by Jillian Marsh
When I walked into our house for the first time a year and a half ago there were several things that caught my eye. But it was what was in the backyard that caught my breath—a large garden shed on a concrete slab.
An artist being married to a musician means one thing when house shopping—space. We needed it. Between our growing family, my husband’s musical instrument collection and my vast packrat skills that I call “supplies” we have hobbies that take a lot of stuff. So, when I plopped my eyes on that shed two Julys past, all I could see was the potential it had to become something great.
So when my husband and I found out we were expecting our second child last May, it was time to put my plan into action. At that point in time my jewelry making supplies took up half the garage with torches, hammers, a kiln and other big or loud or messy tools while our extra bedroom was packed out with small findings, the sewing machine, a desk, reference books, fabric and anything else deemed to be quiet or small enough to be in the house. The shed is approximately 13’ by 9.’ It was going to take Mary Poppins handbag to fit all my stuff in there. So, I had to become strategic and start planning.
I spent hours measuring my furniture, searching for good storage options, cleaning out and purging the unnecessary items I’d collected over the years (this was perhaps the most painful!) and drawing my new studio/shed to scale with all my furnishings.
Meanwhile, it was my husband’s labor of love to begin the hard parts of the construction project. He first built a large dog house on one side of the building. We have 2 small horses, um, I mean dogs and they had been allowed to roam freely in and out of the shed until this point. He then installed some gorgeous old paned windows that my uncle gave me from a salvaged house project so that I have a massive amount of natural light. I’ll have even more so when he installs the partial glass door I’ve been promised once it warms up this spring (hint hint, hubby…)
The next step would have been a huge hurdle for us—running electricity from the house, through the yard and to the shed. But, we have great friends. GREAT friends. My friend Kim’s husband, Mark, came over and helped Caleb figure out the workings of this project and a tunnel was dug, line was laid and “voila!” The next thing I knew, Caleb was wiring up outlets at all my pre-drawn X spots on the blueprint and installing lights. I wanted a functional light that I wouldn’t have to worry about things flying up and breaking. Yes, occasionally things in my studio take flight. But I also wanted it to be pretty.
Here was my combination I picked up and put together from a local hardware shop.
Between the electricity and the insulation and sheetrock I worked on the floor. I think I put in about 30 hours into that bad boy but the stenciled yellow design on the grey concrete is one I couldn’t be any happier with. It gives life to a boring floor while still maintaining function. An extra bonus, hot metal drippings are not a fire hazard on it. We then put up the walls and painted them before moving stuff in.
Now, my biggest concern all along was not having enough room for everything that I needed to put in the shed. My husband wanted his garage back and I assumed that our new baby would probably want his or her own room as well so, I needed to make this space work. Here were some of my best storage solutions…
Apple crates. These antique ones I picked up from a shop called “Molly’s on Main” in Hillsboro KS, it is SO worth the trip to check out her good things and great prices. I was able to place some salvaged drawers and crates inside these and found they work like built in shelving under my working counter.
Antique hard suitcases. I could not imagine all the stuff you could squeeze into these guys. They tuck away nicely in the rafters and throughout my space giving pops of color while providing great storage space.
Custom pieces. My father is my hero. He’s also my biggest fan. He built not one, but BOTH of my large custom pieces from drawings that I made/antique pieces that I found and he renovated. I adore both and know I’ll have them for ever.
Tiny filing cabinets. I have a love for anything with tiny drawers. This tower of filing cabinets is the result of years of collecting. It’s perfect to hold and separate a million tiny pieces into shallow drawers where I can pack them full and still see most of the contents.
And that’s it! All moved in just in time for the arrival of our second child. Now if only I can get the time to get out there!
Jillian Marsh has been creating jewelry since she was 7 years old. Originally working in beads, she has gradually grown into using metal-smithing techniques to create mixed media jewelry pieces using recycled metals, found objects and anything else that catches her fancy. Her work can be found at Bella Luz in Wichita KS, online at www.facebook.com/sandcastlejewelry and www.sandcastlejewelry.com.