Find Haven in a She-shed

Cynthia Wilson
Written by Cynthia Wilson
Updated August 5, 2016
elaborate rustic she-shed with windows, landscaping, roof and lighting
A more elaborate rustic she-shed might include lighting, landscaping and windows. (Photo courtesy of Mark Gaynor at Living Vintage)

Oh, the things you can do with a storage shed.

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Sheds aren't just for storing tools, seasonal decorations and stuff you probably need to throw away. That often forgotten building could become a private haven if you convert it into a she-shed.

decorated shed with in landscaping
She-sheds can be simple or elaborate. (Photo courtesy of Kloter Farms)

Seek haven in a she-shed

A little imagination, elbow grease and paint can turn a hollow, exposed-beam building into a place you flee to relax or work on a project. In fact, women looking for a quick getaway are turning what some consider a backyard eyesore into rooms suitable for craft making, gardening, a home office and even a guest bedroom.

The beauty of a she-shed is that it can be whatever you want. Here’s how to get started.

She-Shed with pink walls, tan couch, a book shelf, trunk table pattern rug
Jessica Kloter spent $500 to decorate this ultra girly she-shed set up as a reading nook. (Photo courtesy of Kloter Farms)

Choose a she-shed theme

Start with an idea for a shed or other outdoor building, says Jessica Kloter, project manager for Kloter Farms, a shed company in Ellington, Connecticut. Even an old garage will do. As long as the existing building is covered and includes windows, it can serve as the foundation for your backyard retreat.

"I wanted a reading nook," Kloter says of the she-shed she designed for Kloter Farms. "Once we had a theme and a plan, then we went shopping to see what was available for resources in our budget."

Rid your shed or garage of excess junk

If you use an existing shed or garage, sort though the stuff you’ve piled into it over the years. If you find something you can use in your she-shed, such as a chair, table, storage bin or basket, keep it.

Donate usuable items you don't want to charity, and throw the rest away.

white storage shed
All you need is a usuable outdoor building with a window or ventilation to create a she-shed. (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

How much does it cost to build a she-shed?

The biggest expense to create a she-shed involves the building. If you buy a shed, you can pick the material, style and dimensions.

However, many communities and neighborhoods implement rules about the type of buildings homeowners can construct on residential properties. So check local building codes before adding a building for a she-shed in your yard.

Kloter says shed manufacturers are creating more designs now that homeowners are using the buildings as she- and he-caves. Wood- and aluminum-framed buildings typically cost more than sheds made of galvanized steel. The size and available interior space also influences how much you pay for a new shed.

Costs generally start around $500 for an 8-foot-by-8-foot, unassembled galvanized steel shed. Expect prices to start around $600 for a comparably sized unassembled wood shed, and about $875 for a vinyl shed. 

Kloter says her company's sheds start at $2,000 for an 8-foot-by-8-foot shed, while some of Kloter's larger and more custom sheds can exceed $40,000. The prices include delivery and assembly off or on site. 

Most sheds are built from the frames provided. Some are sold as easy do-it-yourself kits that can be assembled in hours, while others can be delivered preassembed.

Rustic garden shed with country accessories and flowers by The Olde Weeping Cedar
Landscape the grounds and decorate the outside of your she-shed to help make it a place you want to spend your time. (Photo courtesy of The Olde Weeping Cedar)

Decorating, cooling and heating your she-shed

If you already own the building and seating, your largest expense may be the cost to hire an electrician to install wiring for an air conditioner, ceiling fan and lighting outlets.

"Lighting adds to the expression of your personality on carrying out the theme," Kloter says. "We used a girly crystal chandelier."

Because you can choose lanterns, solar or battery-operated lights, Kloter says the primary reason to install electricity is to cool the shed. "Regardless of what [building] material it is, a shed is hot. You will need electricity," she says.

If you want to use the she-shed in the winter, you'll need to insulate and heat the building. You can install a baseboard heater, heat bulbs or portable propane space heaters. 

Once you identify a theme, Kloter recommends picking your colors from a focal point, such as a rug, chair cover or painting.

"We went with pink walls, and a darker pink on the back wall," Kloter says. "We wanted it soft and welcoming. After that, it was just collecting all of the materials and getting to work. Deciding on the theme and gathering the material is the hardest part."

Try using items around your home to decorate the she-shed, and plan a budget for paint, furniture and knick knacks. You may also choose to landscape around the building. The largest investment, however, involves time.

Kloter says she and a colleague spent about 40 hours and under $500 on her she-shed, which serves as a model for would be she-shed creators.

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