Image credit: She Sheds

Sheds have changed. 

Once they were only the run-down hiding places of aging men.

A cold place they could retreat to and indulge in the luxuries of an old deck chair and a flask of instant coffee while flipping through seed catalogues or possibly an illicit racy magazine.

Man in shed drinking tea

Image credit: Man in shed

Now they are just as likely to be ‘aspirational spaces’.

Painted in duck egg blue and decked out with fairy lights.  

She shed with fairy lights

Image Credit: She shed

Pinterest groans with images of stripped floor yoga studios.

Glass garden rooms, cosy entertaining spaces with plump sofas and wood burners, candlelit hygge houses displaying naïve artworks and sheepskin rugs.

It’s like women have suddenly become covetous of the concept of the ‘man cave’ and swept in like Mary Poppins to tidy it up and transform it into a She Shed. I love the dream of an idyll, away from the ordinary world of wifedom, motherhood, Chief Executing, housework or whatever it is that makes us feel humdrum and workaday.

Yet a part of me wonders if we’ve entirely thought it through.

Yes, it’s wonderful to have place to go and dream, maybe work on that novel we know is in us or the watercolour masterpiece.

Or finally get down to the regular kundalini yoga practice that will transform our lives.  Don’t we all have unlived potential that just needs a room of our own to flourish in? 

Garden yoga studio

Image credit: Garden Yoga Space

My worry is that for everyone who realizes their lifelong desire to invent the self-making bed, or to create a stained glass masterpiece or to become the vibrant hostess of fabulous garden parties there is another who, when it comes down to it, finds they just can’t really be bothered. 

Or worse, simply doesn’t have the wherewithal after all. 

The thing about our potential, is ...

... that it’s a wonderful comforting thing to dream about and long to fulfil. But what if, given the opportunity to fulfil it, we discover it’s not very big?  That would be terribly disappointing.

My own childhood home had extraordinary outside spaces. 

Our falling-down ‘summer house’ was my mother’s refuge, where she kept an ancient black and white telly so she could sneak out and watch the cricket undisturbed.

The potting shed smelled amazing, and somehow ‘foreign’ – a mixture of decaying boards and compost and old cigarette smoke.

Potting Shed

Image credit: Potting Shed

The coal hole was a dark dungeon populated, bizarrely, with shrews which my sister and I would chase, and sometimes catch, on especially boring afternoons. 

The charm of these neglected rooms was all to do with them being not the house, not light or tidy or pretty.  Undeveloped enough to allow a kind of wildness that the fully tamed painted-and-decorated fancy garden room has lost. They were the places we hid ourselves or things we didn’t want to look at or deal with.

So I say hurrah for the rise of the posh she shed.

Three cheers for the carving out of a play space in the garden.  May it bring us pleasure and satisfaction in spite of being a long way to lug the hoover.

But maybe -  just maybe - your granddad with his battery-operated radio and his unheated cluttered little shed was on to something… 

Victoria x