What is a Shed with Style?
March 29th, 2007
I’m deeply invested in the word “shed.” I love our original book title, Shed Style, and now that it is likely to be tossed out and replaced by a title of someone else’s choosing, I’d like to take a moment to explain why I think Shed+Style – those 2 words together – are ideal for what Bill and I are trying to capture in our book.
Shed, the noun (original) is traditionally defined as: a small structure, either freestanding or attached to a larger structure, serving for storage or shelter. A second definition is: a large, low structure often opened on all sides.
We’ve also played around with a contemporary definition (mine) for Shed: a structure designed and built for one’s personal enjoyment in the landscape or garden.
“Style” has many definitions, but I like the one in my trusty 1982 American Heritage Dictionary, which has been on my desk since my first journalism job at Seventeen Magazine. In general, Style is described as:
- a quality of imagination and individuality expressed in one’s actions and tastes;
- a comfortable and elegant mode of living, such as: the style of a gentleman; living in style;
As my friend Robyn puts it, this book is About Sheds and About Style.
I happened to read my husband Bruce’s recent “shed” description – in an email he sent to a former colleague and he tried to explain this book project. In reading it (I was somehow cc’d on the correspondence – I wasn’t secretly reading his email!) I felt so victorious. My wonderful spouse, who has had to live with this book project for more than two years, actually GETS IT. He told his friend the following:
Hint: Don’t think of those aluminum things you see outside of Lowe’s and Home Depot. These sheds are more like structures that are found in the garden but whose interiors may not have ever seen a lawn mower, hoe, or hose. Instead, they are sometimes incredibly lavish retreats for dinner parties, art work, and writing.
So Shed Style, whether we call it that or not, is my attempt to capture the spirit of our separate places. I’m thinking of distinct places-destinations-we can only reach by walking outside (preferably into the garden, or down a path, or through the trees). There are other terms that hint at the notion of a backyard destination (see glossary list at right) that I will explore in future postings.