Eccentric Hobby Or Savvy Home Improvement Scheme?


A new wave of home improvement reality shows is documenting the international trend of outlandish garden shed designs. For some U.S. homeowners, imaginative garden sheds are simply an eccentric hobby, while others want to build a practical outdoor space for their home.

According to a recent survey, 77% of garden shed owners just keep old tools in their backyard storage space. The other 23% includes American do-it-yourself designers like Morgaine and Wren Workman, who turned a dusty garden shed into a 10′ x 12′ outdoor bar. Plus, a new reality show on the FYI network will document the spreading trend of so-called “She Sheds,” or female-centric garden sheds designed as retreats for women.

“As we continue to explore other ways we can utilize our backyard space, we will continue to see trends like this,” says Stacy Nelson, owner of Backyard Mamma, a West Virginia design firm. “We want to be in nature and unwind.”

In England, garden sheds have long held a special spot in the public imagination. Now, a spin-off of a popular British show called “Amazing Spaces” features the greatest backyard sheds across the pond. “Shed of the Year” shows off elaborate custom sheds, like the “Shedservatory,” a garden shed with a retractable roof for star watching.

U.K. writer Patrick Barkham even wondered whether the humble garden shed might serve a more enlightened purpose.

He writes: “Perhaps it is too much to hope that our love for sheds might yet transform our housing industry, planning system and building regulations to allow the creation of simpler, cheaper, low-consumption homes.”

And although he was being ironic, the custom shed trend mirrors a similar cultural fascination with “tiny houses,” a green building trend that started gaining widespread popularity in 2014.

Aspiring DIY designers aren’t necessarily building idle recreation areas, either. For homeowners who can’t afford to buy a larger house, home improvement experts say that building a habitable shed in the backyard can increase a home’s value.

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