Transform Your Old Garden Shed or Carriage House into a Haven with These Four Pro Tips

DIY the backyard escape of your dreams.

If you have a carriage house or garden shed that has fallen into disrepair and disuse, this is your cue to try fixing it up. The thought of tackling a renovation can be daunting, and redecorating can feel like even more of a Herculean task. If the space you're working with is in good shape (meaning no major repairs or construction need to happen), there's good news: You're already well on your way to a revamped carriage house or garden shed that you can repurpose into whatever you can imagine.

When brainstorming makeover ideas, consider transforming the unused space into a backyard escape. Adding a comfortable spot to lounge, a small kitchen, or dining nook can complete the overall look and give the space more functionality. Lance Thomas of Thomas Guy Interiors in Lake Charles, Louisiana, shares four easy tips for a garden shed renovation that will maximize design opportunities without creating an overwhelming home-improvement project.

Thomas Guy Interiors carriage house and garden shed
Haylei Smith

Embrace the Space

Parts of an older carriage house may be crumbling or chipping in places, but that doesn't necessarily mean you need to scrap it and start over. "Too many renovations, and the intent behind the space will be lost," Thomas says. "When renovating, embrace the charm and weather-worn qualities of a garden house. There is beauty in simply tidying up the ugly."

Let Plants Take Center Stage

Greenery is always a welcome mood boost, and a great way to let plants shine is to give them a clean backdrop. When color runs rampant throughout an interior, it can divert focus from key pieces and parts of a room you want to highlight. "We particularly love a strong black-and-white story to define a color spectrum," Thomas shares. "By using bright white and dark black accents, all the vibrant floral colors in between will shine bright. Remember that your plants should play the hero in the space. Allow their beautiful colors to pop by supporting them with a neutral palette."

Thomas Guy Interiors garden shed and carriage house
Haylei Smith

Bring the Outdoors In

Echoing his previous tip, Thomas recommends incorporating furniture and other pieces you may typically reserve for the outdoors into your shed. In a recent project, for example, Thomas incorporated an iron outdoor sofa into the living area. This helps create the narrative for your space and gives it character. How much of the outdoors that's brought inside is up to you.

"Favorite garden hats and tools, statues, feeders, and hanging baskets (to name a few) will help tell your story and give your space individuality," Thomas suggests. "Not only do they weather the elements, but many of your accessories will look also better after a bit of patina."

Swap the Rug for Paint

In indoor-outdoor spaces where muddy shoes and dirty paws are inevitable, investing in a rug probably isn't the smartest option. Thomas suggests replacing your would-be rug with paint instead. Stick with one color for coating the floor, or paint a geometric pattern (like the checkerboard design shown above).

"Don't sacrifice aesthetics for function," he says. "Simply paint and seal your floors for visual impact. An insider tip: Start painting at the opposite end of the entry and work your way out. It seems self-explanatory, but we learned the hard way."

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