Text by Katie Ellis
Chattanooga, Tennessee, homeowner Lanis Littlefield jokes that after being involved in the political scene for 30 years with her husband, Ron, his “payback” upon retirement would be building her a potting shed. “When he retired, I decided that he was going to have to pay me back,” Lanis says with a hearty laugh. And in April 2013, he was happy to oblige.
For years, Lanis, an avid gardener, longed for a creative space where all her tools and seeds could be organized for her horticulturist pastime. Luckily, the Littlefields had an existing unused room by the side of their garage that had been a maid’s quarters at one time but was in terrible condition. Lanis shares, “I had been collecting pictures of potting sheds all this time. And I told Ron when he retired this was his project.” Ron admits he actually had a really good time completing it. “He worked all summer—literally all summer—on that project and did every bit of it himself,” Lanis says.
The main purpose of the potting shed was garden organization. “I just needed a place to put my tools and the potting soil and just everything you need when you’re doing a garden,” Lanis says. Now everything for her garden has a designated place, and she no longer has to hunt for seeds, sprays, or fertilizers. “That was a problem that I was having for years: Nothing was in the same place. And that’s what I wanted mostly, I guess,” she says. “But also a place to sit and be quiet sometimes. Believe it or not, even in the summer it’s very cool in there, so I go in and just sit and look at everything and dream and plan.”
When it came to the color scheme, green was an obvious choice for Lanis. “I’m a green person. I love everything green,” she says. “That was a no-brainer!” In addition to incorporating her favorite color, she also decked the potting shed in sentimental items that once belonged to her grandfather. “I’m a very nostalgic person, and to me, anything that belonged to my granddaddy was gold. I loved him so much and cherished all the times that we had together and the things he taught me,” Lanis says. When her grandfather died in 1976 and the family sold his farm, “nobody really wanted anything, especially all the things out in the woodshed and the smokehouse and his workshop,” she says. “Nobody wanted that stuff and [they] thought I was crazy for wanting it.”
For years, she stored her grandfather’s treasured collections within her home, but she says she knew all along that if she ever had a potting shed or a room of her own, that’s where she would use all of them. “I’ve utilized almost everything—I don’t know that I have anything else left.”
The best thing about this charming Tennessee potting shed is that it’s equally pretty and practical. “Gardening is a dream of mine, and to have this space where I can walk in and see all of my tools and seeds that I collect in a place where I can do the potting, it’s just a dream come true to me,” Lanis says.