before and afterDIY

‘Feral Sheds’ Become a New Home

by Grace Bonney

Sometimes a smaller space is all you need to edit down to discover what is most important in life. Designer, stylist and artist Paige Morse discovered just that when she decided to renovate, and then move into, a tiny “casita” she built in her backyard. By combining two rundown sheds in her main home’s backyard (Paige refers to them as her “feral sheds”), Paige was able to create a calm, minimalist retreat. Paige was so happy with the finished space, an all-white home inspired by Scandinavian design, that she recently decided to add a bed so she can stay there overnight to focus on her artwork. That type of major life change is the sort of clarity that so many of us are seeking and is often the result of editing, letting go and starting something new. Paige’s project not only gave her a fresh new space to work in, it gave her a fresh new take on her work and life altogether. I’m so impressed by her hard work and vision for this space and am thrilled to share the final results here today. Click through to the full post after the jump to see Paige’s new home! xo, grace

Photographs by Cody Ulrich

Click through for the full makeover after the jump!

The Before: Paige had two “feral sheds” in her backyard that she combined into one new space. She needed a live/work space in Dallas while she travels for work. For this project the budget was $17,000 and, along with a contractor, Paige took the buildings down to their studs and built them back up into one home (all according to neighborhood requirements).

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The Process: To cut costs, Paige designed the space herself and then worked with a contractor, Triple J Construction, to complete the project. Using salvaged, found and recycled materials, Paige and Triple J Construction collaborated to make the most of what they could find around the neighborhood, save for a few fixtures Paige found online.

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The After: Paige loves that her new home is an all-white environment that is perfect for clearing her mind. She created extra space in the shower and bathroom so she would feel relaxed and opted for a smaller kitchen with a smaller fridge (‘European style’, she explained) so there was more open space.


Final Thoughts: Paige says that, “This house has been my refuge. My safe place in the world.” She loves that it allows her to rent out her other home so she can make extra money and focus on making art as a living. This project showed Paige how little it takes to be truly happy.

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  • Hello! I am long time fan of all things DesignSponge! I don’t normally leave comments, but wanted to let you know I have been having a problem reading people’s handwriting in this type of posts. I would prefer to see just plain written text or maybe a font that looks like handwriting. It’s to the point where I won’t read the whole piece if the handwriting is faded or grainy (like this post). I appreciate the juxtaposition an individual’s unique handwriting with the digital platform, but I am not sure how successful it is.

    • Kim

      I’m sorry you’ve had a hard time reading these. Today’s entries were a bit tough to format, but I haven’t heard anything about past entries. I’ll make sure they’re clearer going forward.

      (I updated this post and typed her responses so they’re easy to read)


  • Can you explain what is a “european style kitchen”, for you ? I’m french and don’t see what’s different from what I see usually in DS, for the style. And nore what’s more european, for example we don’t have this kind of handle for our fridges, in France. I’d be very interested to your answer.

    • Jub

      I think she means a smaller, simpler kitchen. A lot of new-built American homes tend to have pretty oversized “chef style” kitchens with lots of islands and ornate detailing. We prefer simpler homes, so we don’t run a lot of those.


  • Thanks for sharing – this is inspiring me to do the same in my studio/walk-out basement. I would love to have some “feral” sheds in my backyard!

  • This is like a tiny version of what I wish my landlord would allow me to do in my home! I have the same type of wood beam ceilings and cute charming details…I am just not allowed to make it the dream. Sigh. Anyway. What color of white was used throughout? It’s so fresh and airy! Stunning.

  • As far as I can tell, the huge chef-style kitchens were a brief trend that peaked about 10 years ago, and newer homes tend to have more reasonable kitchens. I think people have figured out that if they don’t cook when they don’t have a huge fancy kitchen, then no matter how much they spend on their kitchen, they’re still not going to cook. That said, “American style kitchen” can mean just about anything, and I would imagine that kitchens in Europe also vary quite a bit depending on the overall size of the home, the era, the location, and the owners’ preferences.

  • Simply Sublime!! A great Thursday feature, Grace, and a wonderful reminder how resourceful and clever one can be with two feral sheds and $17K. Clever big white blanket as a sofa slip cover! I want to sit in the bathroom and read Paige’s curated pages on the bathroom wall. Beyond clever. Any chance of posting the source for those pillows and the divine chandelier – they all work together so perfectly. Such a calming cottage!

  • What an awesome renovation. I especially love that inlaid dresser in the last photo! I think I’ve seen it at anthropologie recently? They’ve got a ton of gorgeous inlay pieces this season. Does anyone know where the black and white triangle pattern runner is from? I feel like I’ve seen it in multiple homes, but haven’t seen it sourced. Any ideas?

  • Beautiful! Would love to know what the square footage is? Also would be great to see a floor plan.

    In reference to the other comments above:

    -I think the handwriting adds a nice touch + personality to these projects! I haven’t found it too hard to read.

    -On “European-style” I would also say that this definitely also means smaller appliances, such as the small under-the-counter fridge and the narrow stove. These smaller appliances are not very common in America.

  • Funny, when I first look at these posts, the personal handwriting is one of my favorite parts. It feels more personal.

    I love this Scandinavian design makeover. All white everything is what I see most about that type of design. Smaller kitchens, especially a fridge is definitely European style. I love the natural wood accents, especially the branch with hanging plant. So good.

  • Perfect! And the triangle runner is Nate Berkus for Target, reversible and also came in rug sizes, Natalie.

  • wow, amazing! I love the bathrooms especially. Curious what she does about heat? Or maybe she doesn’t need it? Wish I could see more! (ps. I love her handwriting)

  • So funny. I commented on the small carriage house you featured earlier in the week about small spaces and said I could probably just live in the shed on my property. Leave it to DS to provide more inspiration to do just that, with another beautiful space by Paige Morse nonetheless. Well done.

  • Wow, what a gorgeous space. It’s just perfect. Where did you find such fantastic blankets & textiles?

  • I too love that inlaid dresser and how the mirror reflects the bowl of rocks above it. Way to go, DS, for providing more tours of small spaces. This feral shed is divine!

  • This is a perfect example of living simply. I am drawn to this, imagine how easy it would be to clean, and you would always be organized, as long as you don’t start adding more “stuff”. so very well done, lovely and inspiring.

  • It’s really and truly lovely. But if this is an artist’s studio I’m not seeing any evidence of that. Where does she do her art and keep her supplies? What kind of art does she do?

    • AnneMarie- you can check out her site in the link above. She’s an interior designer and stylist- that’s most commonly done on laptops for the designers I know :)


  • Hello everyone. Thank you for the comments! I have been traveling and am just now getting caught up. I will try all and answer questions I saw here. Yes, I went to school in Ireland and had an apartment that had a small kitchen like this with the mini fridge and small stovetop. Many of the homes Ive stayed in in Europe were similar to the one at my studio. More compact. And you shop everyday for food. I could not find a antique small fridge I liked so I purchased this retro inspired one from Home Depot. And Grace is right! Most of my work is done on a laptop and iPhone. As far as the art pieces I make. They are all mixed media pieces made from mostly found objects. So all the items you see in my studio are incorporated into my art pieces. I also use photography as a medium to create art prints and I create conceptual art as well. My website has a few examples of these things you can see more on my instagram. paige_morse Thanks again for the kind words!

  • Really beautiful, I especially love the black floors (although I wonder how dirty they get). And that black and white chest-of-drawers is heart-stoppingly gorgeous.

    To chip in on the “European style” reference, I think she’s referring the fridge, which in this case is under-the-counter. Generally in Europe fridges are much smaller, not necessarily under-the-counter but definitely counter-depth and usually with only one door. Here in Ireland those giant, double-doored-with-ice-maker fridges that stick out beyond the counter are actually officially called (and marketed as) “American Style Fridges”.

  • Paige, you’re my new design hero! I’ve been slowly redecorating my apartment with a mostly black and white, Scandinavian feel, and I totally regret not buying that bone inlay dresser when I had the chance! SO inspiring…maybe these pictures will reassure my husband that buying a “feral” little house and doing a little renovation wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world ;)

  • So adorable! Just please be careful around those windows! There’s a reason why building codes require tempered glass in windows that close to the floor…

  • Wowie!! This is so charming, impressive and inspiring – rebuilding from the ground up and being creative with using recycled salvaged material. Awesome x1000
    There is so much amazing material out there that just gets thrown out (particularly when people renovate) and its amazing how much you can locate for cheap that is of good quality if you can get a little resourceful.

    I’m wondering about the electrical and plumbing – did it already exist in the previous structure, so was easy to hookup once rebuilt, or how complicated was it to rig up?


  • Lovely place. It took me a while to realize that the two buildings were placed end to end. I still wonder where she sleeps. Is that a sleep sofa?

  • Hi we are embarking on trying to find the right white paint. What colcor of white did you use throughout? I Love it!

  • We are trying to find the right “WHITE” paint color. Love the white you used. Would love to know the brand and color.

  • green with envy wouldn’t come close to my feelings about your new space. enjoy and continued creativity in your own “little art world” !

  • where’s the floor plan, design sponge? it’s trivial to publish an inspiring project without documenting the actual layout, especially one like this that up-cycles existing structures in such a creative way…

    • Hello, hello-

      We provide blueprints whenever they’re available, but not every home owner has the or provides them. It’s as simple as that.

      These are people sharing their homes and photographing them as a friendly gesture to all of us, so I don’t think it’s kind (or accurate) to call any contributions (which involve a lot of time, effort, writing and photography) trivial.

      This home will be shared in more detail on DS next month, but the home owner didn’t have a full photo set ready yet, so we’re happily waiting for those new photos.


  • I wonder if you could share how you manage storage such as your closet? I did not see it in any of the images. Your space is truly an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your beautiful design.

  • Wow, one of my favourite spaces on Design Sponge!! I’ll be able to deal with a small house if it’s in the country. Very inspiring.

  • damn. @Hello. that was kind of harsh. i didn’t provide a floor plan because i did it all in my head. i didn’t need one. i would draw one for you. but i don’t respond well to people who are mean. and yes. thank you Grace for having more tact than i do. I will answer all the questions in this comment thread in the post in a few weeks. It is “pointless” for me to answer all the questions when I am very busy and will answer them all soon anyway. KIND IS THE NEW BLACK PEOPLE… sheesh.
    xo Paige

  • Dear Paige,
    I truly adore your studio/home. We have just aquired an old cabin/shed on 7 acres at a State Park in Texas. I was thinking of tearing it down when I saw your amazing redo. Thank you for sharing your wonderful work….I am most anxiously awaiting any floor plan as I am certain I could use them in my upcoming project.
    Blessings on you and your work!

  • I echo what JUB said. I never read any of the posts with handwriting. It is unpleasant to the eye and does not comply with universal design for learning.

  • Very nice. How big is the house? (Square meter/inch/feet floorspace). I would like to know how it compares to a 25 m2 guesthouse that I am planning to build.

  • Paige your home is lovely and very inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing. Thank you also for the elegant and tactful handling of the rude comments and demands. I am often too shocked by the lack of kindness and courtesy in the comments. Needless and disappointing. Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to share information with us. Wishing you a very peaceful holiday season

  • Your little retreat is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL. I love what you did with just a shed. You have a great sense of style and I am in awe of your adorable retreat. Thanks for sharing this with the world.

    And- I love handwriting and am drawn to any blog or post that uses that form. Seems such a shame that more blog posts do not use cursive. Unfortunately some folks have forgotten how to read good old fashioned hand written letters or signatures. A beautiful art form in and of itself. I much prefer it over printing. And texts– now that is totally obnoxious form of communication in my opinion.

    Be blessed in your amazing little space.

  • \textit{This project showed Paige how little it takes to be truly happy.} Wish more people could realize this.. :)

    Paige, have you found the lack of insulation in the ceiling is bothering you too much? I have a similar ceiling in my kitchen that my husband wants to insulate, but I love it exposed so much.

  • Love, Love your style and ideas. We live in a very tiny beach cottage and the coffee tables are so amazing, exactly what I’m looking for. Would you share your source please?

  • Vet du? Jeg elsker og se slike før bilder, gøy og se utviklingen:):) du er utrolig flink til og pynte, det skal du ha:)Ønsker deg en flott onsdagskveld videre:) klem fra Linn:)