Whether you’re looking for a space to dig into your favourite hobby or a place to escape without leaving the house, we could all use a little more room. Adding space to your home, however, doesn’t always mean building an addition: sometimes it’s more about using the space we do have to its fullest – especially if you have an under-utilized garage or shed. From total transformations to smart spruce ups, here are 15 ideas to help your garage or shed live its best life.
Brian McCourt is a contractor, design expert and co-host of HGTV Canada’s Backyard Builds.
What if you could turn that old shed into a comfortable mini home for friends and family? Basically a tiny house that lives in the backyard, “granny pods” are increasingly trendy this year. If designed right, a granny pod can offer a comfortable, quiet place to stay that’s still seriously close to home.
Finding space (and a place) to relax is super important for self-care, so – if you have an underused shed or garage – consider giving it a zen makeover. For this Backyard Builds couple, for example, Sarah and I revamped an old shed and turned it into an all-season yoga studio. Keeping the serene purpose in mind, we incorporated details like an easy-to-clean antimicrobial cork floor, sliding glass doors (to let in the light for early-morning sun salutations) and minimalist wall hangings for chill vibes.
Exercise is one of my favourite ways to recharge. If you love to stay active, why not create a home gym in the garage? This could be a simple as clearing out the space and setting up some basic equipment (like free weights, bands and kettlebells) – but you can also go all out by insulating the walls, installing workout-appropriate flooring and adding bigger-ticket fitness pieces like a treadmill or weight machines.
If, on the other hand, you’re more into watching athletics than you are in participating in them, your garage may score more points as sports-themed relaxation space – like this cozy lounge Sarah and I created for Backyard Builds. The game plan for our winning design? Comfy seating, a mounted television and a cool custom football mural.
Musical taste can be a pretty personal thing – so having a place that’s away from the rest of your family to practice an instrument, jam with your band or just listen to your favourite albums at full volume without bothering anyone is a good use of garage or shed space. For the drum room that we designed for this Backyard Builds kids’ clubhouse, we created colourful wall art that doubles as soundproofing – which is important for keeping the neighbours happy, too! Not sure where to start? Here are 10 cool ideas for audio room inspiration.
Want to cut down on your commute time? Bring your office home – and right into your backyard. Whether you need a dedicated space away from the kids for working from home or you just want a quiet place to take care of business, a shed or converted garage tend to be the perfect size for a home office. Don’t have a garage, but have some extra backyard space? Don’t be afraid to think outside (or inside) the box: for this Backyard Builds family, for example, we created a unique backyard home office out of a shipping container.
I know that storing your tools in the garage or shed isn’t exactly a groundbreaking idea, but throwing a mess of equipment in a bin in the corner isn’t exactly the best use of space, either. Adding organizational elements like wall-mounts for brooms and gardening tools, as we did for this Backyard Builds custom garage workspace, is a relatively simple project that makes a big difference. If you’re feeling crafty, here are three DIY projects for garage-ready storage solutions.
It’s not always just about what’s on the inside: giving the exterior of an old shed a refresh can totally update the look of your yard. Case in point? When we transformed an old shed for this Backyard Builds home, we used a mix of dark vinyl siding and wood panels on the exterior for a bold, modern look.
Unless you live alone, compromise is the name of the game – so it’s a good idea to think about how your garage makeover could benefit everyone. For this Backyard Builds garage update, we created a multi-purpose room with both a relaxing living space and a mini home office. We also used plastic windows on the side of the garage so that backyard fly balls won’t lead to ambiance-busting shattered glass – an important consideration for any space that’s adjacent to a kids’ play area!
There’s nothing like curling up with a good book on a rainy afternoon – except curling up in your own reading room. Whether you want a little library or just need a cozy place to read, a backyard shed could be the perfect solution. The key? Have a comfy place to sit and store your favourite books – this DIY storage banquette we created for Backyard Builds ticks both boxes (and I’ll even show you how to make it).
Give kids the space to tap into their imagination with their own little art studio shed, like this fun art space Sarah and I designed for Backyard Builds. When designing for kids, keep things bright and light – and consider incorporating some contrasting colours and interesting shapes to stimulate creativity, too.
A shed is the perfect place to really hone in on your passion or side hustle, whatever that may be. Love to bake? Bring on the fondant fun with a customized cake studio, like we did for a professional baker mom for Backyard Builds.
For tweens or teens, a customized space that’s tailored to their hobbies is a cool way encourage their creativity and interests, too. For example, for this mother and son on Backyard Builds, we created a special after-school hangout in the backyard – complete with space to display skateboards and practice hip-hop dance.
Indoor Outdoor Dining Room
Adding an outdoor dining area is a great way to make your backyard feel more functional and fun – but what about when the weather’s unpredictable (as Canadian weather tends to be)? Try turning your backyard shed into a cool custom dining room, as we did with this stylish Backyard Builds space with a bold wallpaper accent wall.
Outdoor Kitchen Bar
, with good reason: who doesn’t want to enjoy their outdoor time with easy access to snacks and beverages? A covered outdoor kitchen complete with a bar space, like the one that Sarah and I created for Backyard Builds, is ideal for outdoor entertaining (even just for the family).