Aside from the fact that everyone deserves a comfortable and safe home, it is wonderfully nice to have an additional space created specifically for yourself. The beauty of such a retreat is that it is aesthetically designed around your own individual style, with the intention to encourage solitude, rest, inspiration, and peace.
Back in the 90’s it became popular for married men to have an area in or outside the house that was meant only for themselves. Sort of like re-inventing the freedom of a frat house, or owning your own pad. Often a basement, garage, or a tool shed, these spaces would be transformed into a personal version of a bat..I mean man cave.
More recently, women have decided they too deserve such a peaceful harbor and have come up with their own adaptation called the she-shed.
3rd photo on the right is by owner, Donna Baldock
She-sheds can be found in a wide range of forms and styles, which is part of what makes them so versatile. They are usually categorized as outbuildings, which basically refers to a building on the same property but separate from a more important one, such as a house. But, a she-shed can also be part of a home, for instance an attic, basement, bonus room, or garage apartment.
Some talented and highly ambitious people construct theirs from the ground up, but many will convert a building already on the property such as a garden storage unit or an old barn. Because she-sheds have become incredibly popular over the years, there is a wide and growing variety of prefabricated ones that can be delivered right to your front door. You can also purchase a standard small building as a foundation, and then customize it yourself into something magnificently unique.
Dreamy photos by JoAnn, owner of Rustic Rehab
Most people associate a she-shed with privacy, but if you are feeling extra generous, you can share it with your friends and family or use it as a temporary guest house. Alternatively, you can design it to be enjoyed as a multi-functional space, such as a greenhouse, home office, meditation, yoga, and/or art studio.
Ultimately the main philosophy of a she-shed is to create a personal sanctuary, a place where one can go to mindfully enjoy activities that inspire creativity and joy, and to release the often overwhelming concerns of daily life. Whatever our personal story, it is necessary for each of us to take the time needed for reflection and healing; to remember what it is that makes us feel beautiful and whole; to fortify ourselves, deepen our inner strength, and reconnect with all that is holy. And if entering a private domain surrounded by beauty helps us to do this very thing, then understand that owning a she-shed is a sacred investment into loving oneself. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
My sincere thanks to the generous people who shared photos of their marvelous she-sheds, they are all so beautiful and inspiring! Some of the photo credits for the slideshow: Leanne Knoell, Danielle, Christa Manning Hall, Cindy Bernard, Lisa Hisaw, Roxie Williams Cain, Debi Kennaday, Alison Matthew, Pat Gushwa, Karin Morrow
So no matter how big, small, fancy, simple, or eclectic your refuge may currently be, know that you too are a work in progress. And despite our human nature to do so, definitely don’t compare yours to any other’s. Instead let yourself be inspired for future expansions and ideas. The real treasure is found in the value you spend in self-care that you give to yourself by having a she-shed designed just for you. If finances or available land is an issue, you can begin by finding a space within your home, patio or outside area that you can call your own. Anything is something!
Be sure to choose colors, lighting, furniture and decorations that bring you happiness, and represent who you are. There are many beautiful items to be found at thrift stores and tag sales, even Facebook Marketplace has lots of affordable goods to choose from. Be creative and follow your heart, enjoy the journey!
Whether you build your own, buy a ready-made one, or carve out a corner in your home, it is always a labor of love, time and energy. Once established, all you really need is a cozy place to sit, a simple vase of wildflowers, a small table to place your cup of tea (or wine) on, and a wide open window to gaze dreamily out of.
Like many people, I have wanted to own a she-shed for years. But as a single mother of 3 young adults, I had neither the time, money to invest, or even the knowledge of how to build one myself. In the year 2019, I was able to refinance my home which suddenly left me with a bit of cash that I was able to set aside. Not much, but for me it was a miracle.
One morning while dreaming over small campers on Craigslist, I came across what appeared to be a giant red box on wheels. A fireman had built this large covered-trailer for camping, (hence the bright red!) and had used it only a couple of times. Unfortunately for him, he needed to sell it because he was temporarily out of work. For me, it was the greatest luck. I was the first one to answer his ad and bought it immediately for his asking price of $1,300, the most money I impulsively ever spent in my life!
The walls inside were mostly unpainted and made from unfinished plywood, with rubber mats covering the floor. The roof was a black vinyl tarp tied down over two large metal hoops for structure. It had four windows and a door that locked, all with screens allowing for security and airflow which made it feel more like a tiny home rather than just a box. The idea of future me some day towing this behemoth behind my car was frightening to imagine for both myself and my children, but I was determined from the start and could only see through to its magical possibilities.
I hired a retired friend who used to work in construction to build a real roof made from wood that was curved like an old time wagon, with a nice overhang above the door. He then covered it with metal tin roofing for weatherproofing and insulation. He built a small table capable of folding down when not in use, which he made from a vintage cupboard door I found while antiquing for only $8.00. He then wired the ‘she-shed to be’ for electricity, including a ceiling light, added trim, shelving, a vent for airflow, and installed better flooring. Lastly he built steps for the outside, and added a handle bar for safety. Once he was done with construction, the rest was up to me.
I painted, decorated and designed almost everything myself, with a little help from my friends. Choosing the colors took me forever and I ended up spending quite a sum on the many small samples I insisted on trying, although I was later able to use them for decorative touches. Everyone tried to talk me out of the dark purple I chose for the bottom walls, but it turned out perfect and I am glad I went forward with my vision. The hardest part was applying the ‘paint your own’ wallpaper on the upper walls, but a couple of dear friends helped me which made it so much easier. I found the rolls at a thrift store for just $6,00. I did invest in a fold up couch/bed, but almost everything else was purchased at secondhand stores.
My she-shed was finished by late August of 2019 just in time for me to read Tarot cards for 7 weekends at the yearly Renaissance Faire. Amazingly with the generous help of my son Kai, I was able to get it safely hitched to my car, and with a mixture of nervous bravery drove it over an hour away to my destination.
It’s my she-shed on wheels, and I love it so much!
I now enjoy having it parked outside my home until everything opens up again, and I will often sit inside marveling at how fabulous it turned out. I feel so accomplished and grateful for my magical retreat. One day I hope to refurbish a small camper I can travel in, complete with all the amenities, and I would also dearly love to have a she-shed I can set up in my backyard that is spacious, winter friendly, and filled with lots of plants and sunlight. But for now, I am perfectly content.
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