How We Turned a Backyard Shed into a Dream Bunkhouse

Jul, 03, 2019

The Home Depot Orange Tank Competition

Haven DIY Blogger Conference 2018

Last year I received an email from The Haven Conference announcing that The Home Depot would be hosting an Orange Tank Competition. Imagine a  Shark Tank competition for DIYers. This was the perfect opportunity to pitch my Shed Turned Dream Bunkhouse project.  Our little Upstate NY Finger Lakes cottage needed a place to house more campers! Now, we have our own shed bunkhouse to share the Summer fun!

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haven DIY conference, diy blogger Amie Freling of Meme Hill Studio, the Home Depot Orange Tank Winner

The first step was to fill out an extensive application consisting of our pitch idea, Home Depot supplies, and a time frame for the completed project.  Shortly after all the applications were received The Home Depot chose 11 finalist and myself to travel to Charleston, SC to pitch our ideas in person.  I packed up the SUV with all my visuals, practiced my live speech and bit off just about every nail by the time we hit the South Carolina border. The rest was history.  Just  hours after my pitch they announced that the Itsy Bitsy Bunkhouse project was the grand prize $5K winner. Time to breathe… and SHOP!

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Let’s Do This!

I had already done all my homework customizing the Tuff Shed online so when it came time to shopping at my Penfield, NY Home Depot ordering the shed was a breeze. My dad and I loaded up all the supplies in a van and waited for our custom shed to arrive at the lake. In just  6 weeks a crew delivered the shed pieces and in a few hours it was assembled onsite.

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I couldn’t wait to get started. We first ran electricity form the main cottage out to an electrical  box in the shed. We then wired for outdoor lighting, a chandelier, and three outlets.

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If you follow along on my instagram feed you will know that this Spring was brutal in NY. Almost every weekend was either freezing, raining, or snowing which made working outside virtually impossible. Here was the one day that we set up shop outside. The main cottage was getting a mini facelift too. We added a small 4′ by 12′ deck off the front. If you’d like to see the inside of the cottage … come on in!

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After the electrical was done Dad and I started working on the Eucatile white bead board panel walls. These sheets were exactly what I was looking for and you couldn’t beat the cost at $23. for a 4 by 8 sheet. It took us 11 sheets to complete the 10 by 12 shed walls.

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Farmhouse Style Paneling

Next up was the rustic farmhouse reclaimed wood paneling. The wood planks compliment the flooring and add just the right amount of interest when looking up!  Lattice trim pieces would cover up the seams and flat stock hobby wood and pre-primed trim lumber, and good old caulk tightened up and made the the interior polished.  Pre-painted vents covers covered vents and still allows the heat to escape.

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Light bright white

All the trim and bead board along with the bunks were painted in a semi gloss bright white interior finish paint.  The color was going to come from the accessories and bedding.  Just two coats covered it all. Time to tackle the bunks….

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Don’t Let the Bunkbeds Bite

We built the bunk boxes in my dad’s workshop and assembled them to 2- 2′ by 4′ pine boards  for support. With the 7 foot walls and peak at 10 foot we were able to raise the height of the top bunk and still have plenty of room.  I never wanted to bottom camper to feel claustrophobic. We wrapped the 2 by 4’s with pre-primed boards in varying sizes.  I filled in the screw and nail holes with wood filler and caulked the seams. I hated having the underside of the top bunk unfinished so we cut a plain white panel and nailed it to the top slats creating a finished look. Simple slatted ladders painted in the gray were attached to the ends of the bunks. Black metal handles were added for an extra place to grab when going up and down.

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LifeProof Vinyl Plank Flooring

When the kids come in from the lake with sandy and wet feet I needed a product that would not lonely withhold the moisture and dirt but would camouflage it. I chose Life Proof vinyl plank flooring in Sterling Oak. In an hour I installed the floor all by myself. I started at the front door and worked back. The only tools I needed was a matte knife. Simple click tiles that finished the whole look. I was in love.

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Exterior Shed Bunkhouse Paint

Because our little lake compound is small I planned to paint the exterior barn red to match the main cottage with All in one paint and primer ultra white trim. I enlisted my painter friend Hank and the three of us painted the exterior in under 4 hours. Hank primed, my husband Ross cut in and I took over the rolling. I knew that the double door we going to stay open a majority of the time so I painted horizontal gray stripes to give them a nautical flare. The shed came with shutters but after we took them off to cut in around the windows we all decided that we liked it better without them. What do you think?

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Landscaping the Bunkhouse

My dear friend Ginny donated to rocks from her farm. We took advantage of the Memorial Day sales at HomeDepot and planted a variety of flowering annuals and perennials. Ross relocated stepping stones from the side yard to create a path from the bunkhouse to the cottage. Tall arborvitae hide the canoes, paddle boards and kayaks.

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For the past several months I have been stock piling decor and furniture in our basement at home. It was time to decorate. Matching bedding, nautical decor and navy furniture and accessories make it warm and inviting. I share all my decor resources in another bunkhouse post or by shopping my BUNKHOUSE DECOR IDEA LIST.

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The Itsy Bitsy Shed turned bunkhouse is now ready for Summer lake life living. For weeks neighbors, family, friends and social media followers have been watching the transformation. All the blood, sweat, and tears were worth it. This project will forever be dear to me since it was a joint effort with my father. He taught me so much about planning, building and the  necessary carpentry skills needed to create this dream bunkhouse. Thanks to Haven Conference for hosting a wonderful event that brings bloggers and DIYers together and The HomeDepot for believing in project!  All the details on decor and furnishings are in my post Nautical Essential for down at the LAKE. 

Now grab your swim suit, oar, kayak and let’s go jump in the Lake. Summer’s here!  xox Amie

Home Depot Orange Tank Competition, haven DIY conference, Haven DIY winner, amie Freling

Home Depot Orange Tank Competition, haven DIY conference, Haven DIY winner, amie Freling, bunkbeds

Please feel free to PIN this post of our new Shed Bunkhouse!

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Fabulous photography by Kristin Leighton @KNYFIVE

Drone Video by Jake Petrone Videos

Shed Turned Bunkhouse


  1. Reply


    July 3, 2019

    Amie, this is simply incredible! This project is the best representation of your vision, creativity and talent as a designer. I loved watching it come together and am grateful to have been a small part of it!

  2. Reply


    July 3, 2019

    Amie- This is amazing!!! It is so fun and cozy… you are so talented my friend!!! Enjoy!! Xoxo

    • Reply


      July 3, 2019

      Thank you Jaime! I ma thinking you might need a pool house! LOL! Happy Summer. xo

  3. Reply


    May 7, 2020

    Could you tell me dimensions of the shed?

    • Reply


      May 7, 2020

      HI there! Yes the shed is 10 deep by 12 wide and we paid extra to get an additional foot added to the height which is 7 feet at the door. We chose a peaked roof that gave a 10 foot height at its highest point. I am working out the issues with the images. There is another blog post on the Home Depot blog with more details at Thank you for stopping by! Amie

      • Reply


        May 20, 2020

        Would you mind sharing the shed you used and the dimensions of bunks you built?

        • Reply


          May 26, 2020

          Hi Laura- Here is the link to the Home Depot blog post. We used Ready, shed, go and since the blog post they changed the supplier they used or changed the name. We bought a 12 wide by 10 deep and paid extra for the one foot added height at the door to make it 7 feet. All the details are in the home Depot blog. I don’t have any specific plans on how we built them but since we had the added head height we gave an extra foot between bunks. Usually there is 3 feet. As for size, we just built them around the size of a twin bed. Hope that helps. Let me know if you need any more information. Amie

  4. Reply


    May 18, 2020

    Do you have the plans you used to make the bunk beds? We have an old like side fish house we are turning into a bunkhouse and love the look of your bunk beds!

    • Reply


      May 20, 2020

      Hi Allison- We do not but I can ask my dad and we can maybe get some together for you. Have you read The Home Depot blog post? I go thru all the supplies and share the process photos on their site. I believe the link is in the blog post but here is is. Thank you and they were very easy to make and not too expensive. I’d love to see a picture of your fishing house!

  5. Reply


    July 1, 2020

    I love this sooo much! Would love to work on a project like this. Can I rent your Dad???

    • Reply


      July 2, 2020

      Hi Paula! He has said to me “I’m all done building bunk beds. ” Onto the next project. He is the best and since his semi retirement from the optical business he works more than ever delivering flowers for Wisteria and helping me on projects. We all need a dad like mine! Happy Fourth weekend.

  6. Reply


    August 22, 2021

    Love love love this! Do you have the link for the paneling you used for the ceiling?

    • Reply


      August 23, 2021

      Hi I removed the link when it was out of stock. Looks like it is back in stock. I just reinserted the direct link! Amie

  7. Reply


    October 30, 2021

    I love the height of these bunks. Can you give the dimensions of the bunk beds. Id like the height of the bunk…like from floor to bottom of top bunk. It just looks so nice and high for adults too.

    • Reply


      November 1, 2021

      HI Natalie! The bunkbeds were custom made so we wanted more headroom to make it feel more like a lounge sofa feel. There is usually 3 feet above the bottom bunk but we chose 4 1/2 to give more spacious headroom due to the hight ceilings.

  8. Reply


    February 19, 2022

    It looks like you added an interior set of screen doors- is that right? Do I assume they are just standard size 36×80 full screen wooden doors?

    • Reply


      February 19, 2022

      Hi Fred! The opening was not standard so we made our own custom screens. We could have reframed the opening but wanted the biggest opening possible. Very affordable to make our own! I shared the process on my instagram account.

  9. Reply


    February 24, 2022

    Does the shed have air conditioning ? Perhaps a window unit?

    • Reply


      February 25, 2022

      Hi Sherrie- It does not. It has a wall heater but no air conditioning. We upgraded the shed to have two vents at the top of each peak. The hot air escapes there and we have a fan if needed. The kids and guests just sleep with the screen doors and the lake breeze is cool enough at night. You could always put a window unit in if wanted.

  10. Reply

    David Kmett

    April 8, 2022

    Did you paneling buckle or warp at all/

    • Reply


      April 10, 2022

      Hi there Yes with the moisture a bit. Depends on how far apart your studs are and if you use any other way to adhere.

  11. Reply


    July 14, 2023

    Hi There…Just googled how to convert a shed to a bunkhouse because we’re full at our cottage in northern Michigan and need to find a way to increase sleeping space. This is adorable! We are not handy, so most of the work, other than the finishing, would need to be hired out. Can I ask what do you do with this shed in the winter months to keep the elements out (including critters)? We are directly on Lake Michigan and it gets pretty cold and windy and we have a lot of animals roaming the woods. Thanks for any info.!

    • Reply


      July 25, 2023

      HI Donna- We had it insulated and made sure we closed it up good. We chose an extra sturdy floor that no critter could eat their way into it. We also put anther floor on top. The most we got inside were flies and spiders. NO MICE! We also added the screen door was added protection for the front doors. Upstate NY winters are brutal, Trust me it was tight. I would love to see your bunkhouse when its completed. Send me a picture!

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