Your garden is your sanctuary, and no garden is complete without a proper shed. Perhaps no other culture knows that better than gardeners in the U.K., and that’s why people across the great island are competing in Cupinrol’s Shed of the Year contest.

Participants submitted their best shed designs into one of eight categories:

  • Unexpected
  • Eco
  • Cabin/Summerhouse
  • Workshops/Studios
  • Pub/Entertainment
  • Budget
  • Historic
  • Unique

And now, the vote is down to just four sheds, which you can go to vote for here.

Our favorite garden shed didn’t make it into the final four, but that doesn’t mean it’s not amazing. It was created by Ilona of North Lincolnshire and was short-listed in the Budget category. If you’re looking to build your own garden oasis, here are some of her ideas you may consider including into your design.

1. Don’t Pay For Anything

Everything except for the second-hand roofing (which she made a £20 donation to an organization in exchange for) was sourced for free, including the pallets and doors that made the walls, the carpet on the floor, and the plant stands standing in the corners. “It’s surprising what you can get for free,” Ilona says. “Just ask!”

2. Use Color Liberally

If Ilona’s shed is lacking in anything, it’s not color. She painted the outside cheery pastel shades, incorporated colorful planters, and added homemade fabric artwork to give the space some flair. To us, it offers the perfect inspiration for dreaming up garden plants and writing short stories.

3. Make It Cozy

Of course, your shed can be strictly utilitarian—a spot where you can hold garden supplies and do potting work—but why? Ilona added in vintage curtains, comfy homemade back pillows, knick-knacks that remind her of her youth, decorations sporting colorful hearts and even a spot for the cat to sleep—all assembled with a touch of personality and charm. She loves the space so much, she said she’d rent out her house and just live there!

4. Don’t Forget The Plants

A garden shed is obviously not a garden shed without plants! Not only is Ilona’s shed juxtaposed conveniently near her edible garden beds, she made it a point to spruce up the place with pretty flowers in pots, in buckets and in the ground. If you’re landscaping around your own garden shed, consider adding in edible flowers and herbs, so the space is both pretty and serves your kitchen.

5. Give Yourself A View

Even if you don’t have sweeping farm landscapes to orient your shed window toward, take a cue from Ilona, and get creative. She planted a beach scene on an adjacent garage, inspiring the name of her shed: “The Beach Chalet.”

Rachael Dupree is the former managing editor for Our Site. She grows food and medicine on her 50-acre farm near Lexington, Kentucky. When not out working her land, you can find her in her kitchen not following recipes, on her yoga mat in a satisfying pigeon pose, or exploring the world’s nooks and crannies. Follow her on Instagram @rachael_dupree.

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