Bicycle shed chic


Photo by Teresa Meier

Like many people living in Craftsman homes, bicycle commuters Marti Frank and Lev Tsypin discovered what they gained in architectural charm they lost in convenient bike storage. “We have no driveway or garage,” says Tsypin of their Southeast Portland home. “We just had a makeshift, awkward bike area in the back.”

Because Tsypin and Frank go to work, do errands and ferry their two sons around by bicycle, they wanted a better system for securing their cycling gear. They turned to Brennan Conaway, the designer behind Micro-Structures, who specializes in small-scale building. “I like the play between big and small,” he says. “You can create a dialogue between the main structure and the micro-structure.”

Nestled into the corner of a hedge, the shed’s L-shape prevents it from overpowering the sideyard. Built with reclaimed materials, its recessed windows and doors, cedar siding, contrasting paint and floating benches give the shed a sleek, minimalist look. Practical features include access from either end of the L, a skylight and numeric keypads. “We keep the bikes and gear we use every day in the shed,” says Tsypin. “When we get home, we just roll the bikes in. The keypads are handy because you don’t fumble for a key.”

The small patio between the house and shed, landscaped in blue flagstone and native plants by Fiddlehead Landscapes, serves a dual purpose.

“We needed a patio for a non-muddy area and place to stage gear,” says Frank. “With the benches, it’s also a great place to hang out.”

The project, begun in September 2010, took over four months to complete. “When people see it for the first time, they don’t realize it’s a bike shed,” says Frank. “Instead, they wonder if we put in a sauna.”