I was fed up with my rotten old barn, but didn’t want to shell out for a new one, so I turned it into a gin bar.

WHEN you usually think of a barn, you often imagine a dark, ominous space containing a lawn mower and lots of cobwebs.

But in fact, with the right know-how and a few helpful tips, an old, dingy barn can be completely transformed, as hairdresser Ria Stones has proven.


Riya’s barn was old and dirty, so she spent the insulation redoing it.1 credit

The 53-year-old woman got creative and turned what she calls her “shed” into a gorgeous “genie’s palace” where she and her friends can relax and unwind.

Ria, who lives in Cary Castle, Somerset, put in a new window to let in natural light, and installed electricity and even installed a refrigerator.

Here she reveals exactly how she transformed her spacious shed from gray to fabulous…

“Just looked sorry for myself”

As soon as Ria moved into her house in 2020, she knew she had nothing else to do, but when the lockdown began, she had time to dedicate herself to transforming the garden.

She installed a new window and even connected the barn to electricity to chill drinks in the fridge.


She installed a new window and even connected the barn to electricity to chill drinks in the fridge.1 credit
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She says: “The barn is in a large front garden, completely isolated by a large laurel hedge.

“The lawn was very mossy, as it faced north, and in the barn there were only a lawn mower and a trimmer.

“I have a garage, so I thought the shed would just stand there and feel sorry for myself.”

Getting Started

After removing a few items that were there, Riya set to work, first painting the outside black and the inside white.

Now Riya's friends like to drop in for a drink at the Gin Palace.


Now Riya’s friends like to drop in for a drink at the Gin Palace.1 credit

She says, “I painted the ceiling with the white satin paint I had and then papered it over.

“Maybe I should have used a thin sheet of MDF before wallpapering, but the barn’s ship lap (a type of wood plank) was very good, so it held up well and didn’t get wet at all.

“I also painted the outside of the garden fence black and sprayed it with paint.”

Refrigerator installation

In total, Ria spent around £350 giving the space a glowing garden.

It was mostly spent calling a handyman to install a new window using the glass panel she already had and hook up the electricity.

She says: “I didn’t think about the budget, but I think windows and electricity were the most expensive.

Riya spent isolation to get the form of a spaceship


Riya spent isolation to get the form of a spaceship1 credit

“I had to run the power cable outside so I had proper lighting and a fridge to keep my drinks cool.

“The window was of great importance.

“Then, as for the internal parts, I already had most of them.

“Signs that I collected over the years and hung in the hallway of my old house.”

Good deal

If Ria really needed to buy something, she scoured the net for great deals.

Ria says: “The only thing I really brought back was the wallpaper I brought from Amazon and the garland from Etsy.

“I also collected pieces on Ebay and during the next quarantine from Christmas 2020 to April 2021, I had enough time since I could not work again.

Instead of buying new furniture, Ria got creative with items she bought for next to nothing at a second-hand store.

She says: “I redesigned both chairs and painted them with Al Fresco French paint.

“It makes the chairs stiffer, but they don’t crack or flake and it’s so easy to do.

“The table nest and gin cabinet were purchased from the Facebook marketplace and I also refinished them with French paint, which is great because you don’t have to sand them or anything.”

Now the shed is in the shape of a ship.

Now you can even entertain guests in Riya’s garden shed.

She says: “I really like it, as do my friends – this is a real topic of conversation.

“It’s great on a summer evening, but also on a terrible rainy Sunday afternoon, just listening to Billie Holliday with the G and T!

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“My only advice to other potential shedders is just go for it.

“You can’t make a dirty, tired, old barn worse, so dig out your paint and just give it a try – think of it as just another room in your house and give it a makeover!”

Riya bought second-hand furniture, including chairs, and painted them a little.


Riya bought second-hand furniture, including chairs, and painted them a little.1 credit

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