12 Creative Backyard Shed Makeover Ideas

September 21, 2020 by

My friend, garden designer, author and speaker, Rebecca Sweet, transformed an old disused backyard garden shed into a cozy home office and retreat. Via Rebecca Sweet, Harmony in the Garden.

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The continuing pandemic has a lot of folks rethinking how to manage life in the new normal. Planned vacations have become staycations. The commute to work for many remains a walk from the bedroom to kitchen table, and some dining rooms have morphed into classrooms. Living and working in the same space leaves many yearning for an escape pod.

A colorful backyard shed I visited in Portland, Oregon. Robin Plaskoff Horton.

It may still be a while before we can safely return to the gym, chill out at a spa or raise a glass together at a bar. The tiny house movement has spurned an interest in small backyard home annexes that go way beyond the garden variety shed. While a prefabricated shed is an option, if you’ve got the skills and are looking for a creative home-improvement project, think about picking up one of the many free plans to build a shed yourself. Here are some ideas for creating the retreat of your choice within steps of the back door and with garden views to boot:

1. Home Office

The desk in Rebecca Sweet’s shed office looks out onto the lush garden in her Northern California backyard. Via Rebecca Sweet, Harmony in the Garden.

Even if it’s just steps from the house, adding a self-contained dedicated private backyard home office can be a a godsend that will help improve focus and maximize workflow. Choose a shed with windows to bathe the space in natural light.

The comfy interior makes Sweet’s shed more than an office, rather a place to escape and repose when not working. Via Rebecca Sweet, Harmony in the Garden.

Create a personal interior design aesthetic and add some favorite objects that will inspire you, as did author and designer Rebecca Sweet in her shed space. Stay organized using freestanding or built-in bookshelves and storage drawers for stashing tools, materials and files. For an inexpensive desk and one that conserves space, rest a desk surface on top of two file cabinets. Free up floor space with a wall mounted drop down table or computer desk. 

shed_home_office_conversionPinterest, via @mybakyarddecor.

Like with any outdoor shed conversionfirst check your area’s zoning regulations and whether you’ll need a permit. To make it a stand-alone fully functioning space, hire an electrician to wire the place. Insulate the shed for year-round use, and check with professionals about adding heat and cooling sources (even portable ones.) Step outside from time to time to soak in some nature and don’t forget to exercise to keep both body and mind in shape.

2. Guest Quarters


When the in-laws or friends you like, but not too much, visit. You and your guests will appreciate guest quarters that are not within shouting distance. If you don’t go for plumbing, hook up a hose to a sink and add a composting toilet if there’s room. Second hand furniture can do the trick and a sofa bed allows for more space during the day. Create a mini kitchenette with a small microwave and fridge, hot plate, and a portable waste water tank from which you can can recycle graywater to water the garden.

3. Potting Shed


Expand the tool shed to become a potting station with space for seed starting and re-potting plants. Use shelving to organize and store containers by size. Fashion a potting table surface on top of stacked wooden or plastic crates where you can store soil, fertilizers, amendments and other necessities. Mount a large pegboard on the wall for hanging tools. Many town libraries now have seed libraries where you can “borrow” seeds. Keep favorite gardening books at hand and sink into a comfortable chair for researching and planning the garden.

4. Home Classroom


Borrow some ideas from the home schoolers. Find out what works for the kids by involving them in designing the space. Inspire creativity and easy engagement by placing books, objects, and colorful materials within easy reach using low shelves and bins. Encourage independent projects by having the kids gather found objects from around the house like cardboard boxes, ribbon and yarn, wrapping paper and old magazines. Children’s furniture will fit perfectly in this pint size footprint. Optimize and conserve space with multi-purpose pieces that double as seating and consider using stacking chairs. Add a chalkboard with a bag for chalk, and a bulletin board for hanging student work. Encourage “field trips” to the kitchen for chemistry lessons disguised as cooking, and use the garden as nature’s classroom for learning about botany and butterflies.

5. Children’s Play Space

Pinterest, @LauraAshleyUK

The kids want to get out of your hair as much as you want them out of yours. Let them help select fun paint colors to enliven the room and place modular padded rubber tiles on the floor for a comfortable play surface. Include lots of toy storage, a fold away table, loads of books, puzzles and games, and an old chest full of dress-up costume items. 

6. Yoga and Meditation Space

Pinterest, via @backyardbuildings

It may be the ultimate escape pod and a place to chill, relax, do a few yoga poses and also meditate. While the point of meditation is to unplug, it may seem kind of funny to turn to one of the popular meditation or relaxation app to do so, but they can be helpful for those who need instructions or a jump start.  Add your favorite scented or unscented candles (try some battery-operated ones for added safety), add some gentle music, a meditation floor pillow or a comfy futon. Besides a little quiet, what more do you need?

7. Art Studio

Tap into your artistic self in a shed studio where you can paint, draw, craft, write or whatever you feel like doing to get those creative juices flowing.

8. Home Gym

It may be a while before sweating to the person next to you feels safe. So start by rolling out some rubber padded flooring and cover one wall with a mirror. Place a treadmill or rowing machine that can be stored upright after use to free up floor space for other activities. Add a rack for free weights and dumbbells, a yoga mat for post-workout stretching and foam roller for working out those muscle kinks. Keep a stash of towels on hand for when you work up a sweat and a small fridge for water to maintain hydration. Alternate working out indoors and stepping outside into nature. Breathe.

9. Maker’s and DIY Workshop


He-shed, she-shed… DIY-ers of all kinds, this space becomes a special private enclave for woodworking, sewing, furniture building and the making of all kinds of things you may not yet have even thought about. 

10. Backyard Bar


As bars in many cities remain closed, some resourceful folks are turning garages and sheds into bars. To maintain social distancing with those outside your “pod,” place one or two high-top tables and bar stools at least six feet apart. Add music from a wireless speaker, a dart board, a game table of choice, some mood lighting (if the space isn’t wired, use a battery-operated lamp), pour and chill.

11. Home Spa

Brooke Lark, Unsplash.

This can be a place to wind down and enjoy some self-care. Furnish with a comfy sofa or chair, shelves for spa potions and lotions, and some bins for fluffy towels. Light scented candles, use soft lighting and music, maybe a tabletop water feature for soothing sounds of water.

12. Home Library

Hackney shed library, Office Sian Architecture.

Escape to the back forty to lose yourself in a book. Fill floor to ceiling shelves with your favorites and categorize by theme. Use inexpensive ready made shelves from IKEA then add crown moldings at the top and baseboard at bottom to create the look of more pricey built-ins. If needed, wire for electricity and insulate to protect books from extreme temperatures. If electricity isn’t an option, pick up a battery-operated lamp, book light, or a camping headlamp. A comfortable reading chair and footstool a must, maybe a small writing desk. Print up some personalized bookplates and lending cards if you would like to share your books.

8 Comments »

  1. 12 Creative Backyard Shed Makeover Ideas – Business World Pingback said:

    […] The continuing pandemic has a lot of folks rethinking how to manage life in the new normal. Planned vacations have become staycations. The commute to work for many remains a … Read More… […]

    — September 21, 2020 @ 15:33

  2. Tiara Rianti said:

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    — September 22, 2020 @ 16:08

  3. Chintan Poriya said:

    Stay organized using freestanding or built-in bookshelves and storage drawers for stashing tools, materials and files.

    For an inexpensive desk and one that conserves space, rest a desk surface on top of two file cabinets.

    Free up floor space with a wall mounted drop down table or computer desk.

    — September 26, 2020 @ 04:25

  4. Sallie Plaskoff said:

    Such great sheds, would love having one.

    Need more property

    Always looking.

    thanks for the pictures

    — September 28, 2020 @ 03:56

  5. Sallie Plaskoff said:

    Such great sheds, would love having one.

    — September 28, 2020 @ 03:57

  6. Nancy Zola said:

    Enjoying all the creative ideas!

    — October 2, 2020 @ 21:36

  7. RSPS said:

    Fantastic ideas!
    As Asphalt Paving Contractors in Riverside we have noticed that many customers are looking for office space outside of the home while they telecommute during the pandemic, or gym space if they’re uncomfortable going to a public one. Great ideas here to suggest to them.
    Thank you!

    — October 13, 2020 @ 04:13

  8. 12 Creative Backyard Shed Makeover Ideas – Urban Gardens | TripWriters Pingback said:

    […] The continuing pandemic has a lot of folks rethinking … Read More… […]

    — October 13, 2020 @ 13:14

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