How To Make Your Backyard Shed the Perfect Retreat on a Budget

Sunny white wooden garden house between trees.
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Let’s face it — you need more space. Maybe you’ve been working from home — without a proper office — since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic or perhaps you’re tired of hiding in your walk-in pantry when you need a few moments away from your kids.

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Moving isn’t an option right now, so you’ve been thinking about turning your backyard shed into an adult clubhouse. This might’ve seemed crazy at first, but now that the she-shed — and he-shed — movement has gone mainstream, you’re ready to get started.

Right now, it’s hard to envision your currently utilitarian shed as a backyard oasis, but it can be done. Here’s what you’ll need to transform a medium-sized — 100-square-foot — shed on a budget.

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Paint

Make your shabby shed look chic by covering it in a fresh coat of paint. You’ll need both interior and exterior paint, so head to the store to compare color swatches.

One gallon of paint covers up to 400 square feet, according to PPG Paints. Therefore, even if you need multiple coats, you should only have to purchase one can of each.

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A delightfully calming hue, 1 gallon of Behr Marquee Exterior Paint and Primer in Laguna Blue costs $51.98 at Home Depot. Nice and neutral, 1 gallon of Behr Premium Plus Interior Paint and Primer in Adobe Sand with a satin sheen costs $31.98.

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Caulk

Make your shed more comfortable by using caulk to seal off openings where drafts, bugs and water can get in. The two main types are latex and silicone. Each has advantages — i.e., latex is easier to apply and can be painted, but silicone lasts longer, according to Lowe’s — so choose the form that works best for your shed.

You can get a 10.1-ounce tube of Alex Painter’S White Paintable Latex Caulk for $2.18, while a 2.8-ounce tube of GE Silicone 2+ Almond  Silicone Caulk costs $4.58. If you opt for a large tube of caulk, you’ll also need a caulk gun. Lowe’s sells the Project Source 10-ounce Cordless Rod Caulk Gun for $3.98.

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Insulation

You want to use your shed year-round, so having a professional install insulation is a must. This will help keep the space cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Make Your Money Work for You

Expect to spend $1 to $5 per square foot on insulation, according to HomeAdvisor. Costs will largely depend on the type of insulation you choose, with batting typically the cheapest and blown-in and spray foam the most expensive.

Drywall

If you add insulation to your shed, you’ll need to have drywall installed over it. This will create solid walls and a ceiling to make your retreat chic and cozy.

The average cost of drywall is $2 per square foot, according to HomeAdvisor. Labor and materials are included in this cost, so if you decide to do it on your own, it should be even cheaper.

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New Flooring

If you call dusty plank boards a floor, then your shed technically has one. However, you want something elegant and classy for your refurbished space that really pulls the new look together.

If you’re handy and can install the flooring yourself, expect to spend $0.50 to $15 per square foot, according to Angi. Prices rise to $3 to $22 per square foot if you need to hire a professional.

Electricity

Chances are, your shed probably doesn’t have electricity right now. This will have to change since you’ll need power to make the space both functional and comfortable.

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Quite possibly the biggest expense of this project, plan to spend $1,000 to $2,500 to have an electrician run a new electric line to your shed, according to Angi. This might seem steep, but if you opt out of it, you’ll seriously limit the amount of time you can and want to use this space.

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AC/Heater

If your shed is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, you won’t want to be in it. Therefore, it’s important to invest in heating and cooling appliances to control the temperature.

If you can swing it, your best option is a ductless mini split system, which will heat and cool your space. Home Depot sells the Boreal brand Brisa Wi-Fi Controlled Inverter Driven High Efficiency Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump System for $698.

Alternately, the Arctic King 8,000 BTU Wall Air Conditioner is offered for $405.09 at Home Depot. To stay warm, you could opt for the Lasko Ceramic Pedestal Heater With Digital Remote Control, priced at $72.34.

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Find Flea Market Furniture

No matter what your planned use for the shed, you’ll need to furnish it. It’s possible you already have extra furniture that can be repurposed in your garage, basement or even the shed itself.

If not, head to a local flea market or estate sale to find gently-used pieces. This will give your shed a wonderfully eclectic vibe, while allowing you to stick to a budget.

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About the Author

Jennifer Taylor is a West Coast-based freelance writer with more than a decade of experience writing about anything and everything. Since earning her MBA, personal finance has been her favorite topic, as she’s passionate about writing stories that educate, inform and empower. Specifically, she specializes in budgeting, debt repayment, savings and retirement.
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