Don’t hide an ugly shed! Make it look beautiful instead.

March 19th, 2022
Posted In: Sheds/sanctuaries

Customers often ask plant grower Stephen Ryan for a ‘fast-growing climber to hide an ugly shed.’

His reply is: ‘You don’t need to have an ugly shed.’

He points out that people make a huge effort to make sure that their house looks good. ‘So why not spend some time making the shed look better, so you don’t have to hide it?’

So here are two examples of ugly shed renovations, with inspiration for your own sheds.

Use a shed as a focal point for the end of a path or vista

Stephen Ryan, along with Matthew Lucas, runs the Horti-Culturalists YouTube channel.

Stephen built a shed in his garden. It’s where two paths intersect so it creates a focal point for each path. ‘We didn’t want a shed we had to hide,’ he says.

In order to make the shed a focal point for the paths, he centralised the door on one side and the window on the other. ‘If you look down a path to see a shed door or window slightly to one side, it won’t feel right,’ he says.

Use a shed as a focal point

Centralise a shed door or window to the path to create a focal point.

You don't need an ugly shed.

This was originally a flat-roofed shed with corrugated iron sides. Stephen added weatherboarding, a pitched roof and an attractive door.

Use your home as inspiration for your shed

Most sheds are within view of the house, so you can often use the design or materials of the house as your inspiration.

Richard Iron’s ‘shed’ was a corrugated iron lean to outside the back door. ‘It’s on our way into the garden, so we see it every day. It had to be attractive, and also it had to reflect the age and architecture of the house.’

Using DIY videos from YouTube, Richard built walls onto the upright posts of the lean-to. He clad it in the same style of weatherboarding used on the main house.

How to renovate an ugly shed

This was originally an ugly shed – just a corrugated iron lean-to. Richard added walls to the structure and lined it, echoingthe architectural details of the house.

Inside, he used recycled floorboards to line the walls. Some of these came from the house, where floorboards had to be replaced. He used wooden dowels on the walls to hang tools.

He got a second-hand door and a stained glass window, with an identical pattern to some in the house, cheaply at a local auction.

And he made the main windows himself, using instructions from YouTube.

Use your home as inspiration for your shed

Richard echoed the patterned and painted weatherboarding of the house when he clad and painted the shed.

A clever potting bench trick from the Victorian age

Richard also made the potting bench from old floorboards.

He incorporated a mulch tray with a slatted lid. ‘When you pot up plants, you always spill some potting compost,’ he says. ‘This way you can just sweep the compost over the slats and it drops into the mulch tray.’

Then when you’re next potting up, you can lift the lid to use the compost you’ve saved.

Disguise an ugly shed with paint

One of the best ways to hide an ugly shed is to paint it.

Richard and Anne’s Victorian house was originally painted in several shades of ochre, dark red and brown. So they decided to paint the potting shed in the historic colours of the house. ‘We wanted to see what the original colour scheme looked like. If we liked it, then we’ll use it on the house when we have to repaint it. ‘

He also re-used any materials he could reclaim from the house. For example, some floorboards needed to be replaced, so he kept as many as he could.

Use recycled materials to improve an ugly shed

When a floor needed to be replaced, Richard used the old floorboards from the house to line the shed. He added wooden dowels instead of hooks.

We have quite an ugly shed on our terrace. But I’ve reduced its impact by using the same colour on the front door, back door, shed and log store and also in one of the walls in the kitchen. It links the house and garden together. You can see it, with more shed paint inspiration, in ‘What Colour Shall I Paint My Shed?’. 

It’s generally wise to use outdoor paints for a garden shed. I’ve found Cuprinol to be long lasting. They have a range of garden shades from traditional greens and blues to the more dramatic bright pink Sweet Sundae.

Note that links to Amazon are affiliate, see disclosure.

Paint your shed pink, blue or green

My friend Rosie painted her shed pink to echo the pink colour theme of her garden planting.

Use the shed to try out design changes for the house

Stephen has two sheds. One was built by the original homeowner. It was an extremely ugly shed, made of corrugated iron. It had a flat roof, as did Stephen’s house.

‘But we wanted to add a storey to the house, along with a sloping roof. So we decided to add a pitched roof to the shed first, to see if we liked it. We added finials, weather-boarding and experimented with the shed colour.’

‘Once we decided we liked the way the shed looked, we adapted it for the house.

Link your house and your shed visually

The top image is Stephen’s shed, where they experimented with weatherboarding, paint colour, finials and roof pitch before adding a storey to the house (the lower image).

Make sure your shed is comfortable

Stephen says it’s important to make sure your shed is comfortable to work or be in.

That means a high enough ceiling, a door you can go through without stooping, a solid floor, enough light to work in and windows that open so you don’t get condensation forming.

A succulent green roof on a sloping shed roof?

Stephen’s sheds all have sharply pitched roofs. As the sloping roof is at the end of a path, with a window below it, Stephen decided to create a sloping ‘green roof’.

A succulent green roof

Steohen’s sloping green roof, planted with succulents. Note that the shed window lines up with the end of the path, as a focal point.

You could make your ugly shed look more beautiful by adding a green roof, but it’s not a simple job.

Stephen’ s YouTube channel, The Horti-Culturalists, have done a video called How to Plant and Maintain a Succulent Green Roof. It is definitely a project for plant lovers who are also good at DIY, but it does look beautiful.

The pitch means that in dry spells you may have to water your roof!

A succulent green roof on a slope

Stephen’s green roof. Some of the succulents didn’t survive or were picked off by birds, but mosses have colonised the gaps and that adds to the tapestry.

More ways to hide an ugly shed

We renovated one of our sheds using recycled materials and an offcut of fake turf as a lining for the walls.  Find out how in how to upcycle and organise the shed.

Garden designer Posy Gentles built her own shed, also mainly from recycled materials, although she got some professional help for the difficult parts. However, doing as much as she could herself really kept the costs down.

And read this post if you’re trying to decide whether to buy a new shed or renovate an old one.

Pin to remember that you don’t have to have an ugly shed

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How to improve an ugly shed

4 comments on "Don’t hide an ugly shed! Make it look beautiful instead."

  1. Catherine Hockney says:

    Hi Alexandra, I answered your query re the gloves that you purchased at the Melbourne International Flower Show. When ordering mine today I asked if they shipped overseas and the reply was ‘of course’. If you are interested the email address is:

    1. Thank you – and I went to Australia recently and bought some there, but it’s good to know they will ship, I hadn’t thought of asking them. Thank you for your help, I’m delighted to come across them again.

  2. Laura says:

    I had a terrific potting shed built for me 3 years ago. I left my old shed behind when I moved and missed it terribly, BUT I also had to paint that shed. Since I’m getting older, I decided to use red corrugated siding with a blue corrugated roof that doesn’t need painting. Almost everything inside the shed is recycled. It has burlap coffee sacks as “wallpaper” on the walls. It took 50 sacks tacked onto the studs over blue jean insulation. Did I mention the shed is also built on a utility trailer? Where I live, anything including latticework would be taxed extra, but because the shed is technically a vehicle, it’s not taxed. The shed has one stained glass window and an antique door I paid $25. for from a garage sale. I call the shed my Little Cherry Caravan.

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