Is life overwhelming sometimes? Ever feel the need for a refuge? Want one small space to call your own? If that sounds like you, sister, you might need a ‘she-shed’, a detached one-room bungalow with the sole purpose of providing comfort, privacy and serenity. Start planning, and before you know it, you’ll be gently closing your door on the rest of the world.


Pick a Purpose for your She-Shed

Why do you want the shed? This doesn’t require deep, introspective contemplation. If you’re considering a personal shelter, you probably already have a reason in mind. This is an important first step in the development process because the purpose helps determine the design. As the old architectural adage goes, “Form follows function.” Consider the following options:

  • A restful retreat
  • An office
  • An art studio
  • A greenhouse
  • A yoga room
  • A meeting place for friends

At its core, a she-shed is a place for a woman to physically (but temporarily) remove herself from her responsibilities. In the refuge, she’s not on call as a partner or mother, this is a ‘time-out’ for her. It’s even been confirmed that couples and families benefit from the relaxed and rejuvenated version of a woman who rejoins the household after shed-time.


Select a Style

What form will your she-shed take? Some of these structures originally served other purposes—a garden shack, tool hut, outbuilding or garage.A bit of remodelling and decorating, and voilà: an outdoor sanctuary. If you’re not fortunate enough to have a shack to renovate, you’ll have to start fresh.

Depending on your time, skills and budget, you can construct—or contract out—anything from a functional lean-to to a mini-house. Some women have built their she-sheds out of recycled materials from structures that have collapsed or been torn down.

If you don’t have a convenient starting framework and don’t want to build from scratch, consider a kit. Though you can adapt an ordinary shed kit, you can also purchase one specifically designed as a woman’s haven. Many are made from an attractive wood, such as cedar. Whatever your preference, be sure to check requirements for a local building permit.


Think Outside the Box

How do you picture your shed’s exterior? If it’s wood, you’ll probably want to apply a coat of paint or stain. It’s your get-away, so give it a finish you love. A bright, clean white? Recycled, natural old wood? Funky colours? Before you get too crazy, consider how well it’ll blend into its environment; when you’re not relaxing inside, you might find a bright orange shack jarring—even surrounded by evergreens.

You could always take the low-maintenance route and install siding on your she-shed. This oasis must survive for years to come, so building it from a material that will last is always a good bet. At a minimum, choose siding that is .042 to .045 inches thick. Heavier options provide more protection from harsh winters or hot summers. Your backyard building will be safe from hail, sleet and intense snow or rain—and usable despite the elements.


Invent the Environment

You’ve been thinking about the shed’s outside, so stay there a minute. What’s the exterior design going to be? You know your budget limitations, but possible ideas include:

  • Flower boxes or potted plants
  • A porch or deck
  • Patio furniture
  • A walkway to and from your house
  • Landscaping
  • Natural stone or brick steps

The outside of your she-shed can be as simple or as spruced up as you want. But remember: it’s your safe harbor. Looking at your home-away-from-home—even if you can’t get there for a while—should generate feelings of calm and serenity. It should feel inviting or you may not want to go. And, as you well know, you need this retreat.


Think Inside the Box

Now comes the really fun part: interior design. Do you need electricity, or is natural lighting sufficient? Are outlets required? What about plumbing? Remember: the more home-like the shed becomes, the more likely you’ll need that building permit.

What about the walls? Is natural wood more soothing, or do you prefer paint? If you’re going for colour, do you prefer an energizing or restful hue?

Next, consider how to furnish the shed. Remember, form follows function. If it’s an artistic shelter, you’ll need storage for materials and space for equipment. A tranquil hideaway could use a futon or sofa… or maybe even a bed. If you plan to entertain, make sure to include sufficient seating. Look back at your original purpose and decide what interior will best help you achieve it.

Consider the décor you want to include. Many women have items tucked away that don’t match their house styles but would be perfect for their she-sheds. If not, flea markets, antique stores, and curio shops are popular places to pick up embellishments. Personalize your spot in any way that makes you smile.

As the name implies, a she-shed is all about you. From determining its purpose to placing the final wall hanging—this is the spot to indulge your own needs, preferences and tastes. No guilt feelings or self-sacrifice allowed.