The Completion of the Coop.
How a Design Idea Evolves.

I bet you thought the coop was finished last year didn’t you? So did I.

And it was. There was just the small matter of the chickens eating every plant in my backyard and then crapping it back onto every surface imaginable.  And just for good measure, if there was a small area in the backyard that didn’t get pooped on, one of the chicken would make sure to walk through it and track it all around. Chickens are very considerate that way.

Apparently so am I, because I too made sure to track the crap everywhere too.

So this spring I decided I was going to have to section off a portion of the yard for chicken pooping purposes. The side yard where their coop is located was the logical place. If I could somehow keep them in that area they could poop to their heart’s content and at least it would all be in one area. They could walk around in the sun, take their dust baths, hold their weekly poker games and what not, without turning my backyard into a poo pavilion.

As a reminder, here’s where the coop is and what it looks like.




My first thought was to station a scary monster robot in the side yard.  Right at this close end of the coop.  Scary monster robot would make sure the chickens didn’t get past a certain area, therefore containing the poop.

My second thought was to stack wood in an aesthetically pleasing manner, with some sort of doorway in the middle of it. That was bad idea #1. Chickens can jump REALLY high, so the stacked wood would need to be around 6 or 7 feet high. Besides, I burned up all my wood by April 15th.  Scary monster robot idea was in the lead.

My second thought was to stack up bales of straw. I was into the whole stacking thing apparently. Stacking is easy you see. Much easier than hammering and drilling and sawing and screaming. Bales of straw would be easy to stack high but you wouldn’t be able to see through them. Half the fun of having chickens is watching them. No to the straw.

My final thought was to use swinging wrought iron fence gates. Like this …


Wrought Iron Gate


But for some reason, the idea was a bit “off” to me. It wasn’t quite right. You know when you look at something in your house and you think That’s not right (I find this is often the case whenever I try to dress up my coffee table with a vignette, or put my cats in period piece costumes.)

Sick of making generally all decisions in my life, I sent a quick email off to my Internet friend, interior designer Carol Reed.



Yeah.  That’s right.  I called in an internationally renowned interior designer.  For my chicken coop.  What of it?

I sent her this remarkably fantastic sketch.  YES!  It is a sketch.  I know.  Totally looks like a photograph.  I’m a talent.  I told Carol I had thought of using wrought iron fence gates, but wasn’t sure about it for some reason.  Could she please help me?  Please, please, interior designer, help this wretched amateur in her time of need.


Coop Run Doors Mockup


Within 2 days Carol had sent me back these “quick sketches” of 4 options including materials needed and colour options that were the best.  (She knew right away what was wrong with the wrought iron fence I thought of by the way.  All of the lines in my backyard are horizontal.  The fence, the coop, even the square cut flagstone on the ground.)


THIS is what separates a professional from … me.  I knew something was wrong and there had to be a better idea out there, I just didn’t know what it was.  I looked over her sketches for about 5 minutes and decided on one design.  The next day I went out to get my materials, and the weekend after that I built the gates.

I will reveal which design I chose, how I did it and the gates themselves in Thursday’s post.

But for now … which one would you have chosen?  And which one do you think I chose?  I will give you one hint.  Against my better judgement I decided not to go with the chicken robot.


  1. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    For the best view of the girls at play..Number 4 definitely!!!

  2. Jamieson says:

    I’d like #4 best, but with the horizontal rails instead of mesh.
    So I’m guessing you actually chose #3 since all of your coop doors are swinging, but you wanted to introduce rails. Also because it would take the longest and be the most frustrating to make, which you seem to gravitate to. (go ahead, prove me wrong!)

  3. AmieM says:

    I love four because of the barn door track, and the visibility of the chickens. Someone needs to make sure they aren’t pocketing cards in their poker games!

  4. Amber says:

    Definitely option 4! I think? Oh Thursday please come quickly.

  5. Deb says:

    I am going with option 1. The light looks like your kind of thing. Option 4 would be my second choice.

  6. Langela says:

    There is nothing cuter than hens looking through a screen door. I love when ours look out through their screen windows! I choose option 4 also.

  7. Tigersmom says:

    I have to say option 4 as well, for the same reasons JebberA stated. I picture you having real difficulty resisting the very cool barn door and it provides the best viewing. I also think part of your struggle with the metal gate is you don’t like the idea of looking at your girls through bars as if they (or you) were in prison. I can’t wait to see how great it looks.

  8. elise thomas says:

    I love the metal mesh – so chicken coop-y! :-)

  9. cred says:

    I am guessing option 4, too. I think that the more mesh the better- more visibility & air circulation for the girls while they’re outside.

    Also, safer from predators. Do you keep them inside the coop (the walled part, I mean? Your hardware cloth has small holes but our friend lost many chicks and chickens 3 weeks ago, through that hex mesh-type poultry wire. The coyotes (they suspect) approach from one end and scare the chucks against the mesh and another grabs them and pulls them through the mesh.
    I assume coyotes aren’t too rampant in your area but fishers can climb and go over fencing.

    • cred says:

      oops, I meant to ask if you keep them inside the coop ‘at night’?

      and to clarify, I also meant the metal mesh (hardware cloth) is safer than the gate or metal rails of option 3.

    • Karen says:

      Cred – The chickens roam in the side yard all day and put themselves to bed at night. Once they tuck themselves in I go out and lock them up. ~ k!

  10. Debbie Neal says:

    Number 4! It is perfect! I have always wanted to put one on our fence to stop the slamming of the gate! Now I might have to!!!

  11. Mary Kay says:

    Karen for the best visability I like option 4 too. Plus the barn door sliding thing totally cool. I did like the latern on the first one to tie the gate with the coop but I think visability is the key in the design. I am totally jealous of your coop it is FANTASTIC!

  12. Sarah J says:

    I’d go for number 3 to keep it light and airy but retain the coach light look… Funny I just looked up your coop today to show my husband my inspiration for our new coop!! He grunted somewhat but likes the lights and started ebaying for his own version… We live in Australua, we didn’t ever have many coaches. The chicks are also in a box, so he better hurry up on the COOP! He doesn’t get that aesthetics come later!!

  13. julie says:

    oh, if only option #4 could add the light fixture ….. it would be very extremely perfect.

  14. Denise says:

    Ditto for choice 4 … rolling door yes, visibility yes.

  15. Janie says:

    I like option 3 with the metal bars. We’re very fancy here, we use designer wire fencing. You may have heard of it….”Chicken Wire”. It not only goes around the coop but over it. Keeps their mess in and the coyotes, raccoons, etc out. =0)

  16. Lyn says:

    Also vote for option 4, for the visibility. I’d absolutely want to watch the chickens! I mentioned to neighbors at our new house that I wanted chickens down the line, but was warned that hawks will get them, literally as you watch. Have you heard of rolling coops?

    • Karen says:

      Lyn – Like a chicken tractor? I think they’re great, but only for a few chickens. Great idea though. Just roll your chickens around. :) ~ karen

  17. T says:

    I also see you going for option 4 but 3 really caught my eye. You could hang cute stuff from the rails with S hooks or something along that line. If you don’t like “cute stuff” then suck it! But really, think garden tools, small pots of herbs…things like that. It doesn’t have to be cluttery. Just a few well placed items on your clean lines design to add cosiness and interest. Heck, maybe you could even hang the cat’s period dress costumes on there for the chickens to use. *smirk*

  18. sara says:

    I hope you went with the third one. It’s genius and pretty and you don’t have to worry about keeping screens clean. I also hope you put it on a barn door track because you’re karen, and you don’t follow rules.

  19. Brenda says:

    I am going with #4 because of the visibility as well, tho I do love #2…

  20. Option 4! You want to see your chickens. Better air flow too. Perhaps less work? If it were me, I’d have it as a swinging door though so that the mesh “wall” could have some fancy decoration or even practical uses. You could hang a wall pocket or flat backed bucket for holding chicken toys?

  21. karenagain says:

    Well yes I also like number four or number two if it was all flipped opposite. But I’m not sure if I’m looking at this properly.
    I hope you enjoyed your vacay. A couple hours ago I arrived home from a twelve hour drive from Tisdale, Saskatchewan. Brent Butt is from there, but that’s not why I went. We attended hubby’s youngest brother’s wedding. We pulled our trailer that took me a couple weeks to ready. We set up camp, I sprayed on Off, two hundred mosquitos bit me anyway and two horse flies made me bleed. I drove across the street, rented an air conditioned hotel room and stayed there all week…and showered to my heart’s content in a normal sized shower.

  22. Judy D. says:

    I’m going for option #2. I love the sliding barn door and like how both sides are different. I’m looking forward to Thursday’s post to find out which option you went with.

  23. Katie says:

    Also going with 4.

  24. Therese says:

    I’m going for option 4 too. I know how you love to watch your chickens, and I’m sure they find you entertaining too. This has the best visibility. Love the rolling door idea. Better than swing door getting in the way.
    Can you send Dill pickle chips to Australia?

  25. JebberA says:

    Option 4. Best visibility and a barn door. Who doesnt want a rolling barn door? It is practical and will make you feel like a farmer, which I think you would like. Also, the mesh ties in with the mesh on the coop. Do I win dill pickle chips?

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