she sheds

Home Sweet Escape

In February 2017, Retreat, Stuff by Alexandra DrosuLeave a Comment

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She sheds, lady lairs, hen huts, diva dens… whatever you want to call them, women are yearning for a private sanctuary. That’s one reason why writer Erika Kotite wanted to explore these private havens in her new book, “She Sheds: A Room of Your Own.”

“As women, we handle a heavy load of responsibility: jobs, marriage, children, household chores, and social obligations. Days will go by in which we must ask ourselves, ‘Have I had one minute alone, in the quiet, to myself?’” she says. “She sheds are a refuge of comfort, filled with promise and your treasured possessions.”

In her book, Kotite travelled across the United States to find exquisite examples of these retreats—from an art studio with a beach house vibe to a sewing sanctuary to a grown-up playhouse used for garden parties.

And the trend is growing here in Raleigh, too. Women are searching for privacy, a retreat where they can relax or pursue their interests, agrees Tara Deans, Raleigh Studio Manager at Ashton Woods Homes. She adds more and more women are planning to incorporate private spaces into their home design. 

Kotite’s book as available at

A Milestone Birthday Deserves a Memorable Gift

For years, Mary McCachern was mentally drawing up plans for a she shed to end all she sheds. Finally, on a milestone birthday, she had her wish. On the property of their lakeside home on Lake Norman, North Carolina, McCachern’s gabled custom shed sprang to life. Generously sized at 10 ft by 16 ft, the shed was modeled after a little shingled cottage with green trim that McCachern spied on a magazine cover.

The shed took a few months to build, with a raised wood foundation and a small front porch. Inside, the ceiling is open, revealing exposed joists and support beams. All is painted with just one coat of white paint over spruce. The plywood floors are painted the same color as the front porch floor. The shingled exterior has two coats of a semi-transparent stain, with gray-blue tones to quickly “weather” the wood.

A nearby salvage shop called Cline’s was the place McCachern found many architectural elements for her shed, including $15 turned porch posts, $3 distressed metal panels for the porch roof, and $12 doors. McCachern’s work area is both simple and clever. She designed two workbenches about 2 ft. by 4 ft. right next to each other on one wall. The benches are constructed with plywood and 2×4s, painted white. Then McCachern contacted a sheet metal shop that fabricates HVAC ductwork and asked them to design two countertops and backsplashes. The grand total was $75.

The final touch was adding curtain fronts made of a floral fabric to create a hidden storage area underneath. After 20 years in the retail arena, McCachern was armed with a finely tuned sense of style. She happily unleashed a flood of creativity that manifests itself in glorious vignettes reflecting the changing seasons. She uses her shed for plantings and garden work, but McCachern’s space is more about a deeply imagined creative environment. It’s a place where all of her visions can come to life.

—Erika Kotite

How to Build the Perfect Shed

Kotite shares tips from her book

1. Check out companies such as and for inspiration.
2. Consider the climate before you start building. Heavy rainfall, freezing temperatures or even strong winds will drive some of your design choices.
3. Keep your shed watertight. Pay careful attention to cracks and openings: caulk everything thoroughly.
4. Recycle and reuse—doors, handles, cupboards. Not everything has to match and that’s part of the charm.
5. Plan for one big splurge. For McCachern it was a pair of exquisite lead windows.
6. If privacy is an issue use clerestory windows placed higher up on the wall.
7. Think mobile. Tables and trolleys on caster wheels are great for she sheds because the can be moved easily.
8. Consider using a shed kit. You can find no-frills options at big box stores like Costco, Home Depot and Lowes.

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