• Floral City is a darling town located in Citrus County with a collection of historic buildings dating from the 1860s and later. The area experienced a large boom during the 1890s as phosphate mining became a major industry, and the town at one point had a population of over 10,000 people. The phosphate industry left by the 1920s, leaving behind Folk Victorian homes surrounded by giant live oaks. Visitors today can stop at the collection of quaint shops, including the wonderful Florida Artists Gallery and Cafe. Historic Shed was lucky to work on one of the early homes in the historic district, built c. 1883. The project was small, and included screening a portion of the wrap-around porch and installing a few wood window screens. Here's how it came out:

  • It's officially the first day of summer, although this means little to those of us living in Florida who visit the beach, swim and ride bikes year round. How long were you able to go this spring before you turned on the air conditioning? Do you open your windows at all during the pleasant winter months that Florida offers? We recently installed a shed at a lovely, well kept historic home that was not marred by modern replacement windows, but where all the historic wood windows had been caulked shut. When I looked at the neighbor's house, they had done the same thing! It blows my mind that someone would live in a house where none of the windows open (disclaimer: I've never lived in a historic house where all the windows opened). For one, it's a big safety issue. By code, every bedroom must have a secondary means of egress in case of emergency. With an inoperable window, you've removed that important safety feature. I know I always made sure that the windows in my children's bedrooms are in working order. Secondly, by caulking all the windows permanently  shut you've automatically made your home reliant on mechanical systems year round for both outside air and temperature control. This is not energy efficient since Florida has so many pleasant days that require no AC or heat, allowing you to turn off that noisy energy hog. To top it all off, you are increasing the air pollution within your home because the air exchange rate of mechanical equipment is much less than a breeze blowing through your windows and doors. I am assuming that people were told that their windows were leaking air and that their ac system would work better if the windows were sealed. While leaky windows do let cool air escape, there are better ways to address this issue while still allowing the windows to operate. A properly maintained historic window will have a tight seal when the latch is closed and can even have weatherstripping installed to further reduce infiltration. And there are many better ways to improve the energy efficiency of historic homes that will prove more effective, and less dangerous than caulking your windows shut.   Over the next few month, we will offer a series of blogs, entitled "Practical Ways to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Historic Home" will address some of these methods. In the meantime, open your windows and doors and let the fresh air in.

  • Stores have already had Christmas trees on display for couple of weeks - and Halloween is barely passed - so we know the pressure of holiday preparations is about to start. Unlike many small businesses, the holiday season isn't a big push time here at Historic Shed. It's rare that someone buys a shed as a gift (although wouldn't your husband be thrilled if you gave him his own man-cave with a big red bow on the door?) and wood window screens are hard to wrap. That's not to say that Historic Shed can't help you around the holidays though. The holidays require more than shopping;  your house needs to be ready for guests, too. Here's some ways we can help: Spruce up the outside of your old house so it looks picture perfect. Wood window screens and screen doors add a great finishing accent to historic homes, particularly when painted a contrasting color. Plus they allow you to open windows and doors without letting mosquitoes attack your guests. Imagine how thrilled your northern guests will be when they leave the snow behind and get to enjoy open windows! Foundation lattice is another attractive detail that makes a historic house worthy of being featured on the annual Christmas card. Clean up the inside of your home to make room for the festivities. Wouldn't your house be just perfect if it didn't seem so cluttered? Does it feel extra crowded around the holidays with decorations and company abounding? An attractive storage shed can provide temporary storage for collectibles, or long term storage for these things that never seem to have found a home, and then provide a place to put your decorations away after the season is over. They look awful cute with a wreath on the door, too. As  a plus, a well-designed shed will enhance your yard year round. Entertain Outdoors. Florida weather is downright lovely during the holidays. Why make everyone stay inside when you can move the party outside? Our pavilion makes a great gathering spot or outdoor kitchen. Need a place for your guests to stay? Making Aunt Wendy sleep on the sofa or blow-up bed again this year in the Living Room? Or squeezing guests into the kids' room? Our Guest Cottage is an affordable alternative to building an addition to your home, without the hassles of construction. And it makes a great home office or retreat during the times when your life is guest-free. Get away from it all. Sometimes the holidays can be a bit overwhelming. Give yourself the gift of a place to hide out and get away from it all with a finished shed. Gift shopping at Historic Shed. Get creative with your gift shopping this year. We offer small storage units, like the bench on the right, that will be appreciated by anyone on your list, custom screen doors, or gift certificates to help someone buy their dream shed. And if you don't shop with us, please try to support as many small, local businesses this season; you'll find one-of-a-kind gifts at great prices while supporting your neighbors and community.

  • The crisp morning air today is our first real indication that fall is coming! So perfect outside, and inside if you open all the windows and doors... Now you only need one thing: screens. Luckily we offer wood window screens and traditional screen doors that will both enhance your home's architecture and your enjoyment of great Fall weather. Check out HistoricShed.com to find the perfect accessory for Fall!

  • A recent forum post on an old house restoration and renovation website asked what they could do to hide the bright white vinyl replacement windows that the previous owners had installed. They didn't have the money to replace the windows, and the windows were still working fine, but were glaringly inappropriate for their historic home. For situations like this, an affordable solution is to install traditional wood window screens over the windows.Wood window screens can be built by homeowners with some woodworking skills or hired out for a reasonable cost from a local carpenter. They are historically appropriate on most home styles since they were commonly added even to the earliest homes by later homeowners. The best woods for screen longevity are cedar, cypress, or mahogany, although other woods can be used if primed and painted thoroughly. Paintable water repellent preservatives applied before priming are also useful for extending the life of the newly built screens. Screen frames are typically 1-1/2" to 2" wide and corners can be joined by screws, L-brackets, pegs or historically appropriate bridle joints for more accomplished woodworkers. Screening is applied after painting by stapling to the frame, then the edges are covered by screen molding, which is a narrow rounded trim piece.When trying to hide inappropriate non-historic windows, full height screens are recommended set flush with the exterior casing or within the brickmold trim. Using charcoal or other dark color screening helps mute the bright white of the vinyl windows behind the screen. Painting the screens a contrasting accent color also draws attention away from the windows behind and adds an attractive element to your home. Forest green, black, deep brown and burgundy were common screen accent colors. Install the screens with stainless face-mounted hangers and your replacement windows will no longer detract from the historic appearance of your home.Note: This article is an expanded and updated version of an earlier post.

  • We spent a pleasant day this past Sunday amid mature Live Oaks, great historic homes and friendly people in the historic College Park neighborhood in Orlando. The very family-oriented Sunday in the Park Neighborhood Association event was the perfect venue to display a small 6'x8' shed with finished interior along with screen door and window screen samples. Comments included "that's the cutest thing I ever saw", "that would be perfect in my yard" and "that's better than building an addition". The shed proved to be a natural magnet for children as well as adults who found it to be the ideal playhouse.The event featured about 60 local vendors along with child-friendly activities like pony rides, bounce houses, rock climbing and more, showing that College Park is an ideal neighborhood for young families. For more images from the event go to the Community Paper article.

  • Wood window screens are an integral part of the historic character of many historic homes; however, due to disrepair or installation of replacement windows, it is a detail often missing. Installing wood window screens on historic homes is generally a two-part project for a historic homeowner: first the windows that have been painted shut need to be made operable, then the screens have to be made (or repaired) and installed. Releasing a stuck window is not rocket science, but it generally requires some muscle and patience. A web search for "windows painted shut" brings up countless websites with step-by-step instructions for loosening stuck windows, including HGTV and This Old House (they offer a video). Professional help can be called in if you are not particularly handy or have windows needing more extensive work such as needing to reattach the counter weights (although this is also within most homeowners skill level once they get past the intimidation factor). Once the windows are made operable, repairing or building new screens is a simple carpentry project, but can be time consuming due to the quantity of windows on most historic homes. Window screens are usually simple wood frames (about 1-1/2 to 2" wide) either the full height of the window or half height for some single-hung windows. For casement windows that open outward, screens can be made that install on the building interior. Screening options include fiberglass and aluminum in black, charcoal and silver finishes. Of these, unfinished aluminum most closely resembles the galvanized screen used historically, but provides less visibility than darker screen options. The screen is first attached to perimeter of the frame with staples, then a narrow trim piece, called screen mold, is nailed over the screen edge. Screen hardware consists of metal hangers that attach to the exterior window frame or casing and a hook and eye installed at the base of the screen on the building interior. Traditionally painted black, forest green, or another dark accent color, authentic window screens enhance the look of a historic house while improving function.

  • False Advertising, originally uploaded by HexBlock. During a recent web search we were pleased to find this great photo of our HistoricShed.com display at the Historic Kenwood Neighborhood Home Tour in St. Petersburg, FL. While we didn't get a chance to go into any of the featured tour homes, we met a lot of great historic homeowners and enjoyed a gorgeous day in a lovely park. If you haven't had a chance to see this great National Register listed neighborhood, you have been missing out. As for the display, we were showing off examples of our traditional screen door designs, wood window screens and foundation lattice, along with our shed products. Bringing an entire shed tends to be a bit much for a one day show and can be detrimental to Park grass, so this is our standard "show" setup. We still haven't decided whether the photographer was impressed or dismayed based on his title and caption, but love the photo either way! (Click on the photo above to see this image and other great historic home photos by the photographer.)

  • From every media source we are challenged to find a way of living that will ensure the longevity and health of our environmental, economic, and social resources. We all want to do our part, but the plethora of information about "green" living, "green" technologies and "green" architecture can be overwhelming. Lucky for those of us with historic Florida homes, our houses were built with many environmentally friendly assets that help us reduce energy consumption. Prior to the introduction of air conditioning, Florida builders used techniques that "green" designers are now advocating, such as deep covered porches and wide eaves, window awnings and shutters, and operable windows. While we Floridians may not be willing to turn off our air conditioners in August, these features do allow us to make the most of Florida's more temperate seasons while reducing our energy consumption. Front and rear porches served dual heat-related purposes for Florida homeowners prior to the introduction of air conditioning. First, they sheltered the main building from the harsh sun, reducing heat gain and protecting interior furnishings from fading. In addition, porches provided an escape from the sweltering heat inside the home, providing a sheltered space to sit out of the sun while enjoying cooling breezes. A series of techniques were used in conjunction with windows and doors to increase cooling effects. Awnings were historically used to protect windows from direct sunlight thus helping to keep interior rooms cool. Popular from 1870 to 1930, fabric awnings were made of canvas attached to a fixed or retractable metal frame and came in several colors and patterns to accent the home's architecture. Metal awnings and Bahama shutters were common beginning in the 1940s and original versions are still seen shading many homes. Windows in older homes were usually operable to allow cooling breezes to enter the home. They were almost always covered with full-height screens to prevent pesky mosquito invasions. Screen doors were also installed on all exterior doors, again allowing breezes to enter the home without inviting bugs. Doors typically had covered overhangs when not already sheltered by a porch, protecting entrants from rain as well as sheltering the house from the sun. In many early homes, sleeping porches were constructed for relief on hot summer nights. Usually located on an upper floor, these rooms typically either had rows of casement windows or screened openings to capture as much air movement as possible. As the name implies, rows of cots were set out to provide easier sleeping conditions during hot nights. These are only a few of the methods typically utilized in older homes that are still effective today. We have become so reliant on air conditioning and heating that we sometimes forget to take advantage of the inherent good design found in our historic homes. As the weather gets more pleasant this fall, consider taking a few steps to operate your historic house more energy efficiently, and save some money in the process. Images courtesy Florida State Archives (www.floridamemory.com)