Creative Stuff

Building a Shed

by Chansoda on July 11, 2019

As soon as spring came, I started on the prep work for my shed. I decided I was going to build it, because I may be a little crazy but am fully determined. I always wanted a project like this, what was I thinking?

*Note: I did a LOT of things wrong on this shed, but hey, I’m an amateur.

The area I scoped out for it was an overgrown mess and had a little patio with an outdoor brick oven that was left for neglect. I discovered the patio when I cleaned the area our first year we moved in, covered in a few inches of dirt. Karla and I decided to knock down that brick oven last spring which left us with quite the ugly mound of rubble. So, as soon as the weather changed, I rented the dumpster and went at it, brick by brick to clear away what has become our “landfill.”

That was a lot of work. One woman, one wheel barrow. Luckily our kind neighbor came to help me speed up the clearing process.

After that was clear, I had to take apart the patio stones and get to work on digging away tree roots, a whole lotta pachysandra, and try to level this thing out. I did contact Call Before You Dig when starting this project, they gave me the okay for the area I was working in.

That was a lot of work. One woman, one wheel barrow, a pickaxe, shovel and some stubborn roots.

Alas, we got it cleared. So to build the retaining wall to level it out with gravel. Now, I definitely suggest using 6x6s, but I can only handle carrying so much so I went with 4x4s. The shed I decided on was going to be 12×16. I needed an area big enough for that. In hindsight, I should have made the gravel pad a lot bigger, because the slope of the hill it would have given me a bit more of a level pad to work on the shed with ladders.

My first experience building a retaining wall… well my first time doing any of this. Karla took some time away from her studies to help me with the wall. That was exciting, because after a month of spending a couple hours after work to clear the land by hand, I can finally see the footprint of the shed!

Now time for the gravel. Holy gravel, we ended up having to order 5 yards total. And this time, it was 2 women, 2 shovels, and one wheel barrow to get every last bit of it in the area. We also rented a compacter to get it nicely level and compacted.

Now the fun begins. I looked online for shed plans, our house is a 1930 colonial, so we decided to keep the shed more traditional. I found some plans on iCreatables, sold! Memorial Day weekend rolled around and that’s when I was able to get started on the build. Had a lot of wood delivered from Home Depot.

Framed the floor, that was a lot of work. Framed a wall, and realized it was damn hard to lift the wall by myself. Then had to pause because it rained (it rained a lot during the build). I called on my brothers for help and my big brother came through! We were able to frame out the walls of the shed in a days work. That’s when I realized, damn, this thing is big! Better than thinking oh no, it’s too small.

On the second day, I had two of my brothers helping so we were able to build the loft and sheath most of the shed, and get started on the roof.

The roof was the most difficult part. The rafters were attached to a ridge board, I had to learn about roof pitch, angles, seat cuts and bird’s mouth… yes I had to redo the rafters a few times…

It was finally in place we could securely sheath the roof. My neighbor came to help this time, apparently he really likes doing roofs!

It rained, a lot, took a couple of weeks because of the weather delay, but we finally got the roof done. And hey, it looks pretty good. Shingling the roof was fun, being on the roof, eh, not so much at times. Luckily there is this big maple that provided some shade relief. Also roof brackets help since the pitch was on the steep side.

I ended up buying all kinds of nailers for this shed project. A framing nailer, roofing nailer, siding nailer, palm nailer, brad nailers, staple nailers. All extremely useful tools, some really loud, but lots of fun to use… and will I be using it again? Gosh I hope so, they were’t cheap. What was I thinking?

Windows, trim, siding and doors are next! I decided to Tyvek the thing. A bit overkill for the shed, but I’ve gotten this far. As for windows, I had 8 total. Karla helped me put them in, it was nice to have a second person on the other side to shim for you when trying to level.

For the siding, I decided to go with LP Lap Siding, because they were available at Lowes and seemed easy to work with. It was pretty nice stuff. Using the Gecko clamps that I purchased online, my neighbor and I were able to put it up fairly fast.

And that’s where we are now. I still have to finish the siding, soffit the eaves, finish off trim, build the door, caulk (a lot of caulking) and finally paint. It’s been a great and challenging experience. I definitely learned a a lot from this and messed up a ton of things while cutting corners in several areas that I hope won’t cost me too much down the line, such as leaving the front rafters to finish off the roof in front of the dormer, but I don’t mind how it looks.

I’m proud that it has gotten this far. It was a time consuming and kind of costly project, but enjoyed every minute of building it. I’m extremely thankful for my brothers who brought some of their muscle to do the heavy lifting, my neighbor/friend Fernando, who has been there almost everyday after work to remind me that winter is coming and helping me finish the shed, and Karla, for tolerating the mess and lending a helping hand when she can.

read more
ChansodaBuilding a Shed

The Where Project

by Chansoda on October 28, 2015

I was recently asked to share my visual story in response to the questions “where are you from?” and “where are you going?” for The Where Project, which was a bit nerve wracking (ok really nerve wracking, my stomach might have turned quite a few times). I did enjoy it once I finally formulated the story I wanted to tell (huge relief), which has been a work in progress for some time. I am a HUGE fan of the Where Project, curated by my friend the amazingly talented Vichet Chum, and it was nice to be included in a different way. My previous roles have been as their event photographer for their other installments, but I recently started a new gig so could not make it out to this one, which was for the better, I was really anxious about being present while my slides were being shown. I’m ok with sharing it here, hiding behind the internet does take that edge off.

If you have a chance, please check out The Where Project, and keep an ear out for their future installments!

Dixon Place presents The Group Lab’s “The Where Project.” This round’s guest storytellers are Tiffany Nichole Greene, Alex Ubokudom, Lakisha May, & Ben Charles with music from Matthew Ellis Murphy and photography and work from Chansoda Roeun.

The Where Project is a two act storytelling event. Artists, writers and performers share stories in response “Where are you from?” in the first act and “Where are you going?” in the second act. In answering these questions with dynamic, heartfelt storytelling and original music, The Where Project hopes to cultivate and share meaningful, hilarious, human stories that capture where we are right now.

Join us for drinks and stories!
$12 in advance, $10 student & senior tickets, and $15 at the door
Buy tickets here:

read more
ChansodaThe Where Project

My “Little Free Library” Project

by Chansoda on June 4, 2015

Maybe it’s not so romantic, but I really wanted power tools for Christmas and that’s exactly what Karla got me and I couldn’t be happier. My brother was little horrified when he heard that’s what I received, he’s use to giving his girlfriend the jewelry and fashionable hand bags. Then when it comes time to helping him put something together for his girlfriend (say a handmade computer desk), who comes to the rescue??? Yea, not one of my other brothers (I have 4 of them), his only sister with the power tools.

Anyways, the tools have been put to good use! So far, I fixed the screening on our porch, even went to my mother’s and screened in her porch for her, and built a garden bed for our home. Putting pieces of wood together with nails and/or screws, apparently, has resulted in the misconception that I’m some sort of expert, and was volunteered by a certain some one to make a “Little Free Library” for Caramoor.

The project is fun and I’m certainly a fan of the idea of book sharing. It’s great!! Building it… well it has been a learning experience. I’m trying to make it look sort of like the Rosen House at Caramoor, which is a Mediterranean style stucco building… it’s a work in progress. I may have made it a bit too big and awkward, most people have been asking me if it’s a dog house for Holly. No, its a house for books! Latest challenge is the roofing, I have been youtubing how to roof a house. I couldn’t put real spanish tiles on this roof, but did find something that sort of resembles it. So, we shall see!




read more
ChansodaMy “Little Free Library” Project

Gardens and Dirt!

by Chansoda on May 30, 2015

I build, we dig, she plants.

We wanted a garden and was it a lot of work building and filling this thing! We went with cedar planks for the garden bed and used 2×4 studs as posts. A kind neighbor saw me working hard on the construction so he dropped off some of his old fencing, which I was able to cut up to build fencing frames that will keep the deer and other animals out. After it was built, we did the math and realized we needed about A LOT of dirt to fill the thing. That can get expensive with delivery. So, at first we attempted to save money by filling our friend’s truck with dirt from the community compost pile… by hand shoveling… which means we first had to hand shovel the dirt in to the truck, then off the truck in to our bed… The truck broke down after the first run so we didn’t get very far… then we decided that was enough for the day.

As luck would have it, the next morning another neighbor stopped by and asked if we still needed dirt. A mistake delivery just happened to work out in our favor. Don’t turn away FREE DIRT! They dropped off a huge pile of topsoil into our drive way (of course it starts raining…pouring rain… but free dirt is the silver lining). Eventually, we filled the bed with the heavy wet dirt and got the plants in to their new home. A lot of work, but mission accomplished.

I’m not sure what Karla planted, but I know I can’t wait to see it grow.










read more
ChansodaGardens and Dirt!

Memorial Day Weekend

by Chansoda on May 26, 2015

Three photoshoots, a graduation in NYC, a graduation party, a birthday party, a visit to Lasdon Park and Arboretum (for my super tree loving gf) and the start of our gardening project. Memorial Day weekend was a busy one… and bittersweet. The start of summer, good times and barbecues, the busyness of the weekend, life is so full, all juxtaposed with the anniversary of my father’s passing, marking five years.

I really enjoyed the weekend.

I went in to NYC and saw my longtime friend get her master’s degree and spent the day enjoying in that celebration. We strolled around in her old neighborhood in the upper west side, which is also where Karla worked for a time period in the city. It was nice to reminisce with her and that area of NYC.

I saw a former student of mine, all graduated from college get engaged at her graduation party, I couldn’t be happier for this young woman, nor more proud.

At the birthday party, I was hired by a friend to capture the memories. I was honored to be able to document that for her. The party had a lot of people I grew up with, all of us from similar backgrounds of being first generations here. It was a beautiful day and lots of fun.

I had a photoshoot with a one year old and her parents, how incredibly adorable and happy they are to be starting their family.

I had another photoshoot with one of my long time best friend and her graduating high school senior son… all adult-like and grown-up he is, brought tears to my eyes.

I spent a morning strolling the beautiful grounds of an arboretum with my wonderful partner and really take in the natural peaceful surrounding of it all. I loved the quiet walk, the sun shining, and the beautiful trees. It was nice that we took some time to be in nature away from people. I just felt very fortunate to be able to share these moments with some one I love and adore so much.

On Memorial day, I started on the build of our garden project. Then we marinated some meats and had a nice barbecue over at Nancy and Skip’s. Sat outside in their yard,  played soccer with Holly, then finished the evening with some more cocktails and a movie.

Over the weekend, we would also stop in for visits at my moms, which is the hardest part. Missing my dad is a norm that I learn to live with, there will always be that emptiness, but, you eventually learn to make peace with it because that is a part of life. However, the loneliness and heartache I see it cause my mom, I completely empathize… that’s the part that hurts the most. I see life move on for everyone, for myself… but for her, it’s still a lost as everything moves on around her.


read more
ChansodaMemorial Day Weekend

Spring Projects

by Chansoda on March 18, 2015

We survived the frigid winter and I’m loving the extra daylight… the sun! It makes everyone so happy. Along with spring comes a bunch of projects. Seems like everyone is coming out and launching something. Busy and dizzy it makes me…I haven’t been sleeping much. I’m happy for the extra projects but it’s a hard balance with the full time gig. But after this winter’s electric heating bills, I don’t mind the balancing act. Looking around my home, yikes, I need to find time to do some spring cleaning.

Karla and I have been getting out of hibernation mode to do some running, it seems like we will never be able to run as much as Holly (dog) needs. We’re feeling good after a couple of miles and she is just getting started. SMH. At least she encourages me away from the work desk.

In the midst of all these projects I’m working on, I’m also trying to get a little bit of my personal side project done. The spring always tugs at me to get it together in memory of my father. My Khmer Collective site needs some TLC! The 5 year anniversary of his passing is coming up, and that project was a way to honor him. Really, my therapy. It’s strange how his absence can become such a norm, time and healing do work in tandem. I still miss him everyday and sometimes, it really hits me how gone “gone” is. Then I start clawing at ways to get pieces of him back, let him know how much of a presence he is still very much in my life.

So Khmer Collective, you’re getting a redesign!

Also, I’ve recruited another passionate friend who is very much excited to join in and help me with the storytelling, gathering people’s stories and spreading the word.

read more
ChansodaSpring Projects

Project: Dining Room Chairs

by Chansoda on February 16, 2015

Karla and I did a lot of sanding and staining this weekend. Valentine’s Day weekend was a labor of love in refurbishing some cool chairs we found on craigslist. Love how they turned out! Dining room table is no longer lonely and the prints are so much fun! Bought the table from West Elm a couple years ago, and could never commit to the chairs to go with them, also wanted them on a budget and these fit the bill!

$180 for 6 chairs, 2 with arms, 4 without.

$25 for the Ikea fabric.

$30 at Lowes for the stain, brush and extra sandpaper.

And the result is awesome.


The Before. Still a very cool chair.

The Process. Reupholstering and staining.

The Process. Reupholstering and staining.

The After. We decided to go with two different prints.

The After. We decided to go with two different prints.


And we have a finished dining room set.


read more
ChansodaProject: Dining Room Chairs

Camera Pencil Sharpener

by Chansoda on January 24, 2015

Coolest. Pencil. Sharpener. Ever.

Thanking my gf for surprising me with this.

and it actually sharpens really well. Cool looking and functional. Love it.

read more
ChansodaCamera Pencil Sharpener

HSP Christmas Card

by Chansoda on December 14, 2014

Starting a yearly tradition with my best friend coming up with ideas for their family holiday cards. This year’s theme,”naughty or nice, which list are you on?” I get to be on the nice list, because hey, I dedicated my time to creating these things with this adorable family!

We had a small window to get everything set up, so we have a makeshift studio. Peyton’s (the little guy) face is hilarious.





read more
ChansodaHSP Christmas Card