Backyard Chicken Coop Remodel
Who else always seems to be working on 87 projects at one time, or is that just me? Yesterday I shared an update with you all on my farmhouse master bedroom remodel that I’m currently in the middle of. Today we’re going to talk about my backyard chicken coop, because why wouldn’t I be doing two remodels at once?
One of the biggest hurdles I have had to overcome as an adult is the realization that things take time. A favorite quote of mine is:
Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.Bill Gates
And this couldn’t be more true! Our home has come a long way from the shag carpets and deer heads hanging in the living room when I moved in, but we still have many more projects on the docket to make this place look how we want it to.
But let’s get back on topic here, the chicken coop remodel. A few years ago, Michael’s dad came home with this little coop that he had pulled out of a tree line. This building had originally been on his farm, then made a little journey around the county, and was used for various things (like a tack shed for horses and a playhouse for Michael’s cousins), until it found its way back home again. I couldn’t believe how adorable this building was! But it needed a little bit of work to bring it back to its full glory.
Our Chicken Story
Michael and I bought our first set of chickens on the same day we got our dog Hank back in 2015. We had only been dating for a few months but I had always wanted chickens and Michael was all in.
At that time we didn’t have a chicken coop so we bought a small coop from Bomgaars (like this one) and placed it in one of the open calf pens.
Eventually, when the chickens got bigger, we moved them into a makeshift coop. This was just an old trailer that was sitting in the pen. Michael built some nests and we called it a day. Obviously this wasn’t ideal but at the time it worked. Unfortunately, this chicken coop wasn’t secure and something ended up getting our chickens.
Moving the Chicken Coop to the Backyard
In 2018, Michael’s dad brought home our “new” coop and that’s when the backyard chicken coop process started. I wanted the chickens to be closer so that I could take care of them. I am a very “out of sight, out of mind” type of gal so I need to see them every day. The backyard had the perfect nook area for the chicken coop that wasn’t being utilized for anything else.
To be honest, that is all of the thought that went into moving the chickens closer. I love having them in the backyard, but now that I’m doing more gardening and work back there I do miss that space.
Over the years we’ve had around 45-60 chickens. I honestly can’t remember the number. Michael likes to buy things in bulk so we were always buying chicks in packs of 20 it seemed like. The downside to this is that our pen area is too small to accommodate 30 chickens at one time. That is how many chickens we had!
Now we’re down to 17 Rhode Island Reds and I’d still like to drop that to 10. The chickens are just terrible to each other and they’re constantly pecking the weak links.
Backyard Chicken Coop Remodel Timeline
Unintentionally, I started working on this chicken coop in phases. When the backyard chicken coop remodel started, I thought that this would be a one time project. Boy was I wrong. Here are the phases of the chicken coop that have been done, plus the phases that are still to come.
Phase 1 | Spring 2018
The chicken coop was dropped off and we did an assessment on everything that needed to get repaired, replaced or repainted. It had a tin roof that I wanted to remove and a lot of missing lumber that needed replaced. Right around this time Joanna Gaines had revealed her chicken coop so I really wanted to do something with a similar aesthetic. Come to think of it, I had asked Michael to build it for me, the plans came in that season’s Magnolia Journal magazine.
Anyway, we got to work removing the tin and anything else that had to go. There were two window skylights in the roof that needed replacing. We decided to just add plastic window-type skylights (similar to these) instead of installing new windows. This was to save money, but in hindsight I wish we would have installed real windows for ventilation.
Painting the Chicken Coop
I knew that the outside of the chicken coop would get painted, but I figured that I would just leave the inside as it was since there would be chickens living in there. See Phase 3 for that update! Because there always seems to be some type of project happening around here, I had 5 gallons of white paint in the garage that hadn’t been used. So I set out painting the coop, which actually wasn’t that bad to do. It’s a small building and took me about a day to do two coats of paint if I remember correctly.
The problem was that after I was finished painting I realized that I had been using interior paint instead of exterior paint. To be honest, the paint has held up really well on the areas where the chickens can’t peck at it. I plan to repaint the coop this fall but I need to do some more research on if there is paint that will stand up to chickens.
As I mentioned before, this building had been used as a tack shed at one point, so there were some built in saddle racks on one side. We decided to just use those as a place for the chickens to roost and then Michael built some nests for them to lay eggs in. It wasn’t anything fancy but it did the trick. Are you starting to see a pattern here!
The last thing that we did as part of Phase 1 was install a small makeshift fence. Michael put in some fence posts and we installed some wire fencing. I think that we purchased the wire fencing but the fence posts we had lying around.
Phase 2 | Spring 2019
Over the first year that we had the coop in the backyard I started dreaming about what it could really look like if we put some more time and effort into it. One of the things that needed to be fixed right away was the fence around the coop. It needed to be bigger to accommodate all of the chickens, plus the ducks that had arrived by this time.
Michael did install a bigger fence around the coop area, but I’m still not in love with it. I plan to redo the fence in Phase 5.
We also finished adding shingles to the coop. During Phase 1, we had torn the old ones off and started the process of the new shingles but life got busy and it didn’t get finished. I wanted cottage-esque shingles for the coop so we found some at Home Depot similar to these.
Phase 3 | Winter 2019
One day in December of 2019, when the weather was abnormally warm, I had gotten a wild hair and decided that I wanted to completely gut the inside of the coop, paint it and rearrange where the nests were hung. That wild hair was greatly inspired by Wild Feather Farm’s chicken coop!
Going into this project, I thought that it would take me one whole day. Isn’t that cute! I think that it took an entire week to finish it up in between working and life. As I was pulling up these pictures I was remembering this time and what it was like working on this project. I can’t remember exactly why I decided to start remodeling the inside of the chicken coop, but I know I was feeling frustrated about something. I also remember listening to I’ll Drink to That by Betty Halbreich on Audible and being so inspired by her life story. The process of gutting the chicken coop and bringing new life to the inside while listening to Betty’s fascinating story was the therapy that I needed at that time!
For the paint, I used Behr Exterior paint in Ultra White. In hindsight, I wish I would have primed the entire inside using this Zinsser BIN primer to help the color last longer. I know that I’ll get another wild hair one day and repaint the inside using that first.
Phase 4 | Fall 2020
This fall I hope to repaint the outside of the coop as well as fix some minor things, like covering the flashing from the shingle install. As of now, my plan is to use the Zinsser primer to help protect the coop from the chicken’s pecking, unless I can find a better option.
Phase 5 | Spring/Summer 2021
When the coop was put in its current location, it didn’t get placed all of the way straight. This hasn’t bothered me a lot until recently. I have even been toying with the idea of moving the coop to a new spot. It would still be in the same area, but I need to do some measuring to see if my idea would work before I suggest it to Michael.
During this phase, I’m hoping to install a permanent fence that works for us and the shape of the coop. Here are some fence ideas that I’d like to see happen.
Phase 6 | Fall 2021/Spring 2022
Landscaping around the coop has been one of the hardest things for me not to tackle. My sister owns a greenhouse so I naturally want to buy all of the plants! But until we know what the fence will look like, I’ve had to wait. The upside to this is that I will have plenty of time to plan my landscape since I won’t be able to tackle this phase for at least another year.
Our backyard chicken coop still has a long way to go but I think it has come along nicely. I’m excited to see what it will look like when we’re all done. Do you have chickens? What are your backyard chicken coop tips and tricks? Let me know!
Have you seen my tutorial on How to Build your own Modern Farmhouse Shelves?
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Dan Ryan says
You do know that a project is never done do you not? Looking good . keep up the the good work!
Dani O'Brien says
Haha! Yes, I have a feeling this chicken coop saga will be a lifelong process!