Turn a man cave into an Aladdin's cave

Posted 18 August 2016 by Helen Christie

It would appear that the humble garden shed is no longer a male preserve as research shows that women have infiltrated the bastion of masculinity...

Move out the mower, mum’s moving in! 

As research shows that women buy more than half of all new sheds, Hillarys has teamed up with interior stylist and TV presenter, Sophie Robinson to transform a typical ‘man cave’ into a stunning Aladdin’s cave, or ‘she shed’ with her trademark clashing patterns and love of bold colours, and share her tips on creating a vibrant haven of creativity.

Although sheds are traditionally seen as a man’s retreat, shed company waltons.co.uk, reveals that more than 51% of shed purchases so far this year have been made by women. In a recent survey by the team at Hillarys, more than 1,500 UK couples were asked if they had any particular areas in the home which they would consider a ‘male’ or ‘female’ domain, to which the most popular women’s domains were the kitchen (29%), the garden (15%) and the shed (14%). The most popular men’s domains, by contrast, were the bathroom (26%), the garage (21%) and the shed (13%).

Sophie, who is best known for fronting BBC2’s The Great Interior Design Challenge, believes that women are now embracing the she shed as a place to retreat to, for all sorts of reasons. 

“Whether it’s to escape household chores, enjoy a cup of tea in peace or get creative, the she shed is a fabulous addition to the home, a perfect little oasis of calm without having to go far,” says Sophie. “It’s a bit of backyard bliss that gives you the headspace to come up with new ideas.”

Sophie’s top tips on getting her look:

  • Decorating the she shed"I visited Derek Jarman’s house in Dungeness many years ago and loved the traditional black weatherboard exterior but with electric yellow windows, so this became my inspiration for the exterior design. I also love how black weatherboard looks in a naturally green setting; somehow the greenery looks more vibrant set against it."
  • "I painted it black inside too for a real cocooning feel but added blocks of bold colour and some eye-popping neon accessories and as I love mixing patterns chose contrasting floral geometric blinds and an abstract floral oilcloth. While the patterns contrast they are tied together by a similar colour theme, which gives the overall scheme its coherence."
  • "As the she shed is designed to be a workspace it was important to get the practical aspects right too. I installed plenty of storage with wire shelving. It’s not solid so the eye can travel through it, which helps create the illusion of space in a small room. The pegboard organizer helps keep all tools and materials close to hand. In a small space, storage and organization is paramount."
  • "Finally I added a central ceiling light. I love the way the electric pink flex contrasts with the dark walls and the exposed bulb utilizes plenty of light around the space."

Five things to consider when you’re planning your she shed:

  • Think about where you situate the she shed. It’s important to have lots of light so choose a design with plenty of windows and make sure it’s directed towards the sunlight. Blinds are then a great addition as they allow you to control the glare. 
  • Want to be able to chill in your shed year round? Consider if you want to install heat or fans to make your space more comfortable.    
  • Typically she sheds are small spaces so you need to be ruthless when it comes to planning your storage and what you can store inside, an overly cluttered space is rarely relaxing or inspiring. 
  • See this as an opportunity to be wildly creative with the design. You really can indulge in your wilder side and dream up a scheme that you might not have the guts to do in the main house. Be original and create an individual space tailored to you.
  • You can easily update ordinary items with a splash of paint. Try upcycling, using spray paints to introduce some more colour to the scheme. You could collect old food tins, wash them out and then cover them in a collection of wrapping paper to add more colour and pattern to the theme, a good way to increase the storage space.

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