Design Posts

5 Activities To Never Try In Your Outdoor Building


After constructing your new outdoor building, you may find yourself searching for reasons to spend time there. As you organize the space and plan fun activities to enjoy during your visit, make sure you know your limits – and the limits of your structure. Although the vast number of pastime options may feel limitless at first blush, there are a few activities you should never try in your outdoor building, so long as you wish to avoid suffering the swift repercussions. To remain safe and sound, and consequence free, remember to avoid the temptation to try the five following activities in your outdoor structure.

Roast Marshmallows

Although roasting marshmallows in the comfy confines of your outdoor structure sounds incredibly decadent, it is also quite a dangerous proposition. Unless you have a fireplace, leave the flames and smoke outdoors where they belong by creating a fire pit and seating area a safe distance away from your buildings. If you absolutely must gaze upon the crackling logs while relaxing in your outdoor building, install a TV screen and tune into one of the many simulated fires to get your fix.


Paint with the Windows Closed

An outdoor building can give you the peace and quiet you need to churn out beautifully painted masterpieces one after another. If, in your frenzy to get painting, you forget to pop open your doors and windows, the fumes could build up and knock you through a loop. Avoid the fumes, and their dizzying effects, by either painting elsewhere or installing centrifugal fans to actively circulate the air as you create your works of art. Opening the windows and doors probably couldn’t hurt either.

Feed the Wildlife

Feeding the wildlife from the doorway of your outdoor building will only serve to draw them to that structure in great numbers. Since life is, sadly, not a Disney movie, the wildlife will likely end up causing more harm than good. To keep their potential for destruction to a minimum, avoid setting out snacks or treats for birds, squirrels or any other wildlife anywhere near your inviting outdoor building structures.


Grow Mystery Shrubs

Although an outdoor building makes an excellent sprout station and garden depot, you must actively identify your plants to keep your garden, and you, safe and sound. After all, you just never know when the mystery shrub from the corner shop will grow far too large and demand the finest of foods in song. Keep your garden tame by growing your favorite fruit, vegetables and flowers under a combination of natural and artificial light.

Throw a Pool Party

Outdoor buildings seem fit for a bash, but planning a pool party might be taking that sentiment a bit too far. The splashing and laughing – and fun filled chaos – will do little for the health and wellbeing of your newfound favorite outdoor structure. A spa session, on the other hand, might be just what the doctor ordered.


Smartly Utilizing Your Outdoor Buildings

With a little thought about your favorite activities, you can easily transform your outdoor buildings into true extensions of your living space. You can use your imagination to turn each space into an office, computer lab or even an art studio. As your interests change, do not shy away from updating the space yet again to support your latest endeavors. With extra outbuildings at your fingertips, you will always have the space you need for your hobbies and projects.


7 Common Maintenance Tasks Required for the Upkeep of Outdoor Buildings


You can ensure your outdoor building retains its like-new luster for years to come by performing timely maintenance tasks. These important procedures allow you to rectify small issues before they escalate and cause irreparable damage. In fact, you can actively prevent the need for huge overhauls or total structure replacements by completing maintenance tasks on a yearly schedule. Although you will need to inspect your structure for specific areas in need of attention, almost all outbuildings require the seven following tasks performed each year.

Seal Replacement

Exposure to sunlight, rainfall and constant temperature fluctuations take a serious toll on the health of the seals around your outbuilding’s windows and doors. Without these seals, moisture and drafts would easily enter the structure. You can replace the seals quite easily, however, by scraping away the old caulk and applying a new bead. With proper application around window and door gaps, the caulk will provide another year’s worth of protection against the elements.

Hardware Lubrication

The hardware used for your outbuilding, including door locks, hinges and window mechanisms, require regular attention to remain functional through the years. You can use a can of petroleum based lubricant to oil up the moving parts and add a layer of protection against moisture in the air. The lubricant will actively prevent rust from forming and locking the moving parts stubbornly in place.


Siding Restoration

Constant weathering can strip away the sealant or paint from your siding materials. If your siding looks worn or discolored, consider applying a new coat of stain or paint to renew its outer surface. When you refresh this layer, you not only improve the appearance of your outdoor building, you also restore its shield against rain, sunlight, wind and other destructive elements.

Foundation Repair

As the ground settles beneath your outbuilding, cracks may appear in the concrete foundation. Take the time to fill in the cracks as they appear to keep them from going through the entire slab. If the cracks push all the way through the concrete, you may need to have the slab replaced outright to protect your outdoor structure.


Vegetation Control

When the vegetation around your outbuilding starts to grow out of control, it could cause damage to the entire structure. Plants with strong, fast growing branches can actually push through your siding or foundation and split the building materials. Prune or remove the offending plants to keep them from leaving immense destruction in their wake.

Roof Rehabilitation

At the very least, your roof will require a visual inspection to check for damage caused by storms, trees and wildlife. You should take a look at the flashing and shingles to check for wear or damage around the edges. If you find any loose elements, examine the underlayment for rips or tears. Promptly repair all damage to this layer before securing your shingles and flashing back down or your roof may leak when it rains.


Pest Elimination

If you spot just one pest in the vicinity of your outdoor building, you can safely assume there are many more lurking in the shadows. Spiders, field mice, squirrels and even raccoons will start to search for warmer ground as the winter season approaches. Take the time to close up entry points and set traps to protect your outbuilding from potentially costly damage.

Creating a Maintenance Schedule

When you choose to stick to a strict maintenance schedule, you continually rejuvenate your structures, inside and out, to protect your investment for the long term. To ensure you always complete your maintenance procedures on time, write out a yearly task list and hang it on the inside of the door to your outbuilding. Each time you complete the scheduled maintenance, sign and date the paper to check it off your to-do list. Your commitment to timely maintenance will keep your shed looking new far longer than you ever imagined possible.

5 Imaginative Landscaping Themes For 2017

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As work and family demands continually increase, the need for moments of pure relaxation is also experiencing a steady upsurge. To obtain this much-needed reprieve, more and more people are seeking out ways to reconnect with the world around them. Adventures through natural landscapes and close encounters with gentle wildlife tend to rejuvenate the soul and reinvigorate the spirit. The landscaping themes for 2017 will surely reflect this need and give people the ability to work these retreats into their overly busy days. Check out the five following landscaping themes sure to soon take the world by storm.

Desert Vista

With drought so prevalent in recent years, xeriscaping is the name of the game in the landscaping world. With this type of gardening technique, you will fill your yard with drought-resistant, local plants to minimize the need for watering. In most regions, the result is a gorgeous, yet minimalist, desert vista layout. Depending on your climate, you can ditch the lawn in favor of tall grasses, shade trees, succulents, cacti and climbing vines. Make sure to compare your zone information with the plants’ needs to create a desert vista landscape that thrives over the years.

Food Forest

The days of wasting space with huge green lawns are nearly over. With so many people focused on sustainable gardening, the conversation has turned toward transforming yards into edible food forests. You can create rows of vertical gardens, filled with fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, to follow this exciting trend. Consider filling open spaces with dwarf fruit trees to create a miniature orchard filled with tasty treats. Make sure to select plant species that match your area’s sunlight and rainfall levels to keep your harvest yields as robust as possible.

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Wildlife Oasis

The breathless wonder that occurs upon spotting gentle wildlife in a natural setting can be yours to enjoy if you transform your landscape into an oasis for local animals. You will need to attract local wildlife to your property by using the right combination of trees, plants and water features for your area. Create a naturally filtered pond filled with lily pads, water ferns and bromeliads to give frogs and lizards a place to live on your property. Work native trees, bushes and flowers into the garden beds around your pond to bring the birds, bees and butterflies to your yard. Place logs and other hidey holes throughout your landscaping space to complete your wildlife oasis design.


Zen Garden

The rocks in a Zen garden represent the natural world and its beautifully impermanent features and flow. Cherry trees, stone walls and water features act as excellent accents for this type of garden. Make sure to balance opposites to create the yin and yang flow that facilitates close meditation of this elegant landscaping theme. The minimal upkeep required for this type of garden is immensely calming and usually quite a joy to perform. You will simply rake the small pebbles into the form of a slow or fast moving river running around the larger stones in the garden.

Moon Grove

When the moon and stars peek out at nightfall, the atmosphere changes to reflect the serene setting. During the late hours of the night, nothing is more beautiful than watching the flowers open all around you in the glow of the moonlight. As more people experience this wondrous event, the moon grove landscaping theme is sure to catch on throughout the upcoming year. To create your own moon grove, plant flowers that bloom in the night, such as evening primrose, moonflower, Nottingham catchfly and night scented orchid. Make sure to place the garden in a space that captures the moonlight beautifully. Add enough comfortable seating for you and your guests well within view of the garden space.


Preparing For The Imaginative 2017 Landscaping Season

2017 is closer than you think so it is best to start preparing now for your next landscaping project so that way you have enough time and resources to complete the project.


11 Unique Theme Ideas For Your Outdoor Buildings And Landscape Design


An overarching theme for your outdoor buildings has the power to really tie your landscape design together. You can use the theme to transform the interior and exterior of your outbuildings into a unique custom structure perfectly fit for your personality and interests. From that point, just smartly utilize a few key landscape elements to apply the final touches to your personalized design. Here are 11 interesting theme ideas for you to consider.

Star Field

Make your landscape design look like an extension of the gorgeous night sky with a star field theme. Work with a palette of deep purples and blues, dotted with white starbursts, to recreate the space scene of your dreams.

Mystic Retreat

Rich earth-toned colors integrated with crystals, wind chimes and otherworldly creatures quickly transforms your outbuildings and garden into a mystic retreat. Use silky scarf accents and rich fragrant flowers, such as patchouli and lavender, to take this calming theme to the next level.

Rustic Sanctuary

Harness the colors and textures of rusted metal, reclaimed wood and dried grasses to make your landscape design exude rustic charm. Heavily rely on found materials and hearty plants while creating rustic accent spaces around your outdoor buildings.


Castle Grounds

The commanding atmosphere of castle grounds is captured using regal purple and rich green tones. Try to work stone blocks, hedges and spires into your overall design to recreate this iconic look.

Western Saloon

The western saloon made great use of reds, yellows and oranges across all saturation levels. Wagon wheels, hitching racks and horse sculptures make great accent pieces for this throwback theme.

Coastal Resort

Blues, greens and yellows encapsulate the beauty of the coastal region without overpowering inland features. To recreate the coastal resort theme, include nautical décor, such as lighthouses, life preservers and starfish.

English Cottage

The English cottage often features brown, white and green tones throughout its design. Bird baths, planter boxes and wildlife sculptures give the cottage theme a ton of cute character and charm.

Woodland Refuge

The woodland refuge hides within the forest thickets, so you should use ample brown and green tones on your build. A handmade fire pit, log furniture and stone walkways will bring this theme to life.

Tea Garden

The traditional tea garden appears as rolling hills full of highly fragrant edible plants, so focus on the green spectrum while customizing your outbuildings. Add small koi ponds, woven basket planters and an elegant seating area nearby to complete this invigorating theme.


Vintage Getaway

Shabby chic never fails to impress with its teal, pink and white color scheme. Apply a distressed finish to wood benches and chairs to create inviting seating areas. Create an eccentric garden using distressed bedframes, dressers and cabinets in unique ways.

Fairy Tale

Bright pink, blue, yellow and green work well together when creating instantly recognizable fairy tale landscapes. Waterfalls, topiaries and oversized mushroom sculptures are the perfect elements for this magical theme. Replace your gate with an arched door to ensure you can waltz into you fairy tale wonderland in style.

Completing Your Vision

As you sketch out your outbuilding layout, you may notice that you need to add a small shed, pool house or other outdoor building to your design. To find and acquire the perfect structure, browse through the pre-fabricated buildings created by Summerwood.

10 Ways To Make Your Backyard More Younique

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If you want your backyard to reflect your unique personality, the ordinary lawn and garden has got to go. You must integrate personalized elements into your backyard design to make it truly one-of-a-kind. With the right blend of elements, your friends and family will instantly recognize your backyard as an extension of your individuality. Combine any number of the innovative elements listed below to create a fully customized backyard space to enjoy for years to come.

1. Rock Garden

Your backyard space will take a unique turn with the inclusion of a Zen rock garden. Frame out the area with simple bricks and place your rocks in an interesting configuration. Fill the rest of the area with tiny, round pebbles to complete your garden. Make sure to regularly rake the pebbles into smooth ripples that mimic the movement of water.

2. Miniature Orchard

If you do not have room for a full size orchard, utilize dwarf fruit trees to create a miniature version right in your backyard. Place your dwarf fruit trees in containers to limit their normal 10-foot height to about four feet at maturity. You can find almost all fruit tree varieties in this tiny size, including peaches, lemons, limes, oranges, cherries, bananas, apple and figs.


3. Log Pathways

Utilize log slices of various circumferences to create a pathway you will be proud to walk down. The wood stain covered logs will display their age for all to see without succumbing to the elements. You can choose to leave the bark on for a distinguished look or display the wood with bare edges to create a design that looks a bit more uniform.

4. Heart Planters

Beauty and brawn come together in heart shaped planters made of concrete. You can pair large and small heart planters together in various spaces throughout your yard or create a full line of hearts to separate two areas of your yard into separate sections. Make sure to plant tall flowers with wispy greenery to continue your theme of opposing elements.

5. Block Wall

With a block wall, flowers almost seem to defiantly jut out from the crevices in an attempt to soften the edges of this tough structure. Create this structure by stacking cinder blocks into a wall up to your desired height. Stagger the ends to leave a cinder block hole, or two, exposed for use as a planter. Create additional planters by turning every third or fourth block perpendicular to the others. You can create a partial wall or use the structure to actually surround a specific area in your backyard.

6. Animal Bushes

Turn ordinary bushes into extraordinary creations by shaping them into the animals you love. You can turn any bush displaying white flowers into a sheep by shaping the plant into an oval and adding a ceramic head, four legs and a tail. Consider turning dense green bushes into frogs, lizards, birds and grasshoppers by shaping the plant using pruning tools and an artistic touch.

7. Pond Container

Build a pond garden in a large container to take your backyard space to the next level. With a small pump, this type of garden will basically maintain itself. Fill the pond with aquatic plants, including cattails, water poppies, irises, taro and lily pads. Your pond will attract frogs, lizards and local wildlife for you and your guests to watch while you relax outdoors.

8. Rain Chains

Replace your boring downspouts with rain chains to make the most of sudden rain showers. Water lazily trickles down the chains to the ground below without making a peep. Carefully place the chains to allow the rainwater to naturally provide thirsty plants with extra moisture.

9. Fire Pit Sculpture

A beautifully sculpted fire pit can light up the night with your favorite scenes, animals or shapes. Choose a fire pit design that matches your backyard theme or personal interests. Make sure to place the pit in an area that allows you and all of your guests to crowd around it together on chilly nights.

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10. Tree Trunk Seats

Your backyard is not complete without a full set of tree trunk seats. These simple seats can be placed around a fire pit or aligned tightly together as an impromptu garden bench. You can move the trunks as you see fit to customize your backyard arrangement on the fly.

Completing Your Backyard Build

Once you get your backyard design elements squared away, consider adding a cabin or studio as the main focal point. Your stylish outdoor structure can act as a dedicated space for your artistic endeavors or just as a place to relax after a long workweek. You can obtain prefabricated, purpose built cabins and studios from Summerwood. These structures are always easy to order, construct and personalize. Browse through the options and customize it with the online Design Center to select the best one for your needs.

3 Structural Design Elements That Increase Interior Space

Regardless of what you’re using your backyard building for, in many cases they’ll have one thing in common: they’re as large as possible, without infringing on the overall design or building limitations. This isn’t surprising since most of us are interested in squeezing out as much space as possible to maximize functionality. Increasing the size of the structure gives you more storage options or livable space, but rarely do we consider the design elements that can create space, without increasing the footprint. Contemplating design details such as dormers, roof pitch and lofts can drastically impact interior capacity and the overall purpose of the space. These should be thought about early in the design process as they are structural and cannot easily be added at a later date. Below, we’ve got 3 structural components you can add to virtually any out-building to expand interior space as much as possible.

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A dormer is a structure that is added to the roof of any building, often to add dimension to the overall design. In most cases, dormers include windows but they don’t have to. Dormers are a fantastic addition to any room as they greatly increase both light and height in a space. If you are using the room as extra sleeping quarters, or even just as a loft hangout, the addition of window dormer provides much needed light.

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Why not take the opportunity to gaze at the stars from your bunkie window just before you fall asleep? Ensuring that a few of the windows open and include a screen will allow you to welcome a breeze without becoming bug bait as well. Perhaps the biggest benefit of installing a dormer is gained ceiling height. Whether you’re using the space for sleeping or storage, increasing vertical space will make the room far more versatile for both. It’s nice to have the ability to stand up freely in a small loft space without bumping your head!

The interior of a dormer, increases height!

The interior of a dormer, increases height!

A shed dormer may be the ideal solution. If the space is meant for storage, increased height allows you to put away some larger and taller items that can be tricky to store in the winter months. If your building is a 3-season structure, incorporating dormers allows you to store away items like seasonal patio furniture, so your garage doesn’t turn into a cluttered disaster!

A shed dormer can add vertical space and light to a small loft.

A rectangular shed dormer can add vertical space and light to a small loft.


Roof pitch refers to the slope, or incline of a roof.

Roof pitch specifies the slope, or incline of a roof.

Roof pitch refers to the incline of a roof. A roof can be flat and modern or dramatically sloping with a peaked gable. In both cases the pitch is described with a measurement such as 1/10 or 12/12 pitch. This measurement is common when discussing roof pitch, and it’s important to understand it in order to determine how steep or flat you would ultimately like your roof to be. A 1/10 pitch can be seen on very contemporary style buildings, such as our Urban Studio seen below. Some slope is necessary to ensure water and snow gradually slide off the structure.

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In contrast, a 12/12 roof pitch is just about as steep as you can go! The larger the first number in this measurement, the greater the incline. Why would you want such a steep roof pitch? Well there are multiple reasons, and considering snow runoff as previously mentioned is an important thing to keep in mind depending on what kind of climate you live in. Additionally, an increased pitch maximizes the amount of usable interior space, so you need to consider the inside when choosing your roof as well.

If you're using wall height top to bottom, consider bringing in light through some skylights!

If you’re using wall height, top to bottom, consider bringing in light through some skylights!

An open truss or attic truss design provides you with an incredible amount of head-room and open clearance. Or, you may be able to add a floor and create a second storey, or at least a half storey. This is extremely practical for storing away large items, or can even be used as a sleeping loft!

A 12/12 pitch allows for an additional loft space above. Read more about our garage style here.

A 12/12 pitch allows for an additional loft space up above. Read more about our garage styles here.


A loft can be added to just about any style of building and can dramatically increase the size and functionality of a space. A single storey building may be all that you need at the moment, but adding a loft presents you with additional options for years to come. A loft can be used as a private hangout, as guest accommodations or simply for storage.


Cozy loft sleeping quarters.

Cozy loft sleeping quarters.

With the addition of screened-in windows and a drop down ladder, a loft becomes a secret getaway and can feel like a tree house escape. Our bunkie is our most popular loft building, and is predominantly used for this purpose. Take our advice though, if you’re creating a sleeping loft in your cabin or cottage don’t choose a metal roof, they can get pretty noisy during those summer rain showers!

For more from this post, head to: "The Ultimate Bunkie Build"

For more from this post head to:“The Ultimate Bunkie Build”.

See more of our Bunkie here.

See more of our Bunkie here.


In most cases, our customers choose a building that incorporates some of these elements, or a combination of all three. How to squeeze the most space out of a small out-building is important to consider at the beginning of the design process as structural elements such as these may make all the difference once you’re using it. At Summerwood, we have engineers and designers on staff who can walk you through the technical and structural details with ease. If you’re feeling inspired and ready to brainstorm your ultimate custom building, try our design center where you can start dreaming! You can drag and drop options such as windows and doors onto any of our building styles, and when you’re ready for more information, please give us a call: 1 866 519-4634.

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