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. Megan says:

    What color paint did you use? Love it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Megan! I had the stain custom mixed to match the slate that was in my backyard at the time. So it’s a very heavily blue shade of black. :) ~ karen!

  2. Chip and Holli Doss says:

    Any idea where we got the inspiration for this Coop? Holli raised chickens with her Grandma in South Dakota. She found your Coop on-line about a year ago and out of nowhere told me “this is what you’re going to build for me.” Our neighbors were moving and needed to place their six 2 year old hens with someone. They found Holli. I thought she had lost her mind. When I staked out the perimeter of a coop the same size as yours, she laughed and took the hammer away from me and started pacing 25 feet long and 10 feet deep and driving the stakes in on the corners. That’ll be just about the right size for my girls she proclaimed. It took me 2 months to build as I learned how to hammer and frame and roof and become a master of the double compound miter saw. It’s not a coop, it’s a tiny home filled with art, games, AC, storm windows, a solar powered hen house door, misters, swings and a jungle gym. We love our girls (12 in all now) and can’t even imagine life without them. Thanks for inspiring us in such a profound way.

    • Karen says:

      That. Is. Great. Holli was right. My coop was that particular size because it was all I could fit into the space I had designated for it. Technically that coop of yours could house … well … a lot more than 2 hens, lol. But the bigger it is the easier it is to maneuver around to clean. It looks really fantastic. So happy to have inspired you. ~ karen!

  3. I am totally drooling over your chicken coop. I love this design style although it does not quite fit in my rustic style house. I have to say this is the most beautiful coops I have seen!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Leigh Ann – My house is actually an 1840 cottage, but the backyard where the coop is, is very contemporary. So .. I did what fit the area. I love rustic coops, and if it had fit in with the surrounding area it’s the way I would have gone. :) ~ karen!

  4. Barbie says:

    I cheated….since I’am way behind so I already know which one you went with :) ….. and I love it btw!

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