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A (garden) room of one’s own? Cue the rise of the ‘she shed’

Once the preserve of men, now sheds are doubling up as yoga studios and offices across the county. Here, we reveal how to style yours using local indie brands – and speak to the women reclaiming their gardens

She shed

It was once the unspoken truth that any hut lurking at the bottom of the garden was ‘his territory’ – a space harbouring peripherals such as weathered garden tools, a wind-up radio and (horror) a tiny model railway set complete with bridges, signals and rosy-cheeked school children.

Oh, how times have changed. Turns out that that forgotten dwelling nestled in the undergrowth is now being rediscovered by savvy women intent on carving out space away from the family to be creative, purposeful and, you know… alone. From architect-designed units to repurposed summer houses, she sheds have come a long way. Now, these often highly stylised dens have truly become a room of one’s own. And there’s not a lawnmower in sight…

Kay Prestney

How to style your she shed

If you’ve already got a den knocking about in the undergrowth, get creative! Some of the most unique garden rooms have been upcycled and rebooted using reclaimed furniture, salvaged window panes and, yes, a good old-fashioned lick of paint. Look to Colchester-based stylist Kay Prestney, whose glorious garden room is an office/refuge built with 95% salvaged and reclaimed treasures. She says: ‘Seeking vintage and secondhand finds is an adventure and giving new life to old pieces can create trust unique interiors that have a tale of their own to tell with little cost to people or plant.’ Check out her Instagram account to see how she layered up the look with foraged finds. 

Three Sisters Farm

Love the rustic feel but not exactly DIY-friendly? The rattan aesthetic is huge in interiors right now and Great Dunmow’s Three Sisters Farm is the ideal go-to for she-shed-worthy furnishings that will add a touch of vintage chic to any bog-standard wooden shed. We love the brand’s earthy collection of rattan furniture, quirky vases (above) and characterful country-vibe grasses (below) – pretty perfect for down at the bottom of the garden, right? Shop the look here

Threee Sisters Farm

Where to go for a bespoke build

If you don’t already have a shed you can commandeer though, check out Shenfield-based Hawsbeck Garden Rooms – a family run business that specialises in offering bespoke, contemporary-style ‘she shed’ solutions. ‘Our clients have ordered garden rooms for a host of different uses, from offices and bikram yoga studios to children’s play dens and guest accommodation,’ founder Jon Mathew says. ‘But the beauty of a Hawksbeck Garden Room is that its use can evolve with you. It can be an office now and an art studio when you retire, so you can rest assured that your investment will stand the test of time.’ 

Hawksbeck Garden Room

Also look to Wright Sheds in Wickford for traditional, charming summer houses; the Brentwood Garden Centre for Scandi-style log cabins; and Essex Garden Studios for swanky outdoor pods.

One woman and her shed

Still not sold? Check out Lizzie Owen’s beautiful garden studio below for a little ‘shedspiration’…

Photo: Mel Matthews 

A PR guru-turned-artist, Lizzie Owen explains why having her own garden shed has helped to shape and expand her creative output.

Why did you want a space outside?

It’s always something that I wanted to have when we moved out of London. I designed it myself and had it build about eight or nine years ago now. Originally the plan was to use it as a family room but I’ve now claimed it as my creative space. It’s my escape room! 

What do you use it for? 

It used to be an office but the Wifi was rubbish as it’s at the bottom of the garden, so now I paint all my oil paintings and illustrations in there. There’s no computer, emails or digital distractions so I can focus competently on my art.

What problems did you want it to/hope it would solve?

I wanted to have a space where I could enjoy time to myself, there’s no dishwasher, washing machine or kids asking me to make dinner. It’s been an absolute godsend during lockdown, it’s a sacred space for me. 

Does it have a theme?

Photo: Mel Matthews 

It’s perched in the corner among the elderflower and laurels so I’ve kept it an earthy, woodland theme and filled it with plants. The outside I’ve kept natural wood and then I’ve painted the interiors Wood Ash from The Little Green Paint Company. I love the bifold doors, the space completely opens out into the garden for inside/outside living which is lovely in summer. 

What did you decide for the decor? 

I wanted the inside to have a Scandi feel with woody, neutral tones and soft furnishings. A lot of the furniture is vintage, reclaimed or up-cycled. I used to run the PR for Home Barn in Marlow, and now I sell my paintings there, so a lot of the furniture I have in the summerhouse and my kitchen is from there. We’ve re-painted the floor white which can be a bit of a nightmare with my puppy Willow and her muddy paws!

Is there an item that holds particular significance?

Photo: Mel Matthews 

I have two easels that were originally used by an art teacher at the Saatchi Gallery in London and the fact they came from there means so much to me. I found them on Ebay! 

How do you set the mood?

I have my own little routine, I usually take a coffee down with me in the morning, maybe do some yoga before I start work in there. I like to burn incense, or if it’s cold I’ll make it cosy with the log fire. I listen to a lot of podcasts whilst I work, my favourites are The High Low with Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, Fearne Cotton’s The Happy Place and Under The Skin with Russell Brand on the Luminary. 

Describe your she shed in three words…

The three Cs – calming, creative and cosy! @lizzieowenartist

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