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.
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!