From Man Caves to She-Sheds

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A few years ago man caves became prevalent. You know, those spaces that guys claimed all for themselves. They have always had them, but now they just want to expand on it. It’s their garages, barns, and tool sheds. Have we women ever really been allowed in these spaces? I once mentioned cleaning the garage to Jim because it was in some disarray (I am being kind here). I got this shocked look and reply, “That’s all right, I’ll get to it, I know where everything is at!” Really???

As of late, guys have gotten a little more aggressive. They take a spare room in the house, the attic or the basement and turn it into their own space. They have their big screen TV, their sports collections, hunting and fishing mementos and all other things near and dear to their hearts in that room. It’s where they hang out to watch the game with their friends, to flop and relax or do whatever. And it’s OK with us gals because, when they are in their hideaway, we gals have free reign on the rest of the domain to do as we like.

These man caves usually are at one end of the spectrum or the other with no middle room. They are either spotless, with everything in its place because it is their castle, or the man caves are basically pig pens (sorry, just going with total honesty here) because it is their domain and empty beer cans, remnants of pizza from two weeks ago, and dirty dishes that held…uh it is beyond guessing what food it once held…dominate the space. You just hope it has a door that you can just close.

OK, guys, we understand your need for your own space to get away from us and the rest of the world, really, we do. That is why we now have our she-sheds. Yep, that’s right, those old backyard sheds that just collected junk for who knows how long have become our private domain. We don’t want your garages, basements or man caves in the house, we are escaping to the backyard.

Actually, this is the latest trend as more and more women are trying to find a little quiet time for them in their hectic lives. After all, this is what a man cave is really all about, a place to escape to have a little guy down time. We all do it to ourselves, life is always in the fast lane and, although we all enjoy family time, we need our own time too.

An abandoned gardening shed, an old pump house or even pre-built storage sheds are being refurbished in backyards to provide individual getaways. The space doesn’t have to be large, even something as small as 10 foot by 10 foot can do quite nicely.

If using a pre-existing building, probably the first thing to do is clean it out since most all unused spaces are havens for collecting “stuff.” After it is cleaned out, a coat of fresh white paint inside and out (unless the outside is weathered and you want to go with that look) will give it a clean look, and after that the sky is the limit.

Think in terms of personal preference. What do you want to do in your space? Do you just want to get away and have a reading nook or do you want a space where you can pursue hobbies? When I started oil painting, the only space I had was a desk in a spare bedroom that I covered with drip cloths every time I wanted to paint and everything needed to be put away each time. Sometimes it just wasn’t worth the effort. Now I have a conference table set up in the basement where I can leave my projects out and work on at will.

If planning on using your she-shed for hobbies, be sure and plan ahead if you are going to need electricity or water. This also goes, especially for us Midwesterners, if you plan on using it for all four seasons. If so, you will want to figure on a source of heat.

Size should also be a consideration. A 10-by-10-foot space is perfect for a reading nook. If you are going to do pottery and have pieces setting around to fire and paint, you may need extra space. Same goes for quilting, it takes room to tie off a quilt. A little planning ahead of time will save headaches later.

When deciding on size, you may want to think to the future when you may want to have friends over. For example, if you are an avid reader, you may want a few others to get together to form a book club.

As far as decorating, anything goes. Your shed can be as elaborate or as simple as you prefer. Many bring the outside in by decorating with potted plants, vines, etc. Some have mood lighting, flower boxes, bistro tables and small bars. Some are equipped with a small cot or daybed so you can actually spend a night there. Then some are as simply furnished as an old sofa, hammock or a few large pillows.

If I were to have a she-shed it would actually be a she-shack. I don’t want some elaborate space that needs cleaned and kept up like the house. After all, that is what I want to get away from, the cleaning and work. I want just a simple space where I could just be me with no worries about making it a show place. Hello guys with the empty beer cans and potato chip crumbs, I would have an empty wine bottle or two and some Hershey’s wrappers. The best thing about she-sheds, and man caves, is that you can just go crazy. There are no guidelines. As long as it fits your style, then it is fine.

Some may think that this is a silly idea but our world has become so high tech, so complicated, so busy that sometimes it just gets to be too much. Even when you try to relax, you are always connected with today’s smart phones. How often are you not texting or communicating. This leads to overload and more and more people are finding that you do not need to be connected all the time. This goes for work and home life. Sometimes you just need some personal time, some quiet time.

Man caves and she-sheds provide this solitude and down time that we all crave from time to time. OK, you guys, maybe you have been onto something here. You keep your man caves, we now have our she sheds.