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A she-shed retreat

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Many women need time out in their own space in the home that is off-limits to the remainder of the family

Have you ever longed for a quiet room where you can write, blog, create, read, do yoga, get away from the madding crowd?

If you haven’t yet got your own she shed, now time to get one.

What is a she shed?

It’s a “sacred” space fashioned out of a woman’s wildest design fantasies – declared off-limits to everyone in the family – to house her personal possessions, and pursue private activities.

Where do you find one?

Often at the bottom or back of the garden. As the she shed movement grows, women are claiming a room, an alcove or a nook in the house, and converting into that private room. Some with acres of land and access to lots of money have built she sheds along the loveliest, most relaxing corners of their real estate.

What will you find in it?

For some she shed owners, it’s a simple escape hatch, a sort of bunker, to get away from the hurly-burly of children, partners, pets and household routines. It may have no more than an old armchair to sink into, a little table which can hold a cup of tea, or a little shelf for books and knick-knacks.

Some owners build the space for crafting and hobbies, from sewing, quilting and crocheting, to miniature boat building.

For some, the shed becomes both a refuge and a home office where the owner can begin an entrepreneurial venture without the start-up costs of office space.

Often it is a quiet room for writers, bloggers and those who use the access and freedom of the digital revolution to share their thoughts, ideas and essays with the world.

Taken to ultimate she shed glory, can house a double bed, a basic bathroom, kitchen basics and even a mini-bar for those who like to have a few snacks and drinks on hand.

She Shed rules

1 No one but me is allowed: This must be your escape. The minute you start allowing visits from your husband or children, it becomes a shared space.

2 You make your own rules: You may have started out calling it a gym room but it may become the place you read books in gym pants. That’s okay. Your shed, your rules.

3 Girlfriends can visit (but only girlfriends): There must be room for them to sit around and enjoy your little haven.

Typical decor styles you will find in her spot

Picture: Pexels

Princess: All fairy lights and glitter, this is the grown-up princess harking back to childhood fantasies. Expect lots of pink and tulle.

Shabby chic: By far the most popular style because it revolves around repurposing old furniture.

Vintage in nature: White is the predominant colour. Expect lace and crochet, linen and cotton, with blooms in chipped teacups.

Eclectic: A mishmash of stuff collected over the years that did not quite make it into the rooms in the main house. Lots of art and collectables. 

Arts and crafts: Designed with natural colours and patterns of wood and stone, and set up to be useful with lots of storage options for craft supplies.

Ye olde library: This is designed around books and at least one comfy armchair or comforting nook with everything else there to support a quiet hour or two of reading indulgence. 

Other: Coastal, country house, retro.

Getting started

If you want everything to be pink, go for it. Picture: Pexels

1. Clean out an old back room or unused garage, or buy a new shed. Lots of South African businesses sell ready-made or ready-to-assemble sheds, guard huts or wendy houses.

2. Give it a new coat of paint. Here you don’t have to stick to house rules. If you want everything to be pink, go for it. Or what about the shades of a Mexican hacienda.

3. Be clear about its use. In the first instance, it is a quiet space to take up a hobby – a potting shed for gardeners, a reading room, a crafting/sewing room, or a home office.

4. Most She Sheds are furnished with excess pieces lying around the house: that care-worn armchair that you’ve refused to toss out, a slightly wonky bookshelf that can be propped up, or metal beds that can be repurposed. Others are made up with secondhand items or pieces from an antique shop.

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