She sheds


Video above: Mary Portas talks about She sheds on Channel 4’s ‘What to buy’.

For many years the garden shed has been a typically male preserve but over the last few years many women have discovered the joy of having a private get away at the end of the garden. Sheds and garden buildings come in all shapes and sizes but the common theme seems to be that they provide a safe haven from the stresses of work and family life. Whether it’s quiet space for contemplation or a hive of creative activity sheds provide an ideal space to relax,work or enjoy some quiet time. In her excellent book “A woman’s shed,” Gill Heriz interviewed 80 women to provide a unique insight into why women have sheds and the many varied uses that they put them to. What follows are some excerpts from Gill’s excellent book which is widely available including here on amazon (link to amazon).

The Plantswoman

“Jenny is outnumbered as her house is full of males (her partner has three sons). Her shed, on the other hand, is a man-free zone, and it’s the only place where she can leave her work on her desk without it being moved around, or put down a pen knowing that it will still be there at the end of the day. After leaving the teaching profession, Jenny now works as a plantswoman. Her tidy desk looks out onto the vegetable garden surrounded by leafy trees, creating a magical place to be and to work. But her shed is not just a workspace. It’s also a bar, a shrine, a retreat, but, above all, a woman’s space. It has an old-fashioned cottage feel about it, with its pale green and white walls almost covered by various treasures, from vintage plates and platters to pictures and photographs. Even the back of the door is decorated with bunches of herbs, dried leaves, and the odd postcard or two. There is a small bar in the corner, with her choice of tipple, and glasses at the ready on top of a shelf.

Jenny makes effective use of mirrors, in the vegetable garden as well as in her shed. Inside, they serve to increase the sense of space and introduce an air of mystery. Dotted around the garden, they reflect light and colour, and the two on the outside of the door, together with the painting, turn the tiny veranda into an outdoor room. Strings of fir cones and shells from the beach festoon the veranda, where two mismatching rustic chairs bid visitors welcome, to sit down with Jenny and, perhaps, relax with one of her favourite tipples.”

The Poet And The Artist

“Three generations of friends have owned this house, which backs onto a cricket pitch.  Each of these women has left her mark, not least on the sheds that they have built.

The shed featured here is Paddy’s, where she writes poetry. Her work is mainly political, sometimes comic, but it also speaks of love and loss. It was originally her partner Gilly’s studio, where she painted and drew until she became too ill to continue. But her sketches, watercolours, and pastels remain pinned to the wall, holding precious memories of Gilly’s skill and vibrancy.

The clever use of paint, inside and out, reflects Gilly’s and Paddy’s love of mixing colours, to wonderful effect. The doors, windows, and clapboard walls are dark blue, but when the doors are opened out, they reveal a harmonious pastel mix of green and pink, which bring the interior to life. The windows inside are painted the same pastel green, complementing Paddy’s rustic chair. Rich cream paneled walls are a warm and neutral backdrop for Gilly’s work, and the wooden floor is softened with rugs.”

The Psychotherapist

“Diney’s shed, in a corner of her small garden (yard), is primarily her office where she sees psychotherapy clients. It is a minimalist space, absolutely pristine, with just two armchairs, a bookcase, three tiny tables, and white-painted walls. For those seeking help dealing with life’s challenges, it is just right.

For Diney, the shed is also a memorial to two dear friends. Elizabeth, a gardener, first suggested to Diney that she build her therapy shed and where it should go. And Len, a local builder, who knew all there was to know about his trade, made it a reality. Both have since died but the shed is a constant and welcome reminder of their friendship. As you approach the six-sided shed, with its porthole window, it appears to be in some idyllic grove, far from its urban home. Painted white inside and out, it has a serene atmosphere, perfect for client and therapist. The design was inspired by a small, white chapel on a minute island in the bay in Malia, Crete. As the finishing touch, Diney wanted a dome for her shed, just like the chapel, which would be visible from the outside. Perhaps not surprisingly, the proposal was thrown out by the local planning department. Len then devised a large circular skylight instead, which lets in lots of daylight, and tiny blue lights were installed around it, to create a pretty effect at night. “

Browns Garden Buildings can design and supply a wide range of quality garden buildings from potting sheds to garden home offices and studios. Visit our homepage for more info and comprehensive list of our available garden buildings.