Designing the Sewing Shed, Part 1
How I built a creative space in my backyard, and what I'm doing with it.
My backyard sewing shed is just about finished, and I’ve officially moved in. Functionally, it’s complete. All that’s left to do is add the finishing touches: rugs, shelves, curtains, art.
I’m planning to document all of this in a series of videos when it’s complete, but I thought it would be fun to share the in-process work here as it happens.
We went with a pre-fab Tuff Shed, which we retrofitted. This was simply cheaper and easier than a custom build.
We picked a spot amongst the fir trees near the house, and Kenn cleared it with the tractor. Because it’s sloped, we thought we’d have to level it before pouring a concrete slab, but our concrete guy instead recommended we set it up on pillars, like you would a deck. This worked wonderfully and seems more durable (less contact with the soil).
Once the shed was built, we had the parade of contractors coming through to do insulation, drywall, flooring, heat, paint, and electrical. The whole thing took about 6 months, from site clearing to move-in.
Here’s the fun part – designing the space.
In the last year or two, I’ve really fallen in love with Scandinavian interiors, particularly the more rustic homes of the Swedish countryside. There’s something about Swedish style that’s so homey, cozy, and warm without being cluttered or overwrought.
Looking over my inspiration photos, some elements I picked out are:
Clean white walls
Glowing lights and candles
Oversized rice paper pendants
Organic textures and shapes
Wooden peg rails
I really want this to be an inviting, cozy refuge of a space. I’ve realized that, while I don’t like tons of clutter, I do like my workspaces to feel relaxing and homey.
First of all, here’s the interior while completely empty.
And here’s the plan for outfitting it.
I already own the huge fold out sewing desk and cabinet/cutting table combo, which I got for free.
Some of the other things I’m adding:
A simple cotton rug. I’d love something white and wool and fluffy, but Lucy is still a puppy and accidents happen. I’ve read that dog pee permanently damages wool, so I’m choosing something washable and inexpensive for now.
Rice paper pendants. These are from the Danish company Hay, and they’re already installed. I chose to hang three of them, and they glow beautifully in the evening. I’m a huge fan of paper shades. I kind of want a huge one in my house now.
Rolling laundry cart. This was Haley’s brilliant idea, for stashing all my large video/photo/audio gear, like lights and tripods. So smart. She also recommended a washable rug. I just do whatever Haley says.
Vintage baskets. I have these already. I use them for extra fabric, and rolled up patterns I want to keep.
Linen and gingham curtains. I have french doors, plus four windows to cover. I’m planning a mix of sheer white linen and simple gingham. But eyelet would also be really pretty.
Recycled color crates. These are also from Hay. I saw these when I was in Ireland, and the colors are just so good. They’re stackable and modular, and really affordable too. I’m getting these in a few different sizes and colors, for holding smaller equipment, fabric scraps, and records which I’ll play on my…
Portable record player. At home, our record player and collection is in Kenn’s office, which means I basically never listen to records anymore. That’s going to change.
Wall mirror. For checking myself out when I try on projects as I sew, of course.
Wall quilt. Or maybe small quilt blocks pinned up on the wall? I wanted more textile and color, but there’s little in the way of soft furnishings in here. A wall quilt (or mini-quilts) would be fun to make.
Having a little creative refuge among the trees is such a dream, and something I’ve been drawn to since I was a child. I always felt the pull of having my own private space, secluded and calm.
I’ll share more as the space progresses.
Head, Heart, Hands
Things to make us think, feel, and do.
The Death of Hobbies. I think this article is a bit ridiculous, both because so many people adopted new hobbies in the last few years, and because people have been wringing their hands of side hustles like this for at least a decade or more. But I do think the pressure to make money from the things you enjoy is very real.
Lists are menus. Hey, Oliver Burkeman and I are on the same wavelength with the idea of using menus instead of to-do lists! (Although, once again, I took the idea from Haley).
The Human Scale: Oliver Sacks on How to Save Humanity from Itself. This is one of my core beliefs, that many of our problems in this life stem from trying to live at a scale we were not evolved for.
I had the pleasure of seeing John Everett Millais’s The Blind Girl in person a few years ago in Seattle and found it stunning. A portrait of rapt attention.
I also didn’t know that Hilma af Klint painted landscapes!
Van Gogh’s advice to a young artist. Guess I’m not the only one who doesn’t take my own advice.
Suleika Jaouad’s thoughts on (non-)motherhood and raising a puppy hits home.
I made this farro and green bean salad with walnuts and dill this week, and can recommend. I used beans from our garden, and added some hard boiled eggs on top to round it out for dinner.