A tiny backyard building becomes a true refuge
Cozy Garden Shelter
Alex Hayden
Slanted planters wrap around the front corner to emphasize the garden connection.

It’s more than just a place for plants: For Sheila McConnell, the little shed in her backyard in Bellevue, Washington, became a quiet, healing room where she recovered from breast cancer.

“Out here I don’t get caught up in the pace of life,” she says.

The handsome retreat was designed and built by stepson Andy McConnell, who heads his own garden-carpentry firm in Seattle.

“It started off as a toolshed and then it just blossomed,” he says.

Alex Hayden
The corner work counter overlooking the rear yard has plenty of room for tending to orchids and other plants.

Instead of lawn mowers, the 8- by 12-foot structure houses books, a TV and stereo, and an L-shaped counter for orchids and crafts projects.

Rigid insulation, double-glazed windows, a standing metal-seam roof, and a thermostat-controlled heater keep it dry and comfortable throughout the year.

Walls of south- and east-facing glass brighten the interior, which takes on a honey tone thanks to maple plywood-covered surfaces and recycled fir trim.

All the exterior cedar trim was sealed with log oil to deepen the warm glow.

“The whole place has an earthy plant fragrance,” Sheila says.

Design:  Andy McConnell, McConnell Built, Seattle (206/310-1045)