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Design Focus: Shed Style

Modernism was one of the main new philosophies of architecture and design of the 20th century, and has carried forward into the new millennium. Associated with revolutions in technology, engineering and building materials, the movement breaks away from traditional architectural styles to spawn a new era of function, less ornamentation, and an openness to structural innovation. It is defined by artisan-driven approaches to decor, furniture, industrial design, and architecture. Creatives behind this pioneering movement gave it life and encouraged its diversity.

The influence of Scandinavian minimalism, and an affinity for natural materials is one of the core elements of mid-century modernism. This led to the emergence of styles that stuck with the mid-century modernism ideals. A subset of the Modern style, Shed homes features multiple roofs sloping in different directions, wood shingles, board, flat stone or brick exterior cladding, sharp angles and large windows. The look follows the examples of outdoor, rustic, mountain-lodge type buildings. Appropriate even for snow belt territories, the style stays relevant because it lends itself to diversity. It can be incorporated in so many different building types, from apartment complexes and vacation cottages to schools and small offices.


Shed Style homes arose out of the designs of modern homes in the 60s and 70s. The movement towards environmentalism at the time added to the style’s acclaim, due to its natural and woodsy appearance. Emerging about the same time as the environmental movement, the use of the style coincided with the energy crisis on people’s mind at the time. Some of the designs employ passive-solar design elements, like south facing windows at the roof line, paired with interior elements such as brick floors or rock walls. Homes were designed to collect and store heat in order to save on energy costs.

A favourite of architects at the time; simple, streamlined Shed roof features were eye catching and innovative. The Shed roof style was popularized by architects Charles Moore, Donlyn Lyndon, William Turnbull, Robert Venturi and Richard Whitaker. Their works influenced the style that would eventually  incorporate the Sea Ranch in California (Moore), and the Vanna Venturi House (Venturi). Despite being built all throughout the country, Shed Style homes were mostly seen in  western and southwestern U.S. The style is a middle ground between the modern movement’s smooth finishes and postmodernism’s multiple massing.

Shed style is related to Ranch house plans, Split Level house designs and other Contemporary and Modern house styles. They can be found from New England to the Pacific Northwest and anywhere in between. Fitting in almost any neighbourhood setting, the style offers plenty of room, an uncluttered environment, and an unmistakable style.


When we hear of a shed, the first thing that might come to mind is a small backyard  building, detached or affixed to the home. The Shed Style being the actual house might be a distant second. Easily identified by a juxtaposition of boxlike forms, the design style has been holding its own as a legitimate, innovative architectural category for over half a century. Favourable in the mid to late 1900s, most Shed homes ranged from single to two stories, to retain their low profile. The dynamic, asymmetrical exteriors of Shed houses are usually made up of wood and tight fit rectangular stone, or touches of textured concrete.

Outside walls are typically covered with flush board siding, connected horizontally, vertically, or diagonally to trace the lines of the Shed roof. Roofs are usually built with wood shingles, and slope in different directions with little to no symmetry. The Shed roof is one of the cleanest and most useful geometries for a roof structure. They let an abundance of natural light in, keep the framing simple and replace unsuitable attic space with interior volume.The intersections of the roof and walls are smooth and simple, with practically no overhang.

Shed entrances are often recessed and hidden from the street. Windows tend to be a variety of sizes and shapes, and range from large spreads of glass for natural lighting, to small, restrictive, or high windows to secure privacy. Vertically or horizontally oriented narrow windows are common, as well as windows that are angled to follow the slope of the roof line. Other modernistic influences on the style include adding stone, brick, or stucco textures to the exteriors, while interiors feature heavy wood panels and recessed light fixtures. For a  more rustic theme copper lamps and brick fireplaces may be employed .

The modern minimalist approach usually dominates the interior of Shed homes. The general aesthetics is neutral, utilizing tones like beige, brown, cream and white. Floors are bare and made of hardwood, stone, cement or laminate, with an occasional rug to compliment the space. Sheer curtains are draped over windows; or they are left bare as well, to allow as much natural light as possible. Unique fixtures, throw pillows or cushions, wooden furniture and house plants are apart of a Shed style interior. Bold pieces, or an accent wall, are often included to add vibrancy to the space.


While this style can be found in both residential and urban areas, it continues to be common in areas that demand lodge looks, and for homes built in mountain resort areas. Modern urban housing  projects with elements of the Shed Style, like the Passive House and other energy efficient structures are popping up all over Canada. The design style can be found in areas like Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. Modern thinking has increasingly affected how Canadians live, and this new wave of building, and embracing positive environmental trends, has influenced more residents to explore housing options like the Shed style.


The style utilizes plenty of wood, and panels of tight fit, horizontal, rectangular cut stone often compliment the clean modern lines. For the exterior, tongue and groove siding is popular, stained in natural or dark tones. Cultured Stone® Pro-Fit® Ledgestone or Modera Ledgestoneand the new Pro-Fit® Terrain™ Ledgestone fit the Shed style well. The stones are placed horizontally, set without mortar joints, with varying depths, and contrasting smooth and rough surfaces.

Inside, feature or accent walls, and fireplaces also benefit from stone cladding. The stone adds, texture, contrast and interest to the clean minimalist spaces.


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