House & Home

Backyard outbuildings aren’t intended just for storing rakes and shovels anymore

This Modern-Shed doubles as an art studio, which is light, bright and white on the inside to inspire creativity.
This Modern-Shed doubles as an art studio, which is light, bright and white on the inside to inspire creativity. Arizona Bonuccelli

The standard shed takes a modern twist by creating a structure that adds square footage to a homeowner’s property for a guest bedroom, artist studio, workout space, home office or man cave.

More than a simple storage unit for lawn and garden items, a thoroughly modern milled outbuilding is in for people who want to add livable square footage to their residential property, says Tim Vack, general manager of Modern-Shed, based in Seattle.

“Our Modern-Shed isn’t just a shed. It’s a shell which can stylishly house additional living space,” he says. “Based on midcentury architecture, the elegance of the Modern-Shed is the simplicity of a structure with a single-angled roof and windows near the top.”

Capitalizing on this modern movement, Tuff Shed, a company known for its barnlike and traditional-style sheds, offers a contemporary Premier Pro Studio shed.

“Pretty much any building can be used for anything, and we’ve seen that movement for many years,” says Phil Worth, vice president of marketing for Tuff Shed, which has a factory in Overland Park. “More people are using backyard sheds for home offices, because more people are working from home than ever before.

“We can trace this back first to the man cave, then the tiny house on wheels, then the she-shed,” he added. “Now we’ve started marketing toward those uses with our Pro Studio model, which has a post-modern look. Rather than a shed door, it has a residential entry door and a sloped roof.”

The Pro Studio also has a vapor barrier, something Tuff Shed’s original buildings didn’t have, because the company didn’t expect customers to insulate the buildings.

“With the Pro Studio series, we assume they might do that and make it reasonable for them to do that,” Worth said.

If a homeowner wants to shed the conventional for a contemporary outbuilding, there are many things to do before breaking ground. Vack says involving family members in the discussion of a shed’s usage helps make it a little extension of the big house.

“Life is so stressful, and having a place to escape into the backyard is like having that tree house when we were kids,” he says. “But if the site isn’t prepared properly, a Modern-Shed can be anything but fun and games.”

The location for a studio-style shed should be a relatively dry spot, on slightly elevated ground, where rainwater won’t collect. Often homeowners build their shed over a solid or crushed rock surface, poured concrete pad or wooden decking, but the structure should be built at least 12 to 18 inches off the ground, according to Vack.

The sites for these sheds must be prepared and graded to handle drainage after water flows off the roof and accommodations must be made for installing electricity and plumbing.

And before buying and breaking ground on the building, homeowners should check local building codes within their municipality and/or homeowners association. It’s up to the homeowners to secure the permits, or, as Vack puts it, it can quickly become a nightmare.

Tuff Shed Pro Studios and Modern-Sheds come in a variety of sizes, but the most popular are 10- by 12-foot, totaling 120 square feet and can be customized using a variety of materials and woods, with insulated walls.

Vack says the cost of a Modern-Shed can start out at $100 per square foot and top off around $250 per square foot. The average cost, however, is just over $150 per square foot, he says. Tuff Shed’s Pro Studios and Modern-Shed spaces can be used for both work and play:

▪ A home office, the most popular usage, is a space that is both productive and professional.

▪ An art studio can be a creative space flooded with natural light from windows near the roofline.

▪ A gym gives families space to work out at home.

▪ A hobby or craft room provides a home for art supplies and place to sew, scrapbook or creatively sprawl out.

▪ A man cave or game room gives families a tidy place to watch games or movies or entertain away from the house.

▪ A teen hangout creates a special space for the young adults who aren’t yet independent yet crave independence.

▪ A guest suite for visiting friends and family. A backyard space creates an additional private residential room without remodeling the existing home.

“Building a Modern-Shed isn’t just about putting up a building,” Vack says. “It’s about a lifestyle, as homeowners also landscape around this new multipurpose room for a finishing and fragrant touch.”

The Star’s Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian contributed to this report.

Shed Ready

▪ or 800-261-7282.

▪ or a local Tuff Shed store at 1500 N.W. South Outer Road, Blue Springs, 816-427-9629 or 8811 Lenexa Drive, Overland Park, 913-541-8833