She Sheds: Backyard Havens for Creative Mavens

As girls, many women wanted a “Barbie Dream House,” a fantasy space to decorate, host tea parties, or simply…dream.

Now as adults we have “she sheds.” A sassy answer to the “man cave,” she sheds are backyard retreats where women can go to escape, to write, to read, to knit, or do nothing at all.

And they are gaining in popularity as women realize the value of a little “me time.” One woman even claims her she shed improved her marriage. Owners are converting them from existing storage structures, constructing them from kits or building them from the ground up.

The best part of the she shed is it can be anything you want—it’s the woman’s space to do with as she pleases. Here are just some of the successful approaches other “she’s” have taken:

Zen Den: It’s no stretch to see why a gal wouldn’t want to spend some down (dog) time in a yoga retreat like this one, designed by Lowe’s. Use a neutral color palette to encourage calm, and add wireless speakers and baskets for storing mats and towels.

Shabby Chic: Sandy Foster converted her Catskills hunting cabin into a 9×12-foot Victorian fairy tale where she gardens, practices yoga and plays with her Maltese, Zuzu. The ultimate in femininity, the style is lace, florals, pinks and whites, and thrift store goods. The curtains are clean white scrim, and the chandeliers are flea market finds she altered herself. A bed fills the loft and offers a quiet space to read or nap. But Sandy’s favorite space is the front porch. “I can sit and look at my garden and see my creek.”

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Craft Cottage: Like to spin a good yarn? Turn that old backyard shed into a crafting command center like Kelli Stradling did with her Craft Shack. Shelving, counters and pegboard store and organize supplies. The 8×12 shed was renovated into its current form two years ago for just under $500. “I wouldn’t change a thing!” Stradling says.

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Writer’s Refuge: Writer and animal advocate Barbara Techel’s colorful Zen “Writing Cottage” is devoted to her loves—writing her Joyful Paws blog, her dachshunds, meditation, yoga, and the occasional glass of wine with friends. A fairy-style décor and pastel colors inspire a child-like imagination. Totem animal statues, a singing bowl, stones, and of course books bring about a feeling of peace. Her husband, a carpenter and general contractor, built the 10 x 12 space from the ground up, with lots of windows for natural light.

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Gardening Galore: Who says a garden shed has to be just for tool storage? With accents like bright paint, washtubs and watering cans, Judy Weiss’ 11×22-foot Potting Shed is just as lovely and tranquil as the morning glories growing along its trellis. Originally it was an existing shed on which Judy and her husband put a new roof, painted the interior, and moved the walls to make a small porch.

Photo Courtesy of Judy Weiss

Now, double porcelain laundry tubs serve as accents and store soil. Blue mason jars, scales and vintage add charm throughout the shed.

“It’s my creative space,” says Judy. “I use it primarily for gardening and projects. It’s also a quiet space to read a book or listen to music.”

This article, written by Laura Boswell, was originally published in the Fall 2016 Issue of Best in American Living.

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