An outhouse in the backyard? Fairview couple brings country to town

News-DemocratJuly 7, 2013 

Maureen Lougeay wanted a backyard shed.

Husband Dan was happy to build it.

But they differed on how they thought a shed would look.

"When I visualized a shed, I visualized a metal shed," said Dan, 62, a maintenance director for Cedarhurst Assisted Living Center.

Maureen imagined a cabin-in-the-woods shed for their Fairview Heights backyard that borders a small lake. The setting, shaded by tall trees, was already home to a garden of hostas and ferns.

"I kind of talked up a little plan," said Maureen, 62, a nurse at St. Elizabeth's Hospital. She went to the library, found a book on sheds, and together they came up with a design they could adapt.

"I wanted something old and rustic looking that looked like it had been there," she said. "We both decided it should have a front porch. We wanted to display family antiques on it."

An egg hatchery that belonged to her grandma adds charm to the shady porch.

"A lot of stuff was Grandma's," she said.

Including a white wicker rocker that's on the side porch. There's a sharpening stone in front. And an RC Cola sign, a nod to Maureen's favorite soda.

The shed's size -- 10-by-14 feet without the porch -- was dictated by the space between a tree and the lake, and what they planned to store inside -- a lawn mower, bicycles and lawn and garden equipment.

Where were those things before? In the garage.

Dan took a week off eight or nine years ago to build the shed, and another week to add the front porch. Two weeks ago, he added a side porch overlooking the lake.

"I love it, just love it. I think it looks just right." Maureen said of the finished shed, the wood now darkened with age. "The nice part about this down here is it's always very comfortable. I feel like I am by myself in the woods -- if I don't look too far around."

Dan also built a wood bridge that stretches over the garden to the shed's "front door."

"I picked the door up out of trash two blocks away," said Dan. "It fits what we need. In the winter, we store our golf cart in here with the rest of the stuff."

They both watched granddaughter Meagan Prott, in bright orange flip-flops, run along the bridge, then squat the way only 2-year-olds can do when she reached the end.

The Lougeays built their home 17 years ago on a quiet cul-de-sac. Over the years, they created the backyard retreat, clipping magazine photos for inspiration.

"Most of the trees were there, but that was it," said Maureen, looking toward the small lake. "It was kind of a dump area for years. We hauled a lot out, and filled in."

The first project was a 24-inch rock wall near the water to create two levels, then they added a bird bath. From there, Maureen planted a shade garden.

"A 10-foot section is what I started with, then I found the outhouse (about 12 years ago)," she said. "I put the word out. They're hard to find."

A friend who did visiting nursing came upon the 100-year-old outhouse in Beaucoup, near Nashville.

"I only paid 50 dollars for it," said Maureen. "I had found another, but when I knocked on the door, they said I was the sixth person to ask for the outhouse." .

The solid oak two-seater was no problem to move. Friends helped place it in the yard, and were just walking away when Maureen noticed the moon door was facing the wrong way. The moon now faces their house.

"The outhouse got the rest of the garden going."

On its side, Maureen hangs sun sculptures, some of which are gifts from her son and daughter. The Lougeays also have three grandchildren.

"I am out here almost every day," said Maureen, "weeding or doing something. It relaxes me."

"It's a lot of yard work for her," said Dan, "just mulching in spring is a big challenge. Our son has a landscaping business. We use his truck two or three (times to buy) mulch. Hard work is her relaxation."

So are their grandchildren, Meagan, and Aidan Lougeay, 9, and Maura Lougeay, 6, of Freeburg, who like to fish in the stocked lake.

"Our grandson last year pulled an 18-inch bass out of there," said Dan. "He got a pretty good-sized bluegill, too ... I get my enjoyment out of fishing with the kids. I bait the hooks and take the fish off."

"One of our rules here is when the grandkids come," said Maureen, "everything else stops."

Besides fishing, the family often sees opossums, raccoons, turtles and deer.

"Heron come in and walk on the lake," said Maureen. "it's just like living in the country."

The Lougeays have more plans for their yard.

"It's never complete," said Maureen. "We want to enlarge the deck by the water a little more. I want to put up a potting house or shed in a year or two, something a little nicer and more colorful."

And she knows just who will do the job.

"It's wonderful. Whatever I want made or done, Dan does,. I haven't ever had anything you couldn't do. He taught himself. It's kind of his hobby, too."

Dan is ready.

"I am just waiting for the next project," he said.

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