Step inside this fairy-tale garden shed

A little ingenuity helps turn recycled materials into a charming garden workspace

View of the exterior of the shed.

Photography by John Granen


From the outside, Gail and Mark Dupar’s shed looks like a cozy vacation cabin, or something out of “Hansel and Gretel.” But the cordwood structure is really the nerve center of the couple’s kitchen garden, on Decatur Island in Washington’s San Juans. Here they start seedlings, arrange flowers, raise tomatoes, store tools, and dry freshly harvested shallots on the warm brick floor.

View of the interior of the shed.

Photography by John Granen


The Dupars built the shed in about two months, using recycled beams from a pier repair project and cedar that they found on a nearby beach and then sliced into rounds. The finishing touch? Yard-sale windows.

A cedar workbench inside the shed

Photography by John Granen

A place for potting

A 12-foot-long slab of cedar makes a durable workbench.

Glass bottles, cedar rounds, and other items make up the walls of this recycled-object shed.

Photography by John Granen

Wall art

Clear glass bottles let light from the greenhouse filter into the main shed. Darker bottles, marbles, and twiggy prunings fill in around them.

An antique leaded glass window hangs in the shed.

Photography by John Granen

Fab find

An antique leaded glass window hangs from an overhead beam. It sparkles when backlit by the sun.

The roof of the greenhouse area is shadecloth-covered glass.

Photography by John Granen

Thinking light

The shadecloth-covered glass roof helps brighten the 8- by 12-foot greenhouse, where tender plants spend the winter.

A coil hose is readily available for watering plants.

Photography by John Granen

Easy water

This coil hose reaches all of the greenhouse plants. Find similar hoses at Gardener’s Supply Company (

Brick flooring in the shed and greenhouse

Photography by John Granen

Staying grounded

The floor consists of brick set in sand atop filter fabric, for easy drainage.

A kitchen cabinet works as storage in this shed.

Photography by John Granen

No more clutter

A former kitchen cabinet holds vases, seeds, and books. Hand tools are plunged blade down in a sand-filled crock.

A recycled wood work table sits in the corner of the shed.

Photography by John Granen

Bouquet zone

A recycled wood table is where Gail arranges fresh-cut flowers. Excess clippings go into a can beneath it for composting later. 

Succulentss thrive in these makeshift planters.

Idea to steal

Turn flea market finds into planters for tiny succulents (drill holes in the bottoms). Gail Dupar uses them as “gifts to go.”

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