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Val Cox 2009-08-17 7:16pm

My Backyard Studio Shed!
Well it’s taken about 6 months of planning, prep, and some undoing, but I finally got my backyard cottage studio built. The inside is empty, the exterior needs paint, and the electricity has not been fully run, but at least it’s up!

I took some photos along the way, so here they are. I settled on a post and beam design from and they sent a building crew from Massachusetts to my place in Pennsylvania to build it last week. I was told later this was the furthest they have traveled to construct one of their buildings.

I had a few setbacks along the way, and many weeks of delay while I gathered the proper paperwork and workmans comp certificates required from our town building department.

The single biggest and most costly mistake I made was in jumping the gun to level the ground before I had done all the research for foundation requirements, or had my permits (where the specs were made pretty clear). It cost me an extra couple of thousand dollars (and some tearful/sleepless nights) to undo the foundation work that was not done properly, and caused a delayed as I missed my building schedule while finding another company to dig the foundation. In the end however, it all worked out.

My little studio (12”x14”) won’t be used for flameworking, as I have a space for doing that already, but rather it will function as an artist studio for painting, resting, writing, hiding from the kids, and hanging out! It was a gift from my sweet husband for my 50th birthday (last May). Perhaps it will inspire some of you to build a little studio in your own backyard!

First, in May we staked out the space, although the ground was pretty sloped:

Then ‘landscape Bill’ ran the electrical underground line and leveled the ground nice and flat with this heavy equipment. I made a mistake of going along with his plan to create a foundation for a ‘shed’, using cut stone and timber. (He didn’t fully understand this building was more than a little premade ‘shed’, and I didn’t know enough to advise him otherwise)

The town inspector said no way, we needed nine 36” deep x 10” diameter concrete piers. So I collected more bids and settled on ‘Joe’ and his helper who took out and hauled away the timber and rebar that Bill installed, and dug holes to install Sono-tube frames:

(sorry for camera change)

The town building inspector liked this a lot, and I got a sign-off on my permit (Then Fred and I had champagne).

Concrete 'Joe' came back the next day to pour the concrete tubes:

Then we had a bunch of rain storms, and I cancelled every summer plan I had made to keep my calendar open, and I waited and waited for a building date to open up… And then about a month later, I got a date and the building crew and my materials arrived!

Ralph and Morgan left from Massachussets at 3am, arrived in Pennsylvania by 10am with the plan they would stay in a hotel one night and finish construction the following evening. It worked!

Their truck was a little too wide for the gate opening (the mirrors!) so they hauled the lumber 130 feet to the site a little at a time. (I didn’t mind the lack of truck tracks on the back lawn!)

They approved of Joe’s pier foundation job and got right to work cutting and measuring:

This is my special pine floor that I later had to scrub every inch (on my knees) with a copper pad and strong soap to get those black shoe skids marks off:

I feed them lunch, then it rained really hard and I stayed inside while they worked, so I didn’t get many photos.

Then the skies cleared and I ventured back outside:

The back side:

Then they finished for their first day and went to their hotel and dinner.

The next morning, early, they installed the doors, windows and started nailing up the cedar siding.

They started on the backside to lay the cedar shingle roof:

And they had a lot of little scraps to clean up before they finished that second night, before driving back to Massachusetts. But they cleaned every bit and loaded it in their truck!

Now I just need to paint (the blue tint is primed wood), I’m planning a very pale yellow/cream shade with a white trim. I’ll have a patio outside the French doors and we’ll landscape the front and have a step of some sort. (All in due time!)

The black circle next to the door is a dart board that was the first ‘vintage decoration’ to find it’s way into the cottage. It might find a place somewhere within. The floors still need to be sealed. (this shows them very dirty, before I cleaned them and covered them with contractors paper.

This little loft is where I plan to set up a day-bed for taking a nap. I fit up there perfectly! I’ll just need a little rope ladder or something! I’ll get the electrician out in the next week or so to finish his part and then get the final inspection.

Thanks for looking! ~Val

DanG 2009-08-17 7:35pm

That is great . Dan G

Seasoned Soul 2009-08-17 8:10pm

it's just beautiful!! love it

LadyCharlie 2009-08-17 8:12pm

WOW! That is beautiful! Enjoy!

squid 2009-08-17 8:22pm

that is adorable!!!!

beadsoncypress 2009-08-18 4:14am

Val - I love, love your place. I am just finishing up my travel trailer / studio and look at what is available right in my neighborhood......darn darn darn sniff sniff (now I want this!) I know I'm spoiled.

CherieRanfranz 2009-08-18 5:30am

What a beautiful studio!!

donia 2009-08-18 5:39am

=D> Looking good!!! Looking forward to seeing more pics as you get the inside loaded up. Any special landscaping planned?

Lyric0561 2009-08-18 7:40am

It's gorgeous, Val! I love it! Thanks for sharing. :D

Elegance_1 2009-08-18 8:28am

I LOVE it! What a wonderful birthday present! I'll get a studio for torching someday. right now though I have to make due with using our shop for my torching and my little glass store. :)

Janetlee 2009-08-18 8:43am

It's beautiful. It looks like a great place for relaxing and reading.
Thanks for sharing. Be sure and show more pics of how you decorate it.

cadia 2009-08-18 9:11am

You make it LOOK so easy!!!
Sweeeet space!

Feldt's Glass 2009-08-18 9:58am

That is one sweet looking studio! Lucky girl!

Terryd 2009-08-18 3:54pm

What a sweet cottage! You'll be making lovely beads there really soon!

Wumpmonk 2009-08-19 3:30pm

Great workspace. It's in such a beautiful setting, too.

QuiteCuntrary 2009-08-19 4:51pm

Lovely studio. I'm so jealous. I'm also now strangely inclined to make my man take up carpentry so that I can watch him build something with his shirt off :)

periwinkle 2009-08-19 5:09pm

That is one sweet little room. Can I come live in your backyard? You must live in Washington state or Oregon. So green.

I live in Arizona. So brown.

beybey 2009-08-20 8:33am

Val, Congratulations! Your studio is beautiful.


Originally Posted by beadsoncypress (Post 2627210)
Val - I love, love your place. I am just finishing up my travel trailer / studio and look at what is available right in my neighborhood......darn darn darn sniff sniff (now I want this!) I know I'm spoiled.

This studio is something else. Of course, it becomes available before I'm ready to move back to Jersey from AZ. Too crazy.

Diane Woodall 2009-08-20 10:08am

Val, I just love your studio. The vaulted ceiling makes it seem so spacious, and I can just imagine you out there on a snowy day, all snug in your own little world, creating things and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Wishing you many years of joy from your new space.

Teri.p 2009-08-21 11:07am

Val, it's simply lovely. Thanks for sharing the process.

Teri P

Val Cox 2009-08-22 1:55am

thank you for the comments! The electrician comes in the morning, I'm very excited! After that I can get my final inspection and then can begin the process of planning the interior and exterior decorating, landscaping, furnishing! Our 16 year old son just got back from a month away at summer camp. He was so excited to see what popped up in the backyard seemingly overnight. I could see his gears churning for a move in way! :D Val

moushka 2009-08-22 3:32am

That is just darling Val! I have drooled over those type for years, and your beautiful yard makes the perfect setting. Enjoy your nest!!


Little Lilypad 2009-08-25 5:27pm

It's so cute and, I just love the glass doors.

Marjo 2009-08-25 5:32pm

I did mine the same way and I LOVE it. It is my sanctuary. Here is the link to my thread:

Congratulations, and enjoy!

Val Cox 2009-08-28 12:01pm

Thank you for the nice comments! Marjo, your place looks great, congratulations!

I have electricity! And a sign off for the electrical inspection. My final building inspection is planned for Monday, so once that's passed, I can start finishing the floors and painting!

The town required that the electrician use metal conduit lines, but he did a pretty good job of running the lines where I wanted to keep it as unobtrusive visually as possible. Fred thought I'd need more outlets than I specified (there are 4 inside, one outside), as well as a ceiling fan, and an extra porch light, so I followed his lead as he's usually right about those things.

I covered the floor in paper until the final interior/inspection stuff is done and I don't have guys (with no sensitivity to mud on their boots) walking around!

The exterior paint colors I decided on is the top sample of this creme color. It's a little more yellow/white than shows here.

Then later, we'll get the side patio laid, build some steps, and plant some plants! Val

ekkc 2009-08-28 4:53pm

Love it, Val! Wow!!

cdmaam 2009-08-29 8:36am

Just beautiful!! Enjoy it.

mewsicmama 2009-08-30 5:23pm

That is just so terrifically special. Congratulations on your new space - I think I am turning pea green here..... Keep sharing pictures!

cc2 2009-09-02 6:40pm

Val, are the interior walls going to have drywall, or are they finished at this point? I can't tell if they are done or not by the photos. I love all the wood inside.

Val Cox 2009-10-09 12:24pm

The exterior is finally finished! It's painted and the Pennsylvania bluestone patio laid, the landscaping was completed today and some fresh sod planted. Now on to the fun stuff inside. Some more of the interior wood trim is finished, but I'll show those interior photos when it gets further along.

From the photos, the front windows look sort of blue, but that's just the window screens and the photo. In person they appear as they are, white.


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