It doesn't have to take a lot to completely transform a space.

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If you have a carriage house or garden shed that has fallen into disrepair and disuse, this is your cue to try a hand at fixing it up. While the thought of renovation can be daunting and the process requiring careful execution, decorating, on the other hand, doesn't have to be the Herculean task it often seems. If the space you're working with is in good shape (meaning no major repairs and 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 to whatever you can imagine.

When considering garden shed makeover ideas, these types of spaces make ideal lounge areas. If you feel inclined, the addition of a small kitchen and dining nook can complete the overall look and allow the space to double as a guest house. Lance Thomas of Thomas Guy Interiors in Lake Charles, Louisiana, shares four easy tips for garden shed renovation ideas to maximize the design opportunity without creating an overwhelming home improvement project with no end in sight.

Thomas Guy Interiors garden shed and carriage house
Thomas Guy Interiors carriage house and garden shed
Left: Credit: Haylei Smith
Right: Credit: Haylei Smith

Embrace the Space

Crumbly crown molding? Chipping Ionic columns? A few missing tiles on your Spanish revival home? That doesn't necessarily mean you need to scrap 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 the Plants Pop

Greenery is always a welcome mood boost, and a great way to let it shine is to give it a clean stage. When color runs rampant, it can divert focus from the key pieces and areas of a room that 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 of 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
Credit: Haylei Smith

Bring the Outdoors In

Echoing the aforementioned tip, Thomas recommends incorporating furniture and other pieces you may typically reserve for the outdoors into the shed or house. This helps create the narrative for your space and give it character. In a recent project, Thomas incorporated an iron outdoor sofa—how much of the outdoors you bring inside is up to you.

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

Thomas Guy Interiors carriage house and garden shed
Credit: Haylei Smith

Swap the Rug for Paint

Let's face it. Rugs can be a lot of work. They require a pass of the vacuum or at best a trip to the washing machine if you were smart and bought washable rug. We pity whoever has the task of taking a lint roller to the rugs that won't roll up nicely into the washer.

Thomas suggests replacing your would-be rug with paint. Rugs can be a bit impractical, especially if you are planning on an indoor garden space. Paint makes clean-up easy.

"Don't sacrifice aesthetics for function," he says. "Simply paint and seal your floors for visual impact. A little 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."