Some garden sheds are lined with tools. Some are overflowing with bags of soil and terracotta pots. Some simply are catchalls for lawn mowers and barbecues.
And then there is Deb Alder’s sweet garden shed in South Tacoma, best described as a home away from home fashioned with an artist’s eye and a large dose of imagination.
It’s the sort of place crafty people who want to get away from it all lust for.
Alder designed the shed. A team of friends and relatives, including husband, Jeff, and son, Madison, put it together over the course of two years. The shed is a roomy 12-foot by 14-foot mini-house complete with a comfy chair, heat and cable TV. It’s small and pretty and it’s “Deb’s World.”
With the exception of some siding, a few shingles and one window, everything in and out of the shed is made from repurposed or recycled materials. The front door is from a secondhand store in Yelm. The potting bench was used for 20 years at a local nursery.
What began as a regular gardening shed has evolved into a mini cottage getaway with all the charm of a playhouse, except for an adult. It sits on a small terraced and densely landscaped 4-foot “hill” in a small backyard complete with arched entrance. Alder calls the path that leads to the little hill her “rock welcome mat.”
The original intention was simple: the shed would house everything except the lawn mower. But then it took on a life of its own. And now everyone who has a chance to visit it leaves inspired — and a little jealous!
The small-scale landscape around the shed includes a collection of miniature hostas with names like Itty Bitty, Tiny Tears and Pandora’s Box with another collection of sedums and sempervivums spread just below the wood wall.
One side of the shed is devoted to her other passion, her crafting. She makes jewelry from repurposed spoons and beads she has collected over the years. Her current crafting “favorite thing” is a proudly displayed dremel kit.
With Alder’s eye for detail, odds and ends are turned into little pieces of art.
- Alder is trying Tagro, Tacoma’s magic elixir compost. So far, the plant areas covered with Tagro have not been devoured by slugs or destroyed by squirrels. Coincidence?
- The side of the shed is screened with “Green Panda” bamboo, a non-invasive clumping bamboo that screens but doesn’t run.
- Pots with blackbirds, a birdhouse by a local craftsman and a British tin for seeds complete this corner.
- The artwork displayed in the crates and on the walls (yes, plenty of artwork) is either something Alder made herself, or art purchased from South Sound farmers markets and local artists, including a favorite crow tile from Tacoma tilest Claudia Reidner.
- The shelves are made from bulb and fruit crates from the same shop.