How to Turn a Shed Into a Cottage

If you own a storage or gardening shed and wish to add a guest room to your home, consider turning the shed into a cottage. Having a structure already in place saves you the cost of custom fabrication by a contractor, and most wood-framed sheds can be easily transformed into a livable cottage space with the addition of electricity and plumbing. To turn a shed into a cottage, you need only complete a few steps.

A shed can be remodeled into a cottage.
  1. Dispose of or move the contents of the shed. Clean the interior walls and floor with soap and water. Use bleach to remove mold and mildew, and allow the shed to air and dry out.

  2. Replace the door and reinforce the roof. Uninstall the original door and replace it with a new one equipped with a lock. Replace or install wood beams in the interior of the roof to give it added support. Replace or add shingles to the roof's exterior as needed.

  3. Examine the flooring. If the flooring can be salvaged, restore the original flooring as this will give the space a sense of antiquity and imbue it with a vintage look. If not, replace it with a durable material.

  4. Insulate the walls. Fasten 2-by-4-inch studs to the walls every 16 to 24 inches. Attach wall insulation in between the studs. Cover the newly added insulation with paneling or drywall.

  5. Replace any existing windows with low-emissivity glass windows. These panes create a light barrier and help to insulate the structure. Caulk around the exterior of the windows to prevent rain from seeping inside.

  6. Hire a licensed electrician to run electrical wiring to the shed and install several outlets. Ask for recommendations on wiring and safe load requirements. Because sheds are often made of wood, keeping the number of power outlets within and electrical demands placed upon the structure low helps to prevent electrical fires.

  7. Engage a licensed plumbing contractor to run water and sewer lines to the shed. You may also consider adding a small sink and/or half-bath if there is enough space.

  8. Paint the exterior and interior of the building. Select an interior paint of your choosing. The exterior paint should be acrylic latex to help prevent color fading; acrylic latex paint also better adheres to surfaces.


  • Check with your local building permitting office to determine if you need permits to turn your shed into a cottage. Homeowners who do not have proper permits prior to beginning construction can incur large monetary fines.

About the Author

Owen Richason grew up working in his family's small contracting business. He later became an outplacement consultant, then a retail business consultant. Richason is a former personal finance and business writer for "Tampa Bay Business and Financier." He now writes for various publications, websites and blogs.