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No matter how modest, any backyard space attached to your home can prove useful—and one easy and popular way to level-up your backyard without too much work (or cost) is to install a backyard shed. If you’re lucky, there was already a shed in place when you bought your house, but you can buy a modest shed at your local hardware store for just a few hundred bucks (or opt for a shed that is essentially a separate structure for a few thousand—or build your own).
If you’ve got a backyard shed and you’re using it to haphazardly store the lawnmower and some gardening tools, though, you’re really wasting an opportunity. Backyard sheds are free real estate—you can do a lot more with one, from turning it into a chicken coup, a personal music studio, a tiny personal tavern, and more.
Luxury dog house
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If you have a family dog who is currently squeezing into a tiny, ramshackle hutch in the backyard, why not turn your garden shed into the most tricked-out dog house ever? This could be as simple as installing a huge dog bed, some food and water bowls, and a few toys, or it could be a major project to create a luxury spa for your furry friend.
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Whether you love to grill every night or host the occasional backyard cookout, having an enclosed outdoor kitchen ramps up your game and makes cooking in the rain a lot more fun. Installing an outdoor kitchen in your shed is a bit more work than some other shed projects, but it can really turn your backyard into the best party space in your neighborhood. While going for a fully-plumbed kitchen is a great idea, you could also set up a campground kitchen with some propane-powered cooktops and simple cabinetry for a less ambitious (but just as fun) setup.
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Movie night under the stars in your backyard is always fun, but what happens when movie night is canceled because of rain? Well, that won’t happen if you transform your shed into a home theater. A few comfy chairs, a screen, and a projector are all you really need to create a cozy spot for the family to watch TV or host a movie night. Or you could go all out for a luxury theater experience—and if you ever decide to sell your home you can list “home theater” as part of the property.
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Need a place to set up your treadmill, weight bench, and other gym equipment? An outdoor shed is ideal. Lay down some durable, comfortable flooring and get your spare bedroom back by moving all your workout stuff into the shed. In the warmer weather, throw open the shed doors and windows for some fresh air while you work out; in the winter, close everything up and set up a space heater.
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When you start working remotely, you quickly learn how many distractions are in your house. From kids, pets, and spouses interrupting you to the eternal lure of your Netflix account, sometimes you need a psychologically separate space to work. Setting up a small office in a backyard shed is pretty easy; for some people, all you need is a small desk and a chair, while others might need a more robust setup. The hardest part may be wiring up the shed for internet and electricity—although you might be able to boost your wifi to reach your new office, eliminating one problem.
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If you want your backyard to be the neighborhood gathering spot, being able to serve up booze is one reliable way of luring in your neighbors. Setting up your backyard shed to be a watering hole can be a relatively simple project involving building or installing a small bar, some stools, and then bringing in glassware, bottles of wine and liquor, and maybe a small fridge for beer. Or it could be more elaborate, creating a window bar, installing beer taps, and a wine fridge. Whichever approach you take, be prepared to become extremely popular.
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Backyard chickens are increasingly popular, both as a source of eggs and as pets. If you’re planning to keep chickens and need to keep them cooped up at least some of the time, you might not need to build a whole new structure for them if you already have a backyard shed. This is not a difficult project, with the main challenge being elevating the shed off the ground by a few inches (using treated lumber or cinder blocks). This will improve air flow and prevent critters from getting into your coop too easily. After that, it’s a matter of installing some nesting boxes, roosting areas, and a place to store gathered eggs.
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Are you an amateur musician or in a band, and your family has strictly forbidden you to play loud and proud in the house? An outdoor studio in an old garden shed might be the ideal practice space. As with all these, this could be a very ambitious project involving soundproofing and wiring, or it could be a few carpets, a few amps, and a few extension cords. Whether you need soundproofing or not depends on a) if you plan to record in there as opposed to just practicing and b) how close you are to your neighbors.
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If you’re an artist and need a dedicated space where you can paint and make a mess, an underused backyard shed is the perfect spot. Simply cleaning out the space and installing your art supplies and some basic furniture is all you need to do, although if your shed doesn’t have a window you might consider adding ones to increase the amount of natural light you get, especially during the winter months.
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Need a space for an in-law or visiting guests but lack a spare bedroom? Instead of forcing Mom to sleep on the couch, you can look into setting up a moderately-sized backyard shed as a guest room. This doesn’t have to be elaborate—while electricity is probably a must for any guests, plumbing isn’t necessary if you see this as simply a place to sleep overnight, with your guests coming inside the house for meals and bathroom breaks.
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If you like to work with wood or build things in your spare time, a workshop where you can have all your tools and materials on hand while being free to make an incredible mess is a necessity. A roomy shed in the backyard can be the ideal place for this, offering a private spot where you can concentrate on your work. It will also be an easy space to clean up, as you can just open the doors and sweep everything into the great outdoors.
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Do you love cats and have a colony of strays setting up shop in your backyard? Trapping and neutering them is a kindness, but you can also make their lives better by giving them some shelter—especially in cold weather. Turning a small garden shed into a place where stray kitties can bunk down and escape the rain and cold will make them healthier and happier.