Virginia Woolf once wrote about the importance of having “a room of one’s own.”
Men have their “man caves,” but a new housing trend acknowledges that women need their own space, too. Often known as “she sheds,” these are tiny, one-room buildings, separate from the house. They’re usually built for a specific purpose, whether as gardening havens, writer’s cottages, or trading spaces. Websites and magazines such as the Huffington Post and Country Living have featured some elaborate setups.
Barbara Techel, author of three books and blogger at the website Joyful Paws, created a “she shed” in her Wisconsin yard in 2009. She and her husband both work from home, but the environment was too noisy for her as a writer.
“I wanted peace and quiet and a lot of natural light,” Techel said.
“He asked me how I would pay for it,” she said, and she sold her car.
Techel’s “she shed” is an all-seasons outbuilding and has six windows, a screened door, hardwood floors, air conditioning, and a small gas stove and fireplace, which lets her use the space even during (most) Midwest winters.
Consider Its Use
For women thinking of building their own getaways, Techel said they need to think about how they are going to use the space.
“If it’s something you only want for an hour a day, you don’t need anything elaborate,” she said.
If the room is to be used year-around, as hers is, then you may need to hire a builder who can install utilities—electricity at a minimum, and plumbing if you want a washroom in the unit.
“It’s like hiring any builder … to put an addition on your house. Make sure to set a budget. That may dictate what you build,” she said. “It adds value to the house and can be used for other purposes.”
The retail cost of her mini-cottage would range between $15,000 and $20,000, Techel said.
Builder Artisan Sheds designs standalone units that can be built for any purpose. On their website, Artisan Sheds says it builds custom outbuildings and will deliver them to a buyer’s home complete and ready to install on a prepared site.
One of their styles, the “Chautauqua,” starts at $10,600 for a 10x12 foot space, not including extra options such as electricity. Suggested uses for the outbuildings include a potting shed, guest cottage, home office, or artist retreat.
Pays for Itself?
Techel said her “she shed” has paid dividends beyond a work space.
“It’s improved my marriage. My husband understood my need for privacy and quiet and my dream to write books,” she said. “If I can inspire women to have a place of their own, I’m happy to do that.”
Virginia Woolf would likely approve.
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