This is how we made over our sad shed using paint + stain, clever organizing, space-saving lawn tools and adding solar lighting!
A little over a month ago, we kicked off the makeover of the pint-sized shed that stores the bicycles, fire pit accessories and outdoor gear associated with our little Southwest Michigan home. If you missed that post, pop over to give it a quick read to see just how impactful this makeover has been!
This post is in partnership with Troy-Bilt as a part of their #FenceTalks series, in which experts from completely different backgrounds solve important issues to help you make yard work the best work. This year, we teamed up with @organizingspacesbykim to help our little shed live its best life!
Kim B’s Organizing Tips
As a quick reminder, Kim B. from @organizingspacesbykim helped us to devise the perfect plan to ensure that things not only got organized, but stayed organized! Kim is located in Texas, so our conversations happened over phone, text and facetime. The distance didn’t slow us down one bit and we absolutely loved partnering with her! After all of our back and forth, these are the steps we agreed on to get this shed looking fresh:
1| Empty the Shed
We purged unnecessary items, grouped similar items and took inventory of what was left BEFORE we ordered a single storage bin, shelf or hook. As we mentioned in the kickoff post, this little shed had been given a couple of frustrated rounds of organizing in the past, but it was in major need of a full-on, dedicated purge and org! The main groups that we agreed on were Beach, Bikes, Bonfire and Lawn + Garden.
2| Paint + Stain
We brightened everything up inside with a not-too-white exterior paint that’s mildew resistant. We opted for Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. Inside a shed or garage, this step is best accomplished with a paint sprayer. It’s a little messy and a LOT of effort, but absolutely worth it to provide a bright and even backdrop to build on. Prior to painting, we installed the cost-effective pegboard wall on the left side of the shed so it could be painted the same color as the rest of the interior.
While we had the sprayer out, we stained the outside of the shed with the same Cabot semi-transparent stain that we’d used on our fence a few years back. The overall goal of this project was to add loads of functionality to the interior of the shed while helping the exterior to blend in with the other features of the backyard.
Let’s cut to the chase and get into some before and afters! Below, you can see how the faded red shed formerly stuck out like a sore thumb. While the ‘red barn’ appearance was likely charming when it was first built, time had not been kind to this little storage shed.
Shed | Before
Shed | After
Now, with a repaired roof, stained black exterior and an extended row of Degroot’s Spire Arborvitae, the shed fits perfectly within the white, black and neutral palette that we’ve curated at Tree House over the last few years.
Prior to this makeover, the faded, algae covered side of the shed greeted friends and visitors at the end of our driveway. Not the best first impression, huh?
Shed | Before
Shed | After
Now, the shed blends almost seamlessly into the fence and the row of arbs extends entirely across the backyard! Our hope is that as all of these trees grow, they’ll expand form one uniform green wall that hides the shed completely.
While we were at it, we installed a new black hasp to keep things closed and secure. We also removed the hinges, stripped the peeling paint and hit them with a few coats of black spraypaint so they disappear completely.
Shed | Before
Shed | After
The former jumble of rotten decking, faded wood and peeling paint is now a punchy, high-contrast storage wonderland where everything has its place, and perhaps more importantly, will be put away properly!
3| Measure + Plan
With paint and stain completed, we measured the space down to the inch to determine the just-right shelving, bins and hooks needed. The shed measures just shy of 8′ x 8′ inside, which made shopping for the perfect adjustable storage shelf a bit tricky. Most shelving options are 2′ feet deep and either 4′ or 8′ feet long. This big, sturdy shelving unit measured only 18″ deep and 6′ wide, which made it the perfect fit:
With the storage shelf in place, we did a few test fits with different sizes of clear utility bins, then scooped up more of the style and sizes that allowed for the most versatile storage options. We also ordered TONS of various pegboard hooks to help us arrange hanging tools as efficiently as possible. For situations like this, we find it helpful to purchase more hooks than we think we need, store a few extra for the future, then return whatever is leftover.
4| Label + Organize
With shelving, bins and hooks now on hand, we were ready to get organized! Kim suggested clear bins for visibility and even sent us some custom labels for the bins that will be most frequently used by our short term rental guests.
The key here is to make things obvious. Taking the two beach cruisers out for a spin? Grab the bin labeled (cleverly enough!) BIKES for helmets, tools and a patch kit. Evening bonfire? Grab the BONFIRE bin for the kindling bucket, a long lighter and a fire poker. In addition to the bonfire bin, we needed a place to store marshmallow roasting sticks. We grabbed this a 2′ section of 4″ PVC pipe along with a cap for the bottom. Then we drilled a small hole on the back and hung it from a hook on the pegboard wall. It turned out to be the perfect solution for these long and pointy bamboo sticks!
The goal is that everything has an easily identifiable place so things always end up back where they belong. It’s the key to sustainable organization!
During the purging process, we also eliminated much of the excess lumber and building material that we’d accumulated over the years. Now that the vast majority of construction projects at Tree House are complete, there wasn’t a good reason to keep old building materials on hand. A lot of the excess materials were donated to a nearby second hand shop, some leftovers were picked up by a local salvage company, and the few 1-bys we saved are being stored in the rafters:
Maximizing Space With Troy-Bilt’s SpaceSavr Mower
Freeing up this much floor space wouldn’t have been possible without the upgrade to the Troy-Bilt SpaceSavr mower! Traditionally, even small mowers have taken up a ton of floor space since they needed to be stored flat. The SpaceSavr series of mowers solves this issue with specially designed fluid tanks that allow even gas-powered mowers to stand completely upright!
When stored inside a shed that’s only about 8′ x 8′ square, every inch of floor storage counts. In addition to the cool folding trick, this self-propelled mower also cuts like a champ and can mulch, bag or side discharge. It’s an absolute beast that makes short work of our little slice of Southwest Michigan.
Freeing Up The Floor
For items like the mower, pressure washer and miter saw that can’t easily be stored on a shelf, the goal was to minimize the floor space that they occupied. For everything else, the goal was to get items off of the floor all together. The top shelf was dedicated to rarely used items like lawn spreaders and paint sprayers:
And the clear utility bins (with latching lids to keep out unwanted critters!) occupy the two middle shelves.
Our two communal bikes are hung from hooks directly beside the large shelving unit. The fit is snug, but with one bike hung facing upward and the other facing down, they nest together perfectly and look good doing it:
Whenever we organize a space, our goal is to arrange everything so that one thing rarely has to be moved to access another. With the exception of Lucy’s cool off-road wagon, which needs to be wheeled out of the way to get to the bikes, we’ve pretty much accomplished our goal!
Lighting Without Power
All of this organization is truly transformational, but what about accessing the shed and its contents at night? In the past, we’ve fumbled around with battery powered flashlights or clumsily used the light on our phones to see what we were doing inside. This simply wasn’t going to work anymore. Rather than spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to run electrical to the shed, we decided to harness the power of the sun!
The initial plan called for this solar-powered, motion-activated flood light for the interior and it was everything that we hoped for. The LED panels and the motion sensor can be positioned independently of one another for flexibility in different applications. Now that the ceiling and interior of the shed were painted in a bright color that helped to bounce light around, we were able to position the LEDs toward the ceiling to create ambient lighting. The motion sensor is positioned directly downward, which activates the light as soon as the doors are opened.
The auxiliary solar panel is on a long wire that gets positioned remotely to maximize exposure to the sun. We drilled a small hole through the wall below the eave to run the wire, then sealed it with caulk to help keep out insects. The panel is angled to receive multiple hours of direct sun each morning and the light has been bright and responsive.
The interior solar light opened our eyes to all of the great solar lighting options available, and Kim stumbled upon this cute farmhouse-ish sconce during her investigation. The solar panels are built into the hood of the light (that’s why it looks shiny), and it has automatic dawn-to-dusk capability, keeping this dark corner of the yard illuminated and safe. Installation took all of 5 minutes and the new ambient light is a welcome addition:
These two solar additions will cost us nothing in future operation, but will provide welcome, safe additions to this newly functional space.
Worth The Effort!
While physically small, this shed makeover was one of the more multi-faceted projects we’ve taken on recently! We used almost every tool that is now stored inside this very shed to accomplish the end result. We tackled roof repairs, painting, staining, demo, construction, organizing and landscaping just to name a few. All of the effort was worth it for a shed that’s now about as functional as possible for both us and our short-term rental guests.
Did you have your doubts when we first shared the project with you? If so, what do you think about the results?! We couldn’t have done it without our old friends at Troy-Bilt and @organizingspacesbykim! We’re truly thrilled to have been included in the #FenceTalks series once again, and we encourage you to stop over and check out some of the other expert advice.
Exterior stain: Cabot Semi-Solid Black | Interior paint: Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray 7029 | Troy-Bilt SpaceSavr mower | Gladiator 60″ shelving unit | solar sconce | solar floor light | clear utility bins | bike hooks | roasting sticks
This is such a refreshing and accessible update! Now I’m inspired to reorganize our basement.
The organization is inspiring. The shed is so cute!
Hi! I saw on Instagram that you also added a brilliant clamp for your wheelbarrow on the outside of the shed — any chance you can re-share that resource? Thanks!
Oops, we missed that! It’s this one! SO GOOD.
LOVE IT!!! I am so going to copy this design when we get our new shed next year. I do have to say all your tools look so new & clean….
Haha, we cleaned them up before hanging them!
Every bit of this is stellar. But I think the thing that makes the most impact is the white interior. Most people would have picked gray or brown or black, because of dirt/use, but the white is fabulous and I can see that it makes a great deal of lighting difference, day and especially night.
Yes! It’s actually a very light grey that looks white in contrast to the black exterior. It hides just enough dirt and smudges to stay looking fresh!
You inspire me to organize all the things – love the new shed!
You guys have been busy! I miss the regular blog posts, but know you are doing great things – like this amazing shed. So stylish and organized, what a gem!
Thank you so much, Julie! xx
Would you recommend spray painting high-use exterior door handles? I see you did hinges and wonder how handles might hold up?
They might not be perfect, but it’s just an outdoor shed! Haha, we have to remind ourselves that we’ll do our best to do the job right, but anything painted/stained will always need to be touched up down the road.
Thank you for this
Our shed doesn’t have power and when I saw your solar light you put inside your shed I ordered it that day, it’s now up and we can finally see all the junk in our shed
I love the solar sconce! How does the brightness compare to an electric fixture? I’d like to use them for the exterior of a large chicken coop, and sometimes solar lights are weaker than electric lights – is one sconce enough for your area? Would you do 2 or 3?
Hi Michelle! In our experience, the exterior solar sconce is not quite as bright as a standard electric light. Since ours receives direct sunlight most of the day, it serves our purposes perfectly. Depending on the sunlight you receive, you may want to start with more than you think you need. Hope this helps!