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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Ugly Duckling to White Swan

Monday, October 27, 2014

What began as an unfinished backyard garden shed slowly has been transformed into a beautiful Maison de Jardin.  Yes, the lowly potting shed went from an UGLY duckling to a beautiful white swan with French-inspired details.

Although still a work in progress, the garden house has come a L O N G way, a V E R Y  L O N G way!  In the beginning, the shed was designed to house my garden tools, extra pots, over-wintering plants, fertilizer, little red wagon, and other sundry gardening supplies.  

Pretty forlorn looking, sitting alone in the backyard in 2009, the little garden shed appeared enclosed, but very ugly with its unpainted plywood siding.  

Take a look from another side of the garden shed.  Nope, the shed was not even enclosed in 2009.  The big gaping hole is where a window, a French-inspired eyebrow shaped window, was planned.  It was a depressing sight.  Good thing this is the back side of the garden shed, and I didn't have to look at it from the house.  Day after day after day. 

Here's the view in November 2011.  In August 2012, I began writing the Botanic Bleu blog, and my second blog post was Botanic Bleu Beginnings where I shared how the garden shed began and related to my new blog, Botanic Bleu. 

Spring 2014, the garden shed had a more decided French look with the addition of sculpted topiaries.  Read  French Garden Shed Elements for a step-by-step analysis of how the little garden shed in Texas was designed and styled to have French flair. 

Austin White Stone!  It was an exciting day in August 2014 when the stone masons delivered the Austin white stones that now cover the plywood walls.  If you look back at the first couple of photos, you can see the "brick ledge" that was included in the original foundation of the garden shed.  A stone exterior was always part of my original dream for the garden shed.  I just never dreamed it would take so many years to install the stone exterior.  Sometimes, you just have to wait.  Good things come to him who waits.  

And to she who waits.  And waits.  Well, I didn't really just wait all this time.  No, little by little over the years, changes were made, and the little garden shed stood a little taller and a little more elegantly with each change. 

Now that a white swan has emerged in place of the ugly duckling, the little garden shed is a little garden house, a maison de jardin, or as my family says, le Jardin Château

New trim work around the French doors is a new pale blue, but may be repainted a darker shade blue.  

The north side view gives a good look at the stonework.  I love how the stone pattern looks with its horizontal rows of varying sizes of stones.  The masons did an excellent job creating the creamy white mortar by using a very fine white sand instead of the usual darker beige or gray sand used in many stone projects in our area.  

The garden shed looks so much better with the new light fixture, green metal mailbox on the door, and a triple topiary.  

After seeing a similar vintage mailbox on Pinterest, I had been looking for one.  Does Pinterest get you into the same trouble it does me?  I never knew I needed this metal mailbox until I saw one on Pinterest.

The light fixtures have a rippled glass globe that blends with, but doesn't match perfectly, the already existing lamp post light in the yard.  I'm hoping the metal will age into the same color of green as the lamp post light.  If the fixtures don't turn a weathered green, then there is always spray paint.  

Lowes sold these topiaries this year for $36, which I thought was a fantastic price.  I bought the two topiaries on the front last spring and went back the next day to buy more, but Lowes was sold out of them.  In September, Lowes had the topiaries again.  Without blinking an eye, I bought one.  This one has been trimmed once already, but needs re-shaping again.  

The stone masons also added stone around the base of the lamp post and laid a new paver sidewalk. 

The sidewalk connects the garden shed, ahem, maison de jardin, to the house deck and makes it so-o-o easy to move things in a wagon.  No steps, just an easy slope and wide path. 

October is one of the best weather months in north Texas.  Cool nights in the 50-60s and warm days in the 70-80s with clear blue sunny skies are ideal growing conditions.  Fall/winter rye grass is one of my favorite plants, and the rye grass loves October weather. 

Like the fairy tale, this little ugly ducking garden shed has gone through many transformations over several years.  Abused and neglected after its creation, the little shed never knew that it was designed to be a beautiful white swan, maison de jardin.

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  1. Oh Judith, these are the type of transformation stories I dream about! What a glorious maisonette you have going on here! The white stone really increases the French factor while giving you the pleasure of seeing great progress! I WANT MORE!!!! Such a lovely sight to see you post again!!!! Anita

  2. Your little maison de jardin is gorgeous, Judith! Well worth all the patience it required to turn it into such a beauty.
    I am still waiting for the finishing touches on our little cottage. So much has taken precedence, but it's time will come. This year, we had interlocking paver sidewalks and patios installed, connecting all the little buildings together. What a difference this has made. Like your new walkways, it is so much easier to get around (and things stay much cleaner as well).
    I also love your topiary plants. Just lovely!
    Enjoy your beautiful Texas autumn.

  3. What an incredible space. I adore it's French style and cannot wait to see inside.

  4. Oh, what a glorious transformation! I could spend many, many hours in such a sweet and cozy little place :) I agree, definitely well worth the patience!

    Hugs to you!

  5. Well done! It is just beautiful! The stone and pavers add just the right touch!

  6. Judith, your maison de jardin makes me smile. A beautiful transformation story, indeed! Bravo!!!
    Our home is Austin white stone. Love the look! ;-)
    I'd love a little maison in my garden, but there is no reasonable place to put one. Will have to admire yours from afar. Thanks for sharing its beauty.

  7. Oh Judith, this is an amazing transformation! I am so happy for you! How do you keep from moving out to this petite gem? Well actually, I think the pleasure of sitting in inside and gazing at it lovingly is even better. I love the before and after photos... glad you shared.

  8. Oh my goodness it is so beautiful. You did a wonderful job in bringing it to all its glory.

  9. What a winner Judith. The transformation from the duckling into a swan is wonderful. Thanks for sharing
    Lots of blessings from South Africa

  10. Oh Judith, where have I been, these are the kind of posting I love. The transformation is amazing, and as for a French maisonette jardin could it had turned out anymore beautiful then this ....I think not! You have no longer a shed, but an amazing out building to love.

    I cannot wait to see what's inside?

    So inspiring here.

    See you soon and all the French beauty you inspire.



  11. PS. the water colour print would make a great Christmas card greeting!
    I know I would sure love being on your holiday card list and receive one.

    Joyeux Noël


  12. Oh wow, the shed has turned into such a fabulous space. I love it. Thanks tons for linking to Inspire Me.

  13. Good morning, Judith!

    I tried to comment on this amazing post of yours from work yesterday. At first read, I was speechless, but next my words filled the box with total amazement! Everything I said was lost!

    Your "maisonette parfaite" must be your blog banner one day! I love the idea of the baby botanic blue la la baby bleu...maisonette! It's like jumping into a storybook, my friend!

  14. Congratulations on having come so far with your maison du jardin. I look forward to seeing more of it's story.

  15. The Austin white stone really puts it 'over the top'! It's gorgeous! Love your watercolor photo of it, too! You'll enjoy it for years to come! WOW! Hugs, Diane

  16. Wow, what an amazing transformation, it is delightfully charming and love the french accents.

  17. Your vision for the garden shed is simply beautiful Judith! A lovely spot to enjoy many leisure activities or just relax. Love it! ~Kay

  18. Your shed looks fantastic!! Love how you finished it out! Thanks for sharing!

  19. This transformation is amazing Judith! What a charmer it is now!

  20. Lovely post. I am so impressed with your vision.

  21. Oh Judith, i am in love with your maison de jardin! Thanks for telling me about this post. The transformation is amazing and I'm sure a dream come true for you. Definitely worth the wait........


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