A friend of ours, garden expert Debra Prinzing, visited more than one hundred outdoor sheds around the country with photographer William Wright a couple of years ago. In Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways: Big Ideas for Small Backyard Destinations, they documented a new backyard trend: the tool-shed-turned-dream house. "It can be an escape, retreat, a sanctuary, an art studio, a dining room, or even a whimsical playhouse for all ages," she writes. The photos from the book will encourage you to dream up a new kind of outdoor shelter...
• 1 The cover images, and also one of our favorites: An elaborate potting shed that's architecturally fun and also comfortable inside for the owner with a horticulture obsession.
• 2 An artist and printmaker turned this makeshift boathouse into a studio in Aptos, California, near Monterey Bay.
• 3 The owner of a landscape firm wanted her own greenhouse, so her brother designed her a uniquely modern space in Texas.
• 4 "In the heart of Washington State's apple country," Prinzing writes, "an art collector and an antiques dealer create a winsome and welcoming garden haven."
• 5 An open-air shelter, Norwegian-style, beckons a pair of homeowners to dine al fresco in the Santa Cruz mountains.
• 6 This stucco outdoor office in Santa Monica used to be a garage.
• 7 Almost like a state park shelter, this creek house in Washington State provides its owners with a place to comfortably read and watch the wildlife.
• 8 A product designer for Yahoo in Santa Monica uses this space as an office. She needed the room to spread out her art projects and painting easel.
"Virginia Woolf had it right. Women (and men, it turns out) yearn for a room of their own," Prinzing writes. "But instead of a little nook beneath the eaves, that room is now a shed."
For more ideas, see Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways: Big Ideas for Small Backyard Destinations, or Debra's blog.
(Images: William Wright)