The She Shed: How to Create Your Outdoor Oasis

Fun & Fabulous

The She Shed: How to Create Your Outdoor Oasis

A step-by-step guide to transforming your backyard shed into an idyllic escape

Backyard shed painted blue and filled plants and refurbished furniture

Move over, man cave. It’s high time for the she shed – a woman’s private enclave, separate from the house and designed to give ladies a special space of their own. You don’t have to buy a brand-new shed to carve out your own niche, though; you can refurbish an existing shed and transform it into an idyllic escape.

How to Construct the Perfect She Shed: The Basics

When you recognize the need for your own space (one where you can shut the door and escape from a stressful day, noise in the house or anything else), it’s pretty exciting to think about making it all happen.

But where do you start?

If you’re going to create a she shed, you have to start with the basics – and that includes a bare-bones, empty shed. You can buy a new shed at a home improvement store or clear out the one that’s already in your backyard; either way, it needs to be empty so you can put your personal stamp on it. Once your shed is empty and clean, you have to:

• Pick the right paint and apply it
• Furnish and style it
• Add plants and other personal touches
• Give it a mini version of curb appeal

Choosing the Right Paint

Backyard shed with flower planters and a stone pathway for landscaping elements

Your she shed needs the right colors inside and out, but finding the perfect palette can be a challenge. The key? Doing what you like – not necessarily what’s trending or what everyone else does. This is your space, so express yourself based on its purpose. You’ll choose different colors for a she shed you’re using as a meditation space than you will for one you plan to use to write the next NYT best-seller.

With that said, here’s a little paint color psychology to help you make the right choices:

Dark gray-blue, soft gray, neutral green and lavender: Associated with relaxing, so if your she shed is going to be a quiet haven, these might be the perfect picks.
Red: heightens the senses, and it’s the color of passion. If you want your space to be warm and exciting, red might be the ideal choice. If the thought of too much red overwhelms you, consider an accent wall.
• Pink: From cotton candy to bubblegum, carries different connotations based on shade. Pale pastels are soothing and calming, while more vibrant pinks like fuchsia are intense enough to be edgy and dramatic.
Yellow: is optimistic and warm, and if it’s pale, it can make a small space feel larger. This tried-and-true favorite can stimulate your nervous system and promote creativity, so if your she shed is doubling as a workshop where you write, paint or create, this is the color for you.
Brown: the earthiest of all colors, makes it easy to slow down and relax. It makes people feel more stable, but it can make a space look and feel smaller.

Many women want a she shed that complements the big house in front of it, but that’s totally up to you. You’ll have to weigh whether you can see your space from the road with what feels right in your gut, so choosing an exterior color might be even tougher than picking interior shades. The only right answer is to select a color you find attractive and welcoming, which is true whether you’re painting, applying siding or doing something else entirely.

Step-by-Step Style

Turning a painted shed into your private getaway requires you to fill it with things that make you happy. Use new or refurbished furniture (or pieces you’ve pilfered from the house – totally up to you!) to make yourself feel right at home. Must-haves for your space include:

• A daybed or futon that pulls double-duty, depending on whether it’s a sit-and-read or curl-up-into-a-ball-and-nap kind of day
• A coffee table, desk or dresser for décor, a TV or other accessories
• A shelf or two for books and other necessities
• Comfortable seating
• Lots and lots of pillows

Cozy decor for the she shed with a couch, pillows, and carpet

When it’s time to decorate, there are three essentials that no she shed should go without:

1. Personal items. You need to feel comfortable in your she shed or you won’t spend as much time as you can there – and that means you have to give it your personal touch. Maybe you have a favorite photo from a decades-ago vacation, or perhaps you have a cherished trinket that’s been passed down through generations. If you love something, it belongs in your space.
2. Something that helps you find your center. Whether you’re an avid reader, a movie buff or an amateur genealogist, there’s something you can decorate with that helps you stay in touch with who you really are. You don’t have to stick to a theme, which can be overwhelming in a small space; just make sure you include something that helps you stay centered.
3. Live plants. Even if your thumb isn’t particularly green, living plants can make your space more inviting and comfortable. (Bonus: you’ll have to go out there to care for them, which means more time in your she shed – and you can stretch out the time you spend on the plants to care for yourself, too.)

Great Plants for a She Shed

Including live plants in your she shed is about more than style. It’s also about purifying the air and making the entire space more pleasant. Indoor air can be far more polluted than outdoor air is, so plants that improve air quality are tremendously beneficial. Some of the best include:

English ivy: It does well in full shade or full sun, so it’s perfect for a she shed; it also removes volatile organic chemicals, or VOCs, from the air.
Bamboo palm: This plant prefers partial sun and removes benzene and formaldehyde from the air.
Chinese evergreen: This two-foot-tall (max) plant thrives on very little light, but its leaves can be harmful to animals. It’s best if you only use it in a pet-free zone.
Dragon tree: The dragon tree can tolerate low light, and it’s tough enough to go a few days without water.
Mother-in-law’s tongue: This might be the only thing having to do with anyone’s mother-in-law in your she shed, and that’s only because it’s hardy enough to survive questionable care.

Potted split leaf philodendrons and hanging plants

Outside the She Shed: Landscaping Tips and Tricks

The landscaping outside your she shed can match the rest of your yard, but it doesn’t have to. You can make it more like a private island by letting your own style dictate its landscaping. If you’re not that into gardening, pruning and caring for plants, keep it simple – there’s no “She Shed Rule Book” that says you have to do anything special. Bear in mind, though, that gardening and planting have been shown to provide significant health benefits.

Pro tip: putting your she shed beneath a tree can help insulate it from inclement weather, keeping it warm in winter and cool during summer.

Landscaping elements and gardening for curb appeal

What Does Your Dream She Shed Look Like?

Just for the record, your she shed doesn’t have to be an actual shed. You can turn any space into your home into your private haven, from the basement to the attic. The key is making it your own – and we’d love to hear your stories. If you’ve created a she shed or if you’re thinking about it, share your ideas in the comments to inspire other women to take the leap!

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