Expanding Your Home Outdoors
Homesteading requires creativity and ingenuity. In the depths of winter, I often find myself dreaming of days and evenings enjoyed outside. On our homestead, we have discovered opportunities to expand our living spaces by creating private areas outdoors as well as creatively using outbuildings. Wintertime is the perfect time to plan for the creation of these spaces.
How to Create Outdoor Rooms
Homesteading does not always occur on large amounts of acreage. Therefore, some creativity is required for maximizing space. Outdoor rooms and outbuildings are two ways to accomplish this. Three key aspects to living sustainably and enjoyably includes keeping the spaces uncluttered, having adequate seating, and situating the space so it has a beautiful view.
When we were looking at our property for spaces we could make comfortable, we looked for shade, vacant areas, and places that already had a roof. One of the first areas we started with was our front porch as it already had a roof. After much discussion, we finally decided that we both wanted rocking chairs. It took some patience to find the right ones for us, but we finally found gliders at a local furniture store. As we sat on the porch on a hot summer afternoon, we realized a bit more privacy and shade would make the space more comfortable. This is when I hatched the idea for creating a natural privacy screen by growing vines in a planter box. I chose to grow quick growing and eye-catching scarlet runner beans. These plants also provide you with beans you can dry and save for winter stews. It is always a plus when something has multi-uses.
Outbuildings on your property can be extremely useful and an attractive way to store tools and other items. Since we have three acres where we farm, have livestock, as well as have living and entertaining spaces, we were mindful of what areas we wanted to remain open, and those that we could use for storage. We did not want to have too many outbuildings as we wanted to maintain a tidy homestead.
With some careful planning and some creative ideas of my visionary husband, we came up with an extremely useful, multi-use outbuilding. My garden shed is a beautiful example of a rugged New England building.
It is out by the vegetable garden and houses starter trays, pots, and various gardening tools. The best part about this building lies in its second use. The garden is out in the open with a neighbor’s house and road nearby. There is nowhere private to relieve oneself. Step into the garden shed and you find a sliding door that leads to the outhouse! One of my favorite details is that the outhouse portion of the shed has clear roofing to let in copious amounts of sunlight.
Another creative outbuilding on our homestead is our firewood shed. On the front, visitors see the firewood and a double door. Inside the double door is our recycling shed. The genius aspect of this building is in the back. Some space for firewood storage was sacrificed to allow room for another partition where our generator is stored undercover and out of sight.
Where to Buy Outbuildings
Although a homestead often demands a person to have multiple skills, carpentry may not be your forte. We had so many other projects going on that we didn’t have time to build our own outbuildings. After extensive research, we found that we preferred the designs and the pricing from a southern Vermont manufacturer called Jamaica Cottage Shop. This company has designed and built rugged buildings from locally-sourced wood for over 23 years. Their designs are clever, timeless, and traditional; some are even customizable!
Buildings Delivered to Your Doorstep
Depending on your location and the building design, you can either get it delivered fully assembled or as pre-cut kit, complete with hardware and detailed instructions. Buildings can be a pricey investment. Jamaica Cottage Shop offers financing to help with this hurdle. Additionally, they have different themed sales, with significant savings in the winter.
Start Planning Now
Each homestead offers unique opportunities for expanding your lives outside. Notice where you tend to relax and where you spend the most time outside in your yard. Then start to look at whether you can add a roof, comfortable seating, and to make the experience in that space more enjoyable.