She Sheds Style and Upcycling Projects – No Idle Hands Here

  • Post published:10/19/2018
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She Sheds

She Sheds like this one exhibit a very individual style. Two books, She Sheds Style and Upcycling Outdoors, have very different takes on creating stylish garden sheds and launching other projects for the garden.

Every garden is unique because every gardener has different desires. Some gardeners want vegetable gardens, some want lots of flowers, some want art and glamour, and some want a practical fixture.

Upcycling Outdoors
Upcycling Outdoors by Max Murdo

Max Murdo is a gardener, and a thrifty handy man. He likes taking throwaways and then “conceptualizing an idea, researching, developing, making prototypes and finally displaying the finished product in all its glory …” He loves designing all kinds of things for the garden from simple but handsome hanging planters to a three door potting shed and an array of hanging lights. In his book Upcycling Outdoors – 20 Creative Garden Projects Made from Reclaimed Materials (Jacqui Small $29.95) Murdo provides clear how-to photos, showing each step along the way.

Some of the pictured products are easy to put together, and require inexpensive materials, even if they are not to be found in the depths of the cellar or garden shed. I could easily image making a suitcase planter because while I don’t have any old suitcases of my own, I have seen them in thrift shops for very little. This project takes nothing more than an old suitcase, four legs, some plastic, and your own creativity for painting.

Other projects may very well take a weekend like the three door potting shed. Out here in our rural part of the world it might be possible to pick up something like three doors at our transfer stations.

The pleasure Murdo finds in these projects is the joy of working outdoors, the satisfaction of not putting more trash in our dumps, the delight in creating a piece of art and the thrill of learning new skills. I would find all those pleasures as well, but I have to add I would like to be doing bigger projects with a partner. Fortunately, my husband is always willing when I look at him with smile and say, “I’ve got an Idea!”

The scope of the projects in this book ranges from easy like the plastic gutter hanging planter to more difficult like the bicycle wheel fire pit. You will be lured from one project to another, and the clarity of the photos and directions give confidence.

Max Murdo has many strings to his bow and has shared his creativity and skills on television, at the Chelsea Flower Show, and won design awards. His work has been featured in galleries and exhibitions.

She Sheds Style
She Sheds Style

She Sheds Style: Make Your Space Your Own by Erika Kotite (Cool Springs Press $25) is specifically devoted to sheds for the lady of the house. Ever since I visited a display of inspired and ingenious garden sheds at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in 2010 I have thought how wonderful it would be to have a shed that has more functions than for storing garden tools and equipment.

Women are still looking for a room of their own and Erika Kotite’s book about She Shed Style describes the many ways a small shed can provide private space for sewing, painting, reading or socializing. Nowadays we have the advantage of the availability of prefab wooden sheds of various sizes, and Kotite suggests ways these can be taken from a standard to an original style. She also shows different ways that an existing shed can be refurbished, or rebuilt, sometimes using salvaged windows and other materials.

While there is practical information and advice about building a she shed, the emphasis in the book is about style. Kotite’s she sheds range in style from elegant, cozy, shabby chic, and austere modernity and the whimsical. I was fascinated with the idea of weaving a Wild Vine She Shed built on an artfully painted wooden platform, with another painted canvas cover. Kotite really imagines many styles.

Besides instances of styles, the great benefit of the book is the directions given for various projects which would be valuable in many places beyond a shed. Do you want a herringbone brick floor? Do you want to learn a variety of decorative paint techniques? Do you want to plant an espalier?

Kotite has many ideas about using space, and about working with color. I found the lesson that explained color, its hues, tints, tones and shades helpful in explaining why some colors go together beautifully and effectively and others don’t.

Kotite has been the editor for Romantic Homes and Victorian  Homes and she has been featured in Architectural Digest,, NBC’s Today Show and other TV programs, as well as magazine and newspaper articles.

Now that autumn is well upon us, and our days in the garden this year is limited it is pleasant to be able to sit in our warm houses and think about next year. What do we want to change or add to our gardens? What can we do without spending too much money? Upcycling Outdoors and She Sheds Style certainly provide food for creative thought.

Gift giving is almost upon us and these well illustrated books make wonderful presents for those who like taking on creative projects little or large. ###

Between the Rows   October 13, 2018

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