Shed Week 2009 interviews: Debra Prinzing

This is the first in a series of guest posts from my favorite sheddies or shed experts (that is the same thing really!), the brief was “Sheds and how they effect you” thinking back it was a pompous question, but anyway the sheddie came back with their own view on their shed worlds. I will hand to you over to a proper writer, Debra.

William Wright photograph (
William Wright photograph (

Your backyard shack can become the ultimate garden hideaway, haven or sanctuary

By Debra Prinzing (, Los Angeles, California)

Think about your favorite childhood hideout. What and where was it?

Was it a tree house? A fort built from old crates? A bonafide playhouse for tea parties?

Most of us remember these secreted places. In such tiny enclosures, we played out our carefree adventures, fantasies and storybook narratives. They gave us freedom.

Fast-forward to 2009 and the adult world we now live in. Think about what you would do (or are doing!) with a hideaway of your own.

Like many of you, my love affair with the humble shed began in the garden. In 2000, I wrote a cover article for my Seattle newspaper’s Home & Garden section called “Shed Chic.” I paid close attention to the many clever uses people employed in their backyard sheds. The activities ranged from making pottery and playing with grandchildren to growing seedlings and gazing at stars through a retractable roof.

My fascination with sheds of all kinds continued. They seemed to be cropping up in every garden I visited. Soon, my collaborator, photographer Bill Wright, caught the fever, too. No matter what their style, the diminutive structures we found had one thing in common. They were possessed and cherished by passionate individuals in pursuit of a dream.

Something struck a chord with Bill and me. This was the start of our personal “Shed Odyssey.” The journey to create Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways: Big Ideas for Small Backyard Destinations involved 52 weeks of scouting, producing, photographing, interviewing and writing about more than 35 shed locations coast-to-coast. In all, we visited nearly 100 sheds while developing the book.

What we learned was far more inspiring than merely the clever ways to build a shed without having to apply for a building permit – or how to make the most of a structure the size of a telephone booth. We learned about the human desire for sanctuary.

Here’s a quote from one of our subjects, a Los Angeles designer and painter:

“Being in the shed makes me feel more connected – and grounded – to the creative forces that simplicity affords. It’s a very practical environment that offers a great escape from all the complexities that surround me.”

And one more, from a Seattle gardener: “Here’s where I keep everything I want to save and love. This is my little comfort zone, my quiet place.”

These “shedistas” turned their dream for a garden room of their own into a reality. I continue to be enchanted and mesmerized by the ways in which humans are possessed by these little structures.

Debra Prinzing is a Los Angeles-based outdoor living expert and writer. She is the author of Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008) and writes frequently for the Los Angeles Times, Garden Design, Landscape Architecture and Better Homes & Gardens publications. Read her design blog at

By Andrew Wilcox

I love sheds Founder & judge of Shed of the year - Wilco writes mainly about sheds. About the blog Enter your shed into #shedoftheyear