Customer Diaries Posts

The Telluride Sleeping Bunkie

For those of you who love bunkies, or are just starting to learn more about them (you can do so at “So What Is This Thing Called a Bunkie”), you may already be familiar with our ever popular Glen Echo cottage style. It’s a great addition to any vacation property that adds space without going through a major renovation project. By popular demand, we’re featured the building multiple times. In “The Ultimate Bunkie Build” where we follow one family in their DYI construction from start to finish as well as in “Small in Size, Big on Function: Leading the Tiny House Movement” where one customer utilizes her building as a vacation rental and fully functional tiny home.

glen echo summerwood products custom permit free bunkie

But since we’re crazy about bunkies, it shouldn’t surprise you that we’ve got more than one style up our sleeves. In fact, any of our structures could be transformed into the ultimate cottage bunkie with endless available customizations. One such example is of our Telluride building style, which is traditionally classified as a backyard shed.

Our classic Telluride style.

Our classic Telluride shed style.

Not according to Mimi, from Madoc, Ontario. The Tellurtide style was an instant hit with her, and she wanted to enlarge it slightly and use it as a cabin in her spacious backyard. Mimi’s biggest dilemma? Avoiding the permit process (if you’d like to learn more about permits, take a look at “Building Permits: What You Need To Know”). This meant trying to keep the building under 110 ft.² (which is particular to her area) without losing too much space and functionality. Mimi liked a simple design, without too many distracting details. She opted to include a loft space above, which is a great way of increasing space, without altering the footprint. Mimi preferred the Telluride as it traditionally features less overhang than our Glen Echo style and presents a more rustic look. When you’re customizing from start to finish, even the smallest design decisions are yours to make.

The Telluride used as a sleeping cabin in Madoc, Ontario

Mimi’s Telluride used as a sleeping cabin in Madoc, Ontario

With the help of our design team, Mimi was able to achieve her goal. We helped her transform our Telluride style from shed to bunkie that Mimi now uses as a adorable sleeping cabin, right in her own backyard. Mimi loved how the structure accommodated all her needs, all while avoiding the permit process. Mimi’s favourite part? The loft of course “it adds much needed sleeping space, and dimension to the face of the building.”

In Mimi’s words, “We had a wonderful experience with Summerwood, from exploring all our dreams with Pat, to making them come true with Brandon and the whole rest of the team. We are in love with our sleeping cabin! It’s a gem in the countryside. And it fits right in.”

It’s always a pleasure to hear these kind words, especially about a bunkie! We can’t get enough.

Ben And Mary’s DIY Backyard Shed Installation

Battling with clutter? It’s an on-going struggle for many of us. In most cases, you’ve exhausted your options. You’ve sorted and reorganized. You’ve purchased and experimented with shelving units and storage tricks (check out some of our own: “8 Essential Garage Storage Tips You Must Try” and “Don’t Let Your Shed Become A Black Hole This Summer”). You’ve had one garage sale too many, and now you’re keeping what’s left of your belongings but need a way to store it all. One of our recent customers came to us with exactly this problem. Ben said, “My garage was getting cluttered. I wanted to get my lawn tools out of the garage to make room for walking in there!” Frustrated with his situation, he decided to build a shed.

When the need arises to increase backyard storage, for most of us installing a shed is the first option that comes to mind. The same was true for Ben and Mary, who realized they needed to build a shed primarily for this reason, but also thought it would be nice to house a secondary workshop. We tagged along with the couple as they lived their shed install process from start to finish.

summerwood diy backyard custom shed palmerston

Our Palmerston model is a cute and classic choice.

But the couple were seeking a shed that would not only store their belongings, they wanted a quality building that would last and increase the value of their home as well. After searching at the local big box home improvement stores and various online manufacturers, they settled on Summerwood’s compact (5’ x 7’) Palmerston shed. Why? “Most pre-fab sheds are crummy,” he observed. Then he volunteered, “I did a ton of research on this. You can’t touch this (Summerwood Palmerston) shed compared to what’s out there.”

A Significant Project for a Self-Confessed Novice

Ben admitted that he was somewhat intimidated with the size of the construction job. “It was a big project to take on,” he said. “It was just me and my son.” He didn’t have a lot of experience building around the home. “You could say that I’m a novice … years ago I semi-renovated a house I bought, but I haven’t done much in the last 15 years.”

The Palmerston shed they designed for their project was delivered to them in a pre-assembled kit. As the name suggests, this means the builders at Summerwood have done much of the work in advance as small sections of the building have already been put together. Once delivered on site, the remaining larger components are assembled by the customer, which was perfect for Ben. These kits are popular for those who are looking to do some, but not all of the DIY. As much of the work such as sourcing material, planning construction, measuring and cutting is already complete, once the package arrives it’s as simple as following the included instructions to put the big pieces together. Don’t worry, if you hit a glitch along the way, our installers are just a phone call away. Pre-cut kits are the best of both worlds: save some money and put in the elbow grease, but you’re not starting from scratch.

A Firm Foundation for the Framed Flooring

Initially, Ben and his son were apprehensive about the foundation. After all, the base would support all else. Ben added, “I thought that was going to be the hardest but it was the easiest part.”

They had a flat area available to put up their shed, which didn’t require much leveling. Following advice from our design experts, they purchased 2″ thick concrete patio stones from their local home improvement center, stacking them by degrees. “I stacked them till I got a fairly level area.” It’s not always necessary to create an elaborate concrete pad. If your building is small, and placed in a generally flat spot, patio stones are all you need. Check out our helpful guide for more information about foundations.

The stacked patio stones level the floor.
The stacked patio stones level the floor.

The next stage of construction was flooring. At this point, Ben was glad for the pre-assembled kit. “That (the flooring) was not too hard. Summerwood’s box frame simplifies the assembling of the floor.” Following that, their main task was fitting the tongue and groove plywood sheets together and nail them to the top of the frame. Easy enough.

Piecing it All Together

What part was the hardest? According to Ben and his son, the roof made them the most nervous. Ben wasn’t confident about the construction of the roof and was glad he spent extra time to get it right. His pre-assembled kit came with 5 trusses, already constructed. With time and care the process went smoothly but in hindsight, Ben advises others to rent or borrow several decent ladders for this stage of construction.

(2) Unloading the materials.

(2) Unloading the materials.

(3) Laying out all the shed sections.

(3) Laying out all the shed sections.

(4) Flipping the constructed floor section.

(4) Flipping the floor section.

(5) Placing the floor on the concrete patio stones.

(5) Placing floor on patio stones.

(6) The floor is in place.

(6) The floor is firmly in place.

(7) The walls go up quickly.

(7) The walls go up fairly quickly.

(8) Sheathing the roof with plywood.

(8) Sheathing the roof with plywood.

(9) Final touches to the roof.

(9) Final touches to the roof.

(10) With the roof complete, the window is installed.

(10) The window is installed.

(11) With the roof complete, the window is installed.

(11) Small shrubs cover the raised foundation.

(12) Tada! The completed shed.

(12) Tada! The Palmerston looks great!

As for siding, Ben and Mary had ordered the optional Canexel siding for their Palmerston shed instead of opting for cedar. As our maintenance free option, it requires no effort beyond the initial installation. Available in over 20 shades, it comes colored in a shade almost identical to their home, which stylistically was important to Mary. “It virtually matches the siding of my house.” To complete the effect, Ben painted the doors on the shed to match those on their house. “We think it’ll increase the value of the home because they look like they were built together.” To read more about the best siding options, check out “The Best Materials for Building Your Own Shed”.

Sure, we all want an immediate solution to our storage problems, but taking the extra time to select an option that’s designed with you in mind will only make it more useful in the long run. When you’re tired of playing the reorganizing game, head back to our homepage to learn more about our custom backyard structures. A high-quality shed will last for decades, and the right choice will increase the beauty of your yard, instead of looking like an eyesore! Sure, everyone’s first reason for constructing one is storage, but never far behind is that old favorite, property value!

When you’re ready to start dreaming of that perfect backyard building, drag and drop your options in our design center:

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The Urban Studio Meets Music

We’ve seen our custom backyard buildings turned into everything from yoga studios to jewelry stores (check some of that out here), but this project really struck a cord…

Our customer in Newark, New Jersey works as a music producer and composer. As you can imagine, that kind of work can get a little noisy when your studio is located right in your own home. So, with limited interior options in their downtown home, they opted to create a brand new space in their very own backyard. That way, there’s separation between solitude and singing!

This incredibly creative couple turned our Urban Studio structure into the ultimate recording studio, complete with the latest technology and soundproofing. Nestled into their beautiful garden, there is no shortage of inspiration to get those creative wheels turning.




Maximize space and storage by furnishing with custom pieces like this desk. Productivity is easy when your work is right at your fingertips. Including lots of shelving allows you to store things away when you don’t need them, or can be used as the perfect place for items that you don’t move from here to there very often.



Don’t forget about those walls. Use them to hang whatever you need access to frequently and quickly. That way, the moment creativity strikes you you’re ready to jam! Hanging pieces that are beautiful and functional allows things to double as decor, and in a small space that’s exactly what you need. You don’t want to waste valuable vertical space on items that don’t serve any purpose. Consider what you need constant access to, that also inspires and motivates you. Proudly displaying these items completes your interior design and is also convenient. Check out more interior design tips for little rooms: Interior Design for Small Spaces.


A beautiful wood finish on your ceiling ties the space together. Summerwood offers pine or cedar, and you can’t beat the smell! It’s all in the details. Wood brings a natural decorative element to the space that makes it feel cozy and completely finished. In a contemporary style building full of technology, it’s especially important to bring in elements from the outdoors.




Don’t forget about windows and natural light, no space is complete without it. You don’t want to walk into a dark space that’s completely cut off from the outside world, but you may also be concerned about safety and security. Balance both by choosing windows that are long, narrow and installed high up. This way the windows won’t take away any valuable wall space for hanging items either. Safe, secure, lovely and lit!


There is no limit to what you can do with a blank canvas and your imagination. What would you do with your very own backyard building escape? If you’re ready to get creative, tune into our design center. It allows you to choose any of our buildings and drag and drop your very own ideas. If you need any assistance or any design advice, we’re here to help: 1-866-519-4634.

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The Modern Verana Pool House


Alright you got us, we admit it. This Verana is one of our favourites!

We know we’re not supposed to play favourites, but once in a while a design like this one really steals the show. It’s a definite conversation starter and a completely unique building. We’re often asked about this particular pool cabana since it’s both gorgeous and multifunctional. We thought we’d give you a behind the scenes look at both the interior and exterior of the space, and tell you all about how together with the family we arrived at this spectacular final product.


Residing in California, the owners of this fabulous Verana were faced with a somewhat common problem: a small and oddly shaped backyard. As we design and build custom structures, our customers often come to us with this issue (check out our post on Our 5-Sided Corner Building which often offers a quick and creative solution). In this case, the yard in question is very long, narrow and already includes a pool. The challenge here was to create something that could function as both a pool house and an office, didn’t alter the layout of the existing yard and most importantly, took advantage of that view!

So, instead of having to redesign the already lovely backyard we worked together with the family to create this long and narrow construction that would meet their needs. The resulting 9×22 foot structure is breathtaking, practical and snug in its hilltop home.


With limited space both inside and out, it’s important to take purpose into account at the beginning of the design process. Our customers needed their pool house to do a little bit of everything: function as an office, include a wet-bar hang-out area, and a convenient washroom. They also wanted to ensure that their amazing view remained unobstructed, do you blame them?!



That view was of paramount importance throughout the design process. Once a layout was decided we focused on including features that would take advantage of both the view, and the California sunshine. Natural light opens up a space and makes it feel bright and airy, so large windows and doors were incorporated. We designed custom 4 panel double doors to allow for a “wall” of light. This also presents the ability to open up the space, allowing for instant indoor-outdoor living. We were so happy with how these exceptional doors turned out, we decided to include them in our accessories roster. Head here to view the full collection.



The interior design is just as sleek and modern as the exterior, featuring a contrast between airy white fabrics and bold leather. The additional wood details, both inside and out bring warmth and a natural look to the space that offsets what could otherwise be a harsh contemporary design. To continue the breezy theme, the building also includes clear furniture and accessories such as tables and lamps to truly allow light to travel through the area. When you’re finished working, head straight through those extensive doors for a little dip and finish off with a hot shower, all right in your very own backyard.



Make sure you check out our last blog post if you’re interested in designing your own perfect pool house, we’ve got the steps to get your started. Our Custom Design Center will really get those creative juices flowing, and when you’re ready for details be sure to Contact Us so we can help make your dream building a reality.

Enjoy the summer sunset!

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The Best Construction Materials for Building Your Own Shed: Sidings

summerwood products cedar siding

When it comes to selecting construction and building materials for your own shed you’ll find that everyone, be it your neighbor, brother-in-law, or kooky uncle is an “expert” and will provide you with lots of different ideas. Rather than having to scour your local building supply store begging for some suggestions, we’re breaking-down our top two construction materials for building your own shed as part of our DIY series (check out our posts on Choosing the Ideal Garden Shed Location, Interior Design Features and Roof Choices as well!) At Summerwood Products, we have been using these materials for over 20 years. They’re tried, tested and professionally approved! Definitely our favourites.

Canadian Western Red Cedar

A wood of exceptional beauty, Canadian Western Red Cedar is noted for its rich grain, texture, and color. Typically you’ll want to look for interior growth select tight knot (STK) cedar or clear cedar, meaning the wood is fine grained and free of loose or open knots. This is a product carried by select lumber stores and has varying availability depending on your location.


cedar siding backyard shed

Notable features of Western Red Cedar:

  • Natural oils that help resist decay, moisture and insect attacks
  • Vibrant cedar fragrance
  • Light in weight but exceptionally stable
  • Cuts cleanly and easily
  • Lies flat and stays straight
  • Ages gracefully to endure for years
  • Easily absorbs most stains

western red cedar backyard bar

It looks great and it lasts for years if you treat it right. Using cedar as a siding allows your building to integrate beautifully into the natural landscape of your backyard. At Summerwood we recommend that cedar siding be stained to keep it looking like new, year after year. Stain gives your shed a finished look and also ensures that the beauty is protected while the elements are left out!

Canexel Maintenance-Free Siding

best siding for your shed summerwood

For those of you who aren’t interested in any staining or maintenance, we’ve got the perfect option for you. Canexel is a pre-treated, factory-made wood fiber siding that comes in 21 beautiful colors. Suitable for any structure or style, it is tough and durable, but is also popular because of its maintenance-free qualities. Canexel blends the look and texture of wood with the allure of not having to do any painting or staining. Just pick a color, install, and enjoy! The wood grain appears natural and no two boards are the same, so your building will never look plastic or phony. A painted-wood look without the work, you really can have the best of both worlds!

canexel siding summerwood building

If you’re not sure which siding is best for you, don’t forget to factor local climate conditions into the choice that you make. The design experts at Summerwood are also here to help! If you’re not feeling up to building a shed from scratch, check out some of the great DIY building kits made by Summerwood Products and customize your building with Cedar or Canexel siding right now!

If you’re looking to upgrade your building with insulation or a moisture barrier, check out our Siding Information page for more info on our Enhanced Siding Package.

Happy Building!

Crowning Our Annual Photo Contest Winners: Top 3 Photos of 2015


photo contest 2015 summerwood products

One of our favorite annual events takes place in the Summerwood design office every spring – our extremely popular Photo Contest winners are chosen! We’re blown away by our customers’ enthusiasm for our contest and love picking through the latest photos and awarding cash prizes. Our top prize winner takes home $250, second place takes $150, and third place is awarded a cool $100. Not bad for sending in a few photos of your outdoor project! Remember that if you have photos that you haven’t sent in before it’s never too late to do so; send us your photos today and we’ll enter them into the 2016 contest.

The Top 3 Photos of 2015 (Chosen by our design staff!)

2015 was an exciting year featuring many exciting and custom projects, and as usual selecting our winners was extremely challenging. We receive hundreds of photos every year and selecting three finalists is no small feat!  Without further ado here are our top 3 photos for 2015:

1) 10’x10’ Glen Echo Bunkie from Napanee, Ontario


Our 1st Place Photo Contest Winner for 2015

Once again our Ultimate Glen Echo “Permit-Free” Bunkie was a monster hit among customers looking for extra sleeping space at their vacation and cottage properties. This gorgeous Western red cedar bunkie blends in with the trees and serves as a real lakeside retreat in Ontario – a real asset to any cottage vacation rental looking for “permit-free” sleeping and storage space. The double French doors let in tons of natural light and also allow for storing oversized items over the winter months. As always a pull-down ladder for loft access and lots of opening windows are staples of this building design and allow for relaxation and cool breezes to flow in. The customer-built front deck looks like a great spot to kick back in a comfy Adirondack chair and listen to the waves lap up against the shoreline.

Congratulations to our first place winners and recipients of our $250 cash prize!


2) 8’x13’ Verana Studio/Shed from Oakville, Ontario


Our 2nd Place Photo Contest Winner for 2015: “Wow…..this is pretty cool news! We love the garden shed!”

While we love classic garden shed designs we also love when our customers push the envelope and allow style and function to blend together. Our Oakville-based customer was looking for a garden shed that would immediately blend into her yard and feel like it had been there for years. To solve her storage and design dilemma we custom-designed this 104 square foot beauty which was painted to match the existing stucco home. One of the coolest features of this particular shed/studio is that the customer chose to partially insulate the building. Why’s that a good idea? By insulating the floor and wrapping the building with moisture-resistant vapor barrier this customer could easily finish insulating the walls and roof down the road and would have a 4-season studio space. This can be particularly valuable in the event you may need an office or extra guest room, and can also be an enticing feature to potential buyers if you were selling your home.

We adore the transom windows on the sides of the building that let some light into the building but don’t sacrifice the privacy and security of the items stored within. The frosted glass on the front doors will keep the building feeling airy without showcasing the not-so-pretty items stored inside, and a small deck and simple pot lights add to the charm and character of the building. The roof overhang of this building was customized to fit within a tight space and to conform to local bylaws and will keep anyone using the building dry regardless of the weather.

Congrats to our 2nd place finisher!


3) 12’x24’ Surfside Cabana in Toronto, Ontario


Our 3rd Place Photo Contest Winner for 2015

What better place to cool off from a refreshing swim or to relax with a cold drink on a hot day? Our Surfside cabana truly lives up to its name on an everyday basis and is one of the most popular pool cabanas with customers and industry professionals alike. These customers were after a building that would blend indoor and outdoor living and would blur the line between inside and out. Huge sliding French doors were the perfect solution! A simple whitewash of the interior makes the building feel bright at any time of the day and some simple yet beautiful décor make this the place to be when hanging out close to the pool. The cedar shingles will age to a silvery grey and will last a lifetime, adding character and definition to the building throughout the years.

So there you have it, our 2015 photo contest winners! Ready to start the process on designing your own custom structure? Click over to the Summerwood Custom Design Center or contact a design consultant today! Have pictures you’d like to send to us? Email them directly to or use our online photo upload tool. Check out our Photo Contest page to see past winners, we’ll also soon profile our 2015 honorable mentions on this page as well.