Virginia Woolf suggested a room of one’s own.
Why not a whole shed? Or, as they are being called in this growing trend, “she sheds.”
She sheds are small, detached buildings built in a backyard. The idea is it is a place where a woman can immerse herself in her own space. They can offer a sanctuary for a woman’s hobbies or collections or simply be a quiet place to read. The fun part: the sheds hold just as many stylistic opportunities as a full-size house, allowing women to get creative with construction, design, décor and landscaping.
“She Sheds” author Erika Kotite knows a thing or two about design. She will be at Midtown Mercantile Merchants later this week to offer insights on the concept.
“The outdoors with the garage and the backyard and whatnot, a lot of people kind of thought of that as the man’s domain, and now the backyard is being looked at by women who are saying ‘I could create my own little studio back there,’” Kotite said in a phone interview.
Kotite took an interest in she sheds when working on stories about outbuildings and backyard studios for women. She published her book on the miniature dwellings earlier this year.
The book is “doing really well,” she said. “It really hit a nerve, I think.”
While she has started to see she shed references in pop culture — she counts at least three commercials in the past year that were based on the design concept — Kotite said many women have never heard of the idea, and that’s why she likes to go to events.
“It’s so neat to see (women’s) eyes light up when I explain the concept, and I can see them picturing their backyard and mentally placing their shed in that beautiful little corner of their backyard,” Kotite said.
The appeal of she sheds stems from their ability to give a woman her own space, Kotite said. While the space doesn’t necessarily have to be detached from the main home, being detached can create a sense of sanctuary, privacy and greater control over one’s own space, she said. Also: she sheds can be cute.
“They’re not vinyl boxes that you buy at the corner store and plop onto your land. They’re little extra dwellings that have landscaping around them and an entry way and pretty paint and really neat windows” Kotite said. “So they become an integral part of your landscaping even in your backyard.”
Kotite herself is about two thirds of the way done with building her own 6-by-6-foot she shed in her backyard in California, designing it in the style of a traditional cottage.
She plans to devote her she shed to reading, decking it out with a light source, shelves and her favorite books.
Tami Mitchell, owner of Midtown Mercantile Merchants, said she was inspired to create her own she shed after meeting Kotite in April at a California show. Mitchell is in the process of converting her detached secondary garage into her own space, where she can keep her collections of fiesta ware and Oaxacan folk art.
She shed style can be as simple or as extravagant as a woman wants it to be. To show people how they can design their own she sheds, the mercantile will have two display she sheds up during Kotite’s visit to the store, one with a Southwestern, cowgirl style and another with a Spanish colonial style, Mitchell said.
Kotite will be there to sign books and talk to those interested in learning more about these miniature abodes. She will also debut her new She Shades line of six paint colors for sheds.
Kotite is working on her second book, out this fall, which will detail different DIY projects, from how to create vertical gardens around a shed to how to make an ottoman out of a suitcase.
Kotite is particularly good about talking about others’ projects, Mitchell said, adding, “She’s really great about talking to people about what they’re looking for or what they want to do.”
For those interested in creating their own she shed, Kotite and Mitchell have tips on how to lower costs. Mitchell suggests going to garage sales, repurposing items and using salvaged material, some of which can be found at the mercantile.
Kotite said that with more time, people can find more items through salvaged material.
“The she shed, it’s for you, and that’s the beauty of it,” Mitchell said. “Whatever you want it to be, you can make it.”