It’s exciting to be in the dream stages of building your she shed. After weeks of pinning your favorite designs, strolling through home improvement stores and gazing at that perfect spot in your backyard, the time has finally come to go from dream to reality.
And that’s where things get a little bit tricky.
As partners in a shed design and building enterprise, we’ve helped many women make important decisions about their she sheds. In some cases, our clients started out with ideas and intentions that needed some refinement. We’re here to share some of these experiences to help you in your own journey.
DO Have a Clear Idea of Your She Shed’s Purpose
The first question we ask a potential client is “what are you going to use your she shed for?” This is important because if you don’t have a purpose in mind, you won’t be able to design and build it right. She sheds bring a significant aesthetic boost to the backyard but they are meant to be useful. Think about the impulse that brought the idea of a she shed in the first place. Did you outgrow your craft room? Need more quiet time for painting? Did another family member take over your home office? Your answer should come clear and strong; if it doesn’t, give yourself some more time.
DON’T Expect a Toolshed to Become Shangri-La
Every she shed is beautiful in the eye of its owner, and that’s the way it should be. Whether it’s a humble structure straight out of the hardware store parking lot, or a self-built masterpiece, sheds are the perfect expression of their owners’ dreams and creativity. The goal here is to temper expectations with reality. The notion of creating an all-glass greenhouse with a high peak roof (also made out of glass) out of a pre-fab shed is pretty much impossible.
Toolsheds aren’t made for human habitation. She sheds are. Keep that in mind as you consider an “off the lot” shed. Does it feel sturdy? Are there any windows? Can you stand comfortably inside? Is there enough room to do the things you want inside your shed?
There are some things you can do to a no-frills shed to make it really pretty. For example, if you have construction skills you can re-side the shed and frame larger windows. Applying your favorite shade of paint will do wonders, as will additions like real shutters and window boxes filled with flowers. Elements made from traditional wood are going to add that vintage appeal and make the shed feel more substantial and “grounded.” Consider touches like a porch canopy, cupola, exterior shelving or a floating deck step to connect your shed with the garden.
DO Spend Time Creating a Budget
Between rising lumber costs and “unexpected” costs like building a foundation or running electrical, she shed budgets are challenging to manage. The price tags you see on the pre-fab sheds often look pretty reasonable but they do not reflect the entire bottom line. Take a look at our pricing guide or this article about shed costs by category to get a better idea of what to expect.
DON’T Confuse a She Shed with a Tiny House
A she shed by definition is a rustic structure, meant for seasonal enjoyment and communion with nature. What does this mean? Typically, it means no insulation, drywall, bathrooms or heavy electrical appliances. You can certainly have a fully tricked out backyard space, such as a guesthouse or ADU (accessory dwelling unit) as long as your space meets the building code requirements and you understand the costs associated with it.
The problems arise when your dreams take you from simple backyard sanctuary to something far different — and your resources can’t keep up. If you live in a very hot area, then make sure you work with your builder to create an acceptable cooling system. Your idea of a sleeping loft is certainly feasible but check local codes to see how tall a backyard structure can be and design the area you’ll need for a sturdy loft ladder.
One previous client really wanted a rustic she shed to use as a master bedroom in her tiny backyard, but she insisted on making it connect to her house in some way. It needed a diagonal slice removed from one wall to keep the electric meter accessible and she wanted a closet built in the back. Oh, and this all had to be done for under $15,000. Some things are not possible, or they require a different approach. A flexible attitude and open-mindedness to expert suggestions will go a long way in this process.
DO Be Patient and Take Your Time
Once you make the decision to have a she shed, the brain goes into overdrive. “I want it next week, in time for my daughter’s bridal shower!” We know, we know. As the saying goes, “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” It’s very likely you will not have your she shed in its perfect finished state before three to six months have passed. Even then, your shed will only improve and grow more beautiful with each year that passes.
Really, that’s probably the best thing about a she shed. You dedicate valuable time to creating a unique space that is all yours, and you are doing it right. That’s a good feeling, so savor it! Take each step thoughtfully and remember to take lots of photos and videos along the way.