It all started innocently enough. Champion mountain bike racer Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and his wife, a professional racer as well, needed a place to store their bikes. Disappointed by the barn-like options on the market, he created his own, in his words, “fancy-looking shed.” Mike Koenig, now Horgan-Kobelski’s partner in Studio Shed, saw it and wanted one for his own home.
That was 15 years ago. “I think we started with a couple models, and it was just focused on storage only, but with this sort of grander idea that it can be used on a finished basis,” Koenig says. Today, Studio Shed offers three models of studio/accessory dwelling unit options, plus a greenhouse, in a wide variety of sizes and configurations inside and out—all accessed via an online 3-D design tool and then shipped as ready-to-install flat pack kits. “You can get these into any backyard,” he says. “We’ve carried these through row houses in San Francisco. We put them in freight elevators. I think there’s one on a penthouse rooftop in Chicago.”
Ease of use is partly responsible for the company’s success, but the clean lines and understated simplicity of the buildings themselves is what has gotten them noticed and garnered them fans and customers all over the country and Canada. “We share a common design aesthetic,” says Koenig of he and his partner’s sensibilities. Of course, the Signature and Summit series buildings learn toward mid-century modern detailing (both men had grandfathers who were architects of that era), and that’s not for everyone. “I challenged the team and said, ‘We need to launch something that has a broader appeal—more classic and contemporary.’ That’s when we launched the Portland series, the gable roof model, and also added some wood siding options.”
The Signature series consists of smaller, single-room studios that start at 64 ft2, and the aforementioned Portland series with its taller ceilings start at 96 ft2. Both can be maximized at around 250 ft2 and used as a home office, gym, yoga or music studio, she shed, or man cave. The Summit series is the largest building offered. This option can be 1,000 ft2 and used as accessory dwelling units with a small kitchenette and a bathroom, and multiple units can be combined for even more space. “There’s a tremendous amount of customization available,” says Horgan-Kobelski. “You can move doors and windows around, choose interior finishes, different siding choices. And you can do anything. There’s a modular system that underlies it, but you can really customize the building to suit your individual yard, your views, privacy, all of those types of things.” The 3-D configurator will soon be joined by a virtual showroom utilizing augmented and virtual reality technology to build your shed on your phone and see it in your backyard.
And it all started with a mission to build a better shed. “Here we are, 13 years later,” says Koenig, “an overnight success with 40 employees and a national footprint.”