Monthly Archives: November 2019

What You Need To Know About She Sheds

Outside of Gray She Shed with bedroom and shower

She Sheds are a growing trend. The following is my interview with She Shed Living expert and author, Erika Kotite, in my quest to know more about how more innkeepers could have them available at their accommodations.

Q: My blog readers are mainly B&B innkeepers. Some have large properties with lodges, cabins, carriage houses, and/or cottages. Do you think their renaming their extra buildings (outdoor structures) as “She Sheds” could attract more guests?

A: The idea of having a she shed on the property of a bed and breakfast could be a good thing. If we can measure it to the response we get at home and garden shows, and in our own retail gallery where we have an 8 x 10 shed fixed up with a cozy couch and chair, then I’d say yes. It could simply be the “She Shed” or something like the “Sleeping Porch” or “Nap Shack.” The State Farm commercial has created an extraordinary awareness of the term she shed, though, and it does seem to appeal to women. If the outbuilding housed multiple guests then maybe it could be called the “We Shed.”

Q: Have you consulted with any innkeepers/hospitality providers about She Sheds and/or visited accommodations with She Sheds?

A: I haven’t personally visited B&Bs (nor have any come to me) with the intent to discuss adding or naming a she shed on their property. However, in my first book I included one she shed owner, who made her “Casita” by merging two old broken-down sheds into one very pretty space. This shed was outfitted with a small European style kitchen and bath. She uses this space for herself while her own home is rented out to airbnb guests. (She travels for business a lot–her work as a photographer/stylist is highly satisfying but provides an uncertain income. Having rental income gives her the freedom to continue doing what she loves.)

Q: Since some innkeepers are Green Leaders (by implementing environmentally-friendly practices), I think they would be open to using salvage and recycled finds. What are the best ways for them to find materials? Also, who (& what organizations) approve(s) the construction of She Sheds and where would they find local building codes? I understand they will need to consider factors such as building a certain distance from the property line and meeting guidelines to pass inspections if they want to host guests.

A: The best way to build green she sheds is to rehab something that already exists on the property. Many older sheds require new roofs, more windows, insulation, etc. to be habitable (not to mention electrical and plumbing). I write about sheds that aren’t completely set up for overnight guests, especially for reasons of permitting. Storage sheds under 120 square feet (in most cities) do not require a permit as long as they are not plumbed or wired. Most of our clients go this route. Obviously to make the space appropriate for guests this wouldn’t be an option so applying for the right permits must be part of the plan. Local codes are found in the city government website, as well as many other resources for building and safety. I recommend finding a contractor who specializes in tiny homes or small structures to help the innkeeper navigate the permitting process and help with the rehab or construction of the she shed.

Another way to build green (from scratch) is to work with reclaimed materials. Our shed siding is made from urban forested lumber that ordinarily would have been sent to the chipping machine. We also scrounge around at construction sites for throwaway doors, stained glass windows, even old carriage doors incorporated into the walls of their guest house. Some good resources would be craigslist, ReStore (Habitat for Humanity’s construction goods stores) and even local contractors who might be willing to call when there is salvage to be had.

Q: I love how you detail the carious types of She Sheds. Many of which could host classes and retreats based on the type of She Shed it is (artists, writers, gardeners, cooks, book clubs, floral arrangers, tea times, etc.). I also like that you share pictures of different decorating styles (modern, romantic/vintage, classic, rustic, French country, Spanish-stle, shabby chic, etc.). There are so many options. Is that part of the beauty of She Sheds the fact that it can fulfill almost any purpose and have so many different looks?

A: Yes indeed, she sheds directly reflect the passions and pursuits of their owners! Most of us share our main home with others and we need to adapt rooms and design so that it works for all. A she shed is an intensely personal space; simple and direct. My own she shed is quite small and provides me with a small cozy nook for my favorite hobby: reading. That’s about it. But the color, the artful windows, brick floor, rag rug, etc. are all my own personal touches. Guests of course will not be bringing their furniture and artwork into a she shed they’re renting but you can still theme it will the iconic elements: a pretty chandelier, flag bunting strings, chaise lounge, signage, etc.

Erika Kotite's personal yellow she shed with blue door

Erika Kotite’s own 6 x 6 she shed that lets her read her books in peace. The front windows are leaded glass and were an antique store find. She invested a few hundred dollars to have them completely restored. Worth every penny. (Photo: Rebecca Ittner)

ethereal she shed with dropdown bar

This ethereal shed from She Shed Living is 8 x 10 and is a gathering spot for the Salinas CA family who own it. They are a winemaking family so of course there is a dropdown bar in the back. (Photo: Rebecca Ittner)

 

She Shed wooden with teal door

Another one of her own (She Shed Living) custom designed sheds, made with reclaimed materials & vintage windows. This shed is used for entertaining friends, working on crafts, offering a private spot for the lady of the house. (Photo: Maggie Bond)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: I have clients, who are former B&B owners, who now have a downtown shop that sells vintage signs, nostalgic items, and other memorabilia. Do you have any suggestions for the types of items they could have for those who want to decorate their She Sheds?

A: Signage is a really important and popular category! Simple lighting that is battery powered or easily connected to an extension cord is another. String lighting, fabric bunting, small shelf brackets, small-scale furniture, throws, nesting tables, small weather vanes are some other ideas.

Q: What would you tell someone who owns hospitality accommodations if they asked how they could go about building their own She Shed(s) that would be used to host guests? Do you recommend using She Shed Kits?

A: A kit shed could work for a lodging space but again, it would need to be modified significantly to become a guest house (insulated, wired, etc.) You could probably avoid plumbing if you have a bathroom nearby that could be used. However, that would limit the type of guest who wants something cute, but also wants all the modern conveniences right in the space. Look for kit designs that are intended for habitation, such as a home studio or even a pool cabana. They could save you some money as opposed to building from scratch. There are some great companies out there including Summerwood, Modern Shed and Studio Shed.

Q: There are so many different talents that are needed to successfully build and decorate She Sheds: architecture, carpentry, interior design & decor, landscaping and more. What is your best advice for doing things in the right order? Do you have a checklist?

A: At the risk of shameless self promotion, I believe that my second book She Sheds Style: Make Your Space Your Own, provides a solid checklist for all the considerations you would have when creating a she shed guest space. Chapters include architecture, landscaping, doors and windows, color selection, interior design and important details. A good architect and builder/contractor would also provide invaluable advice. Again, look to professionals for specialize in small structures.

Q: What are some things most people don’t know about She Sheds (common misconceptions)?

A: When people see a she shed in person, they instantly know a lot about it. I think it’s because they are reminded of their childhood, when they had a playhouse or a tree fort of their own. It’s a gut thing! Sometimes men feel a little left out but in our experience, they admire the craftsmanship or our sheds so much that they don’t complain. They often are just as excited as their wives/girlfriends! The one challenge to overcome is that a solid, comfortable and attractive she shed is not something you can pick up at a local home improvement store. Those structures are not meant for habitation–they are mass produced with sturdy but nowhere near home-quality materials. So you are going to need to budget more money than you may think. But trust me, it’s so worth it.

Thank you, Erika, for allowing me to interview you. I love the gorgeous She Sheds in Erika’s She Shed Living gallery. I recommend you read her books and visit her website!

 

How to Transform Your Outdoor Structures

Book Cover: Shed Decor

 

Want to transform your outdoor structures? Bed and breakfast inns may also have additional dwellings such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and sheds. Sally Coulthard, author of Shed Decor: How To Decorate and Furnish Your Favorite Garden Room, was kind enough to answer my questions. According to Amazon, “Shed Decor reveals how the right combination of colors, fabrics, furniture, and accessories can transform an outdoor building.”

“Have you ever been asked to decorate sheds as a consultant or interior decorator?”

“I often give advice for free – it’s much more fun and relaxed than a paid project.  I could talk about sheds endlessly – it’s a bit of an obsession really.  I’ve designed garden buildings and shepherds huts professionally for people, which often a collaborative process – and it’s so nice when people are pleased with the end result.  I built my own shed – finally – a few years back and I absolutely love the freedom and peace it gives me.  It’s got a great view of the orchard on our farm, and I love sitting in there with the wood-turning stove roaring away and cup of tea. Heaven.”

“I love how sheds can be used for multiple purposes and be decorated in many different ways. What are your best tips on Shed Decor?”  

“To be honest, I think the best money is spent on making the shed as warm and dry as possible – damp sheds are a nightmare and you never end up using them or getting the most from your space.  So, plenty of insulation, power sockets, a source of heating and decent ventilation are the priorities.  Once those are sorted the world is your oyster!  Personally, I like simple, honest materials – lots of muted shades and natural light.  Simple furniture, lots of pictures and treasured items to make it cosy, and a splash of colour from a favourite rug or throw.”

“I have clients, who are former B&B owners, who now have a downtown shop that sells vintage signs, nostalgic items, and other memorabilia. Do you have any suggestions for types of items they could have for those who want to decorate their She Sheds?”

“Wow – such potential! I love a vintage shed – so packed full of character. Things like old metal signs – they’re so graphic and colourful. Vintage enamelware and wire storage racks/bins look great. Love the industrial look too – salvaged factory lighting, metal school lockers, office seating, robust tables – all these work really well in a shed office.”

“There are so many different talents that are needed to successfully decorate sheds. Is there a particular order things should be done in?”

“To be honest, no more than decorating a home.  So, you need plenty of enthusiasm, an eye for design and a practical side.  Get the building basics right first, electrics, heating and wifi sorted, then floor and wall coverings and then the finishing touches.  Don’t try and cram too much in your shed.  Less is definitely more.  Clever storage solutions and plenty of natural light will help make it a genuinely useable space.”

“What are some things that most people don’t know about decorating sheds?”

“Get the professionals in for any woodburning stoves and electrics – they can be deadly if badly fitted and, depending where you live, it’s the law. Use eco-paints and finishes – there are so many fantastic brands out there it’s easy to be environmentally friendly.  Insulate, insulate, insulate.  And think of ways to make your shed a bit quirky – could you fit a living roof, for example, or solar panels?”

“Please feel free to share any information that you think would help educate my innkeeping audience about decorating sheds and other spaces.”

“Basically, over the years I’ve learned that a shed is only useful if you put as much energy and resources into it as you would a room in your house.  Sheds that can only be used in summer tend to get neglected, so it’s worth making it a year-round space.  Also, try and imagine different uses for your shed to make it as multi-functional as possible – it might be a kids’ playroom now, for example, but it could come in useful as a spare room, art studio or office somewhere down the line.” 

As a general rule, guests seem to love a ‘sleeping shed’ – I think they like the playfulness of sleeping outside, in a small space, and the privacy it offers – they’re great for romantic retreats or writer’s dens.  Sheds can also make fantastic dining or entertaining spaces for guests – we’ve had some great parties over the years, in and around various garden buildings, watching the sun go down and enjoying the conviviality of it all.”

In Closing

I appreciate Author Sally Coulthard for answering these questions. There are so many ways to transform your outdoor structures. In response to my gratitude…

“You are super welcome! Might be worth mentioning I also have a book called How To Build a Shed if anyone fancies trying it themselves!”

My next blog post will feature “She Sheds” since they are growing in popularity.