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Modern Shed offers versatile spaces to live and work

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By Christina Harper
Special to SCBJ
Published: Monday, November 24, 2008, 3:02 p.m.
  • Modern Sheds offers custom designed, pre-built sheds using sustainable materials.

    Photo courtesy of Modern Sheds

    Modern Sheds offers custom designed, pre-built sheds using sustainable materials.

  • Moder Sheds structures have been used in nine states as offices, art studios and extra living spaces.

    Photo courtesy of Modern Sheds

    Moder Sheds structures have been used in nine states as offices, art studios and extra living spaces.

The truth about working from home is that it’s not always as efficient as it seems.
Some people can’t turn away from the dishes piled in the sink or the hum of dryer telling them that there’s still another load of laundry to be done, never mind the temptation to turn on the television to see how the stock market is doing today.
But many telecommuters don’t want to go into an office to work. They don’t want to hassle with the traffic on I-5 or get up early to get ready for work.
The solution for many people is a Modern Shed.
Seattle’s Ryan Smith and his wife Ahna Holder have been creating Modern Sheds for clients throughout the United States and Canada since 2005. The couple has backgrounds in architecture and design, and came up with the idea of a custom designed, pre-built shed with eco-friendly options when they moved into their own home and found they needed the extra space.
“We started to do them locally as a solution for people,” Smith said. “In ‘05 we did the first full kit to be sold out of state.”
Three years later, Modern Shed offers not only a basic shed but a studio shed and dwellings with insulated floors, walls and roofs, as well as windows, glass French doors, green roof to keep heat in and cold out, and cork floor tiles. Clients choose what they want and need.
Modern Shed, built in Sedro Woolley, serves as a custom office, extra room, or storage facility. The pre-fabricated structures are made from materials provided by local companies and constructed in one building before being shipped in flat packs.
Customers can put the shed up or have the Modern Shed delivery team who arrive on the truck install it for them.
Foundations are not a problem either. For many of the sheds, all that is needed are four corner supports to hold the structure. Cedar decks can be added to the structures that are custom painted and have finished maple plywood. A weatherproof membrane is built into the package under hardy plank exteriors.
Being green while working in the shed is a snap: denim wall insulation is an option — yes, old jeans are inside those walls — as is the green roof where plants can thrive, and energy efficiency is at it’s best. The snow load on the roof is 25 pounds per square foot. Wiring and plumbing is up to the customer to put in.
There are Modern Sheds being used as offices, art studios and extra rooms in California, Oregon, Texas, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Louisiana and Washington State.
“They are primarily on the West Coast,” Smith said. “About 85 percent of them.”
Smith’s creation has not only captured the interest of customers both near and far, but Modern Shed has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times and many national magazines, taking the idea coast to coast.
When creating Modern Shed, Smith wanted to provide a solution for people anywhere who wanted to add space to their house. Sending the sheds in flat packs makes it happen.
With his building and design background, he knew people could use an affordable, less time consuming option other than to pull down part of it to add an extension.
“People don’t want to tear down their house,” Smith said. “They don’t want to move.”
Adding onto a house can be much more expensive than the $15,000 to 19,000 it can take for a Modern Shed. The company is four or five weeks out on production and even with finishing work to be done, getting the shed up takes only a few days.
“You still get a room in five days that’s completely habitable,” Smith said.
In terms of habitable…Smith’s next project is a Modern Shed dwelling that he is about to get permits to build in Port Townsend. Buyers will be able to visit the location and choose, from the many options, how they would like their home built.
“If you only want a 10 x12, you got it. If you want a mother-in-law space with a bathroom here’s the drawing,” Smith said.
Smith and Holder have a Modern Shed at their Seattle home. It’s kept for local people considering buying so that they can make an appointment to go and see the structure functioning.
“The model set up here is not in a glossy showroom,” Smith said. “It’s a real life example of how we do it. We’re doing it in a real way.”
For more information, call 206-524-1188 or visit
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