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Shed Decor: How to Decorate and Furnish Your Favorite Garden Room

 

The title of Sally Coulthard’s Shed Decor: How to Decorate and Furnish Your Favorite Garden Room (Lark Crafts, 2015) is somewhat misleading. What sounds like a primer for a few lucky hobbyists is in fact a volume full of inspiration and ideas for anyone interested in making the most of a  small space.

Shed Decor is a follow-up to Coulthard’s 2009 Shed Chic: Outdoor Buildings for Work, Rest, and Play, which concentrated on shed design and function. In Shed Decor, the focus is on interiors.

Through photographs, broad guidelines, and specific tips, Coulthard demonstrates how to maximize space without sacrificing personality or utility in a shed – a term which is used loosely here and could just as well apply to a treehouse, yurt, camper, cabin, beach cottage, studio space, or even a run-of-the-mill house or apartment.

The first section lays out six popular decorating styles: Rustic (log cabin-like), Vintage (romantic and whimsical), Plain and Simple (white walls and clean lines), Recycled (resourceful and playful), Retro (mid-century modern), and Country (traditional potting shed with a twist.) Envy-inspiring photos and “case studies” of real huts and summer houses around the world are paired with tips on the design elements that go into creating each style, e.g., stick to minimal accessories in a Rustic shed and use upcycled industrial fittings in a Recycled one.

The second section deals with the more practical aspects of furnishing tiny spaces, from how to heat your shed to how to choose furniture that doesn’t overwhelm the room. Some of these tips are specific to outdoor structures, but others are universal. Sheds by their nature encourage cutting clutter, using recycled and salvaged materials, and getting creative with storage and organization - all principles that are just as helpful in a four-bedroom house as a backyard hut.

A directory at the back of the book lists online retailers specializing in each of the six styles to help you furnish (or just daydream about) your future shed.

Shed D├ęcor is essentially a coffee table book packed with Pinterest-pretty images combined with a collection of tips that are meant to spark ideas rather than educate. You won’t learn how to re-cover a drop-in chair seat here, but you might suddenly realize you want to.

But though the lives and spaces depicted in this soft-cover volume could be dismissed as fantasy - not everyone will be able to have what Coulthard calls a “space that’s completely and utterly your own [to] lock yourself away for hours pursuing your favorite pastime” – the book is lovely to look at and more practical than it first appears. You don’t have to live in a Victorian railway car by the seaside or an adorably renovated former pig barn to be inspired to build shelves high above a tiny desk, or to appreciate how a minimalist space can incorporate art and humor. And though this book does not attempt to cover all possible decorating styles, by showcasing a few currently popular ones, it could help anyone contemplating a renovation or new build to define their personal preferences.

In a shed, Shed Decor declares, “you don’t have to play by the rules.” That reminder, along with the book’s focus on the importance of creating a cozy, expressive, and organized space for yourself, goes not only for trendy “Gypsy wagons” and hunting huts, but for any place you live or work.



By Johnna Kaplan 

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