It may be that you need a little home office for working, a craft room for hobbies, a potting shed for gardening to maintain mental well-being, a mini gym to flex those muscles or a clear area for yoga or Pilates.


If there’s no spare room inside the house, don’t worry. Perhaps it’s time to look to the garden and revamp a tired old shed or outbuilding instead. With a few simple tweaks and a fresh lick of paint, that garden shed at the bottom of the lawn can be transformed into a handy new room with a purpose.

Check if you need planning permission

If you are buying a new garden building then, in most cases, it can be installed under Permitted Development – a stringent set of rules outlining the size and position allowed without having to apply for consent. If you’re in any doubt, contact your local planning office.

If you’ve an existing shed, however, then you can forget about red tape and just crack on with converting it into a useful extra space.

Before you begin, make sure the shed is big enough for its new purpose. The structure should be sound and strong so start by doing any repair jobs that are required to bring it up to scratch. There’s a big difference between having a shed that’s simply used to store the lawnmower and family bikes and a workable room that you will spend time in.

Get your shed insulated

Good insulation will not only keep the shed snug in winter but also cool in the summer, so it’s an investment worth making.

Start by looking at the natural light – does the shed have enough windows and are they of good quality? Check if your shed is watertight – mend any tears in the roof felt and look for gaps in the structure. Check for signs of mould, mildew, damp or wood rot then deal with them accordingly.

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Insulate the walls, ceiling and floor for a warm, habitable space, which will also need less energy to heat. It will help with sound-proofing, too. You’ll need a heater – a radiator, halogen, electric or fan heater, an oil filled radiator, paraffin heater or even a wood burner can all inject much-needed heat during those chilly winter months.

Add electricity to your shed

Most converted spaces will need electricity for lighting at the very least and, if you’re using the shed as a home office, then you need a good number of plug points. However big or small your electrical requirements, you will need the services of a qualified electrician. Do not attempt anything yourself as it would be both dangerous and illegal. Your electrician will also need to sign off the work for insurance purposes.

Plan out what you’ll need and where you’ll need it, so consider the position of the desk, the sewing machine or the treadmill. If you will only use the shed in daylight hours and all you’re adding in there is a yoga mat, then you can possibly skip this part. Having electrics will make the shed more versatile, though, and enable you to change its use in the future.

Upgrade your broadband

This is key if you’re going to be using the shed as an office but it’s also handy if you might want to stream music in there while you workout, or just to scroll through social media. We all rely on the internet so much that the last thing you want is to be working outside and constantly having broadband drop-out.

So look at your current provider and package and see if you would be better off with an upgrade. You can also buy various wi-fi extenders and powerline adapters from other suppliers online; but whatever option you choose, you will need electrics and plug sockets, so take this into account when planning the space and your budget for the project.

How to make your shed a multifunctional room

In order to make the space as flexible as possible, keep the fixtures and fitting versatile. For instance, a free-standing desk, chair and storage unit are perfect for an office set-up and these can easily be changed if, later on, you want to turn your shed into a chill-out den for your teenagers.

Keep the décor neutral if it is to appeal to different members of the family. On the other hand, if it’s just you who is going to be using the shed, then you can make it more personal with your favourite fabrics and wall colours. And remember, giving the shed a definite purpose can also make your property more appealing to future buyers if you are considering selling up in the near future. After all, who wouldn’t want a home with the added bonus of an office, mini gym, yoga retreat or hobby room in the garden!

Add personal touches to make the space more homely. Think framed photos and prints, plants, comfortable cushions and a colourful rug.

"Adding colour to your shed will make it feel less like a shed and is a quick and easy revamp. You can afford to experiment with a theme in a small space like a shed or summer house, so get onto Pinterest for small space ideas. The Nordic look works particularly well as you can use pale whites and greys – paint that you’ve probably already got and used in your home – and add faux furs and chunky knit blankets for warmth and texture. Add fairy lights and a couple of hurricane lanterns and you can create a cosy retreat." Steph Briggs, interior designer, TV presenter and co-founder of La Di Da Interiors

Jazz up the outside of your shed

Once the inside is complete, revamp the exterior to make the shed look more like an extension of your home by painting or treating the outside walls. Keep it neutral with whites or greys or go bold with blues or greens in keeping with the garden. Use a specialist paint such as Cuprinol’s Garden Shades or Sandtex Exterior Satin, which are specially developed to colour and protect sheds, fences and other garden wood with rich pigments, and they will also give your shed years of protection.

Photo: The Posh Shed Company


This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?


Hayley Gilbert is an award-winning interiors journalist with 25 years' experience writing about everything from blissful bathrooms to the coolest kitchens. Publications she has written for include Good Homes, Country Homes and Interiors, House Beautiful and The English Home.