Ultimate backyard shed ideas

A backyard shed can be so much more than a place to keep your lawnmower and some half-empty bags of mulch. With the right approach to design and storage, it can be as stylish and usable as any other room in (or outside of!) your house. Follow these expert tips to create a space that’s equal parts fashion and function, and take your backyard shed to a whole new level.

To build or not to build?

Are you building from scratch or simply upgrading your existing shed? If you’re starting from the ground up, there are countless prefab options to suit any style or space, as well as plenty of inspiration to be found for anyone with DIY ambitions. For those on a budget, vinyl kit sheds available at your local hardware store offer the most durability and versatility for your buck and come in a surprising range of options. If you’re looking to spend a little bit more, however, consider investing in something that matches the aesthetics of your home itself. Through online retailers and specialist shed designers you can now find a customizable outbuilding in just about every style and size, from quaint log cabins to sleek architectural modern structures, allowing you to create a fun, miniature version of your home out back.

Spruce it up

If you’re working from an existing shed, you might be surprised by the potential for a tired and weather-worn outbuilding to add curb appeal to your home with a little bit of polish. Start with a fresh coat of paint inside and out, and then move on to the details, like upgrading the door hardware, and adding shutters and trim for a more sophisticated look. If you want to go all out (and the structure can accommodate it) you can also consider adding a wooden deck to the side of your shed, turning it into a BBQ cabana for outdoor entertaining.

Form follows function

What are you using your shed for primarily? And what’s the climate like where you live? The answers to both of these questions will determine what kind of space is right for you, from a weatherproof all-season garden oasis to a kitted-out potting shed and greenhouse.

Whichever route you choose, one key feature to consider is lighting. The first and best choice is to wire your shed with electricity (or even install a solar panel system) but since that can be complicated (and expensive), the next best option to to ensure you’ve got enough windows to allow for natural light to illuminate the space. While many sheds come with translucent roof panels or small windows under the gables, choosing a shed design with greenhouse-style windows will make it both more useful for potting, sprouting and planting, and nicer-looking. Also worth considering is a shed with wide, barn-style doors, which will not only allow easier access to lawnmowers and other larger items, but also make it easy to open the space up to the outdoors during the spring and summer months.

Storage solutions

The best way to avoid your shed becoming a treacherous mess is to create enough storage so that everything can have its own place. For the most part this means doing everything possible to get that stuff off the floor. Walls and the backs of doors are ideal places to mount hooks for hanging rakes, shovels, hoses and other larger tools. While a simple nail will do the trick, antique cast-iron hooks are a nicer-looking, rustic-chic solution. Make use of the rest of your precious vertical space with shelves, whether mounted to the walls or freestanding, to hold storage bins, bags of soil and other necessities. Other storage hacks can go a long way to helping you stay organized, like using a toilet paper roll holder to store your twine or installing a magnetic knife holder to keep your gardening tools within easy reach.

Pot projects

Every avid gardener needs a potting shed, not just to store tools and pots, but also to serve as a workspace. The first thing you’ll need is a potting bench, which is surprisingly easy to make with the right DIY tutorial. Alternately, a kitchen island cart with a sturdy butcher block counter can easily do the trick. When it comes to storing things like potting soil, mulch and peat moss, plastic storage bins come in handy, or for a more rustic approach, consider using bushel baskets lined with plastic. For large quantities you can even use a full-sized metal trash can.

Jeremy Freed is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. His writing about fashion, travel, food and design appears in Sharp, Harry and re:Porter magazines, among many others.

Jeremy Freed is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.
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