Expand your livable space with a backyard shed

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Expand your livable space with a backyard shed

Whether your home is 800 or 1,800 square feet, you can always use a little more space, right? Of course, finding that extra bit of room that you need to enhance your lifestyle might sound like an impossible dream, especially if every inch of your interior already has a designated use. But it doesn’t have to be just a dream if you think outside the box—literally. A backyard shed, also known as an outbuilding, can be the perfect answer to your need for extra space. That’s because today’s sheds have moved well beyond storing tools and lawn and garden gadgets alone. J&C Adams Co. Inc.’s Kathy Adams, a member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), shares the following ideas for putting a modern spin on these multipurpose solutions.

Home office

Who says your home office has to be adjacent to the living room or your bedroom? By turning a backyard shed into an office, you not only get a dedicated workspace, but also ample privacy. Just keep your “commute” in mind as you plan the building’s design. “Make sure it is easily accessible in all weather,” Adams advises. “You don’t want to have to shovel 500 feet to reach it in the winter when you need it.”

Kids’ playhouse

Kids need their own space too. But if you’re uncomfortable with a tree house, a small shed could be an ideal alternative. The shed—which can be made to look like a miniature house from the outside—will offer plenty of room for toys of all sizes and give your little ones the perfect backdrop for days full of safe, youthful fun.

Hobby workshop

Whether your favorite pastime is woodworking or scrapbooking, it’s important to have the right space for your tools and the work you like to do. With a bit of creativity, a backyard shed can be transformed into the ultimate workshop. Adams recommends including plenty of storage hooks, shelving and other organizational solutions in the design to keep everything neat and handy.

Yoga studio

If you’re tired of doing yoga in the family room or meditating in the master bathroom, think about constructing a small outbuilding especially for these activities. By being in a completely separate space, you’ll have the quiet you need to find the peace and calm you seek. And if you make sure that your yoga studio or meditation room has electricity and plumbing, as Adams recommends, you’ll be able to spend as much time in the space as it takes to get centered and feel rejuvenated.

Regardless of how you plan to use your backyard shed, Adams notes, “The shed should complement your house, not compete with it. Also, size is very important relative to the shed’s function, placement and total size of the yard.” Once you have the logistics figured out, taking it outside will have a whole new meaning in your life.


perfect placement

“Preparation is the key—take your time to plan out where the structure will go. It’s tough to move a shed once it’s in place,” NARI member Kathy Adams says. To make sure you’ve chosen the right location, she suggests roping off the spot where you want the shed to be and live with it for a week or so. If it doesn’t feel right, find another location within the yard.

know the rules

You may own the land on which you plan to build a backyard shed, but there are rules and regulations to keep in mind before you move forward. Adams notes that it’s crucial to learn about local building codes; most towns and cities have a size limit on sheds, and you need a permit to begin building. Also, if you live in a subdivision, be sure to check with your homeowners’ association, as there might be a bylaw that requires prior approval of placement and design before you can construct a shed.   

details matter

A backyard shed can be as attractive as it is functional. “Dress it up,” Adams advises. “A copper thermometer and window boxes with flowers add a nice touch!” You can also include such charming details as double doors for wide access and cedar shingles, which weather nicely. Just be sure to choose materials and features that are easy to maintain over time, such as fiberglass doors and vinyl windows.

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