch overlooking the lake. You can peek at it here, and the shed is the last photo at the end of the story.

Dreams vs. Reality

If I were going to splurge on a new potting shed, perhaps I’d consider one like the custom structure by Sheds Unlimited posted above. Something charming, with windows to let in the sunlight, and maybe even with a little table inside where I could escape and read fine literature and sip something like…oh, I don’t know… a sparkling drink with fresh mint and lavender syrup.

But the reality is that our shed is of a slightly… different architectural style. Our shed, in fact, looks like this:

Tool shed covered with reclaimed fencing | Happy Simple Living blog

It’s rectangular with a flat roof, and the exterior is covered with old, reclaimed cedar fencing. Because it is so wonderfully utilitarian and because we’re trying to live sustainably with what we have, I’ve given up trying to class up the shed and have decided, instead, to celebrate its unique flair.

I added a few metal signs to the front of it to celebrate its funky siding, and nailed the warped boards back in place.

Funky old tool shed | Happy Simple Living blog

The shed is topped with a lovely faux owl that is supposed to scare the flickers away from our siding but which, in fact, does not fool fowl or the rabbits who visit the garden.

I had the structure re-roofed, and Pop kindly added vents to keep it cooler in the summer. It may not be a magazine-worthy shed, but it’s functional and fun and I am grateful for it.

How About You?

Do you have an area in or around your house where you’ve decided to simply go with what’s there? Have you decided to keep your rare pink bathroom fixtures or sturdy Formica counters and let them become part of your home’s charm? I’d love to hear your stories in the Comments section below.

Here’s to making the best of what we have, and embracing the funky!


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About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 17 books, including Small Bites, 101 Things To Do With Bacon, and BERRIES. She enjoys sharing ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, and home projects. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

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6 thoughts on “Embracing a Funky Old Tool Shed”

  1. Hello! I thought I would pass on to you the stone garden shed is at the cottage-on-the-lake, in Whitefish, Montana. The panoramic view house is in Cd’A.

    You have been very busy writing. You went straight, instead of a right turn in central Idaho. Perhaps a vacation is in order. Fall is wonderful,up here. Great little shops, wonderful antiques, good food and friendly people. Some time spent on Lake Coeur d’Alene would be good!

    Does the photographer have a better picture of the shed?

    I love little shed’s colourfully done up, lot’s of flowers and…


    • Thank you for catching that, Robin – I corrected the text and appreciate your note. I’m going to see if I can get my hands on a larger photo of the little stone shed. Your encouragement to visit Lake Coeur d’Alene in the autumn is so welcome, and it’s definitely on my bucket list. If I’m ever headed your way, I will get in touch with you — and let me know if you’re ever passing through Denver! xoxo

      • Sounds great! I used to live in ‘The Springs’. There are places, memories and friends I would love to visit.

        Denver is a beautiful city. One of my top ten.

        Take care, xox

        P.S. Is your bucket list really long? For myself, as soon as I check off one, I add two or three.

  2. When I saw the picture at the top of your post I was having some serious envy (thinking that was your shed). The reality is mine looks more like your “real” shed. Know what? I have grown to really like it. My shed matches the fences, worn over time. It is homey. But, I can still dream of the shed in the first picture!

  3. Hmmm… I think “embracing the funky” would be a good description of my entire life! 🙂 Seriously, my bathroom still has its original plastic tile – well, half of it does anyhow. And my kitchen still has the original Formica counter tops – white with teal and copper accents.

    It’s not that I wouldn’t love to have a fancy schmancy new kitchen and bath, but I fear I’m “motivationally challenged” when it comes to this sort of thing. I sort of see it as a “return on investment” sort of equation – but not with the money, with the happiness factor. So far, the happiness I project I will gain by having nicer surroundings hasn’t surpassed the happiness I will lose by having to suffer through the process of getting them! 🙂

  4. Loved this. When I saw that first picture of the shed I thought it was yours and was instantly jealous. Mine has the same bones as that shed, but is crying for some TLC – definitely not Pinterest worthy (LOL). Thanks for reminding me to be grateful for what I have instead of wanting more/better. I remember when we first moved into our house and I was so so grateful to even have a shed. Life is all a matter of perspective, I guess.


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