this post is in partnership with The Home Depot.
hi friends! I’m assuming most people who read my blog also follow me on Instagram and in that case, you probably already have seen the exciting update – we built a greenhouse! A little backstory – we first toured our house in August, signed papers in September and officially moved in October. The house also had a standalone garage in the backyard, which could be accessed from a back alley. We decided immediately that we would NOT put our car in there because it was 1) gross and 2) falling apart and 3) had termite/rot damage, as evidenced on our home inspection report. A few weeks after moving in, Eric proposed an idea – what if we turn the falling apart garage into a greenhouse? we’ve both always loved plants (as evidenced when we stuffed 30+ plants into our 600ish square foot apartment in SF) and thought this was a challenging and creative way to turn an unsightly, useless structure into a meaningful, functional, beautiful space to house plants and herbs. Eric has also always been a curious, hands-on, problem solver type — so he was excited about the challenge and process of using his mind/hands to make this happen. I, on the other hand, just wanted it to happen. 😝 The entire project took about 7 months from start to finish, and we ran into quite a few bumps along the way — weather, inexperience with this scale of a project, and the biggest being that we had to deal with a lot of city of Nashville + Nashville Historic Society paperwork, codes, complaints, applications, approvals, etc. to make this thing happen. who would have thought the city/our neighbors would be so bothered by a greenhouse?! 🤪 ANYWAY – that is behind us and I am SO thrilled with the way our greenhouse turned out! We have a lot of fun plans for what we’re going to do inside, but for now, here’s our journey to bringing the greenhouse to life. The entire greenhouse (including the roof! 😱) is made out of recycled windows, doors, and materials from our own East Nashville neighborhood and we are so proud of and excited for how it turned out! 💛
today, I’m partnering with The Home Depot to walk you through the high-level steps to building the structure and how we (read: Eric) converted our gross garage into a functional, beautiful greenhouse! 🌿Visit The Home Depot blog for all the specific details and product we used to make our greenhouse come to life.
STEP 1: Out with the old!
For our greenhouse project, we started by tearing down the existing structure. Grab a pair of work gloves (tip: spend a bit extra to get a better pair — your hands will thank you) and a sledge hammer and start swinging! Start with any siding, windows, or doors, making sure to leave the frame intact. Once you are down to the studs (which for our garage were either infested with termites or rotted out), use a jigsaw with a wood and nails blade to cut out the wall and knock down!
Eric did this all of this alone, and after the first side of the garage was knocked out, he was able to push over the structure due to all the rot. That being said, we HIGHLY recommend getting help from a friend for this part of the process, and testing the structure along the way so it won’t collapse on you.
STEP 2: Clean-up!
Haul away all the debris. We got rid of A LOT of debris, but ended up saving some of the garage siding, a couple of old doors, and windows that we integrated into the final greenhouse. We also found some really old license plates (from the 1920s!) in our garage and saved those to clean up and display in the greenhouse. Our backyard pretty much looked like a garbage dump for WEEKS because of all the debris, excess wood, roofing, and siding, etc. The cleanup process was not fun and not easy.
STEP 3: Collect old windows
Thankfully our neighborhood of East Nashville has so many renovations happening all over that this was not a challenge. We collected windows from five different houses in the area to get all the windows we needed. We love how unique they all are! Facebook marketplace, garage sales, estate sales and auctions are other great places to pick up windows.
STEP 4: Plan the frame.
Using old windows means you will have a super unique framing throughout the building. We laid out the old windows like a puzzle and spaced 2x4s of various lengths in between to get to four mostly glass sides for our 10×14’ greenhouse. A few things we wish we would have done differently at this step: collect all the windows you plan upfront, and then plan out the full structure with detailed drawings. Also, pressure treated lumber is more expensive, but make sure to buy it for an outdoor structure! Being new to this, we had a non-pressure treated 2×4 on the ground on one side and had to remove and replace the board halfway through the project! So learn from our missteps and collect all the windows before you begin framing and invest in pressure treated wood! We also were recommended by an avid gardener friend to make sure we had a fan for air circulation in the greenhouse, so we bought a solar powered attic fan and installed it into the back wall of the greenhouse.
STEP 5: Building the roof.
The easiest greenhouse roof covering is the corrugated plastic that you can attach to the rafters. Instead, we collected so many recycled windows that we ended up doing the roof in glass. We have so much respect for builders and Eric’s high school geometry teacher. This part is NOT easy! We have so much respect for builders and high school geometry teachers! Start with a long ridge board (2×6) and attach your rafters with birdsmouths cut out on either side to support. Similar to building the frame, plan out window placement on the ground to size where your rafters should be making sure that the rafters supported by the top beams on the structure all the way to the ground. Attach the rafters using hurricane ties to the frame and frame in the windows (we used 1×1″ boards to secure in the frame). Fill in the gaps with a silicon sealant and use white asphalt roof panels along the ridge beam.
STEP 6: Freshen up the area around the greenhouse.
The area around the old garage/soon-to-be greenhouse was pretty ‘blah’ so we decided to freshen up the area around the structure. We opted to work with a local contractor to build a deck on the front of the greenhouse. We were already having a deck built on the back of our house, so they were able to add on this greenhouse deck to the same project. The deck gives the greenhouse a nice entrance, and covers the existing concrete slab that the greenhouse was built on top of. My mom also graciously planted a bunch of plants and flowers around the greenhouse, which really brightened up the overall look and feel of the greenhouse area.
STEP 7: Get painting!
The most exciting step of the greenhouse project was one of the finishing touches – painting! We opted for Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior Paint in Whisper White for the entire interior and exterior of the greenhouse and LOVE the way it looks! Painting the entire structure one color really helped make the greenhouse look more finished and refined.
Photos by Laura Moll
STEP 8: Buy plants!
We are still working on adding more plants to the greenhouse, but we have a good start. If you’re looking for dangly plants (which look great hanging over the edge of a shelf), you can’t go wrong with golden pathos or english ivy. Most of the pots in the greenhouse are terra cotta and are very reasonably priced at The Home Depot.
Photos by Laura Moll
There you go! There’s a quick version of how Eric turned our falling apart garage into this gorgeous backyard greenhouse! 🌿We are toying around with the idea of renting the space our for events and photo shoots, and are already planning dinner parties out here in the fall. If you have any questions about our greenhouse, let me know! Here’s a few more ‘after’ photos from the talented Laura Moll. ✨