Skip to Content

A Shed by Any Other Name . . . Is Still a Shed


This is a blog about sheds. It happens to many people. It happened to me. One day the Handsome Bloke said:

“I rather fancy a shed.”

“But we have a storage closet.”

“They’re on sale.”

“We don’t need a shed. It’ll take up space.”

“I’ve always wanted a shed.”

The Rubbermaid shed sits across from the storage closet. It’s a traditional shed used for storing tools.

I’ve since learned that a shed isn’t just a tiny building. It’s a symbol.


As sheds evolved many men added a workbench inside the shed. It was out of the wind and close to their tools. Soon after, they figured out how to enjoy their favorite beverages away from prying female eyes. But the shed itself didn’t really appeal to women. It was cold, drafty, dusty, and often the cozy home for various insects. It was just like the clubhouse many men had as boys. The one with the sign: No Girls Allowed.

Photo by Yasuhiko Ito. Create Commons Attribution. Wikimedia Commons.

In the 21st Century sheds became Man Caves. Men still wanted to get out of the family dwelling, but wanted to take the comforts of home with them. Man Caves have refrigerators, big screen televisions, and recliner chairs. It’s the perfect place for setting up a man’s entire collection of antique wooden soldiers or a foosball table. Nothing is disturbed. No one wants the collection put away.

Man Caves have many uses. The one above doubles as a home office, a place to practice music, and a library. It’s the place where a man can be alone without interruptions or invite his mates to watch the big game.

In Men and Sheds, author Gordon Thorbum observed
a shed is to a man what a handbag is to a woman – both contain all the essentials for surviving in the modern world and in the same way that no decent man would ever consider looking in a woman’s handbag uninvited, so no reasonable woman would dream of setting foot in a man’s shed.

Handbags are a bit small to serve as a retreat.


Traditional Madeira Cottage. Photo by Markus Bernet. Creative Commons Attribution. Wikimedia Commons.

Like Man Caves, She-Sheds are a retreat from daily life. A place where a woman can put her favorite things and relax. There’s nothing to tidy, no need to cook. Children aren’t allowed. I don’t know what a mother does with her children while she retreats to her shed. Perhaps they’re in school.

She-Sheds tend to be cottages of one shape or another. I couldn’t find a picture of a she-shed, but the Madeira cottage above is about the same size and almost as whimsical. If you follow the links below or check Pinterest, there are lots of she-shed examples.

Author’s She-Shed, also known as her office.

Virginia Woolf famously wrote: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

I write my fiction in what might be termed a she-shed if it wasn’t on the top floor of the house.

There are pitfalls to these caves and sheds. The line between solitude and avoidance can be thin. And if everyone retreats to She Sheds and Man Caves, who lives in the house?

I think the point of such spaces, aside from selling equipment and furnishings, is that everyone needs a space that belongs to their individual selves. This is a peculiarly first world, affluent but nevertheless real issue. At the same time, we mustn’t forget to connect with real people. Few people will say their most worthwhile moments were spent arranging doll collections or watching sports.

Featured Picture: Our garden shed.

Alex Bracetti. “Ultimate Affordable Man Cave.” Complex. Sept. 19, 2012. Here.

Alesandra Dubin. “Move Over Man Cave.” May 15, 2015. Here.

Juliana Foster. Moan About Men: A Joyful Guide to the Things Men do that Drive Women Mad. Headline Publishing Group. 2008.

Aaron & April Jacob. “The Secret Truth About Your Husband’s Man Cave.” Family Share. Here.

Michael Jantzen. “Five Dangers Lurking Within Your Man Cave.” Power to Change. Here.

K. M. Leismer. “Have Your Man Cave. I’ll be in my Shed.” Retale Blog. April 13, 2015. Here.

Cassandra Lewis. “She Found an Old Shed Behind Her House.” Little Things. Here. 

Lighter Side Staff. “Introducing She Sheds.” Lighter Here.

Mary Jo Rapini. “Why He Needs a Man Cave.” Your Tango. Here.

Barbara Techel. “My She Shed Improved My Marriage.” Joyful Paws. April 24, 2015. Here.

Gorden Thorbum. Men and Sheds. New Holland. 2002.

“8 Sheds Turned Into Awesome Man Caves.” Alan’s Factory Outlet. Here.

“10 Things to do in a Shed.” Crane Garden Buildings. Here.

“29 Incredible Man Cave Ideas.” The Saw Guy. May 26, 2015. Here.

“Is This the Ultimate Sanctuary?” Daily Mail. April 21, 2015. Here.

She Sheds are the New Man Caves. Huffington Post. July 7, 2015. Here. 

Author Sandra Wagner Wright

Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.

 Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.