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The Zen Shed Renovation

I am sure you have heard of a “She Shed,” yes? It is defined as, “a small building separate from the home, reserved specifically for the use of an adult woman, in which she can relax and pursue her interests.” This trend is gaining in popularity to its’ counterpart, the “man cave,” and definitely has more style than most man caves around. Here is a great article from Dwell that illustrates some of the greatest she sheds around.

This blog isn’t about She Sheds, it is about the Zen Shed, “a small building separate from the Piper home, reserved for the entire family (even @harveyandcrash), in which they can relax, rehearse, unwind or get to the grind.” Hanna, the youngest Piper, created the name so that it was inclusive to everyone and how they planned to use it.

Here is the story:

Good Bones

Fair to say that the Zen Shed’s previous owners didn’t see its’ potential. It was in all ways just a shed with good bones. There was insulation and plastic sheeting falling from the studs and ceilings… bees had taken up home in between the siding and peg board walls, and a partially rotted plywood floor. The exterior was charming, but also feeling the pains of weather and sun damage, and of course, old age.

It was 100% necessary that we completely strip her down from the inside out and, basically, start over. Once we cleared everything out, we were able to find that the basic structure of the shed was strong and in-tact, although, not to any kind of building code.

After removing the dormant bees nest and the pieces of siding that had seen better days, we went to work on the exterior of the structure. It took about 20 new siding boards, some new shingles on the roof and new skirting all the way around. We also added a rain diverter to the roof and removed the gutter that was home to mostly gumballs from the neighbors tree (thanks a lot).

On the interior, we need to replace the rotted subfloor and add some additional stud boards in order to bring the structure up to code and make it easier to work with down the road. The shed already had power, but we added outlets in several spots, based on what was to come. We added brand new insultation from top to bottom, and replaced the window and door.

From the window…to the walls…

With the installation of the custom window and custom door finally behind us (thanks for the delays, Covid), we were finally able to start installing the material for the walls and ceilings – you guessed it, shiplap. We used the LL Flooring shiplap, which is pressed wood and not actual shiplap. In hindsight, I wouldn’t do this again. It was an attractive option at the time since it was a finished product that was available when we needed it and would be a one-step process: install, done.

We had considered a couple of options for the ceiling: wainscoting panels, corrugated metal roofing, or mirroring the cork flooring – but we ended up doing shiplap from the floor up – it is gorgeous. We left the beams exposed because the color of the wood was gorgeous and would tie in with the boho vibe of the room. My one and only IGTV post is of this process, you can check it out here. It was my first experience using a miter saw and a brad nailer, and it was a stellar experience, seeing as there were no injuries to report.

Next up, floors. After a quick sweep we were ready to start installing the cork flooring, it is also a LL Flooring product and I love it. I wish I had taken a video of this process, it started out a little rocky so I just focused my way through it. What I’ll say is this, after watching YouTube videos on how to do this, I did what I always do. I did it the way that I wanted to, because guess what, my way worked better. Instead of installing piece-by-piece, we actually joined a full row together and then connected it to the previous row. Ta-Dah…

Oh So Boho Pretty.

This is the fun stuff, the boho pretty stuff, and, as a designer, my favorite part. I had been collecting items for the better part of six months and more than ready to get them to their home. As it implies, “Zen Shed,” is just that, zen, and what is synonymous with zen? Boho.

Where do you go for the best boho vibes? First stop: Facebook Marketplace. I found so many great pieces including the mirror, daybed, the mid-century magazine rack, and the vintage wall wicker baskets, all from Richmond, down to Newport News. I also found @hillheadandco on Facebook and commissioned several macramé pieces. At Urban Outfitters we sourced our sconces and the must-have moon lamp, floor pillows, and our layered rugs. And Anderson’s Garden Center for all things plants, duh.

All of those photos are by @thekiaandco

There were personal touches along the way too. We included pieces of art from Erica’s collection, pictures of family, quotes that remind us to live the good life, but most importantly was a piece of wood, from family property.

Since it really was just a piece of wood, we took some steps to make it something beautiful and functional, while maintaining the memory and integrity of the piece. There was some sanding, some planing, some cutting and some staining, but from one piece of wood we made a foot rest and a side table.

Go forth, and be Zen.

This project was a lot more than I bargained for, but just like my corporate events, everything comes together in the end. I may not have gotten there how I planned, and things might not have gone how I expected, but the end result is beautiful and my client is happy. That’s all that matters to me.

We are so in love with it and spend time in it almost every day.  Husband meditates in the morning before his early morning workouts, I have worked from in there when I need some quiet space to relax and I also use it as a place to read and enjoy my coffee during the early morning on weekends.  Hanna uses it as a place for singing and hanging out, and Danny and his girlfriend relax in there some nights before dinner.  The dogs love it too!  They lay in the sun spots when the door is open and we have a dog bed in there for them to take a snooze. 

I think one of our favorite things is to have a glass of wine or bourbon at the end of a long day and just sit in there and relax and listen to the birds.  We put an electric fireplace in for chilly mornings in the winter and also a Bluetooth speaker to stream music.

Erica, Zen Shed owner & my best friend

One thought on “The Zen Shed Renovation

  1. Are you kidding?????? this is THE most amazing makeover that has ever been done!! 100% of people would have NEVER seen potential in that mess…ONLY you Alyssa !!! #aworkinghome ….AAAAmazing!!!

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