Guest Blogger: Max’s Garden Shed Construction

Build Your Own Cottage ShedWell Hello There Simply Notable Fans!
I’m Alex, Son/Brother to Mom/Carli, but everyone calls me “Max.” I’ve always been intrigued by the little crafty things Mom and Carli have been making over the years. However, knitting, sewing, and crocheting have never been my thing. Admittedly, I’ve never tried, but I’ll stick to what I know.. Hammers, wrenches, drills and circular saws! I asked Carli awhile back how I could help with Simply Notable, and her response was “Make something!” Well, I did. On with the show!

Build Your Own Garden ShedLast year Emily and I moved into our home in Illinois, and we immediately got to work changing, well, everything! Our house is at the top of a very large hill, so it is difficult to make use of the large amount of property we own. Connor turned four this week, so a big priority for us was a place for him to roam and play, as well as getting some room for Emily to garden.

We got to looking at the yard, and the best area for us to reclaim was a 30’x40′ section of monster steep hillside. Although it doesn’t look it in the picture, this was some nasty terrain, and definitely not safe for a four year old.

Build Garden Shed Tips and TricksWe hired a landscaper to bring in some fill dirt and build a large retaining wall with stairs and proper drainage. They started by removing the old plastic shed and it’s platform.

Within a week, they were finished installing all the brick, drainage, and grading, and we had sold the old plastic shed.

We were thrilled to have this area to use, but suddenly we realized, “Umm… where do we store the yard tools?”
We looked at city code to find that we were limited to 10’x12′ maximum size for our shed. The search began. After looking all over, and finding prices around $1700 plus tax, delivery, paint, and shingles, we decided that not only could I do a better job, but we would also save money doing it ourselves.

We decided it would be best to build the shed on piers overhanging the back side of the wall so that we didn’t lose too much of that precious real estate we had just paid to create. Emily picked out the door and windows – gave me the general design she wanted, and I went to work.

Garden Shed Plans

Please excuse our mess – we are still moving in!

Build your own cottageOnce we were satisfied with the outside, we moved to the inside. I laid out the framework for the loft shelving and Emily found some barn wood on Craigslist for super cheap. We sanded the barn wood and installed it like planks.
I installed hinges on an old antique ladder and connected it to an antique pulley so it could be hoisted out of the way. I plan to change this in the days to come with an old “library ladder” system that allows the ladder to slide on rails for easier access to the loft.

All in all, this project took around two months, and cost us roughly $1500 all said and done. We were able to build it much stronger than off the shelf sheds, and to our exact specifications. Below is a link to a PDF with more thorough details on building one of these for yourself. Most of what you’ll find is my lessons-learned and tips, as well as the rough plans I used to put this together. A little creativity will go a long way in personalizing your garden shed, and with a little extra planning yours may come out even cheaper than ours! All in all, we are very happy with this shed, it has brought alot of character to our back yard, and it’s functional too!

I look forward to reading your comments/ideas and seeing your own spin on our back yard garden shed!




    • Carli says

      Amy, when he should me the finished picture I said “Your nieces are wondering when you’ll be coming down to build them a playhouse.” LOL! Great minds!

      • says

        Right after I thought of the playhouse idea, I thought…hmmm…what a great outdoor craft space! Of course where you and I live, it would be miserably hot most of the year out in the shed.

        • Carli says

          Yeah, I complain about sewing in my sun room which is now (thanks to my other crafty brother), is completely open to the rest of the house. It’s still hotter than I can handle starting about 3pm or so. Ugh! But of course, I thought the same thing about the craft room. I’m sure it could be totally finished inside easily 😉

  1. Max says

    I’m glad you guys like it so much! We are working on running power to it so it can be used as the center of our outdoor entertaining. Emily’s Mom, Debbie, has already dubbed it the mother-in-law suite, however I have dubbed it the doghouse! Why do you think I built it so sturdy?

    The temperature seems well regulated in the summer just by opening the three windows and letting the breeze blow through. A window air conditioner could be added easily for you Arizonans! 😉

    It turned out better than expected, and I’m sure we’ll be making various improvements over time! Keep the comments coming! We’ve truly appreciated reading them!

    Not to mention, I’m always looking for ideas on how to improve it! :)

  2. Barbara Bagley says

    Max, the only way you could improve on your shed would be to insulate it like a house, but really it’s a shed and you are using it as such. Cutest shed I’ve seen in ages. :0 How about a potting table so Emily could transfer flowers, veggies, etc ? Great job, you guys!!

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