Colorful Window Film Will Convince You It’s Always Summer in This Designer’s Tiny Backyard Shed
When she is craving a vacation, it’s her escape.
Published Jan 20, 2024 2:10 AM
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Natasha Lyon, the creative force behind U.K.-based Appreciation Project, meticulously revamped every corner of her kitchen only to be left with a sad view when she looked out her brand-new windows. The long-neglected backyard was barren with the exception of one big tree, a cracked concrete patio, and an unusable flower bed. Suddenly, she realized her reno was not yet complete. She had to tackle the outdoors, too.
When Lyon finally embarked on her quest, it led her to an unexpected treasure: an affordable, off-the-shelf garden shed with whispers of a Victorian orangery. Braving the British winter, Lyon dedicated a season to crafting her dream garden retreat. Nearly a year later, the space has morphed into a treasured hideaway, shielding her from the boundless energy of her children, and has provided solace to her husband when unanticipated rainstorms have rudely interrupted family barbecues. Here’s how she brought it to life.
Step 1: Prepping the Stage
Before the charming retreat could take root, Lyon faced the task of removing an impractical flower bed, thereby extending the garden by an additional 5 feet and creating the much-needed space for the shed’s concrete foundation. To stay within her set budget, Lyon creatively repurposed slate tiles from a previous kitchen renovation to cover the concrete base, turning what was once discarded material into a cost-effective and environmentally friendly flooring solution. This ingenious approach not only aligned with Lyon’s commitment to minimizing waste (a fundamental principle of Appreciation Project, which started as a dried floral bouquet shop) but played a key role in sticking to the project’s financial constraints.
Step 2: Building the Bones
In Lyon’s pursuit of an enchanting escape, she stumbled upon a uniquely designed shed online for roughly $2,200 that had a whimsical pointed roof and arched windows. This particular structure came exclusively in flat packs, requiring every piece to be meticulously assembled. She enlisted her trusted carpenter, who proceeded to tell her he could have easily built it from scratch. But for Lyon, there was no turning back. “I love it exactly as it is,” she says. “I wouldn’t have changed a thing, apart from the quality of the wood, perhaps.”
Step 3: Adding a Rainbow of Colors
When selecting paint colors for the garden house, Lyon carefully considered its visibility from her main home. Despite her husband’s initial reservation, she convinced him to embrace a red hue on the exterior, pairing it with powder blue on the inside, a color combination that has become an unintentional signature inside Lyon’s home. To help her navigate the winter painting process, she chose Little Greene’s outdoor paint in the shades Baked Cherry and Sky Blue for its quality and built-in primer (a major time-saver). When it came time to paint the floors, Lyon didn’t have to trek all the way to the store: She reused leftover paint (Farrow & Ball’s De Nimes) from a previous hallway project.
The inspiration for the window film came from a past client project, where Lyon hadn’t had the opportunity to utilize it; it’s available in various colors and sold by the meter. She carefully cut and arranged the film, using soapy water and a squeegee to adhere it and a credit card to smooth out any air bubbles. But she didn’t cover every last square. By leaving parts of the glass untouched, Lyon ensured an outside view: “Our kids and their friends have named it the Rainbow House.”
Step 4: Cultivating a Cozy Atmosphere
In case she ever needs to use the shed for storage, Lyon chose to bring in two chairs rather than build out a permanent bench. She initially intended to reupholster the ’70s pieces (which she scored on Etsy), but the fabric turned out to be in pristine condition. Preferring a gradual decorating approach, Lyon slowly “shopped” her own home, eventually pulling a side table she once used for styling shoots. “My husband jokes that my side tables have side tables,” she says with a laugh, emphasizing the delightful reuse of one in her garden retreat. The cringe Lyon once felt when she looked out her kitchen window has been replaced with a smile.