With an overhanging roof for seating and barbecuing, a simple shed was transformed into a comfortable back yard retreat. Donna Balzer / For CREB®Now

There is no need to leave town with a garden retreat in your back yard

Together with her husband Bruce, Linda converted a back yard shed into a retreat – a cabin retreat.

“You gotta have a cabin in the back yard,” said Linda, my neighbour.

I am jealous as I study the overall effect. The cabin was built last year on the back of the shed where her woodpile, no longer needed, used to be.

“We took that down, extended the roof to overhang the shed and created a sitting area. So you are under cover and even if it’s raining you don’t get wet,” she said.

Linda’s cabin doesn’t have bedrooms or a cook stove. It is, quite literally, just an overhanging roof with two lattice sidewalls. There are a couple of chairs, some memorabilia, a ‘Welcome to the cabin’ sign, and a place to put a mobile propane fireplace when it’s not being used for camping.

The cabin gives Linda and Bruce a place to sit when they are out in their yard. I hear them often, over the fence, laughing and chatting as they sit by their cabin, fake fireplace lit, and real glasses of wine poured.

A cabin is a retreat and this one is no different. It has a view to a tiny man-made water feature and a recently planted forest. It’s cozy and intimate, but it’s really just a sitting area with style.

The cabin was built last year on the back of the shed where her woodpile, no longer needed, used to be

I promised myself with this house I wasn’t going to end up with 18 different places to sit because you end up sitting in one place; you never really sit anywhere else. We put benches and stuff around, but they are just for decoration. This “cabin” is actually our sitting area. It is a shed, but we just sort of made it a little garden room – a place to sit.

If you agree with Linda and can visualize your back garden as a retreat, a little slice of nature where you can sit, it’s time to get out the sketchpad and look around at your existing space. I have seen old single garages converted to real cabins complete with a woodstove, but I have never seen a shed converted to a pretend cabin – until now.

Armed with a handy husband, a glue gun and an attitude, Linda is decorating her back yard. With spring finally here, you should do the same.


Donna Balzer’s column appears exclusively in CREB®Now biweekly. Contact Donna at www.donnabalzer.com