Chuck & Jessica's 196 Square Foot Green Shed

Chuck & Jessica's 196 Square Foot Green Shed

Kimber Watson
Aug 27, 2009

Name: Chuck and Jessica
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
Size: 196 square feet
Years lived in: Completed this year, 2009

Chuck is an architect and furniture designer and Jessica is a painter, so their shed was built out of necessity to provide additional workspace behind their home. Built from the ground up and using many salvaged materials, the shed keeps in line with their philosophy on environmental responsibility. And given Chuck's occupation, it's no surprise their shed won the International Shed of the Year award for 2009.

Built by Chuck himself, the shed's 196 square feet size was dictated by their zoning laws. If they kept the size under 200 square feet, they wouldn't be required to pull permits, which meant a lot less red tape and hassle. And fortunately for Chuck, he was blessed with lots of help from his neighbors and architect friends — if only we were all that lucky!

Some of my favorite elements of the shed are in the details. He often made due with what he had on hand or what materials he could locate; the result was a lesson in creative reuse! The front door was constructed with plumbing pipes, cedar that will weather as it ages, and a contractors lock. Chuck carved out a narrow section in the concrete base and inserted an aluminum channel to help rainwater drain away from the shed. And the joists from the roof were accentuated with nylon webbing. Without a doubt, the plastic light box located on the front of the shed is a hidden gem. The bump-out lends extra space for a closet on the inside, and the plastic at the top allows for a "beacon of light" to shine to the road.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: Environmentally Responsive Design

Inspiration: I am inspired by so much international architecture, but I admire American contributions from Marlon Blackwell, Wes Jones, and the late Samuel Mockbee.

Favorite Element: I like where the 16' horizontal window intersects the change in the horizontal pine siding and the vertical white corrugated plastic siding.

Biggest Challenge: Finding and utilizing rare and oddly dimensioned used building materials.

What Friends Say: All the adjacent neighbors helped build it, so they are happy with the result. My friends are mostly architects so they are my worst critics.

Biggest Embarrassment: Missing a stud while hanging the exterior sheathing and almost shooting my friend with the nail gun during construction.

Proudest DIY: It's got to be the 100% custom 16' long horizontal window with frosted shelving glass from the used section at IKEA.

Biggest Indulgence: Proportionally in price, I am reluctant to say that the rain barrel cost the most.

Best advice: When you get the design done, throw it away and try to redraw it from memory.

Dream source: I wish I could have gotten my hands on some insulated metal panel siding.

Inspiration: Creativity found in mistakes.

Resources: Local lumber yards, labor and reclaimed building material shops. I purchased the rain barrel from Green Source in D.C., Community Forklift for some of the wood and glass, and IKEA was a great source for finding affordable DIY materials (I had a hard time finding reasonably priced frosted glass, so I bought frosted glass shelves from IKEA. The "as is" section is also a great place to search for materials).

Thanks, Chuck and Jessica!

(Images: Kimberly Watson)

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