Building the B Barn
Updated: Oct 31, 2021
The one question I get most often about our garden shed we built during quarantine is, "Did you use a kit?" The answer is no. This garden shed was dreamed up by my daughter and evolved into its current state through lots of changes and decisions on the fly. I want people to know that you don't have to have building experience to build something like our garden shed. I'm hopeful that sharing how we built the B Barn and what we learned along the way will encourage others to try their hand building a garden shed.
I have changed up the inside of the shed since writing this post. Now there is a bench seat instead of chair and table.
Let me start by saying that my husband and I are by no means carpenters or builders, and we were able to do this. We made a lot of decisions and changes as we went, and that turned out to be kind of fun. My husband built his own shed several years ago. He watched tons of you tube videos to learn how to do most of it. Here is a picture of my husband's shed which is way bigger than mine. Before his shed, my husband's building experience consisted of building our last deck and some furniture from online instructions. I'm still in awe that he designed and built this on his own.
My husband's shed
The entire idea behind the B Barn came from my 11 year old daughter asking for a fort in the backyard. She wanted something more substantial than a stick and blanket fort so we started planning out what we could do. We realized we had quite a bit of time on our hands and could really go all out. Very quickly it became a shared space for my daughter and me as the best spot in the yard for the structure was in my garden. We had fun planning out the design elements together. Everything used in building and decorating this shed is either from Lowes or Ikea or something in our house we already owned. Not sponsored, just where we found what we needed, and I wanted everyone to know you don't need any special order items. The tools we mainly used were a mitre saw, drill, hammers, and a nail gun.
First we decided how big we wanted the shed, and we decided on 6 feet by 8 feet for the base.
We leveled out the ground and built the foundation with a 2x4 frame resting on cinderblocks. We put plywood on top of the 2x4's for the floor. We decided against any fancy flooring, but can add it anytime if we choose.
I picked a special floor paint by Valspar to paint the plywood floor dark grey.
I did just one coat of floor paint, but I wish I had done two. It wipes off pretty easily which is good because the dogs are constantly getting muddy paw prints all over it.
Here is a time lapse video of us raising some of the walls of the shed. We would frame out a wall and then put it up; then measure and frame out another and then add that wall. This way we could measure at each step and make sure we weren't messing anything up. We picked out one window to put in, and the reason we did just one is that they are so dang expensive. If I had a source of less expensive windows I would have put in at least two more, probably three. We were trying to keep costs down.
Once the walls were up we were able to add plywood to the outside walls, cover in plastic Tyvek wrap and then put up some treated plywood that had stamped ridges in it to make it look like boards. You can run it vertical or horizontal and we ran it vertical. I painted the outside and inside in a special storm coat exterior paint in white.
The roof was pretty easy. We ran a ridge board with plenty of support and made the design decision to leave it sticking far out in front with the idea I would hang a lantern from it. I ended up hanging a metal birdcage from Ikea with moss, plants and trailing vines instead.
We added rafters and then put decking boards across the rafters instead of plywood for aesthetic reasons. I wanted the inside ceiling to look like boards and not plywood. Some roofing felt and shingles and the roof was done.
Figuring out the doors was hard. I had my heart set on glass french doors, but again, so expensive. My husband finally talked me into splurging and we got these from Lowes but had to cut them down to fit the opening. My husband used a circular saw to cut off some length from both the top and bottom of the door. Hanging the doors was a bit painstaking to make sure they were level and hung correctly. Thank god my husband is so patient.
We decided to add some architectural interest by staggering 1x3's running horizontally for the front top triangle. Once we were able to figure out the angle of the eaves it was quick and easy to cut the 1x3's. I stained them using Early American by Minwax.
Finishing touches: I added some 1x3 trim around the outside of the window and popped on a window flower box that I made from leftover decking boards. I stained the window box in Early American by Minwax also.
I added some 2x4 shelves from scrap wood and used scrap deck board for a window ledge inside. ( I haven't finished painting the shelves and have sunflowers drying in the bags )
I hung two plug-in lights from Ikea and used velcro to attach the switches/cords to the walls.
The B Barn has an extension cord running to it and up through the floor so I have a power strip hidden behind the chair to plug in phone charger, fan, lights, and a space heater in the winter. I used clothespins and garden twine to hang some seed packets for decoration. The artwork is from Ikea, as are the frames. One garden print I just printed on my printer and popped in a frame. I made a 'B Barn' sign from scrap deck board and paint, and hung it in front.
I used a small rug we had in the house and bought the wooden chair/table combo and comfy chair from Ikea. The chair was $149 and while I realize fabric outside is not the greatest choice, at this price point if it lasts a few years I will be happy. The metal and wood chair is $15 and the table is $20. I ordered a small mini fridge off Amazon (it only holds like 2 cans but is still fun). I hung up some macrame plant hangers in one corner by the window (see first photo or last photo on the page), and popped some houseplants I already had on hand in them. One of my favorite additions is the string lights that run from the B Barn through the back of the garden. I have them on an outdoor timer that turns them on at dusk and turns them off two hours later. I got the string lights from Amazon and the timer from lowes.
I decided to whip up a front step so that you can't see under the shed. I used leftover decking boards and built a box frame based on how deep I wanted the step to be. Three boards deep felt right and I just used screws to attach all the boards. I left space on either side of the step so that I can have climbing Jasmine vines on either sides of the doors.
We started building May 2nd, 2020 and we were finished by July 4th, 2020. It is hard to remember what the yard looked like before we added the B Barn. It has been a place I drink my morning coffee, save seeds during the hot afternoon, and just chill out/escape in general. It was absolutely worth the effort, and I would even say the process of building it with my husband and daughter was the best part. Now to figure out the next project.....
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