Storey’s Marketing Art Director Leslie Charles has been converting a humble shed in her yard at home into a functional studio space, with one Storey book in particular as a major source of inspiration.

Keep Out, by Lee Mothes, is a step-by-step guide to building your own backyard clubhouse.

Lee recently shared Leslie’s work on his blog, The Clubhouse Builder, where he reminds readers that everyone needs a space to call their own.

Take it away Leslie!


Leslie’s shed

My backyard studio started out as a chicken coop. After an unfortunate incident involving coyotes, we no longer needed the chicken coop, so it became a storage shed — mostly gardening stuff and my husband’s carpentry tools.

We built the original coop-shed with new lumber for the framing, but we used field stones for the foundation, and miscellaneous wood, roofing, windows, and a door we had in our barn.

My husband, Juano, a carpenter, helped me make sure the floor and frame were level and square, using the 3-4-5 rule. (On one side of a corner, measure three feet and make a mark. On the opposite side of the corner, measure four feet and make a mark. Next, measure the diagonal between the two marks. If the distance is exactly 5 feet, your corner is square! This is based on the Pythagorean Theorem.) When he was too busy to work with me, it was great to have my copy of Keep Out! as a reference so I could work when I wanted to. While he did a lot of the work, I felt, by using the steps in the book, I could build the frame on my own. I learned a ton from both his kind, patient explanations and from the book.

Later, I cleared out the shed and made it into a studio with more “shopping trips” from the barn for an old drafting stool, a table and some beautiful barn wood. I get Juano’s advice, but I am not afraid to make mistakes, either. So thank you for the “you-can-do-it!” inspiration in Keep Out!

Rusted stool

The stool before rehab.

Wooden work bench

My new crafting bench from a 2″-thick piece of hardwood I varnished.

Converted shed

My studio so far…

The Tyvek has been the siding for a couple of years; it adds character! And, as we say in the hilltowns: if you finish your house, then it’s time to move.

Our next venture: my 11-year-old daughter is making her very own cabin!  Keep Out! wasn’t far from her side while she drew plans over the winter. She has already consulted her dad about building 6″-thick walls, inspired by an adobe home she saw on a trip to New Mexico last fall.

This post originally appeared on The Clubhouse Builder, the blog written by Keep Out! author Lee Mothes, and is shared here with permission of the author.


Storey Digital Editors

We are the staff at Storey Publishing — the crafters, cooks, brewers, builders, homesteaders, gardeners, and all-around DIY-ers who make Storey books.

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Keep Out!

by Lee Mothes

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