outbuilding with dark blue vertical plank siding, bright red trim, door and bench with a red-handled pitch fork to accessorize
Photo Richard Felber (Styling by Michelle Lay)
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Take advantage of outbuildings

Your yard may already contain features that can anchor an outdoor room.  The exterior wall of a detached garage, a toolshed, or a storage barn are ideal starting points.

What was done here: Rather than tear down this dilapidated outbuilding, Bruce shored up and spruced up the structure as the backdrop for a covered seating area. He retained the building's vintage character by using corrugated metal roofing and vertical plank siding finished in charcoal paint, giving the boards a weathered look. He used a bold red on the divided-light door, awning-covered window, and trim boards to set off the structure's details. He then added a Japanese maple and an ornamental pine, foundation plantings worthy of a house. For the seating area itself, he laid a pea gravel floor and built a shed roof overhead using rough-cut 2x4s from a local mill, more corrugated metal for the roof, and two Victorian-era porch posts that he picked up at a yard sale and painted to match.

More take-home tips: To gussy up a garage or shed, attach wood lattice on a sidewall for climbing roses to grow up, put up a flower box beneath a window, and arrange a pair of Adirondack chairs or a bench in front of it for an outdoor reading nook that's sheltered—at least on one side—from the wind.
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