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She Sheds vs. Man Caves

Why Must a Woman’s Retreat Area Look Like a Brand-New House?


In 1985, when Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin sang the Eurythmics “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves,” a wonderful call-out to the successes of the female of the species, it’s doubtful that the desire for a home retreat space served as inspiration. However, 30 years later, with multifamily dwellings becoming the norm, ladies are needing some elbow room, an equivalent of something men have been hip to for a long time — the man cave. Well, look out fellas, because “she sheds” are vying for sacred space.

While it seems you can’t swing a cat without hitting a guy who has a man cave in his home — my brother-in-law has one kitted out with his guitars, chairs, and a TV; a work colleague holds poker parties for his bros in his garage — I know no women who have the aforementioned she shed. Maybe that’s because the concept, though excellent at its heart, seems ridiculously difficult to actually create. Here’s why: While the man cave can occupy virtually any practical empty space, women apparently need a tree house or hobbit hole or a magnificent one-room spa in order to recoup.

Type “she sheds” into your search engine, and what comes up is a plethora of images of frilly, elaborate, elegant structures — examples for women to glean from when designing their own “Stay Out” rooms. But isn’t the reason man caves are so prevalent is because all they need is four fairly stable walls, something much easier to come by than the expanse needed for the fussy elegance of a she shed? I don’t know about the next woman, but I’d be happy with a portion of a garage. (But sorry, that’s already dedicated man cave territory.)

Although the highfalutin, architecturally designed she shed isn’t a reality for me, I wholeheartedly agree with its concept. So I’ve created a “Zen zone” for myself, despite my home’s dearth of extra rooms, garage space, or acreage. As it turns out, all I need is a tiny spot in which to regenerate — just an area that is obscured to the view of others and a comfy chair to sit on while I engage in activities relaxing to me, such as coloring in my grown-up (and Winnie-the-Pooh) coloring books, reading, writing, or having a wee nap.

As the disparity between genders (as limitedly defined by traditional male/female labels) continues to lessen, and life becomes more chaotic and technologically invaded, it makes sense that women need an equivalent to the man cave. While I object to she sheds’ commercially peddled assertion that the only way for ladies to reinvigorate is in a room worthy of coverage in Better Homes & Gardens magazine, I agree that women should plant their flag on some unoccupied corner of their indoor or outdoor living area and create a hidey-hole that suits their recuperative needs, proving once again that the sisters are doin’ it for themselves.



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