A Backyard Alternative For Adding Space to Your Home

A Backyard Alternative For Adding Space to Your Home

By Lauren Schumacher

We live in a 3 bedroom 1,230 square foot home in Gilbert, AZ, and both work from home. So when we got pregnant with our second girl, we knew we had to somehow create more space because our office was going to be a nursery in nine months. We also knew the in-home office wasn’t so quiet anymore for calls with clients with a 2-year-old who has lots of loud feelings. We set out to find a solution.

Getting quotes for more space

We looked into expanding our house by adding a fourth bedroom and a dining room off the kitchen, but quotes were running upwards of $200,000. With this market and all the unknowns, we came up with a more economical solution by building an “office shed.” In the end, we spent $8,000 to add an extra 80 sq. ft. where we can have two desks for us both and a quiet space to work. 

Cost of buying a prefab shed

We bought a prefab shed from Lowe’s for $4,000. Included in the price was someone to come out to build and paint the outside. It took them a day to put the shed together. This did not include any insulation, drywall, or electrical. One thing we struggled with was determining the shed’s best location in our backyard so we scheduled a one-hour consultation with a landscape designer, and it was worth every penny to get her advice. Highly recommend Helena from Hedge and Spade https://www.hedgeandspade.com/ (she’s on Instagram, too!)

Creating character and making the prefab shed comfortable

My parents came to town to help us do the insulation and drywall. My dad laid a path from the house patio to the shed with the brick we got at Home Depot. My mom and I went to the nursery to buy plants that didn’t look like “Arizona plants.” It was a team effort. 

We hired out electrical so we could have a mini-split AC/heat unit and, of course, we needed power for wifi. A friend built their home and had left over wood flooring that we bought from them – that was such a good deal. We painted the interior and are still in the process of decorating it. We all know how life with a toddler and new baby means things take a lot longer to accomplish. 

Having this shed has given us a few more years in this house. With the way the market is right now, it’s what we needed, more time. Plus, if we really wanted, this shed could come with us to our next home. 

I love that the shed gives our house a little cottage vibe, which isn’t so common in the Phoenix valley. It makes me feel like we are back home in Oregon, especially when I look at all the lavender and roses that surround our shed. 

Tips on creating a shed with character

I think the key to making it not look like a prefab shed from the parking lot of Lowe’s is to add your own character and make it look more customized. Things like landscaping, brick, vines and plants, vintage décor, baskets, a bench – all the things that add a little something extra so your shed doesn’t look like a “shed,” but more like an extension to your home. For me, I thrifted an antique bell and basket for plants and flowers, and a friend gifted me a birdhouse to hang! It’s these little touches that create the charm. 

We love having this little space. The girls love visiting daddy at work in his office and I love having a quiet place in the evenings to edit. The next phase to this project will be creating a little outdoor café area. Setting out a blanket and having a picnic lunch is fine for now, but a more permanent solution is the goal. A round dining table with four padded dining chairs will fit cozily near the “office” and allow for planned and spontaneous outdoor time – whether it’s having lunch with daddy, or just making the most of an afternoon break with a tea party or an art project.

Building this shed with my parents will always be a core memory. We have so many funny stories that we’ll be able to tell the girls when they are older about our DIY project. 

Lauren married her childhood sweetheart Andrew and moved to Arizona from Oregon. They have two daughters. Lauren owns her own photography business. When she has free time, she enjoys hosting, watching Nancy Meyers movies, cooking, playing with flowers, and being in nature in the beautiful AZ sunshine. You can find her on Instagram @thelaurenstyle.

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