Without a doubt, the heart of my garden is my transformed shed.
This month my shed is being featured in Sunset Magazine (omg – so excited!)
I’ve grown up with Sunset in the house in one form or another, whether it was magazines or DIY garden books lying around my mother’s and grandmother’s house.
So imagine the pride I feel seeing one of the most meaningful areas of my garden featured right there on page 49!
And, as if it couldn’t get any better, one of my close friends (and someone whom I greatly admire,) Debra Lee Baldwin, wrote the article!
Debra and Kathleen Brenzel (Sunset’s garden editor) have visited my garden on different occasions over the past few years, and while I’ve always known my office was a special place to me, I never realized that others felt the same way.
There’s just something so magical about this place, so I thought I’d tell you all a little more about it.
My shed was originally a fruit shed at some point in the 1930’s or so, as Los Altos was primarily apricot orchards.
But by the time we moved here, when I was 10 years old, the first thing I fell in love with was the spooky, abandoned shed in the back of the garden.
My parents cleaned it up a bit, put in a little window, and a new floor, and it quickly became a hideaway for my brother and me. We spent many years playing in that shed, having sleepovers with our friends, etc.
Fast forward a few decades. After moving back home and getting married, my husband and I bought the home (and shed!) from my parents who wanted to move up north.
While my husband and I were busy raising our young children, the shed sat there storing our junk and getting spookier by the year.
It wasn’t a total eyesore on the outside, though, as my mother and I had fixed up the front a bit so it was rustic and charming viewed from the rest of the garden.
But inside? It was a whole different story.
The shed was nothing more than a spider-ridden storage unit with holes in the floors and walls.
My husband, Tom, had been wanting to fix up the shed for years, but since I couldn’t quite figure out how I wanted to use it (definitely NOT as a man cave, as he suggested) the remodel never really materialized.
One summer, Tom was between jobs and since he had a little free time on his hands asked, once again, to pleeease let him rip off the flat, leaking roof and get started.
Since I had just started my landscape design business, it made perfect sense to turn it into my office! Tom was in heaven, working every day for the entire summer, on a project he’d wanted to do for years.
And I was in heaven because we were finally giving this little building the glory it deserved.
In an effort to maintain its rustic simplicity, I wanted to keep as much of the original shed as intact as possible – including the old, faded redwood exterior.
And especially the section that my then 10-year old brother had carved his name into (and then vehemently denied.)
When my mother discovered this, she was furious, but he steadfastly denied it, blaming it on his poor friend.
Hmmm…sounds a tad fishy to me.
And I also wanted to keep the front stoop, cracked and worn thin over the years.
I think about all the times I’ve stepped into and out of this little building.
We wanted a pitched roof, which posed a bit of a problem for Tom as I didn’t want my wonderful, old ‘Lady Banks’ rose to be damaged in the process.
So Tom built a brace that carefully supported the rose as he gingerly pulled it away from the roofline.
My mother had collected a few antique windows over the years, with the intent of someday remodeling the shed herself.
Those windows, combined with others that we found at various antique stores and flea markets, gave us all we needed for the renovation.
I love these old windows, with their fragile, wavy glass, as they let in the softest, dreamiest diffused light.
Outside of these windows, I have two large planter boxes filled with flowers that hummingbirds adore (salvias, cupheas, and abutilon.)
Nothing makes me happier than designing at my desk and having a hummingbird fly up to take a sip of nectar just inches away from my face.
Click here to see more pics of different window boxes that I have throughout my garden.
I’ve had so much fun personalizing the outside of this little building, with my collection of old garden tools being my favorite of all.
It’s taken me years of scouring my grandfather’s and father’s garages, flea markets, and antique shops to find such treasures.
I especially love my dad’s old fishing creole that’s been the home to many little birds over the years.
While this space was originally re-invented as my office, it’s morphed over the years into something much more meaningful.
I’ve slowly filled it with things that are near and dear to my heart, from my past and present, that fill me with joy.
Whether it’s the pansies that my great, great grandmother painted for her mother (left), the bookcase my father built for me when I was a toddler, shells collected, or artwork my daughter’s made over the years – all of these items give me endless joy and inspiration.
When I designed the back garden, I created a curving path with the intent of slightly obscuring the shed.
It’s like a secret that’s tucked away just waiting to be discovered.
This little shed is the heartbeat of my garden.
And to know that others can also feel how special it is makes it all the more meaningful.