She sheds have risen in popularity in recent years as a sort of femininity-driven answer to the classic concept of the very masculine man cave.
The concept of a she shed is similar to that of a man cave in that women have realized they deserve a space to call their own, too. With many women feeling stuck at home nonstop with their family before and during the pandemic, and often with very demanding work-life balance expectations, a spot to relax and be alone with their thoughts—with no children or spouses or pets, and maybe even no work, if that's the purpose of the she shed—has been just the respite many women need to escape life's many demands and pressures, even for a short time.
Enter the she shed: Traditionally an outdoor shed converted for use as a spot for entertainment, rest, and relaxation, a she shed can be any structure (or even a room inside the house) a woman reserves for her own use. To unpack its legacy, we spoke with a few home experts about what makes a she shed.
Meet the Expert
A she shed is different from the concept of a man cave in that it’s more about relaxation than anything else. That may mean different things to different women, but a she shed can be a spot where they get their reading or writing done, or enjoy some gardening or self-care.
History and Origins of the She Shed
“A she shed is the female equivalent of a man cave—a refuge where she can escape from her spouse, whiny kids, work, and other responsibilities and just chill on her own,” said Realtor.com Deputy Editor Judy Dutton. “It’s basically the modern-day version of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.”
And these sheds can be anything you want them to be. “She sheds were originally an outgrowth of gardening sheds, small structures outside the main house where gardening supplies were typically stored,” Dutton said.
She sheds can also be adapted from barns or garages, or be built from scratch via a growing number of she shed kits or DIY shed guides. In 2015, the TV series He Shed, She Shed premiered and officially introduced the term she shed into the general lexicon.
When women need a break, a she shed offers just the place. “It’s a separate structure where [a woman is] less likely to be disturbed,” Dutton said. A she shed can also double as a great home office, or a guest house when you have visitors.
She Shed Uses
Women use their she sheds for different things. “They're intended to be a getaway, so should contrast the demands of daily life,” said Phillip Ash, founder of Pro Paint Corner. Hectic life? Make the she shed a place of calm and restoration. Zen home and family? Maybe your she shed is a place to let your freak flag fly.
In the same way that man caves can be upgraded with pool tables and dart boards, you can deck out a she shed with whatever “suits your fancy,” Dutton said. You can make it an artist's studio, a crafting station, or even add a bed or comfy daybed for taking much-needed naps without interruption.
A she shed could be your reading place, or your space to listen to music that only you enjoy. Whatever the use, a she shed should be the getaway place of your dreams.
The Benefits of Having a She Shed
Because she sheds are a place for women to relax or invest time in a hobby or passion, they may result in increased self esteem. “An oasis or home away from home helps to moderate moods, improve happiness, and increase productivity in other parts of your life,” Ash said. For mothers, it can also help reestablish identity outside being a mom.
Creating Your Own Perfect She Shed
To create a she shed that suits your purposes, pick a focal point or primary purpose and design around that. If you need a cleared central space for activities, like playing an instrument or doing yoga, consider shelving and hooks for the walls to store everything else. Perhaps you plan to nap in your shed, so the focal point is a comfy couch or a bed with storage underneath. If you're looking to create a space for meditation, you'll want to keep the shed fairly clean and uncluttered.
“Once your focal point is chosen, pick the mood you want your shed to have, and search for paint colors that make you feel that specific mood,” Ash said. Then deck your shed out with items and decor that bring you joy.
She sheds need not be expensive to build. “You can even buy a basic DIY she shed kit for about $500,” Dutton said. Higher-end models with insulation, electricity, and more may get more pricey. “It really runs the gamut. But I think most women would tell you it’s worth every penny!” she said.