The Garden Shed


Born out of a longing for a space of her own, this little outbuilding on Kathy's property has become a tasteful version of a clubhouse. On a snowy spring day we put the finishing touches on this tiny hideaway and chatted about design and notions of home. Inspired by stylist Hans Blomquist, the space is comprised of soft pastels, industrial touches, and layers of vintage fabric to pull you in. The type of place we all want to grow up into and call our own. A clubhouse for the woman who owns a dish filled with faded antique clay beads - just because. This retreat was made for her. 


Like all the other rooms in Kathy’s home, the garden shed, as she lovingly refers to it, took time. Collected objects fill the space without making it feel overbearing or overly curated. Antiques and vintage pieces from different eras and styles blend into one cohesive design. Some, like the antique hospital bed with beige ticking she’s owned for years while others, like the antler side table with scalloped edges, were recent finds. Most of the smaller touches were pulled from the shop for the shoot - a mini-van full of odds and ends to make the space unfold, telling a more engaging story the more you delve into it. 

The space was designed akin to the style of Maven & Grace and what the shop exemplifies - it's kind of a broad beautiful design concept. So over the sound of chickens cooing in the coop next door and nothing else, we bent Kathy's ear to talk design for small spaces. 

Garden Shed Styling
Maven and Grace
Vintage Desk Styling
Horseheads copy.jpg


Where do you find a sense of home?

The garden studio is great for having a room of one's own - to quote Virginia Woolf - but home is also in my garden, really anywhere outdoors, especially in the summer, and spending time with family whether it's yardwork or cooking or watching a movie. 

Is it a struggle to find the patience to wait for the perfect piece?

Honestly?! I'm more the type of person who doesn't wait. I will have a stand in for a while if I really love something, and I have the advantage of selling it if I'm able to find a piece that fits even better. 

Linens and Things
Vintage Styling

How does this space reflect the shop - the intention and the design behind it? 

Well, initially it was more of a writing studio for me as I was finishing my degree in English and creative writing. It was an office / writing area , but now it's become more of a sanctuary, a retreat from household responsibilities and my multi-generational family. 

Is it hard to exist in a place with so much depth knowing that over time it’ll come undone?

Oh no and it certainly won't stay the same - some of the items were borrowed from the shop - but honestly letting things go and for a space to be lived in is its own sort of beauty. 

Any advice for someone wanting to build their own hideaway? 

I would say spend some time in the space at different times of day and while doing that consider what you intend to use the space for. Then make it functional. Surround yourself with things that inspire you or bring you joy. Don't be afraid to make it special or ever underestimate how that space can be used. 

Antique Styled Desk

How do you tackle design in such a small space? 

Pieces need to have double duties, the bed can be a couch or a bed and the table can be used for photoshoots or to write on. I think editing is important - if you're not using it or it's not bringing you pleasure then get rid of it. I recommend that in a house, but even more so in a tiny place. Layers add depth in a really beautiful way, but there's a fine line to not being cluttered. 

Do you ever lament having to let go of pieces you source for the shop? 

A lot of my favourite pieces I've ended up selling. You have to be able to let go and I always feel happy to let those pieces go. I know when they go to new families who are passionate about their homes they'll bring joy to others. 

Design Majeur
Styled Table Maven & Grace

Favourite Pieces...
The antler table is a current obsession, the Beni Ourain rug and all the bedding - the antique french linen bedspread, the ticking mattress and all of the amazing textures.

On the Hunt For...
The perfect desk; the one in the photos has sold!  I'd like one in a similar style but slightly bigger to fit the space. 

Vintage Oil Painting

More Than Windows

“It’s like all good design - it changes,” Clay Lowe remarks offhandedly, holding a 20-inch flower made out of Italian paper and washi tape. Kathy and Clay are assembling their latest window display for Mill Creek Picture Framing. It’s an all-consuming labour of love they undertake every couple of months. It’s a time honoured tradition, something that the previous owners started years ago, that Kathy always felt important to continue, a sentiment which Clay emphatically echoes.

“If it brings people joy or they randomly come in to share their delight or email us, it’s worth the labour. When you come across a beautiful window, you see the thought and care that goes into it. Really in some ways I’m revisiting something I haven’t done in a long time: collaborating in a retail space with a small business.” 



Clay talks highly about making use of space. He’s a champion for rethinking spaces - the curator of the legal graffiti wall downtown, the longest running one in Western Canada (between 95 / 96 Street and 100 Street) started in 2001, as well as the man power behind the 8-foot tall letters he projected, traced and cut out of fabric to adhere on the side of 100 Street Place on Rice Howard Way. As a graphic designer, he worked for the Art Gallery of Alberta (2007 - 2014) as a communication designer for the AGA visual art exhibitions and programming, including branding Refinery, the late night art parties. 

The art of designing window displays is an atypical canvas. Clay laughs, “Kathy is my only client who I pitched the idea of doing window work together purely for joy when we talked about design. I have had experience doing other windows, but I hadn’t designed a window since 2006 (this window display was for Foosh Audio and Apparel - Whyte Avenue, in collaboration with OBEY Giant, which won an award for the installation) before online sales started affecting small clothing shops.” The first window Clay and Kathy designed together was a glowing galaxy that hung in the shop window from late November to the end of January: “We wanted it to be related to the holidays, but inspired by the cosmos.” Clay proposed the antique print, an ode to the night sky inspired by science, star charts, diagrams and looking to the past - things that are drawn or painstakingly etched - antique imagery made new again. 
But that was December and now it’s March, so the galaxy has been dismantled and replaced by a rainbow of flowers in bloom. It’s the simple reality of storefront windows, the retail equivalent to a mandala. Ribbon horses, a roaring fire in a faux mantle, a sailboat and yes, even the cosmos, imagined, lovingly built and quietly torn down in favour of the next masterpiece. It’s easy to question the why of it all, the resources, the time, the effort, but Kathy says it best -

“Whats the point? It brings joy, it is art - some people don’t get it, but some people really do, they understand the importance of art.”


Ribbon Horse Window Display in Edmonton Framing Shop



Was design something you were always drawn to? 

When I was a kid I wanted to work outdoors, and nature and landscape remains a big inspiration for my design work. My dad is a master carpenter and I grew up in a wood-working shop so I learned about organizing and building early in life. Those intentions I come by honestly. 

Where do you find inspiration?

Music is a big one - though I often wonder how it relates to design. People and other art and design can inspire, and certainly nature. That being said, there’s something about being inspired or motivated from chaos and conflict. We have the choice to act everyday - I think that optimism is inspiring. 

Do you prefer to work alone or collaboratively?

I do partner on large projects. Those collaborations can be with clients as well as other creatives. Clients can offer perspective, as they know their business the best. It’s rarely self expression alone - more collaborative work - I do think it usually makes for better process and design. Design is often in search of solutions, and if working in a “bubble”, it’s probably not going to be a very good solution. When creating personal work for myself, personal expression is important.


What design in Edmonton do you find compelling? 

I find the Mill Creek Ravine a compelling piece of natural urban planning and historically important public park way. I’m very excited by the footbridge revitalization, and the proposed daylighting of Mill Creek waters that would create a new fish spawning habitat near the North Saskatchewan River, and a natural stormwater pond near Argyll Park.

I also know Edmontonians to be very inspiring! I recently participated in the Rubaboo Indigenous Arts Festival, and the Flying Canoe Volant in early February. I signed up for a traditional bow making workshop by local Elder Jerry Saddleback. It was all so compelling and nourishing for creativity and multi-cultural sharing. I was inspired to co-host Assemblage, a poetry performance and creative workshop with my colleagues Pierrette Requier and AJA Louden at La Cite Francophone. 

I love to cook everything! I do love neighbourhood spots, and the design decor doesn’t get much more eccentric then the Red Goose cafe in Hazeldean. Also looking forward to the soon-to-open Ritchie Market, as it’s on my route to the studio at Timbre! 

My favourite public art murals include Transition, by Josh Holinaty & Luke Ramsay and the Wane One painting just north of the La Cite Francophone as part of the Rust Magic Graffiti Mural Festival. I also enjoy architecture and working with architects. Since a kid, I've loved the Edmonton Space and Science Centre designed by Alberta born architect Douglas Cardinal, and the 1960’s modernist Planetarium nearby to be restored this year. Anything to do with astronomy, I’m in! 


A Home for Hosting

On a gloomy February afternoon we had the pleasure of spending time tucked away in a petite bungalow just off 118 Ave. Built in 1934, illuminated by flickering candlelight dancing on the mantle, it’s hard not to be drawn in by the meticulously hung gallery wall and the three rooms blending together to make the perfect space for entertaining. 

Over coffee and madeleines, Shannon described her home as "a little mid-century modern cowboy, a little rock and roll," although through the laughter at the absurd pairing of those two styles it was clear she was bang on with her description. “It’s like red wine - you like what you like.”  For Shannon, that’s entertaining, having people over for cocktails, hosting weekly band practice, and being part of the Alberta Ave community - knowing your neighbours. 

To her, a home embodies “some place comfortable and warm - it needs to be liveable and lived in,” emphasizing that although she loves the pieces collected and thrifted throughout her home, “it’s not too precious, if something gets split or broken I’m not too fussy.” As if on cue her two dogs bound into the living room, tails wagging, knocking things over on the bar cart shelves and Shannon just smiles - her point so perfectly illustrated. 

“It’s really cozy. It’s cozy and dusty and kind of cold - but it’s mine and I worked really hard for it. I love the curved walls, the fireplace - we have a huge garden and backyard, and we have dinner parties. It’s a lovely space to host events.”



Why this house?

I bought it 12 years ago. (Laughing) This home was in my price range? That’s the truth - that and the day I drove by there was a For Sale sign that claimed it was a talking house: "Tune in to 1080 to hear about this house," so I did. Crackling through the radio, it was described as “built in 1934, two bedrooms ....” It was what I’d been looking for. I put an offer on it and I got it.


How have you seen the neighbourhood change over the past decade? 

A lot of younger families have moved in, it’s a very close neighbourhood, and I know everyone in my neighbourhood. There’s a strong sense of community and we have to watch out for each other because there can be issues, problem tenants, or rougher individuals. There’s a little dog park near by, delicious restaurants, countless festivals, the Nina Haggerty centre - there’s no chains and extremely affordable housing, so it’s drawing young families in.


Design Inspiration

My friend Kathy - we’ve been friends forever and I value her thoughts. She has the best eye. I also really like Design Sponge and their home tours, Apartment Therapy, Rejuvenation, House that Lars Built, Dwell, Anthropologie - they have such beautiful pieces, Tossed and Found's barn sales, and Bar Raval (in Toronto).


How does your home lend itself to dinner parties and social gatherings? 

Well it’s small so it usually looks full and hopping, very difficult not to have an intimate gathering! Remarkably I can add two leaves to my small round table and easily fit 10-12 people comfortably around it. And finally, having a wide variety of cookbooks on hand for inspiration is always good. I really enjoy feeding my friends and family and to be honest I rather like themes when hosting. 


What are your must-haves for hosting? 

Beautiful serving ware, nice napkins
Delectable snacks, most importantly some good cheese, always olives, candied nuts
Cocktails, alcoholic and non alcoholic
An excellent playlist
A gracious host


Favourites + Changes

My favourite piece in the house, that’s hard, but I really love my bar cart, I bought it at SWISH from Angela and I love it. 

It used to be my bedroom, but now it's my living room. A place to have cocktails, hang out with the dogs and cats and it’s comfortable. My husband spends a lot of time in the basement where he makes music with a hundred guitars and a drum kit. 

We reno-ed the kitchen, it was awful, I don’t even know how to describe it. There were no cupboards or counter space, everything was mish-mashed and pieced together, the floor had asbestos - it was truly horrible. It’s such a small space and so now there’s counter space. We’ve also painted. The bathroom should probably be redone - we’re trying to decide if we should do more renos, or rent the house out and find a new home. 

Where do you find pieces for your home? 

Maven & Grace, Kijiji, SWISH, I like HomeSense and Winners for big box stores, Salvation Army, and a few pieces when I went to Brimfield. 


What restaurants and spaces in Edmonton inspire and draw you in? 

OTTO – can’t wait to ride my bike over
El Rancho - pupusas are a very good thing
Pho King or Pho Hoan Pasteur - for Vietnamese
Won Jung Gak - for Korean
Bistro Praha
Rge Rd.
Muttart or Salisbury Greenhouse on a blustery day



The Resource List

Dining room table and chairs - Kijiji
Rugs from Target
Living room seating: velvet chesterfield, IKEA (a wedding gift); grey loveseat - London Drugs
Artwork: Blue Cowboy, Jon Langford; Loretta Lynn from Hatch Show Print in Nashville; Neil Young poster, purchased at Calgary Folk Fest; Blair Brennan piece, won at an art auction (due to large pours of red wine); vintage Boys and Girls Fair banner, gift from a friend
Sideboard - Salvation Army
Bar cart - SWISH Vintage (40th birthday present)
Framing - Mill Creek Picture Framing
Antique pieces - Maven & Grace and thrifted
White tray - OBJECTS collective
Light fixtures - dining room, Rona; living room, Lowes
Red hutch – Target
Stagecoach clock – from grandparents