Hobbit-like garden sheds can add wonder to your yard

Matthew Grocoff

March 4, 2013

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: Landscaping and PoolsGreen Living

Built by fairies, elves or gnomes?

My wife and I recently visited Whidbey Island on the southern end of the San Juan Islands north of Seattle. We stumbled across several whimsical out buildings that had a style so unique that they appeared to be crafted by fairies (definitely not by gnomes -- stuff designed by those white-bearded, red-capped fellas are less tasteful and too kitschy). With some quick research on my phone I found they were not built by mythical critters, but were all created by Bob Bowling Rustics.

charming shed

Shed happens

vintage trowel

Bob's motto is "shed happens." There's something magical about new things created from a collection of old materials, with each component having their own story. These are no ordinary sheds. They are fantastically creative greenhouses, backyard retreats (I want one), garden rooms, chicken coops and even outdoor showers. They are built using salvaged and recycled materials.

shed from salvage

Each structure is uniquely imagined out of things like antique hardware, old tools, barn wood, and doors from historic homes. Rusted garden shovels become door handles. Discarded french doors become roof tops for one-of-a-kind greenhouses. And aged cupolas or rooster-topped weather vanes cap off many of Bob's signature structures.

Birdhouses to Hobbit-houses

tiny lake house shed

In hindsight it's obvious that these Hobbit-like buildings evolved from Bob's popular rustic birdhouses. As the popularity of his creations grows, Bob finds it easier to source interesting and usable material. Dumps, thrifts stores, garage sales, and neighbors are all ripe for harvesting. Friendly island neighbors offer Bob quality salvaged items like fences and decks that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

tiny rustic shed

Now if we can scale birdhouses to backyard huts, can we create entire homes from material like this? Why not? Near my Ann Arbor home. there's an entire city (Detroit) filled with 70,000 abandoned homes loaded with spectacular material. Imagine if we would stop building new stuff. Instead, we harvested old material from our falling buildings and created cozy, net zero energy, net zero water and net zero waste, homes in walkable neighborhoods.

View the online album to see dozens of photos of these wonderful reclaimed wood structures: https://picasaweb.google.com/114352573146651876546/BobBowlingRustics#

Photos courtesy Bob Bowling Rustics


  • Olivia says: 07 March 2013 at 9:33 am
    Those garden sheds are too cute! Love it!
  • Jess says: 07 March 2013 at 10:28 am
    The one by the lake would be the perfect place to curl up with a good book on sunny day.
  • sheds garages says: 10 July 2013 at 3:27 am
    These garden sheds made of salvage material are really great to and the designs are also great! It will enhance the creativity and recycling.
  • Pat Watson says: 04 May 2016 at 12:36 pm
    I love them all. Wish I had the skills to build one.
  • Cindy Green says: 19 September 2016 at 5:42 pm
    How do you make sure the roof don't leak? What form of chalking or what do you use? I'm going to try to make this little house in the spring. I can use it for a great greenhouse. Thanks for all the great ideas.
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