My Winter Sanctuary: A Greenhouse Refresh
Sometimes a place calls to you.
That's what happened to us in December 2019. By January 2020, just a matter of weeks before the world was tipped off kilter, we moved from a condensed suburban neighborhood into our home in the woods with big dreams for what the land would gift us. Among them, was my dream of renovating the old greenhouse.
When I first set eyes on it, I knew it could be such a wonderful space. But as it stood there in its unimposing state, stuffed to the brim with old equipment, rotted benches and broken uneven tiles (among other things I would prefer to forget,) it was rather unremarkable.
Over the last two years, other projects have rightfully taken priority. But finally, we dedicated a weekend and a few additional evenings of time to "project greenhouse facelift" and I pretty much want to move in there now.
Interior paint. While I use Sherwin-Williams for all home interior and exterior, for this job, I chose Behr Ultra Stain-Blocking Paint & Primer In One Satin in White Veil (OR-W14). This is a great warm creamy white that is very clean yet inviting and half the price.Concrete slab. The greenhouse floor is divided into two sections: a concrete slab and a set of floor pavers. We painted the concrete slab a matte black to compliment the creamy white walls using a basic Behr patio paint from Home Depot.
Floor pavers. We removed the 10"x10" pavers and leveled the dirt floor with leveling paver sand and piece of scrap dimensional lumber to evenly spread it out. We painted a base coat of white patio paint on each paver and let it dry overnight. The next day, I stenciled a design with what remained of the black patio paint on each paver. I used the Quilted Star Tile Stencil by Cutting Edge Stencils. After they dried, we moved the pavers back inside, placed them on the newly leveled(ish) dirt floor and then filled the cracks to the top with more paver sand and a broom.
Lighting. The old green light fixture was replaced with a new matte black indoor/outdoor barn light I found in our basement and a bright clean lightbulb.
Electrical. Electrical was already running to the greenhouse so our updates here were cosmetic. The electrical outlet faceplates were replaced with new white ones. Every extension cord and surge protector was replaced with white indoor/outdoor three-pronged ones. Small rubber-coated hooks were used to secure and conceal the extension cord outlets under the shelves.
Doorway. We replaced the threshold of our doorway entrance where the board had completely rotted, leaving an opening for rain to seep in. A new rot-resistant cedar board cut to size and a few screws and the primarily leaking issue is resolved. The door itself is sturdy and in good condition so we left it.
Storage. I picked up a few storage bins at our local consignment shop to hold soil and gardening gloves. I also scored a gorgeous 3-piece set of vintage ceramic kitchen containers (they even had little scoops inside them!) that I use to hold vermiculite, and my organic bulb and rose food. My husband also added a shelf under the potting bench that holds many of my pots so they are no longer scattered all over the greenhouse. Adding storage wherever you can will help keep you organized.
Declutter. Before bringing any items back into the greenhouse, I organized the contents into three piles: 1) useful in greenhouse, 2) useful but can be stored somewhere else, and 3) discard or donate. This decluttering step allowed me to consider each item and whether or not it needs to be housed in the greenhouse or kept at all. I found many items that were better suited for the garage or barn.
Decorate. I brought in the largest items first (storage cabinet and shelving units, filled them and then begin filling the wall built-ins. I also hung organizing bins, wall art and hooks for hanging herbs and my gardening apron on the walls. These finishing touches really made the difference.
Create Intentional Space. I created a small sitting area in hopes it would invite my family members in to stay a while. I didn't want to invest much more into the project, so I swung by our local consignment shop and snagged a couple black wooden chairs for $7 each and set them on either side of the cabinet...VOILA! A sitting area in hopes that my family members would swing in to check on me and my seedlings every once in a while.
Tips for Greenhouse Refresh
Empty and clean the entire greenhouse so you are starting with a blank canvas.
We set up a 10'x10' canopy tent with a plastic sheet on the ground outside of the greenhouse where we stored all the contents to protect it from rain and frost. This space also acted as a work station.
If you are tackling this project during the winter months and you grow year-round, your plants, starters and stored tubers should remain in your greenhouse or moved in and out each day to protect them from the elements.
After painting, use a space heater to expedite the drying process. I have been using this Lasko ceramic space heater exclusively in my greenhouse for a couple years now and it works great.
Add some personal touches by repurposing home decor items you aren't currently using in your house. I had a handful of wall pieces that didn't have a home in our new house so this was the perfect time for me to use them.
Thrift stores are a great place to find gently used items for your greenhouse at a fraction of the price of buying new.
Add a rug or welcome mat to give the space texture and additional warmth. Here is the round jute area rug I have in my greenhouse that I truly love.
Add candles to ward off that musty greenhouse smell.