My Garden Retreat

My Garden Retreat
photo Gridley Graves for Country Living

The Secret Life of Tinker House

Happy Friday!
I am so glad you stopped by my garden today!
I thought we would head out to Tinker House...I have something I have wanted to share with you since we first built my little dream house.

When I was a little girl, my dad built me a doll house. It was made of  plywood and he worked on it nights up until Christmas to have it under the tree for me!

He had never made anything like it before, built it from some plans he had purchased...but even when he gave it to was incomplete.
We talked about finishing it together. A project.
I made curtains, rugs and even some furniture for it. I painted the walls and picked out things I wanted to fill my dream house.
But my doll house was never finished.
My dad was in the military and always gone...My parents divorced...I grew up.
I gave my doll house to a little girl down the street.

About 13 years ago...My dad died. And I shared this story with my husband.

He wanted to build me a doll house....I asked him for something else.

Tinker House!
A whimsical version of a English conservatory.
Very small...almost playhouse in scale.

As many of you know~ Tinker House is constructed almost entirely from reclaimed wood, windows, doors and mill-work.

 Quite alot  from our own  homes renovation! The rest I gathered from here and there.

My hubby helped me, but he let me do alot of the work myself.
It was something I wanted to do. Something that I even needed to do!

As I worked, I thought about my incomplete doll house.
How I wanted Tinker to be.
With little rooms and multi purposes.

Tinker has been many things since last Autumn when we completed it.

It acted as a greenhouse over the long hard Winter we had here.

Was a warm place to start my veggies in the early Spring .
I watched my linens dry on the line from it's windows.

Curled up under blankets and looked out at our garden and dreamed of warmer weather.

And now...
 Just in time for Summer's  arrival....
Tinker House has a secret life...

As an outdoor Kitchen and buffet area!

Hidden under the skirted table, beside my potting soil and watering a tiny refrigerator where I keep my drinks and treats...(It is also where we keep the condiments we use when we eat outside.)

This time of the's every night that we have no rain!
This is probably the most amazing thing that Tinker has been able to do for us.
I love being able to fix dinner...set the counter up buffet style and enjoy our meals
Al fresco!

There is only one thing left to do...a sink!
click the picture to read more about this one!

I have been looking for an old wine or whiskey barrel to have it made from!

My hubby will make it for me...and I am holding out until I find one!
I think it will be wonderful to have a sink out in the garden!
And it will complete the whole dreamy doll house I had envisioned!

Well, I would offer you a glass of ice tea but I know you must dash off~ as should I.

We are now into the last days of preparation for the French Flea Market at Horton's!

And I still have so much to do!
but more on that at another time...

Thank you for stopping by!
It's been so wonderful sharing this little story with you!
As you can has a very happy ending!

I am linking up with my friend Debra at Common Ground today since Tinker is made from vintage and reclaimed materials~
Have a blessed weekend!


  1. Donna, thanks for sharing your dollhouse story with us. At first I was a little sad that your childhood dollhouse was never completed, but then I realized how special it would be to the little girl you gave it to.

    I can see why Tinker is so special to you. You've made your dream come true, even if it was years later.

    That sink has my heart going pitter patter. What a clever idea!

  2. Wow, this is just beautiful. I've always dreamed of having a place like this. Hope you have a great weekend, T

  3. I love everything about this story...the dream that your father started and that you and your husband finished.
    Tinker house is one of my favorite places to must feel so blessed to have such a special place all your own. It's beautiful out there!
    Here's to many lovely alfresco dinners ~

  4. I adore Tinker! So I hope you find that wine barrel soon - you and Tinker deserve it.

    How did you make the cute table skirt? I wonder if I could ever make neat pleats like that?

  5. Okay I'm picturing me sitting just outside the doorway of Tinker House and you know what happens when I start to see visions!
    Such a tiny, beautiful spot to hold so many wonderful memories of the past and of the things to come.
    P.S. I love the idea of the barrel. I just saw one at an auction last nite...too bad I can't wish it to you express!

  6. Just lovely...I am so glad you were able to finish what you started as a young girl. The fridge is a perfect idea and so useful...enjoy!

  7. Oh my gosh Donna...I can't tell you how much I love Tinker house! I so wish I had one. You have done a fabulous job with it. Love the way it looks inside and out.

  8. It's just breathtaking, love the picture of the snow, thank you for sharing thinker with us, hopefully you get your sink soon, it's a very unique idea.
    XXXX Ido

  9. Little girl dreams have turned in to big girl realities!! It's just amazing. I know your daddy would be so proud of your accomplishment. It's beautiful Donna. How 'bout 2 Debs coming to visit? xoxo Debra

  10. Oh how this brought back memories of my own dollhouse that my dad built for me....thanks for sharing Donna! I cannot tell you enough how much I adore Tinker. What a versatile lil haven she is!!!
    Happiest of weekends to you sweetie -

  11. I so enjoy my visits to your fabulous dollhouse!! I so want to have one of my own someday!!

    I would love to share you dollhouse with my readers on my blog. I do a post each Wednesday sharing the beauty I have discovered each week. I have discovered you little home for a long time but thought maybe some of my readers have not and would love to share with them. Would you mind me posting about it and linking back to you?

    bee blessed

  12. I think it's every girls dream to have a special house. Even as adults, we girls need a place of our own!! Your house is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen!

  13. ahhh...another reason to covet the tinker:)!I am sure I could brainstorm better {for the french flea -of course:)} if I had a little retreat like this!

  14. Be still my heart! What love and very fine taste went into this enchanting creation!
    How many sweet memories you shall make in the Tinker House...
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Hugs Rosemary...X

  15. i loved reading this post, so excited to see it was about Tinker. And then you had that wonderful heartpulling story of your dad and the dollhouse..sniff...but it inspired tinker! I love that fountain, did you make it out of ordinary things or did it come like that? I also think the sink will be magical. I know some plant nurseries used to buy whole oak barrels and then cut them in half to sell as planters...maybe there is a place near you that does that and you can buy it before they saw it. xxoo

  16. It's beautiufl, Donna! I love it, just as, I imagine, you do! What a wonderful little place and yet it seems to do so much. Great job {and I love the outside area, too}!

  17. I thoroughly enjoyed this post...thanks for sharing!


  19. It is really just the coolest thing ever!!!!

    m ^..^

  20. Ohhhh, I found your blog when I was visiting Rosemary and I´m so happy for that. I have been reading your story about the dolls-house and it went straight to my heart. It really touched me.....
    Your little house and the garden outside of it is fantastic.
    Take care and I wish you a nice weekend.

  21. gosh...I'm so glad I noticed that you had just started following my blog so that I could find your blog and this fabulous little Tinker House. I love these garden conservatories. Have you seen Tara Dillard's? She built one this past winter. I want one in my backyard sooo badly. This is I think the prettiest one I've ever seen. I'll be following you from now and will add you to my blog roll. I can't believe I've been missing out on all this.

  22. Tinker House is gorgeous. And just the right size. Glad you built lots of it. Hope you remembered your Dad a lot when you did. Enjoy it! It is outstanding.

  23. I fell in love with Tinker the first moment I saw a glimpse. Donna thank you so much for sharing your personal story to complete the magic of Tinker. How special Tinker is to transform and become exactly what you need just when you need it. You are just as special as Tinker is. Happy June...

  24. I'm so glad you got your happy ending:-) I think many girls dream of a place just like your Tinker House......I love it!

    We finally had a nice evening here and I loved eating outside and enjoying the warm breeze.


  25. Donna, what a beautiful story...
    Tinker House is love and magic for one's heart & soul!

  26. What a beautiful garden house, I just love it! We also have a garden house built by our selves, I spend a lot of times in it.

    I totally likes what you have done outside your garden house, its beautiful! Thank you so mutch for the inspiration, I wish you a nice weekend.

    Siren :)

  27. I featured this over on my blog today. I wanted all my readers to come over and see how lovely this little conservatory is that you built.

  28. to your blog, found you through Modvintage style..I am so in awe of the story and the magnificent dreamy! I would love to borrow it for a weekend and get away, the inside is like a little must enjoy it so much! And to see it through the seasons..its really quite amazing, going to forward this to my mom who I know will enjoy seeing this too! your newest follower. Please visit me too, I have a blog about the building of our new home and my love for decor and design.

  29. I ADORE Tinker and I still want to kidnap her! ha!! Love her as a outdoor kitchen and buffet too!!

  30. What a lovely dream house! I have been collecting old wood windows for years to build my own potting shed but you've inspired me to make it more than just a potting shed :-)

  31. I just found your blog. Love the Tinker house. We went on a garden tour today and saw several structures made from reclaimed windows and other items. I will post on it next week.

  32. A little enchanted cottage and wonderful inspiration. This is truely lovley, both the cottage and the story. Thank you.

  33. Wow, this is just gorgeous. I saw another green house similar to this made out of all old windows. I told my husband that this is what we can do with a stack of windows we have saved. Yours should be in a magazine for others to be inspired by.

  34. Oh my goodness, it just get's better and better. You and your husband do amazing work!

  35. I love your Tinker House and you've done an amazing job of packing a lot of living in a modest space there... now I want one! *winks* We have several outbuildings on our acreage that I've contemplated renovating like that and I really must just knuckle down and begin...

    Dawn... The Bohemian

  36. Donna I loved these last two posts that I have missed. I LOVE it when I get to go out to Tinker and your garden. It is such a beautiful space. I also loved seeing how much your guy accomplished while you were away from home. What a guy!!!! The millwork is amazing Donna!
    Thank you sweetie for the dear words you left for me. You are such a blessing to me.
    I am sending you big hugs and good luck wishes for a great show!

  37. I found your blog by visiting Mod Vintage Life and I love it! Thanks for sharing. The photos are wonderful and I love the Tinker House. Such an inspiring place!


  38. I am very happy to have you on my blog! Thanks from Italy
    Tanti baci

  39. Hi Donna :-)
    Love your sweet story...and how beautiful Tinker is! Sending you wishes for a beautiful day ~ Rebecca

  40. Hi, I'm in love for your blog, it's gorgeous.
    Love this story and the images are just perfect, every single item in them is lovely.
    Big hugs from Brasil

  41. Such a lovely little place to spend time in.... Unfortunately our neighborhood covenants would not approve of such a little outbuilding... bah! So I will enjoy yours with you. Looking forward to next month at Horton's. :-) Sue

  42. That is a sad/and sweet story all in one!
    Your husband sounds so wonderful Donna.
    The tinker house as an outdoor kitchen is FABULOUS!
    What a romantic little space!
    Thank you for sharing this story with us.
    Have a pretty day!

  43. Awww! a doll house story :) I have one as well, I think there is a little girl who in time will have her story to tell! Awwww! but your story touches or souls, and the doll house your husband has been able to replace is the best, a peaceful plce to rest your heart on!

    I love the little house in the winter and have visited your featured house on many sites, it is beautifully soulful making for a holiday greeting card!

    I would so love to get a card with your little house on it, it is a place to love.

    Beautiful photos.

  44. You had me at Tinker House! Please leave me Tinker House in your will - I promise to love it always! It really is so wonderful - thanks for sharing more pics and for the great story!

  45. Hi. Just love your tinker house. I think we all need one; a place to relax, plant and create.
    Wish I could come to Horton's! It sound and looks fab. Have fun!
    ~ Julie

  46. I've had no internet for two days so using my phone to view this. I have 2 wine barrels and have been on the fence about them for yrs. Now I am in love with them knowing that I can turn them into a sink. If I could I would send u the other one.
    Thank you for all your inspirations,

  47. I love Tinker House and can relate to your dollhouse story because I have one of my own. My dad and mom are both in heaven now and many times I remember childhood times. One of them being a dollhouse story. Hugs and God bless! Mary Jane from Storybook Cottage

  48. What a sweet little house to create in, dream in, "be a little girl" in again! I love it! thanks for sharing your story.

  49. I loved reading your story. It brought tears to my eyes.
    You have a beautiful house now.I shared with my dh since I have been after him to make one for our grandaughter. Nothing too big just something that she can play house in and then in the winter I can store my gardening tools etc.I keep telling him that when she comes to stay this summer I taking over his shed and adding curtains and and...

  50. How charming! Lovely space and I linked it to my gardening post today, so sweet of you to share!

  51. Oh my goodness. That is the most amazing little space I have ever seen. I was in love with it from the first photo, but then to learn of it's creation from your sweet husband's desire to console you on your never completed doll house, just took it to another level.

    I'm also enthralled with how you use it through the seasons in such creative ways. I do believe I spied an April Cornell tablecloth. I'm a huge fan of hers.

    I'm new to your blog but will certainly be back. I can't wait to see how you continue to use you Tinker house. I'd love to have you link your tinker house post to my weekely meme, Seasonal Sundays. You fit every season!

    - The Tablescaper

  52. Just lovely! Thanks so much for sharing.


  53. I love your Tinker house, so very precious! I know you are having a ball with it. I just wanted to let you know that you can purchase whole barrels at the Jack Daniel's shop in Lynchburg, TN. I dont know if they would ship or not but you could ask! Good Luck

  54. How very exciting...I've just found you and become a follower! I'm busy reading about Tinker and I feel like I have been to another world of fantasy and I've just taken an adventure. Thank you for sharing this wonderful part of your life with us! I am a brand new blogger and you can find me at " Please come by for a visit. Thanks, Judy

  55. OH MY GOD, this is so wonderful its crazy! I'm over, late! from Mod Vintage Life and her feature of this post, and I'm following too. I have been seriously "missing" outdoor life like this even though I live in Florida because I need just this, a Tinker House! I love this, thank you for posting! lady

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~Donna Reyné