Outdoor Sheds Get a Makeover

The possibilities for outdoor storage sheds have increased tremendously in recent years. From small but functional to lavish and pricey, there are many options to explore.

Little Cottage Co.

As I’ve mentioned before in this space, I grew up amidst constant home improvement projects, and my brothers and I frequently served as my dad’s squadron of drone workers. One of the more infamous projects he forced us to undertake was the assembly of a metal shed in the backyard. The shed came to be known as the Barn of Scarn – “scarn” being a synonym for “dung” that we used to use as a polite way of saying that something was of crappy quality.

The pieces of the shed fit together poorly. The structure rested unevenly on a rinky-dink foundation. The metal ripped in several places during assembly. The materials and engineering represented a low point in the American shed manufacturing industry. And the final product … well, it looked like scarn. It was one of the scarniest days ever.

Well, sheds have come a long way, baby.

Having come to the realization that I might use a little extra outdoor storage space, I’ve begun toying with the idea of installing a shed in the backyard. This took meon a search for sheds that yielded some exciting results.

And I never thought I would use the words “shed” and “exciting” in the same sentence.

Tuff Shed (tuffshed.com) offers some nice ones, such as the Pro Tall Ranch, with transom windows. The company’s Pro Studio model has a sleek, contemporary look with a glass door and sidelights, making it look almost residential. Prices run from $4,000 to $8,000. Tuff Shed has a showroom in LaPlace.

The fanciest sheds employ recycled materials, wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, denim insulation and cork flooring. They typically include clerestory windows to increase natural lighting.

Some structures by Seattle-based company Modern-Shed even feature GreenGrid roofs, which use vegetation to reduce heat gain and rain runoff. Modern-Shed, to my eyes, may be the BMW of shed-makers. The prices can match, ranging from $8,000 to – for your dream shed – $70,000. See modern-shed.com.

Studio Shed, out of Colorado, offers some pretty haute sheds, as well. Their models fall along the same lines as Modern-Shed’s in style and approach. Prices begin under $2,000 for small lean-tos and ascend to $50,000 for more palatial sheds. Some have unfinished interiors and are geared toward storing supplies. Others are insulated and decked out for a human to occupy, more like a studio space (as the company’s name implies). See studio-shed.com.

You can get a stylish shed at a far lower price with a wooden kit from the European company Solid Build. Its Moderna models sport a contemporary aesthetic but cost far less than the others, pricing between $4,000 and $7,000. In fact, I found one online for less than $3,000. Solid Build also has a few less expensive models that remind you of something out of a fairy tale, like the Hans model or the Bremen. See solidbuildwood.com.

Speaking of fairy tales, Ohio-based Little Cottage Co. creates structures that look like they belong on an English estate. They include Victorian-style mini-mansions and similar structures that would make a little girl’s dream playhouse. See cottagekits.com.

OLT makes similarly lavish sheds but in cedar from the Pacific Northwest. One of the sharper buildings I came across is called the Penthouse Garden Shed, and it lists for under $5,000. See outdoorlivingtoday.com. There’s something about the natural charm of a cedar shed. One of my brothers built a smallish cedar shed in his backyard that resembles a little Japanese shrine.

Beyond styles and prices, the choice you make will depend on how you want to use your shed. Will it just be a storeroom for rakes and shovels? Will it become a laundry room? A woodworking shop? A pool house? An art studio? A guesthouse? A cabin in the woods? All of these are actually possible. In fact, a few of these sheds are just a toilet, a shower and a stove short of being homes – for the right price, that is.

On the other hand, for a few hundred bucks, you can still buy something akin to the Barn of Scarn. But think long and hard before doing so.
 

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