Maybe it’s the transition to summer, the anticipation of end-of-the-school-year cleaning, or maybe it’s transitioning out of this past year, but lately, I’ve been inspired to redecorate our house, organize our cabinets and drawers, and create a little haven for my fiancé.
After a year of working from home (while running a full-time homeschool out of our kitchen—yup, that really happened) I find solace in places that are my own. And honestly, there’s something to be said for each of our family members having their own ‘safe havens.’ My son has his room, I have the garage-turned-home-office, and, well, my fiancé is sprinkled a little bit of everywhere.
This is why I—like many others—want to create the perfect spot for the man in my life.
So, whether you’ve been driven crazy by tools intermingled with your work papers, a lack of separation between seriousness and play, or you’re hoping to gift a loved one with a special, intentional space, here are some expert tips to design the “he-shed” of his dreams.
1. Start With a Clear Theme
To design the perfect he-shed, you have to stick with a theme. While that sounds obvious, you’d be surprised how many design ideas fail because of a lack of preparation.
Without considering important elements—space, purpose, focal point, and personal preferences—the space you’re creating won’t be intentional or intuitive… or worse, it won’t make sense to the person you’re creating it for.
Consider the man’s lifestyle first and build around that.
Paul Sherman, Chief Marketing Officer of Olive, shares some insight: “To avoid a chaotic jumble in your he-shed, it's important that you follow one theme and design the room around it,” he says.
“Having a single point of focus for your room is important, as it draws guests' attention and works as an effective ice breaker. This might be a large piece of artwork, a big television, or even a grand piano. Let your creativity run wild here, and endeavor to make good use of your interests, hobbies, and passions.”
2. Don’t Skimp on Storage
As you consider elements of design and personality, storage and use of space must be top-of-mind, especially if the he-shed is on the smaller size.
Depending on the location and size of the he-shed, you may need to get creative with what you’re storing and where. For example, if you’re in a narrow space, you’ll want to take the rafters and ceiling into consideration, or use thinner, stackable bins or drawers.
“Don’t skimp on the storage,” says Chris Alexakis, co-founder of Cabinet Select. “[And] that includes any built-ins, cabinetry, rafter space, etc. Think about what's actually going into the he-shed before designing anything—gym equipment, a kegerator, humidor cabinet, etc.—and plan for the space each element requires.
You'll be glad you did it before putting all your favorites in the space.”
3. Focus on Safety (Alongside Fun)
Creating the perfect space is all about incorporating the right mix of fun, flavor, and personality. But one can’t neglect the safety precautions along the way!
Too many electronics and cords can create a fire hazard. Improper ventilation can reduce air quality. And a poorly-planned build won’t withstand crazy temperatures or unexpected weather. It’s important to put safety first.
For the he-sheds that incorporate exercise or fitness, Jack Craig, Certified Personal Trainer with Inside Bodybuilding, suggests this: “Don't try to cram a ton of equipment into a small space. Having adequate floor space to do free weights without tripping over dumbbells or ensuring your chin-up bar is safely installed should be a primary concern.”
Even if a fitness area isn’t a large component of the he-shed, Craig’s tips make sense. For whatever will be done—from running on a treadmill to welding tools (yup, that’s my fiancé!)—it’s important to consider and plan for ways to have fun safely.
4. Consider the Lighting
When you envision the he-shed of his dreams, chances are, you’re picturing a small, yet breathable space. But to really create that picture-perfect spot, you have to think about the light fixtures.
“Consider the lighting,” says Salman Aslam, Marketing Director at Much Needed. “But not just the fixtures and sources, you must also consider the absence of it. While creativity and productivity often thrive in bright, open spaces, that’s not the ideal environment for everyone. Some like it dark, brooding, and mysterious — the perfect setup for a man-cave!”
Lighting is not always about the lights themselves but about the ambiance or even the heat.
Color-changing bulbs or accent colors can transform the feel and vibe. But if the shed is small, an excess of lighting will create higher temperatures. On the flip side, a darker space will stay cool in warmer months.
If the shed has a lot of electronics, these can also generate heat, too.
You can also consider a lighting upgrade—for personal preference, a do-it-yourself challenge, or simply to invest in a better, more eco-friendly option.
“Solar power [can be used] to add lighting, charge your devices, and power your tools,” Alex Beale, owner of Footprint Hero, shares. “Adding solar power will be an instant upgrade to your shed, and it makes for a fun DIY project.”
5. Add Utilities & Prioritize Durability
Does your he-shed need running water for a bar or sink? Gas to power a small stove? Electricity and a WiFi extender to reach from the house to the haven? If so, think about your utilities first and make sure you can build (safely!) around them.
Also consider the durability of your materials, from the exterior to the interior beams and structure. Undoubtedly, there will be UV rays, varying temperatures, and moisture—no matter where you’re located. Be sure to plan for this with materials that can withstand exposure to the elements, or by swapping to outdoor furniture and décor, if necessary.
6. Create the Vibe
The vibe of the perfect he-shed is really going to depend on the person. If you’re planning this as a surprise, be sure to consider what the he-shed dweller cares about, does in his free time, or obsesses over.
As you plan, ask questions like: What does he do for work or free time? What does he watch on TV? What apps/games does he subscribe to? What music does he listen to? What characters, actors, or important figures does he love or admire?
Asking these questions can help inform decisions around décor, art, wall hangings, design, or even furniture.
“The old man caves of the past are gone,” says Craig. “No need for posters of nude women or sexist catchphrases. Instead, let the environment inspire you to be healthy and motivated.”
“If you have fitness icons you admire, put up some posters in frames to keep the vibes more grownup than [a] college dorm. A poster of Rocky or your favorite UFC champ is much more motivating and won't make female guests feel uncomfortable or disrespected if they visit the he-shed.”
As much as a he-shed is a special, safe space that the man can retreat to, it’s also an opportunity to build connections with others, too.