Here's the porch before and after:
Great change! Except for one thing. We effectively eliminated the obvious place to dump beach bags, shoes, toys, and umbrellas after a hot sandy day. And when it rained and we had to bring in the patio cushions, they'd end up piled on the porch - the one place we liked to congregate on a rainy day.
What we needed was a shed.
We investigated zoning rules in our area, and as long as a shed is smaller than 140 square feet (i.e. 14 feet by 10 feet or any combination less than 140 sq. ft.) we didn't need to pour a foundation or get a permit.
We started out by shopping at the big box stores and were quickly dismayed by how utilitarian all the sheds look. When you've spent thousands of dollars replacing the vinyl siding on your cottage with cedar shakes to restore it's original charm, it's painful to contemplate buying one of these sheds. Especially for a plot of land as small as ours. The shed would be taking up a large part of the backyard. Not that we mind - in our view, it's simply less lawn for us to maintain - but we felt strongly that the shed needed to be picturesque.
We expanded our search to Google local search, and while we did see more options to choose from from places with names like Sheds Unlimited and USA Sheds, nothing we saw fit in with the shingle style of our cottage.
Then we happened upon Jamesport artist Laura Courtney’s Imagine Art Studio.
Using recycled, reclaimed wood and antique doors, windows, and trim, Laura created the most charming garden outbuildings. (I say created, because sadly she is no longer in business.) We fell in love with this storybook shed she was selling:
The only problem with Laura's shed is that it would have had to be transported in one piece by flatbed truck. And while she had done this many times, and was able to show us a plan for it, our property is surrounded by neighboring lots and a maze of mature trees, so there was no way to reach the back of the cottage.
We credit Laura with giving us the inspiration - as well as the realization that a carpenter could build one for us on location. So we hired a local carpenter to build a garden shed that looked just like our cottage.