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6 Cozy Outdoor Retreats to Inspire Your Next Project

By Lauren Dunec Hoang, Houzz

You may be inspired to find another home for your garden tools after taking a look at these sheds and studios turned into snug backyard retreats. Warm wood, soft lighting, layered quilts and other cozy details set these outbuildings apart from the pack. From a shepherd’s hut kitted out as a guest cottage to a garden shed hiding a hot tub, these retreats may sweep you away and provide inspiration for next year’s project.

art studio shed

Modern-Shed, original photo on Houzz

1. Craft studio with a porch. Tucked behind a house on Vashon Island, Washington, this mini prefab studio provides extra space where the homeowners can work on arts and crafts projects. The sloped tongue-and-groove pine roof extends generously over the studio’s entryway deck, protecting the doorway from the elements and adding a nice architectural touch.

Turning an existing shed into a studio? Adding a porch, lofting the ceiling or widening windows can make a small structure feel more spacious. Soft elements like an entryway mat, cushy furniture and rugs to cover floorboards can help the space feel inviting.

hot tub cottage

Whole Picture, original photo on Houzz

2. Covered hot tub. Imagine a guest’s surprise when he or she discovers a luxurious hot tub behind the door of this playhouse behind a Welsh holiday home. Plus, the cottage is much more charming to look out onto than a blocky, covered hot tub.

shepherd's hut

Ben G Waller Photography, original photo on Houzz

3. Kitted-out caravan. Wheeled straight into the backyard, this gussied-up shepherd’s hut would be an inviting spot for hosting visitors.

It has a built-in bed, a second fold-down cot and a mini kitchen, complete with a fridge, farmhouse sink, coffee press and toaster — effectively everything an overnight guest would need.

Rustic details add to the charm. Layered patterned quilts, fuzzy throw blankets and vintage touches make the space feel especially homey.

office and storage shed

SQFT Studios, original photo on Houzz

4. Snug home office and storage shed duplex. A wall divides this backyard shed, allowing separate areas for sports equipment and a home office. While the storage space is bare-bones with its unfinished plywood walls, the home office was treated with a luxe finish. The room has warm lighting, pale mint-green walls, shelves and space for a desk.


Bordertown Ltd, original photo on Houzz

5. Fairy-tale cottage. With a steep shingled roof, a Dutch door and raw-edge wood siding, this charming tiny house in Latvia looks like it’s straight out of a storybook.

Inside, a ladder leads up to the mini sleeping loft, which would be just enough room for young kids to curl up for a sleepover or an adult to relax with a book. The interior has been kept simple, with some boards left natural and others whitewashed to brighten the living room. Recessed lighting makes the cottage an appealing place for playing after dark.

guest cabin

Quantum Construction Ltd, original photo on Houzz

6. Rustic guest cabin. This little cabin set back from the main house in Pasley Island, British Columbia, Canada, provides space for overnight guests with a snug double bed and lofted single bed.

The project’s contractors gave special attention to the details of the cabin’s exterior, so that it suits the wooded environment. They used wood shingles to cover the sides and natural logs to support the roof of the generously sized porch.

Inside, the cabin feels like a camp bunk for grown-ups. A lofted single bed accessed by a wooden ladder is slotted over the main double bed below. Not only does this save on floor space, but it also makes the double bed feel extra comfy — like sleeping in a snug nook.

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