The past year has made many people’s houses seem quite small. Bedrooms were turned into offices and classrooms, living rooms transformed into gyms, and homes hit full capacity 24/7. Orono residents Heidi and Steve Clear (and their four distance-learning kids) felt the strain—and decided to launch Sanctuary Sheds, backyard buildings that can be installed in a matter of days.
It was the perfect fit: The Clears also own CenterPoint Marketing, a company that builds structures for events and trade shows, typically working with big-name clients like Polaris and Sleep Number. But when COVID-19 hit and events were cancelled, the couple’s business took a hit. “We’re in a perishable business,” Heidi says. “If we miss a deadline, it’s all over. But at the same time, this growing need intersected with our business.”
They already had the know-how and the teams to design and build these upgraded sheds, which are so far from what people could buy from a hardware store that shed feels like the wrong word. The outbuildings come in two sizes (8 by 12 feet and 10 by 14 feet) and styles (traditional and modern). Aspects like window placement, wallpaper, and finishes can be customized. Structures include electricity, interior and exterior lighting, and heating and cooling elements so families can use them year-round.
“Many people in our crew came from home building,” Heidi says—which helped transform what could have been a basic shed into a mini-house that can be used as an office, a gym,