We fell in love with she sheds before we knew she sheds were she sheds! That’s the term for the distaff version of a man cave, but in outdoor shed. In 2012, for instance, we showed you Beacher Michelle Blais’ hand-built creation. In 2015, we peeked into an artsy bunkhouse in Port Hope. And, last August, I mused about how I’d like to one day replace our old cedar shed with something like Linda’s in this post from the Minneapolis Fling.
Then came a review copy of the new She Sheds: A Room of Your Own by Erika Kotite. In a twist of fate we got two! Now you can share in our wealth. Read on to learn about the book, and how you can win a copy. (Hint: It’s easy.)
She sheds don’t have to be only for shes. As Kotite illustrates in a refreshing array of styles, they can be outdoor rec rooms, offices, shops, workrooms, guest rooms, studios, or any out-building that merges human comfort with design and practicality. Before I get to that, let me warm you up – without giving the author’s work away.
A Stylish Home Office
One of the most lust-afterable examples that I’ve seen in real life is the office of California garden designer and author Rebecca Sweet of Harmony in the Garden.
Imagine having a space like this to work in – a few steps’ commute across your garden. Below is a vignette of the interior, and the view through the window shows Sweet (left) chatting with some admiring garden bloggers.
After working from home for much of my career, I’ve often wished to have more division between work and my home life. A separate office like this would be heaven – with some provision for Canadian winters, of course. Defining a specific purpose for your shed would be an important first step.
Around the back, the shed displays Sweet’s collection of rusty beauties, and a few steps further takes you to her scarily tidy garden utility area. (Confession: My own is an embarrassment, and should be tackled asap.)
Gardeners do need places to put useful stuff (like my bulky leaf shredder) and the new shed we’ve been talking about must do things like over-winter bikes. Consider functional needs before you get too deeply into aesthetics. While Kotite tacitly implies this, she weighs in a touch more on the side of style.
A Shabby Chic Studio
As a contrast to the one above, have a look at this shed we’ve featured before. It’s the workshop/studio/potting shed of landscape designer Kate Farley, visited on the 2011 Seattle Fling. (Can’t find a current web address – please tell me if you know how to credit her.)
Don’t you love those off-kilter drawers? Looks like she has sawn the frame short, and perhaps some of the drawers, so they function more like open shelves. A potting bench with sink would definitely be on my new shed wish list.
Kotite asks you to begin by considering your own style as well as the style of your home. She’d probably call this one rustic, and her other examples go from modern to romantic. I was excited to see the new shed I’d sketched for Mr TG matched her modern shed almost exactly. (Hers is a kit that, drat, isn’t available in Canada. But, hey, I thought, a template for my resident mastermind!)
So what else is in the book?
At 176 pages, the roughly magazine-size She Sheds profiles nearly three dozen spaces. That’s a lot of inspiration. Many are custom built, broadly defined, but also include repurposed and off-the-shelf kits. Each indicates whether it’s custom, kit, or restored, and gives dimensions, timetable and cost. Captions fill in some of the details, and a careful reader will also come away with ideas to try.
One of the book’s she sheds is like a glass-sided greenhouse on stilts, made completely of reclaimed windows, which the owner uses as a meditation space. Another – a glam guest bedroom – would be nice enough to tempt me to sleep out there myself.
Let me make another confession. Not only does she make me want many of these sheds, she made me want the lives of the women who use them! So I guess you can say Kotite offers aspiration as well as inspiration.
Sprinkled throughout, sidebars offer tips on achieving the various styles. As a DIY-er, and married to one, I most appreciated the Builder’s Notes. These cover things like cost-saving techniques, comparisons between material choices, or construction and finishing advice.
One of the last chapters documents how the author (and family) constructed and adapted or customized a she shed using a storage-shed kit. This is a case study rather a step-by-step instruction manual, but her “lessons learned” advice would help you avoid many pitfalls – including unrealistic scheduling. Although the book isn’t a detailed blueprint, it contains enough useful tippery that I expect we’ll use it often as a reference as we move on to our own he-and-she shed adventure.
So: What do you think? Inspired? Interested? Want us to mail you our extra copy of She Sheds? All you need to do is live in North America, and add a comment saying – along with anything else you’d like to say – something like, “Count me in.” On Feb. 26, 2017, we’ll draw a name from all commenters and email you to get your coordinates. No purchase required!
We always love your comments. This is even more reason to hear from you.