Friday, August 16, 2013

Reclaiming the Shack: The Ugly, Unabridged Before Photos

We are experiencing a shot of glorious, sunny, unusually autumn-like weather this week.  For example, it was 58 degrees when I let Ruby out this morning, and the high temperature this afternoon may make it to 80.  It's been like this for two days already, which means that these are perfect conditions to tackle a project that's been haunting me ... the dumping ground that exists inside our cute little outbuilding that we affectionately call "The Shack".  (You have seen glimpses of this building in some of my photos, but I don't remember ever showing you what the inside looks like.)

The building is nice and straight ... it's the door that's crooked.
There it is, beside the greenhouse.

That's The Shack with the green metal roof with that great vent on top.

When we bought this place in 2002, The Shack was piled full of junk.  (real junk ... not the good kind that some of us hunt down and pay money for.)  It had a cracked concrete floor that was fourteen inches below the door sill, so it was quite a step over and down to go inside.  One summer, I cleared out that junk to install a new floor system ... to make it solid, level, and dry. 

Doesn't every gardener have an enormous, embarrassing pot dump?

I designed the floor framing to be sort of like a deck, with double outer rim joists, a double central beam, and field joists that are hung from joist hangers ... all of this was to lift the framing off the floor and to make it independent of the homemade rock-and-mortar foundation.  Ran out of plywood toward the end of the project, and never took the time to get more and finish the job.  Soon, we started to gradually load the building with our OWN junk.  (sigh)


In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I had tidied up a little bit before I thought to take these photos.  The central path you see wasn't quite as wide as it is now, because I had to move some things in order to have room to walk through while I worked.  The worst of what I cleaned up was two large bags of potting soil that were exploded and spread around by a groundhog.  In fact, I am fairly certain that there is a groundhog living in the northeast corner under the floor ... evidence of this is the damage done to four foam stool cushions, three of which are chewed to pieces and one is completely gone.

See in the center of this photo how the floor isn't finished?

The stain on the floor in the lower left corner of this photo is from what the groundhog did to the potting soil.
My goal for right now is modest ... I have to empty the building.  I can't do this by simply moving everything somewhere else, because there ISN'T anywhere else that will hold it all.  Since I'm not using the greenhouse to produce roses for sale right now, it can serve as a temporary home for some of this stuff.
Lots of treasures in this photo!
These windows will replace the Shack's current tiny shed windows.
I'm having to make some hard decisions about other things ... am I REALLY keeping things to use in the future, or to fix up and sell, or is this a glimpse into the beginning of full-out hoarding?
I love this door that I got last year at the Habitat ReStore in Richmond.
1940s metal Jamestown kitchen cabinets in good condition ... another treasure.
It's a wonderful 13 feet from the floor to the ridge beam, once I remove the beaverboard and framing of the dropped ceiling.
This is what I have decided to do ... when I come across something that I know I will never use again, I will get rid of it immediately.  Some things (not many) are in a pile to be taken to the dump.  Other things that I don't want or need are being photographed and immediately placed on Craig's List in the 'Free' section.  This provides a little bit of instant gratification for me, and it makes the recipients happy at the same time ... win win for all of us!
This heavy-duty bubble wrap was once the insulation on the inside of my greenhouse.  Now it will help keep someone else's chicken house warm in the winter.

Flashing for the greenhouse skylights, that I didn't use.  These are going to a new home later today.

Gnarly picket fence sections will be craft projects for a lucky young lady.

I have been scribbling measurements and sketching design ideas like crazy.  I can ABSOLUTELY imagine what this little building can be when it's finished.  (My 'Cottage Ideas' board on Pinterest contains everything I see that may serve as inspiration as I move forward with this project.)  For now, though, I have to concentrate on the important things: 

1.  Sort and store (or dispose of) all of the items that are currently inside the building.
2.  Take up the plywood on the floor, evict the groundhog and clean up his mess.
3.  Install vapor barrier and insulate the floor.
4.  Reinstall the plywood.
4.  Remove the dropped ceiling and all of its framing.

I think it's realistic to expect that I can get this done before winter (in addition to the other projects around the place that I have in the works).
I fell in love with this little building the first time I saw it while we were here touring the property with our realtor.  It's a perfect size (17' x 23') with its own electric supply.  There is no plumbing, but that's okay.  I knew when I saw it that I could rework it into something really special ... think of it as a Folly, or a studio ... or, maybe one day, a little shop of my own. 


  1. I can only imagine how it will look someday. I would love to have your building expertise. I know how to do a lot of things but I am just unwilling to pick up those power saws.

  2. Every project you touch turns to gold in the end. Can't wait to see what you make of this sweet little shack. It has so much potential!

  3. I can see why you fell in love with this little building. It's adorable and has such great potential. Looking forward to seeing the progress and changes that will be made in the coming months.

  4. I really, really love 'your shack!' You have great treasures in there, and I've no doubt whatsoever that you will turn it into something amazing! But I did have to laugh at your flower-pot collection, I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't part with them!! :-)!!!

    And by the way, you are so, so right about the weather, I hope it holds for the weekend!!

  5. Ahh, this reminds me of my garage, which I will be starting to tackle tomorrow! And this weather has been amazing, hasn't it?! I love your shack and I can see it as a shop one day...hopefully soon!

    xo Kat

  6. Connie- You are SOOO smart! I hear you. After working in my friend's house for all these weeks I have decided to do away with stuff that I don't need and will never use. When in doubt? OUT!

    I love your little barn/shed and can't wait to see it all done up. Wish I lived closer- I would come help you- you know I would! xo Diana

  7. Is that my door???????????

    Janet xox
    The Empty Nest

  8. Great project, Connie. I’ll be cheering you on as you finalize your dream. I covet your pickets for my next project : directional arrow yard signs. It’s funny how a building keeps its name. The tin shed, my new office, will always be the tin shed. Your happy shack will probably always be The Shack. Inspired by your green house iron work I’m trying to work a stack of iron gates into my greenhouse design scheduled for autumn build. It’s been a wet summer in Alabama. It’s pouring right now . . . dreaming of an Indian Summer.

  9. Again, I say--
    And btw--I can "store" those columns and lamps for you. (Just trying to be helpful!)

  10. Studio? Should I hope that Dear Hubby gets so lucky as to appropriate the building, or should I fear his banishment from the house?

  11. I would love a building like that, and I remember oohing and ahhing over it when I visited. So many possibilities. I see a shop for you here. I totally do!

  12. I came back to the beginning to see your little building project. It's fabulous and totally impressive what you've done and are doing. I'm green with envy! I'm thinking a studio/ of both worlds.


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