Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and his wife Heather Irmiger are professional cyclists with a heap of titles between them - and they have at least eight mountain bikes each. Since the bikes were eating up so much of their living space, in 2006 the couple decided it was time to build a better home for them - a stylish structure that would double as a workshop. Jeremy was completely dissatisfied with the limited options available to him, so he put his engineering background to work and set about building an outdoor storage shed that would satiate his appetite for quality design. More cost effective than completely remodeling their 1950s ranch house in downtown Boulder, Colorado, the resulting shed was hugely popular. Their friend Mike Koenig loved it so much that he convinced the globetrotting athletes to start a new business. Today, nearly a decade later, their company Studio Shed ships pre-fabulous storage sheds to most parts of America. In addition to double-paned low-e clerestory windows that provide ample daylighting and a super tight envelope, their structures produce very little waste - so little, in fact, that the construction debris of a 10x12 foot shed fits into a standard garbage bag!
Apart from the original shed that still occupies a space in Jeremy and Heather’s yard, the couple now have a 16×20 foot workshop that operates as a prototype for the company, which is based in Louisville, CO, about 15 miles east of Boulder. A far cry from ugly old sheds available at companies like Home Depot, this shiny shop made with FSC-certified framing lumber and cement board siding boasts some serious ambience. When we visited, Jeremy had left on a couple of small lamps for low-energy lighting and some good tunes, both nice touches that created an experience more akin to visiting friends than hanging out in a workshop!
Insulated with denim, the workshop stays fairly warm in winter and cool in summer. When it’s really cold outside, Jeremy will fire up a small space heater, but that’s about it. In part the absence of heating and cooling is dictated by Boulder’s antiquated building codes that Jeremy says fail to keep pace with the mountain city’s progressive reputation, but mostly it gels well with the couple’s reluctance to use more energy than necessary when smart passive design can accomplish such great savings. Also unlike a regular storage shed, their workshop is decked out with stylish IKEA furniture that makes it easy for Jeremy to store all of his tools and bike parts. The couple actually refer to themselves seasoned IKEA hacks — their renovated kitchen in the main house is comprised of a lot of IKEA pieces that they modified to suit their personal tastes.
Here’s the thing, not everybody can afford to pay $120-$180 per square foot for a storage shed, even if it is prefabricated, aesthetically pleasing, customizable, and comes with a negligible environmental footprint, but Studio Shed is having no trouble selling them. In San Francisco, where it’s getting more difficult for home owners to build on to their existing living space, these prefab sheds are enormously popular as home offices. And one couple from Alaska went so far as to travel to Boulder, buy a U-Haul trailer, and then transport their two sheds all the way to Washington state, where they were placed on a barge headed for Alaska. Once they arrived in the northern state, the sheds had to be transported by helicopter to an island where the family owns some property. For them, the sheds are being used as getaway holiday home. We don’t recommend this, of course, but it is important to note that for people who have a higher budget and bespoke homes, Studio Shed offers a great service. Besides, as Heather notes, a $2,000 Home Depot shed won’t necessarily come with all of the amenities they offer, like windows, adherence to code, or installation.
“We want to offer stylish sheds at a price point that’s not outrageous,” Jeremy says. And they are well on their way to making that happen. Already, as their production volumes have increased, they’ve managed to cut prices by a couple thousand dollars, and bolstered with the same kind of determination and perseverance they bring to their professional cycling careers, they are committed to eventually slashing prices even further. They also hope to eventually partner with a company that will offer solar panels at a reasonable price as an add-on item, which would easily catapult them to the top of their prefab shed game!
All watermarked images by Tafline Laylin for Inhabitat; others courtesy of JHK