• Fiona McLean

Studio: Early Days

Updated: Mar 6



It's summer 2017 and I am spending time with my parents at my childhood home where my parents have lived since 1969. Our family home sits on a 1/4 acre sub-division lot. In our backyard there are several trees. There is a large Blue Spruce tree, maybe 20-30 feet tall, an equally grand Douglas Fir and a large Norwegian Maple, all of which were planted in my childhood. There are 2 burning bush trees and a handful of small cedars. The trees are beautiful now and it has been wonderful to see them grow from saplings over so many years.


Douglas Fir on the left, Blue Spruce on the right.

I was raised in a family of skilled Scottish tradesmen and being a part of that culture taught me the value of craftsmanship, workmanship and critically the value of unions and labour rights. I have always been very good with my hands, and interested in working with my hands so I naturally took an interest in all of the construction and/or renovation work that happened in and around our house and in the houses of our extended friends and family throughout my childhood.


The shed: Originally, the garden shed had plywood siding that, in our harsh climate had taken a beating and was on its last legs. The shed was still structurally sound and free of leaks so I assumed it wouldn't take a lot to refinish it myself. I knew that I would have a lot to learn but the acquisition of knowledge has always served as a great motivation for me rather than a deterrent. I chose a local small town lumber yard to source good quality rough pine timbers. This would allow me to create board and batten siding which seemed a solid technology and simple enough in execution. A few photos below of the garden shed in its condition early summer 2017.



The most difficult part of the project was deconstruction. I threw a sledgehammer at the plywood siding to knock it all down from the inside out. Once down to the studs the work moved ahead without difficulty or complication even if a little slow moving. I worked on one wall at at time so as not to risk damaging the structural integrity. It was pretty straight forward even for someone with no actual building experience. The rain would slow my progress, my mood would slow my progress, my responsibilities would slow my progress but after all is said and done, it is completed now and we are pretty satisfied.


We hired a commercial roofer to replace the shingles. I simply thought we would replace the existing asphalt shingles but I should have done a little more research on the material choice given the ecological footprint of the asphalt that I did not understand at the time. Metal would have been a better choice. At least I know now not make that mistake on the larger project ahead. Happy days. :)


Check out the gallery to see some photos of the process...



The Norwegian Maple, a slice of the Burning Bush (screen left) and completed Garden Shed. Summer 2018.

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