Sheds show owners’ personalities
By Adrienne McGee Sterrett
“Backyard” used to mean a swath of grass, a tree or two and a cement patio for aluminum lawn chairs. Modern history has given us landscaping and outdoor rooms and gardens.
“Backyard” has become a sanctuary from the usual life stresses, a way to get your hands in the dirt and make something out of nothing in the garden. And that central hub of activity is the humble potting shed — a structure that now has transcended its workaday beginnings and can become a beautiful retreat in its own right.
A slice of seclusion
Near Pandora, Deb Baumgartner and her husband, Bob, signed for their house the day before the Blizzard of ‘78.
That makes it memorable, for sure.
And ever since then, they’ve set to improving their 1860 farmhouse and property in many ways — without stripping its character, like the slate roof.
The semi-retired couple has a deep love of history. Family items are being used and reused in interesting ways, from a grinding wheel turned into a fountain to a metal gate installed on a garden path.
The garden shed is no exception.
While it is only 11 years old, the 8-by-12-foot shed is rough-sawn cedar painted sage green. Modeled after a friend’s shed she saw years ago, the Baumgartners and their extended family and friends constructed the shed, added a porch and recently ran electricity to it.
“I can use power tools now,” she said, laughing.
The shed was placed near a vegetable garden, so it’s useful for gardening items, but its decor also incorporates more family heirlooms.
“We built the potting shed to put the tools on the walls,” she said, explaining the origin of each tool and item. It’s certainly more then decoration to her.
“I knew I wanted this,” she said. “I love the seclusion. I have my coffee here every morning.”
Renovating the past
Near Westminster, Donna (Thrush) Faulder owns a literal piece of her childhood.
The garden shed at the Faulders came from Donna’s family farm in rural Auglaize County, with its first lifetime spent as a brooder house. It was the place baby chicks would start their lives, cared for by the three Thrush girls. Donna is now 80 years old and remembers that time on the farm — which is still in the family — warmly.
“And I still call it my brooder house,” she said with a smile.
When she married and had children, their oldest son wanted to be in 4-H. The property isn’t large enough for raising large animals, so her father offered her the old brooder house for rabbits. There was one condition: The boy and his father would have to help Grandpa tear it down and move it.
That was in about 1969 or ‘70, she believes. Her three boys all raised rabbits. But time passes.
“It sat back there as a catch-all,” Faulder said. “It kept deteriorating, and I kept looking at it. … In fact, it worried me because the years had passed and we were busy raising a family and you just let things like that go.”
A neighbor offered help with renovation, and a new project was born. About 10 years ago, they fixed it up and painted the formerly white brooder house red with white trim to match other buildings on the property.
“My little garden’s right down from it,” she said, explaining how it’s become a wonderful space in which to store the gardening equipment and supplies — and reminisce.
An artist’s canvas
Near Wapakoneta, you could say Edna Steed has a knack for painting. And not like some people change their living rooms from taupe to tan. No, she lives life out loud.
Edna, 82, was aptly born on the Fourth of July.
“I guess I have been drawing ever since I was in Buckland School,” she said. “In the evenings (as a girl), there was no TV or nothing, and I’d just draw.”
She has worked several types of jobs, aside from the time at home raising her daughter, drawn to creative pursuits. A job at a framing shop allowed her to be around art. A hobby making leather belts and purses scratched her creative itch. She is the proud winner of fair ribbons earned for her drawings. But it wasn’t until she retired that she took up painting around the house.
Well, painting on the house and buildings, actually. One area shows a mountain scene with water in front of it. Wooden cut-out shapes like bears and totem poles decorate the property, and that’s a co-project with her husband, Glenn. Another painted scene brings Arizona deserts to mind.
But her garden shed was a canvas for homespun animals like a chicken in this corner or an owl she just added. The old shed was just white, and that just wouldn’t do. The building is just for basic storage, but it was too plain for her taste.
“It’s gotta have something on it,” Edna said. “I just like to look in magazines and see something and just add to it. And that keeps me busy.
I’m not an idle person. After three or four years, I’ll paint it again. It’s been fun.”