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The enchanted shed

How an old outbuilding became a writer’s workshop, a garden room for guests, and a children’s paradise.

The workmen from the village wanted to tear down the black shed from 1934: draughty, weather-beaten and worm-eaten it was, they said. But we liked this black outbuilding of the mansard-roof house in the Vienna Woods that we had just renovated in a radical yet respectful manner.

The special appeal of this project lay in the rediscovery of these old outbuildings in the shadows of the Vienna Woods villas. Back in the 1930s, few people could afford a basement, let alone a garage. And so they built their own sheds to store wood, raise rabbits or boil laundry, which was then hung up to dry in the attic.

Over the past few decades these structures have lost their original purpose, and many are falling apart. This is a real pity. Converted into small, cosy ‘hideaways’, they become affordable, magical places of retreat for families and their guests.

We inserted a large pane of glass into the front wall of the attic floor and carefully insulated the trusses. The walls were panelled with varnished grey fir wood, and an elevated section was upholstered so that the attic can also be used as an out-of-the-ordinary guest room.

An elegant brass trapdoor closes off this enchanted place, from where you can watch the squirrels play in the treetops. The ground floor is still used for storing garden tools, the lawn mower and fruit crates, while upstairs it is snug and comfortable. Spotlights illuminate the brass in the evening, creating a warm light – even in freezing winter when the unheated room is used for cooling down after a sauna session.

Ventilation of the attic is via an already existing window and small air vents installed along the sides. We didn’t touch the roof, though. It is full of moss. And we like that.

Photos: Andreas Buchberger

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