8 really simple, cheap ways to transform your shed…
I’ve pored over shed brochures and websites. I’ve watched sheds on TV. I try not to brake dangerously when driving past shed companies.
Anyone with a middle-sized garden will always have at least one shed. And it will spell escape, romance, privacy, nostalgia, creativity….as Joel Bird, winner of the Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year 2014, said ‘You can change your life with a shed.’
You may not be ready to change your life – but here are 8 real-life examples of how to transform your shed.
Do you have shed fantasies and what do they mean?
So I’ve joined the shed-aholics and sheddies in their shedonism – but, alas, only in my fantasies. In reality, we still have standard,ordinary sheds: Mr Middle-Size’s neat tool shed and my chaotic potting shed with a very dodgy roof. If it rains, I don’t have to water the plants.
I barely have time to tidy it, let alone turn it into a miniature Gothic lodge, American log cabin, shell grotto or Caribbean escape. The bar has been set very high in the world of sheds. A generation ago they were mainly a male domain, and there was even a pretence of tobacco-stained practicality about them.
Now sheds have turned into adult wendy houses, masterpieces of craftsmanship and, above all, repositories of nostalgia. What does that say about us all?
1) Transform your shed with paint
If you don’t have time to glue 50,000 shells onto the interior of your shed, or the skills to build a Gothic lodge shed from salvaged material, you can still transform your standard-issue flat-pack. Pick up a pot of paint and a brush, and paint it. In one afternoon.
It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. It’s only a shed. We simply used some leftover Hardwicke White paint from Farrow & Ball on our tool shed.
Just having it a different colour from the standard shed-orange wood has made a difference. Emma Daniell has painted her shed her signature blue colour – it matches her china.
Staining is a good alternative – Griselda Mussett’s pretty shed below is stained in a Cuprinol shade called Sage, available here from Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate so if you buy via links on this site, I may get a small fee. It won’t affect the price you pay.
Griselda’s is a very special shed, as she houses her collection of goddesses in it, which she has collected over the years. They’re displayed in date order, and she says that 9/10ths of it shows history with female goddesses. It is only in the last 10th of the shed’s wall space that a male God appears, and she believes this reflects history and pre-history.
She hasn’t decided what to call it (‘shed’ does seem a little down-played) – but her husband is currently calling it ‘France’, so that when someone calls, he can says ‘Griselda’s in France.’
2) But you could go one further and use vibrant colour.
Canterbury Festival director, Rosie Turner, and her artist friend, Alice, took two afternoons to paint her standard black shed a bright, eye-catching pink. It’s also from Cuprinol and is called Sweet Sundae. It was a hugely brave choice, but it has paid off.
But the Kent branch of the National Gardens Scheme got in touch to warn that neighbours could be upset by bright colours if they can see the shed – if you’re doing anything dramatic it might be wise to discuss it with them first.
3) Paint windows and doors a different colour
A contrast paint around windows and doors is very cute, and can make a big difference.
4) Or try a simple pattern, such as the ‘beach hut’ look…
Author Veronica Henry has written a number of best-selling novels, many set in the fictional Cornish seaside town of Everdene. Her latest is The Beach Hut Next Door, her second ‘beach hut’ novel. Veronica has painted her own garden shed in Beach Hut style: ‘I found it pretty easy – my eleven year old son and I did it as a project together. We were very lazy and didn’t do masking tape – he did blue and I did white and we each took one side, then swapped and coloured in the blanks.’
‘It absolutely would not stand up to close scrutiny but the overall effect was immensely gratifying and it’s brought a real seaside feel to the garden. We used Cuprinol Garden Shades which cover very quickly and easily, but had to do about 3 coats to get a really good finish.’
‘The horizontal slats which slightly overlapped were much easier than the smoother vertical slats which didn’t have an edge, so we needed a steady hand. I used a really thin brush to get the edges nice and sharp. The letters were the finishing touch – we got a box of metal letters in a junk shop ages ago, and by luck I was able to spell BEACH HUT. I’m now looking for a red and white lifebuoy to finish it off.’
5) Or even paint a picture on it….
If you enjoy painting, you could go one step further and paint something on your hut. Artist Mandy Broughton is often commissioned to paint sea scenes, and this beach hut on the Tankerton seafront in Kent is painted by her. If you’re a professional artist, you could paint your own shed – but if it all goes horribly wrong, paint over it or commission a pro – it’ll make a big difference to your garden.
6) Add a pergola in front of it…
When Clemency Schofield bought her terraced town house, the 20ftx40ft garden had a shed across the back of it. She really needed the storage space but the building dominated the garden and her view from the kitchen window. So she put a pergola and decking in front of it, then asked talented professional artist Georgia Horton to paint this delightful trompe l’oeuil on it. The chair, table, fork and ‘open’ door with the cat coming out are all painted, not real. The pergola frames the scene. For a similar pergola canopy for your shed, see here.
Professional tip: if you’re thinking of painting trompe l’oeuil or a picture on your shed – this shed had over-lapping planks, but Georgia placed a piece of thin board in front of it, and painted the planks, chair, table, fork, and some flowers onto the board. It’s easier to paint onto a flat surface. Theoretically, if you moved, you could take it with you, although that might be a bit mean to your buyers. This trompe l’oeuil is now nearly 10 years old, so it has weathered well.
7) Or a simple trim…
It doesn’t cost alot to give your shed a simple edging. We added plywood ‘bunting’ around our tool shed, cut into a ‘bunting’ shape with a jigsaw, and painted in a contrast shade of dark purple. It looked great – but the strip on the side didn’t last, because it had no protection from the rain. The gable end ‘bunting’ is better protected by the over-hang of the roof, and although it looks a bit battered it has now weathered four winters.
Miranda’s shed in Dorset has a row of ‘battlements’ cut out along the top. I love the colour, too.
8) Add curtains
Julie Cohen, author of Dear Thing and Where Love Lies, ran up these curtains for her husband’s shed (below) in an afternoon, with a borrowed sewing machine and £10 worth of fabric remnants. She hung his African mask over the door ‘because I didn’t want it in the house – it reminds me of the killer doll in Trilogy of Terror, a film that terrified me as a kid.’
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Rosie Turner painted her shed in Cuprinol's Sweet Sundae - to buy the same brilliant shade, click on the picture or product name.
This and some other links here are affiliate links, which means I may get a small fee if you buy, but this won't affect the price you pay.
This pergola can be added to the front of your shed, just like Clemency Hurman's.
Choose from several sizes, and assemble it yourself.
These plywood bunting triangles can be fixed to your shed - paint them first, using an outdoor paint, which will help them last longer.
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