Cindy Schiano of Franklin had been pondering the idea of creating a unique structure on her property for the past four or five years. “We have an apple orchard, and I was thinking of having a big barn built there, but then my husband [Dominick] and I were like, ‘Hmm, do I need a barn? No,’” Schiano says.
So the avid gardener and top-notch home cook envisioned a pergola-style structure where she could grow herbs and vegetables. “My inspiration came from Patina Farm in California,” she says. “The couple who owns it have published several books, and the one I love is called Patina Farm. I kept seeing it in my mind. I imagined a pergola with raised gardens and beds, but I couldn’t find anyone to build it.”
Schiano then learned about Jason Cornish, who has a workshop (Crooked Tree Fine Woodworking) on the Goldner Walsh Garden & Home site in Pontiac. He specializes in everything from decks to pavilions to privacy fencing. “So, Jason comes over, and I show him the photo,” Schiano explains. “And I told him I like imperfection; I don’t like perfect. He came back with a drawing, and I found my person.”
Charlie Lemaire of CJ Lemaire Custom Renovation and Building in White Lake created a cedar roof with a copper cupola. With that copper detailing inside and out, the beautiful outbuilding, situated in the couple’s apple orchard about 50 feet off their driveway, is a constant source of enchantment. Friends often join the Schianos there for birthday gatherings or other special occasions. “We’ll have apps there and then go to the house for dinner, and then, of course, back to the shed for dessert.”
Here, the suburban farmer provides details on everything from copper appointments to weather-resistant furnishings.
A Closer Look at Cindy Schiano’s Garden Getaway
A copper sink and a copper pot-filler faucet are from Wayfair. The copper countertops were made by Lemaire.
The cabinets and shelves were made from salvaged barn wood. Cabinetry hardware features old railroad spikes.
Cindy Schiano found a rustic iron-and-rope chandelier at Home & Garden in Troy.
Schiano harvests goodies through much of the year, including zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, arugula, lettuce, oregano, pineapple sage, orange thyme, basil, rosemary, parsley, mint, dill, cilantro, fennel, eggplant, green beans, peppers, pumpkins, squash, kale, flowers, and more.
Making the beds
In addition to building the structure, Jason Cornish constructed seven raised beds whose sides are made of wood and zinc. Part of the shed is covered by the roof and part (the garden part) is open to the elements. “We’re older, and it’s great to have raised beds versus getting on the ground,” Schiano says with a laugh. “You can stand or sit while tending or harvesting the beds.”
Sweeten the pot(s)
Schiano grows roses, olives, figs, and lemons in various pots near the beds. “The wonderful staff at Personal Touch Gardening [in Royal Oak] helps me with maintenance and planting pots,” Schiano says.
Set in stone
The flooring is all pea gravel, which is popular in European gardens and patios and is resilient to the elements. With its smooth, rounded texture, the gravel provides an
Her happy place
“It’s a charming place,” Schiano says. “You feel like you’re in Italy or Napa Valley. Often, our day starts with coffee out there. We harvest and cut up items. We love to cook, so we plan what we’ll have for dinner. We absolutely live in the shed now. Growing our own food is so fun. We laugh every day when we go out; it’s so rewarding.”
Schiano found a long wood table at Sylvan Lake’s Detroit Garden Works. It was created by the company’s Branch Studio and is made of ipe (Brazilian walnut) wood. “It’s so exposed out there,” Schiano says, “so I wanted something that will wear well over time. I wanted that worn look.”