Just for Her

Havens for busy women, she sheds serve as more than just a pretty place. Just ask gardener Jan Braswell.

By Kim Hill 

Photography by Kim Dillon 


First, there were man caves. Then, busy women decided they needed spaces to call their own where they could retreat from the world. We’ve started calling these spaces "she sheds."

These backyard retreats are just that — retreats. Beyond that, hard-and-fast rules and definitions fly out the window. She sheds can be anything you want: a cozy spot for reading or napping, a place to display prized collections, a haven for serious crafters or a home office that doubles as a guest house. Scroll through Pinterest or Houzz for 30 seconds, and you’ll have more ideas for she sheds than you have acreage.

Jan Braswell of Wildwood chuckles when visitors to her home “ooh” and “ahh” over her delightful she shed. That’s because Jan designed the structure about 10 years ago, long before the term “she shed” entered our lexicon. An avid gardener, Jan wanted a space for the tools she needed to maintain her large perennial beds and other areas of their three-acre property. “My garage is underneath the house, so it’s not convenient at all to get tools in and out of it,” Jan explains. “My little spot is really a working garden shed.”

No matter what you call it, the building serves its purpose with charm. For the design, Jan first sketched her ideas; her husband, an architect who works in construction and development, reworked the plans for the shed. The prefab framing was done offsite, and workers with Jan’s interior design firm, Color Concepts, finished the construction.

Jan designed the structure to reflect the architectural lines and color scheme of her home. The exterior is fiber cement siding; the roof is DaVinci synthetic shake. The green door adds a pop of color, while the planked landing provides space for a porch swing. “It’s a good little spot for sitting on the porch,” Jan says. “My grandkids enjoy the swing, too.”

To up the charm factor even more, Jan added a planter box from Hooks & Lattice and an address plaque. “I’d ordered the house numbers years ago from Vietri, but I could never really find a place where they fit on my house,” she says. “But I just loved them, so I put them on the garden shed.”

The shed’s interior measures 8 feet by 10 feet. Inside, deep wire shelving holds pots, birdseed and hand tools. Hoes, rakes and shovels hang from hooks, and a ceiling fan helps circulate air as the interior isn’t heated or cooled. For a convenient workspace, Jan installed a countertop left over from their kitchen remodel.

Jan Braswell’s shed may not be a retreat itself, but its functionality allows her to do what one of the things she loves most — gardening. “Although I do get help with the big clean-up chores, I find getting out in the garden, designing and planting is a great stress reliever,” she says. “And I do love my garden shed. It not only adds character to my garden, it’s functional as well.”