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Pandemic projects: Garden shed made to size: Steve Peck uses self-taught skills to construct place to store tools

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 10, 2020

Steve Peck opens the small shed he built recently behind his South Hill home, shown Nov. 4. He used both new and castoff wood, and he used his ingenuity to craft many small latches, shelves and hinges to create the garden shed.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
Steve Peck opens the small shed he built recently behind his South Hill home, shown Nov. 4. He used both new and castoff wood, and he used his ingenuity to craft many small latches, shelves and hinges to create the garden shed. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

The pandemic gave Steve Peck time to consider a project that seemed simple but turned out to require some ingenuity and innovation.

“We have an odd lot that has made our landscaping and gardening a bit more complicated,” he explained. “Over the years, our outdoor storage was too far from where it needed to be. We needed a shed closer to the front because the way we spend time in our yard and garden had changed.”

His first thought was to purchase a suitable shed, but he wasn’t pleased with what he found. Peck said the ones in his price range were ugly and made of plastic, and the pricier ones weren’t tall enough for his 6-foot-4 frame to stand upright in. Then there was the problem of how to get a prefab shed through their narrow front gate.

He decided to build one and add custom features that pleased him and his wife, Elizabeth.

“It had to be spouse friendly,” Peck said. “She’s a foot shorter than me.”

In May, he began by creating a cardboard drawing of what he envisioned. Then came many trips to the library, using curbside pickup to gather information from how-to books.

“I’m not trained as a carpenter, but I’ve always been a handyman,” he said.

Indeed, several years ago, Peck built a long, narrow shed next to the opposite side of his house.

“Our garage is too small to maneuver tools and bikes around two cars,” explained Peck. “If you take the square feet of both of these sheds it would be the size of the one shed I wanted if I’d had the space.”

Limited to a 6-foot footprint, he designed a shed that fits snugly next to the gate.

Peck said he wanted to recycle a lot of “too-good-to-toss” lumber and hardware that had piled up.

“The pile is much smaller,” he said.

An articulated shed door made for easier access in the confined space, and Peck pointed out a special feature he designed for his wife.

“I made a pull-down shelf and notched it so Elizabeth can do her flower pots in the garden shed,” he said. “My craftsmanship improved when I had time after retirement.”

A solar motion-activated light makes it easy to find what they need, and though the slanted roof looks like it’s made of corrugated metal; it’s actually made of asphalt.

The project was completed in July. It might have been finished sooner, but at one point Peck had to take it apart and redo it, and there were delays due to a shortage of supplies because so many folks were tackling pandemic DIY projects.

He didn’t mind.

“I built what I needed, and it gave me something to do when everything was shut down,” Peck said, adding he enjoyed finding simple, yet elegant fixes when problems arose.

“It’s made the seasonal work much easier to complete and enjoy,” he said. “It’s one of those things where we come out and go, ‘Ahhh.’ It’s the simple things that add joy.”

Cindy Hval can be reached at dchval@juno.com

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