These DIY Garden Shed Upgrades Created the Ultimate Preteen Hangout

See how a mother and daughter duo put their spin on the "she shed" with a customized structure that includes space to paint, create, and hang out with friends.

A spot to call her own quite possibly made Elise Persson the happiest preteen in town. With the basement taken over by Elise's teenage brother (and his video games and friends), a shed in the backyard became the go-to place for Elise's artistic activities and girlfriend gatherings.

sitting area in clubhouse
Brie Williams

Instead of building the shed themselves, Anders and Angie Persson of Charlotte purchased a prebuilt shed from Sheds USA through The Home Depot. After selecting a model online and making sure it was available in their area, Angie, an interior designer, customized the shed by choosing from a variety of upgrades, such as the French doors that open out to welcome fresh air yet allow plenty of natural light when closed.

Angie worked closely with a landscaper to determine how the shed would be incorporated within their existing landscape. The Perssons painted the structure the same color as the house. For the light-filled interior, Elise and Angie made purposeful design choices to establish a creative "clubhouse" for Elise and her friends. "I wanted something that could grow with her and grow with us," Angie says.

two people and dog in clubhouse with sitting area
Brie Williams

Angie recommends patience and a willingness to expend some elbow grease to anyone taking on a project like this. While purchasing a shed is faster than building it yourself or hiring a builder, it takes time to prep the site where the shed will be located. When selecting a site, consider what type of sunlight the shed will get, how the shed will affect the view from your home, and if the spot has proper drainage.

Additionally, consider the four seasons when outfitting your clubhouse. The Persson's shed has electricity and a space heater so Elise can spend time there in all but the coldest months.

chair with pillow and spider stool
Brie Williams

To ensure the landscaping is low maintenance, they planted mondo grass, a member of the lily family, between the pavers because it can grow in both shaded and sunny areas and doesn't need to be cut. In addition to being a practical choice, the grass features pretty purple flowers in the summer.

This rustic wood stool has a creepy-crawly touch with a spider etched into the top with a wood-burning tool.

patterned seating area in clubhouse
Brie Williams

While the shed was a gift from her parents, it was Elise's job to furnish it. Luckily for her, she had access to items her designer mother had in storage, such as the vintage chairs and coffee table. Elise used birthday money, sold dog treats, and had a lemonade stand to pay for the rest of the items.

The layered rugs on the floor, one of which Elise found in her parents' garage, add to the ambience and make it a comfortable place to sit and complete crafts like the yarn-wrapped jewelry tree.

white craft table with hanging seats
Brie Williams

Swing chairs are easy to detach from the rafters to free up room for sleepovers or impromptu dance parties. The hanging chairs were an idea of Elise's made possible with help from her grandfather. Large carabiner clips, like those used by climbers, hold the swings securely but are easy to remove.

Another space-saving idea is the drop-leaf table that has built-in drawers for storage and can fold flat when not in use. Elise purchased the BFF letterforms at a crafts store and decorated them with paints in the pastel color palette she chose for her clubhouse.

A budding artist, Elise loves to craft and create. The arrow jewelry holder is a kit from Craft Crush. When she wants more of a challenge, she paints. Elise loves all animals, but especially dogs, who are often the subjects of her artwork.

clubhouse with colorful decor
Brie Williams

Inserting shelves between wall studs adds display and storage areas without using any precious floor space. Angie and Elise mounted a whiteboard with a frame they found at an antiques shop. Although she can easily change the drawings or phrases on the board, Elise likes how the "Welcome to the Clubhouse" lettering turned out, so it's remained a constant while drawings and notes are added and erased around it.

hanging art supply holders
Brie Williams

Elsie assembled these wall pockets from a craft kit and decorated the paper fronts with graphic patterns.

pouch on windows filled with succulents
Brie Williams

Wally Pockets are an eco-friendly alternative to the traditional window box. Made of recycled plastic, they allow drainage for drought-loving succulents and are easy to attach and move.

Updated by
Andrea Caughey

Andrea Nordstrom Caughey has been providing interior design insight to readers for more than three decades. She helps readers upcycle items and restore old spaces with modern aesthetics. Andrea's work has taken her coast-to-coast in search of the best home ideas, and her work has been featured in Southern Living, Better Homes & Gardens, and StyleBlueprint. She has also been involved with Dotdash Meredith as a regional editor for more than three decades. Her work has also included garden and outdoor ideas.

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