A Garden Shed Overhaul Fit for a View

Wes Hoke transforms a neglected garden shed in the backyard into a relaxing, dining area with modern design and a great view of the city.

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In 2007 physician Wes Hoke purchased a 2,200-square-foot 1920s bungalow in the Midtown neighborhood of Atlanta, Ga. Although the house itself was in perfect condition, the 150-square-foot storage shed left much to be desired. The siding was coming off, the roof had some serious damage and the entire structure was a major eyesore. After living in the house for three years, Wes and partner Cameron Watkins decided to have the shed completely remodeled.

"You can see the Atlanta skyline from my backyard," Wes says. "Creating a casual hangout nestled in the trees and looking out over the city seemed like the best of both worlds."

Wes spends his weekdays inside his office where he sees patients back-to-back with very little time for himself outside of work. On the weekend he makes it a priority to spend almost all of his personal time outdoors. "If we're not traveling somewhere, it's likely we're out back," Wes says. "I read a lot in my downtime and Cameron is a landscape designer by trade."

As the couple started making decisions about how to best utilize the shed, they agreed to focus more on the exterior rather than the interior. Their must-haves included touches of modern and bungalow architecture, a dark-stained deck, a pergola to add shade, a wall of lattice for privacy, pocket doors to save space and flagstone steps leading up to the shed from the lower portion of the yard.

Once the flagstone steps were installed, the first task was to remove the shed’s existing framing, siding and roof. Since the shed sat so close to the landscaping Cameron has worked so hard on, it was important that the renovation not ruin all of the foliage around it.

Although certain aspects of the design were easy for Wes and Cameron to agree on, others took them much longer. "Choosing the exterior color actually took us about three months to decide after the entire shed was complete,” Wes says. Their solution was to paint the exterior the same two earthy shades of green as the main house, Cheyenne Green for the siding and Passion Vine for the trim. Extending the color scheme from the main house to storage, tool or garden sheds gives the smaller buildings a sense of history, as though they’ve always been part of the property.

In its initial state, Wes and Cameron's basic storage shed was simply a waste of space that had begun to rot from years of neglect. To take advantage of their yard's cozy, shaded corner, the dilapidated shed was transformed into a relaxation and dining area.

The only major obstacle was exactly what to do with the shed’s interior. "Right now, we simply have it furnished as a quaint spot to relax, read a book and look out at the view,” Wes says. “Eventually, we need to give it a true purpose with finished walls, built-in storage, etc.” There hasn’t been a rush to decide on the shed’s interior because the pergola-covered deck gets the most use of any spot in the yard.

The couple privatized the deck area with lattice, which was sprayed the same color as the shed's exterior. To give the outdoor dining area a room-like feel, they lined all four corners of the space with outdoor drapery panels. Wes updated a cast-aluminum dining set handed down to him from his parents. He chose a masculine, geometric print in indoor/outdoor fabric for the new cushions and tablecloth. The area rug is made from recycled plastic, and is mold and mildew resistant, so it doesn’t need a lot of attention.

When allocating allowances to different elements of the new design, Wes and Cameron spent $15,000 on the shed structure and electrical work. Another $5,000 went to construction of the new deck and pergola.

Although Wes had dealt with having decks built and stained before, he learned something new about outdoor stain finishes. "It's impossible to get stain finishes to match when finishing a brand-new deck in the same area as an existing deck,” Wes says. “Once the stain went down on the pergola-covered deck patio, it was about three shades darker than my existing deck." The painter had to sand the existing deck area first, and then stain the new and existing decks at the same time for the stain to be consistent. This was an extra expense that wasn't taken into consideration, one that set Wes back an extra $400.


View this Modern, Bungalow-Style Garden Shed

With the project complete, there were a few things the couple would have done differently. "I wish we would have thought about installing a better lighting source centered over the deck area because it gets pretty dark in the dining area," Wes says. They also need a solid design plan for the shed’s interior that includes storage for serving pieces and a small refrigerator to keep drinks cold.

"For now, we're enjoying using the interior to lounge and read books and magazines," says Wes. Although the couple is absolutely thrilled with their cozy, new hangout among the trees, their favorite part of the project remains the same: their million-dollar view.

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