When her husband built Woodwinds, a large cabin-like structure with an ample front porch, Amy Koon knew exactly how she was going to use it. With clever add-ons and simple furnishings, she created specific spaces for her many interests.
South Carolina is a place of great natural beauty: deep forests, whistling winds. It calls to a poet like Amy Koon, who has lived in the region all of her life. “Sounds of evening … crickets, frogs/Hoot of owl, the howl of dog/To recall this peace, and drink my fill/Close my eyes to the whippoorwill.”
Amy’s poetry is often a reflection of ordinary days spent appreciating the rural life she and her husband David live. She is especially grateful for the shed he built for her about three years ago, which she named Woodwinds. Set back from the couple’s 100-year-old farmhouse, Woodwinds is a large single room with a full-size front porch. A bit later, David added the “wee house,” a small bathroom with toilet and sink.
It all started with the quintessential book about she sheds. Amy purchased She Sheds: A Room of Your Own at the nearby tractor supply store and devoured it hungrily. She began hinting to her husband that once she retired she would need a getaway place. (David already had a large workshop.) “I wasn’t sure he was getting the hints,” Amy recalls, “and then one morning I came downstairs and caught him reading the book.” David promised her he’d build one if she was patient and if he could do it in his own style.
The aesthetic of Woodwinds is reminiscent of a cabin in the woods: most of the wood is left natural and unpainted (sealed against the elements). Four-by-four posts and extra-wide shiplap siding frame out the various windows, which were all salvaged from roadsides and construction sites. The interior siding is unadorned pine planks, fitting smoothly and tightly over the shed’s insulation. The floors are pine and the roof rafters are exposed. Everything is tidy, snug and shipshape.
Amy added lots of old pieces, from the house and things that were given to her. She loves the country look and believes that if it isn’t soft and colorful, it’s got no business being in Woodwinds. Her tin roof rumbles merrily whenever it rains. “Every shed needs to have a good, solid roof,” she says.
Her Favorite Pastimes
Amy has five primary uses for her she shed and all of them reflect her values as a wife, mother, Christian and friend.
- Prayer. A devout Christian, Amy spends a good deal of time in prayer, journaling about her faith journey, as well as in worship and social activities with her church. Woodwinds offers two areas where she feels at most in communion with God: in her small glider near the faux fireplace, and also in one of the gliders on the front porch. During the day, Amy gathers the needs of her family and her friends, often hearing about someone who is ill or who has died from a painful illness. In the late afternoon, she heads to Woodwind. There, she lights candles and goes within herself to lift up the hopes and the suffering of those in need of prayer.
- Writing. Writing is another important part of her day; along with journaling, Amy writes poetry and stories about her family. Usually, Amy’s thoughts turn into written words while she is sitting on the front porch. In colder weather she bundles up and sits inside with a warm mug of tea.
- Celebrating with friends. Women love to come over and see what Amy’s done with the place. She often has a new painting or a pretty set of windchimes, a cozy throw or scented candles to delight her guests. Last year, she hosted a Mother’s Day gathering with a few friends who don’t get showered with the attention from their grown children that they crave. “I set up a little table with the prettiest placemats and fresh flowers in a pink vase. I splurge on chicken salad, croissants, and fruit and we give each other Mother’s Day cards,” Amy says.
- Therapy. A therapist always has an enclosed space with secure privacy and a welcoming atmosphere. So too does Amy, and her efforts to beautify her shed are partly for the therapeutic qualities they have. From careful consideration of her sofa to the light and color she displays, Amy pays attention to her environment as one that will repair the spirit. Recently she salvaged an old futon frame that someone had thrown out and bought a new mattress to fit. “You need to have space to stretch out even if you are big or tall,” she explains. Her family members come to her in Woodwinds when they’ve had a rough patch, or just to talk things through.
- Rest and repose. After 40 years as a nurse through some of the most intense experiences of cancer patients, end-of-life care and emergency surgery, Amy was more than ready to hang up her scrubs. Woodwinds provided a vital weekend retreat during the last few years she worked; now, you can find Amy in her shed many hours each day. Often, David will join her and they’ll look out over their ancient farmland. They may talk, or they might stay silent.
Some find beauty … in … greater things
Power … or … lush … surroundings
My heart … is filled … to overflow …
with … this old home … and farm … I know.”Amy Koon