Debra Prinzing

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Stylish Sheds – a sneak peek!

February 26th, 2008

Zanny started barking when the FedEx truck arrived at the curb around 11 a.m. today. Little did I know she was announcing the delivery of my advanced copy of Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways!

Stylish Sheds cover

I opened the padded envelope from Clarkson Potter so quickly that I got a paper cut, but no bother…it was worth the pain because I knew what was inside. What an exciting feeling to hold this volume in my hands, to feel the slick, glossy jacket wrapped around a hardback book bound in two shades of sage green, to flip the pages (c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y at the top, right corner, Robyn) and then see Bill Wright’s gorgeous photographs return me to the many magical destinations we’ve visited in the past few years. 

half title page

How odd, to read the words I wrote with such intensity (and almost always while on a crazy deadline) as they looked up at me in a friendly, familiar way. What a gift to have been able to explore this notion of a separate, backyard destination, and take the journey with so many wonderful shed owners to discover their stories.

There are some very special people to acknowledge, and I’ll be thanking them again and again. First of all, my collaborator and creative partner, Bill Wright, photographer extraordinaire. We had a fun and compatible adventure documenting nearly 40 locations, 28 of which appear in the final book. You don’t really know a person’s true character until you have to work side-by-side with him at 4:30 a.m. (after going to sleep at midnight the night before), schlep photography equipment together, and realize he is letting you be bossy when he really does know what he’s doing! No words can fully explain my gratitude, Bill. We got through Stylish Sheds with only a few “I’m about to kill you” moments — moments that we thankfully laugh about now.

Doris Cooper, our visionary and big-picture editor, believed in this idea. I am grateful that she was willing to trust her gut, trust our creativity and support us as we pursued this dream. I’m ready for the next big thing and hope I can repeat the experience with her at the helm. Marysarah Quinn, the incredibly gifted designer and art director, took a pile of photos and pages of text and conjured up a jewel of a book that really sparkles. All I can say is “wow,” Marysarah. You gave us your best and it feels great to hold the finished evidence in my hands. Finally, a big bouquet of thanks goes to Sarah Jane Freymann, the agent who “gets it,” who represents us so well, and who inspires me, makes me laugh, and gives me hope.

All these accolades will be repeated in two months when our official on-sale date arrives, April 29th. But my birthday is this week, and I’m tickled for the early B-day present.  

intro pages

Thought I’d post a few photographs of the real thing, and share some lines from the introduction, entitled: “Escape to your own backyard.”

. . . The human need for a separate place appears in literature, speaking to the ideal of ‘sanctuary’ in our personal lives. In his book The Poetics of Space, the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote, ‘The recollection of moments of confined, simple, shut-in space are experiences of heartwarming space, of a space that does not seek to become extended, but would like above all still to be possessed . . . [it] is at once small and large, warm and cool, always comforting.’

Bachelard’s thoughts on shelter resonate with me, as do the words of architect Ann Cline, who calls her backyard shed a ‘hut.’ In her book of essays, A Hut of One’s Own, Cline describes a journey taken by many of us (if only in our dreams): ‘Nowadays, the woman – or man – who wishes to experience the poetry of life . . . might be similarly advised to have a hut of her – or his – own. Here, isolated from the wasteland and its new world saviors, a person might gain perspective on life and the forces that threaten to smother it. Only in a hut of one’s own can a person follow his or her own desires – a rigorous discipline . . . . Here, a person may find one’s very own self, the source of humanity’s song.’

This is all lofty stuff, isn’t it? Well, there’s more. After quoting the academic and professional people who inspire me, I needed something solid, rooted to the earth. I turned to carpenter-philosopher, John Akers. A profoundly wise craftsman, John designed and constructed several sheds that appear in our book’s pages, including four structures for Kathy and Ed Fries and one for Edgar Lee. Here’s what John has to say, quoted in the introduction:

“I’ve seen so many situations where people have slowed down because of adding a shed to their property. They experience something intangible when entering their sheds. Maybe it transports them to a simpler time.”

What this carpenter-philosopher has to say makes a lot of sense. The modern shed may be a purely practical solution that expands the square footage of one’s living space, or it may be a simple sanctuary in the garden. But either way, it is a gift. John sums up his observations with a laugh: “I guess you could say my motto is ‘build a shed and change your life.'”

Amen, brother.

back cover

8 Responses to “Stylish Sheds – a sneak peek!”

  1. alex Says:

    Looks marvellous. In fact I’m hugely jealous!

    The Ann Cline book is an interesting philosophical tome which I think all shedworkers should read, but it’s not easy going…

  2. admin Says:

    Thank you, Alex. It will be a fun ride, one you’re about to experience, too….please let us know when The Shed is published in the UK later this summer. I’m hoping it will be available in the US, too. Debra

  3. Anna--Flowergardengirl Says:

    How do I get a signed copy? I can see this will be one of my favorite books. The colors on the front cover are perfect for leaving out and letting others enjoy it as an art piece in my new home. I already know that it will be placed between my two new flour pantries in the kitchen. There is a table there that is the focal point of my kitchen. Let me go see about ordering this!! The comments and written descriptions are very heart warming. It’s the kind of book your read when you want to get really inspired. You sit in your comfiest chair, turn up your fire so it makes a golden glow in the room and makes your feet toasty—then fix a yummy orange tea….then you’re off in bliss as you turn the pages. I can’t wait.

  4. MA Says:

    YES YES YES! Let’s get a copy of that new book in my hot little hands! I am so happy it came for you on birthday week! See you soon.

  5. Lydia Plunk Says:

    Happy Birthday! In writing about that nice package you opened, you gave all of us all two gifts. Now, the gift of anticipation. Then again in two months, when the book is in our hands, you will be giving us inspiration.

    Thank you for creating such a wonderful project. What insurance companies label so blandly as an outbuilding can be so much more. They may be quantifiable measured as tangible space. But exponentially more important, they can offer intangible benefits. Sanctuary. Destination. A place to open the door to and let dreams fly free from.

  6. Ellen Zachos Says:

    Congratulations! It looks lovely; excellent graphics and enticing photography. I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading it as soon as I get my hot little hands on a copy in April.

  7. Kathryn Hall Says:

    Congratulations! Birth of your new creation, arrived there in your new land!
    Can’t wait to see it in the flesh! Warm best wishes, Kathryn

  8. Dee/reddirtramblings Says:

    I didn’t know it was your birthday week. Your words, as always, are lovely. I can’t wait to get my copy. I’m ordering it thru the local bookstore in hopes they’ll order more copies. Unless, you’d rather I order it from Amazon to help your ranking. Let me know.

    The book looks amazing, and I love the green backdrop you placed it against. It went so well with the photos.

    I went to the Oklahoma Gardening School yesterday, and the manager of the Myriad Botanical Gardens, Allan Storjohann, was speaking about borders. He said he’d read an issue of Fine Gardening which had an article about changing up the border. Before he went any further, I knew he was speaking of yours. Now, you know you’ve been quoted in a gardening school here too. Our work really does reach more people than we know. xoxo~~Dee

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