Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Little Mansions' latest creation found its home nestled in the hills above Hood River and the Columbia Gorge surrounded by orchards and lavender fields. With a hint of craftsman in the eve supports, leaded glass windows in the front, and giant multi-light windows on the side, it will be the perfect home for whatever lives in it.

Schuan Carpenter

Little Mansions Designs
"Spaces for Community, Work, and Life"

Monday, September 3, 2012

Confessions of a Tomatoholic, by Lisa Kahan

It wasn't just MY desire that drove me to have a greenhouse made. My family practically begged me to do it! Why, you might wonder? Well, because for the last five or so years I'd been co-opting the large window of the south-facing dining room in our small Seattle house in order to start my tomato seedlings.

Over the years, as my desire to have more and different types, my tomato starts went from window sill to dining room table pushed up against the window beginning in February and lasting into May. During that period I moved my tomatoes from tiny 72-seed starter trays into ever-increasing sized pots.

As the plants grew, we found ourselves dining with greenery all around us. I didn't mind this much because I love growing tomatoes, but I'm just one of four. So when I mentioned that I was considering having a greenhouse built, the idea was met with great enthusiasm, And when I announced that I had found someone who was both talented and affordable, the family said "Go for it."

So the tomato starts moved outdoors where I visited them often. My 10-year-old comes into the greenhouse to "help transplant" which she likes to do but which is particularly fun when it's rainy outside, warm inside, and we are nestled together with hundreds of tomato starts. 

This year, because of the greenhouse, I was able to grow over 300 tomato starts (plenty to share) as well as get a great start on cucumbers and squash. I've got even bigger plans for next year.

By Lisa Kahan

Monday, August 20, 2012

The First Studio has Successfully Shipped

STUDIOS, greenhouses and sheds, can now be shipped anywhere in the US or Canada!
Our experiment to see if you can ship a studio or greenhouse has been a success! This one went to Thousand Oaks, CA. I met it on the other end and put it together. It arrived in perfect shape and went together like a charm.

The freight shippers were amazing. Although we learned a thing or two about how to package these, I learned from this that the glass is actually safer in a freight trailer than in the back of my own vehicle.

Although I won't be able to meet every greenhouse I ship, I am now confident that we can build a structure that is reasonably easy to assemble on the other end.

Schuan Carpenter
Little Mansions Designs
"Spaces for Community, Work, and Life"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The First Greenhouse Gets Shipped

Finally our first out-of-state greenhouse/studio is on the truck, and on its way to LA! We custom built a large crate for this. Our goal is to eventually fit a greenhouse on a single pallet.

While assembly is not normally included in the shipped structures, I will fly to LA next week to make sure my first one arrived in one piece. I will take pictures while we assemble it, with the hope of a 1-2 day assembly.

Watch the blog for more pics of what I think is my best one yet!

Schuan Carpenter

Little Mansions Designs
"Spaces for Community, Work, and Life"

Friday, August 3, 2012

Prototype Drawings

By the end of August we will have 2 lines of studios/greenhouses that can be shipped.

The first is a shipable version of the greenhouses and studios we have already built. It will be shipped in panels ready to assemble.

The second will be a mostly-polycarbonate model. The aim on this line will be to keep Little Mansions Designs' creative look while keeping construction and shipping costs down. You will have the option of choosing several different roof designs, door designs, and side panel designs. We can make curved roofs, round doors, gothic windows...all with wood and dual walled polycarbonate panels.

For those who like these options but also like the reclaimed window look...we can design the front around reclaimed doors and windows.

I am currently taking orders for these. For the next 6 months these greenhouses/studios will be completely custom.

Below is some of the first drawings. More are to come!

Schuan Carpenter

Little Mansions Designs
"Spaces for Community, Work, and Life"

Friday, July 6, 2012

Our own Back Yard Mansion

My wife and I are passionate about community.  When you live in a 790 square ft house, you soon find that entertaining more than a few other people gets very cramped.  Since we built this 320 sq fot Tudor-style studio.  The space has housed giant meals with a table spreading accross its entire length.  It has been host to many small concerts and performances, rehearsals, and recitals.  On a daily basis it is a design studio in the morning and a violin teaching studio in the afternoon.

Ultimatelly this project became the catalyst for Vintage Greenhouses and Little Mansions Designs as people continually told me that I needed to bring this creativity to the market--both with my furniture and with my building designs.

In designing the studio, my Wife and I each had a requirement.  Her requirement was that it have all leaded glass reclaimed windows.  Mine was that it have a tower....neither requirement made construction easy, but when we were done it was all worth it.

The Interior space is completely open.  Weyerhaueser engineered a large beam in the middle of the building that allowed it to be one big open space with high vaulted ceilings. 

The bookcase was built out of reclaimed wood from an old barn near Puyallup, WA.  The owners had bought the house to retire in...and the barn was why they fell in love with it.  They finally were forced to take it down.  I found them and they gave me the wood for free!  My favorite wood was the floorboards, which had about an inch of horse dung that had built up over the last 100 years.  But after cleaning and lightly planing with a dull blade, I found the most beautiful old growth fir...still in good shape, but with plenty of "beauty marks" from bugs, nails, and just the perfect amount of rot!


Community Space and Teaching Space were very important to us.  By spanning the space created by the tower and the lower wing, we were able to create a giant square in the middle of the building.  The 320 sq ft building with a small grand paino, has been known to host as many as 38 people for concerts, events, and recitals.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Classic Storefront Greenhouse

So maybe your typical greenhouse doesn't look like a turn-of-the-century storefront, but this client wanted something unique that matched the property and didn't overwhelm the small space allotted for it.  The owner had built a beautiful wood-shed, with a farm-style single pitched roof.  They had suggested I mirror that with the greenhouse, but I was having trouble figuring out how to make it look refined enough, while matching the shed.  After about 5 different drawings, the though hit me....a classic storefront would provide the perfect place to display favorite plants, and would accomodate a roof line that match that of the woodshed.  

The clients, a designer and an antique collector collaborate with me to create this fabulous design.  They plan to add shelves and a number of details.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Little Greenhouse or Back Porch Greenhouse


This little greenhouse is perfect indoors or out.  It is just the right size for a small tomato plant, or some other veggies.  It keeps the temperature about 5-15 degrees above outside temps and protects against wind, rain, snow, hail, and pets.  In the Northwest you can even grow some plants year round in it, both indoors and out.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Greenhouses for Apartments and Condo's

If you are a greenthumb, but live in an apartment, condo, or townhouse with no pea patch and a little tiny porch, don't despair.  These mini-greenhouses are perfect for you.  The vertical greenhouse is perfect to start plants in the spring, or even in the fall.  The cedar porch greenhouse is great for an herb garden, starting plants, and greens.  And not only that, they look great!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How A Greenhouse Can Transform Curb Appeal

These before and after pics show how a greenhouse can completely transform a house's curb appeal. This mid-century ranch-style house was begging for something on this wall.  The owner is an avid gardener, so a greenhouse was the perfect solution.  

 Rather than try to match the green and tan paint, I chose a more "Northwest" look by using high quality fir 4X4's for the frame, and finishing then with a clear, nearly invisible linseed oil.  

The windows and doors are all reclaimed.  The old white paint on the windows adds to the charm, and with the wood, it isn't too stark of a contrast with the house.
For Ventilation, both windows in the front open outward, and the two side windows are hinged on the bottom with a catch on the top so they can let the warm air out on a hot day.

Price:  $1950.00

Friday, March 23, 2012

Latest Projects

Just Finished the Apse on our "Model Home" greenhouse....Love it...it makes it feel like a cathedral inside!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Prototype for the First Urban Greenhouse takes shape

In our front yard, you can now see the first prototype of what I call a "Large" urban greenhouse. It would fit nicely in a larger city back yard or on top of one of those hillside Garages Seattle has so many of.
Watch this site later this week for the completed pics.  It will have all reclaimed windows, and what I call a "Cathedral Back", where the back side of the building slopes off into an intimate 3-sided alcove.
Soon we will also have Tomato Greenhouses--the perfect size for one tomato plant--and really cool looking!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Table Made from wood sourced from the Packard building renovation

You can check this table out on etsy.com.  Just look for schuancarpenter.  It is built from wood reclaimed from the Packard building on 12th and Pike in Seattle.  I'm hoping to get an order for a full-sized dining table before this wood runs out.  It is almost 3" thick, old growth fir with the perfect number of "beauty marks" from decades of seasoning.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cold Frames and Planter Boxes!

Start Planning for Spring With...
4X8 Planter Boxes
Fir Planter Box$100
Cedar Planter Box$130

Cold Frames Made of Reclaimed Windows
Add to Existing Planter Box:$120
Planter Box with Cold Frame:$200
Cedar Planter Box with Cold Frame:$250

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The First Little Mansion

This was the inspiration for Little Mansions Designs.  In 2007 we quickly realized we needed a community space as well as a separate space for my wife's violin studio.  After building this Tudor-style studio in our back yard people kept telling me I should make my design skills into a business.  So, here it is now---the exterior pictures of our studio.

My Wife and I each had a requirement.  Her's was that it have all leaded glass reclaimed windows.  mine was that it have a tower....neither requirement made construction easy, but when we were done it was all worth it.

The Interior space is completely open.  Weyerhaueser engineered a large beam in the middle of the building that allowed it to be one big open space with high vaulted ceilings.  I will put interior pics in  another post.