Happy Labor Day, Everyone! With open arms, I welcomed my first long weekend since working full-time again. Slav has some work to do and it is hot outside (98F during the day), so I decided to completely hibernate in our air-conditioned rooms and take lots of naps. I love doing renovation projects and seeing things improve in my hands, but in a hot day like this, blogging about the work we did from air-conditioned room is waaaay more preferable. 🙂

Refreshing our garden shed is tedious work – all the materials are oversized and heavy, lots of surfaces make everything take longer, and Colorado sun does not make outdoor work more pleasant. However, what had stopped us from finishing the shed renovation during the past two weeks was not too much sun, but too little. It has been raining everyday in the afternoon, just enough to make the bottom of the shed a bit damp. We did not want to paint the shed in such condition that the paint seals the moisture inside the siding. So we waited while trying to complete as much as possible indoors.

One thing we did during these two weeks was to figure out paint colors for the shed. Initially Slav wanted a red shed with white trims – a standard farm-ish color combo. So I went to Lowe’s and got a few dozen of red color swatches. We both sank into the terrible “design decision paralysis” and neither of us dared to pick the final color, not to mention that there were still a few dozens of white color choices for the trim…

The major dilemma was that we wanted the shed to look good, but we did not want it to stand out. The shed was sitting at a far corner of our yard, neighboring some trees and the brown back fencing. Painting it bright red will inevitably bring too much attention to it. The current pressure-treated plywood (without paint) actually blends very well with the oil-treated cedar fencing. But we did not want to spend $100 on paint only to cover the entire shed the same brown as the color of the plywood.


Then I had an idea – why not do a brown stencil? We have a birch tree stencil that we used in our NC apartment and loved it. This stencil highlights the tree stems opposed to foliage,which should help the shed to blend in vertical fencing and tree branches.


This is the wall we painted with the birch tree stencil in our NC apartment. We picked a lighter shade than our sofa and it made the room so vibrant. Coming up with this idea was like a light bulb went on. It made us excited about painting the shed for the first time and just gave us such enthusiasm that we did not have before with other colors.

We decided to use a brown-cream color combination with the stencil on the shed, with a brown that is close to the fence color. So Lowe’s I went again. I have been visiting the paint desk in our local Lowe’s on average once a week. The staff there asked me “did you decided on which red” when she saw me. LOL. We both laughed when I told her that I needed brown paint – Ha! I wanted the brown to be more chocolaty, opposed the ones that are too earthy and too red. What I brought home in the end: “universal lumber” brown for the tree stems, and “cream in my coffee” for the background.


This is how they look like overlapping:


I was not 100% sure about the color. So staffs in Lowe’s put a drop of darker brown on top of the cream color when they mixed my paint order, so I can see how the two colors interact when they are on top of each other. It is this kind of detail makes me going back to Lowe’s over and over again.


Since the stencil covers the background and has openings shaped like the tree stems, I needed more “cream in my coffee” than “universal lumber”. The way it works is to paint the entire surface “cream in my coffee” (background) first, then stencil it over using “universal lumber” to get the tree stems. I also wanted to seal the shed really well with two coats of outdoor primer/sealer, so I got half gallons of “universal lumber”, one gallons of “cream in my coffee”, and two gallons of outdoor primer/sealer.


Attacked by vicious dogs while taking the photo – I was pushed down on the ground and my face was violently licked:


As soon as we had three sunny days in row, I got to work with my new paint sprayer. The two coats of primes were up lighting fast! The Wagner 590 has a 50 oz paint can attached to it. For our 8’x 11′ x 9′ shed, I only reloaded once (100 oz total) for a complete coat. So it went relatively fast.


It was an arm exercise though: 50 oz of paint is not light and I had to hold the sprayer up and move slowly and steadily across my path. It was just manageable for me with this amount of surface. For a garage of a few rooms, I would choose an air-pressure feed sprayer.

I used up rest of the primer on the trims. They were laid on some scrap wood in the garage and I just rolled all of them two coats with a roller.



One tricky detail about painting the trims was that they were all cut to custom-fit a specific corner or to cover a specific place on the shed. Slav labeled all of them exactly where they needed to be. I used my beloved label maker to make sure that the information was not lost.


After the primer dried on the shed and the trims, Slav put the trims up. The shed immediately looked more polished.


The afternoon shade of trees on the shed is so pretty and made me confident that the stencil would work well.


Annnnnd – this is the shed painted! I rolled the top panels and faces of the trims first, followed by stenciling all around, and finished by brushing the side of the trims and corners at the end.


I am not gonna lie. Working with large size of stencil is a lot of work. It took me three evenings to finish painting – I think it was about 8 hours. We did our last stencil wall painting together and it was a very smooth wall, so it did not take more than a few hours. But this time around, Slav had to work so I flew solo. With no one holding the stencil up, it was hard to tape it down perfectly straight. And once it was taped down, it wanted to slide down as soon as you put pressure on it with a roller. There was so much paint accumulated on the stencil so quickly, which add the weight and made the edge blurry. So I had to pause and clean it every an hour or so. When I finished the front and two sides, I was visibly tired and we were running really low on the brown color. So Slav said, “let us just paint the back a solid color. We have so much exterior paint in green and it will blend in better into our grass looking from the other side”. Boy I was so relieved!


But we absolutely love how the stencil turned out. It adds so much more interest on the shed than any solid color, yet it makes the shed disappearing when it gets dark outside like a camouflage. Slav definitely adores it, which by itself made all the work worthwhile. He wasn’t sure about the colors I picked at the beginning, but once it was done he was like “this looks great, babe!” He carefully put on the doors on after all the paint was dried, stepped back, took a long look at the shed, and nodded with smile on his face. I could not be more proud! 🙂

As soon as the outside was done and the door was put in place, we started setting up the inside storage. The biggest reason for refreshing this shed, instead of just demoing it, is to have our gardening tools stored here. This shed is a lot closer to our future vegetable beds than the garage, and we want to keep gardening stuff separated from Slav’s car work area for the sake of cleanness.

I’ve showed you the storage plans, with shelves on the left, lawn mower in the middle, and long-handled gardening tools hanging on the wall:


It turned out that wooden shelves would come out very expensive – at least $100 for just the wood alone, and a lot more with brackets, screws, and paint. Slav found a discounted plastic shelving unit in the Habitat for Humanity store for $10 (in white), which is too good of a price to pass. So we decided just to do plastic shelving for the shed. We completed this side of the shed with a similar shelving unit from Lowe’s (in black):


They are both pretty steady and work just fine. For $45 total they are totally worth it compared to >$100 worth materials and hours of building time.

It turned out we did not have any extra lumber in hand, so we nixed the wood storage frame idea in the right corner. Our shovels and racks are waiting patiently for their final placement:


I filmed a short video to show you the inside and what we ended up storing here (the Christmas tree did not make it here). Enjoy!