Tips to Build Your She Shed's featured image

Tips to Build Your She Shed


Google “she sheds” and you’ll be amazed at what people have created to increase the square footage of their living space. It starts with a typical garden shed that can be transformed into a secret retreat, artist studio, playroom, or private home office. 

Toronto resident, Joanne Smith, and her daughter Emma have always dreamed of restoring their charming, but ramshackle wooden shed at the end of the garden. So when Covid-19 shut down schools, and social distancing forced everyone to stay home, their epic shed makeover became a reality. Here are a few building tips they learned along the way:


Keep design plans modest

“Our initial plans were grand—to say the least,” said Emma. “But we soon found a more modest and minimalist scope is better, especially if this is your first building project.” It’s surprising how much time it takes to prepare the foundations, research the best way to proceed, buy all the materials, figure out how to get it all home and then start to build. What seemed like a simple loft addition in our shed design was eventually discarded. It was just going to extend the project by weeks and, in reality, wasn’t going to live up to expectations”.


Seek help when needed

A family affair, Joanne’s dad (Emma’s granddad) ended up being the team leader for the shed project. “He was able to pass down years of building expertise to my daughter and me,” said Joanne. “Growing up he was always renovating some area of our home, so his wealth of knowledge is deep.” No handy people in your family? An excellent substitute can be found at your local hardware store. Most hardware sales reps can offer advice. These men and women know their stuff. And, if the task is too great, phone an expert. Midway through their transformation, a dramatic summer storm hit and they discovered a small leak in the roof. They quickly threw up a tarp and called a roofer.


Shop second hand

Most she sheds are somewhat eclectic. Interior decor often includes family heirlooms or fabulous flea market finds. If your shed is old, new products may look out of place. When looking for a pair of stylish French doors for their shed, Joanne and Emma started their search online. There were many to sort through on Kijiji, but after a few failed attempts to secure one, a neighbour who heard what they were doing came to offer up a pair he had stored in his basement. They were beautiful and original to the homes in the area. Joanne and Emma were thrilled and their neighbour was happy to get them out of his basement.


Roll with the Punches

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your backyard shed. Problems will arise. Any structure that’s already been built will have settled over time. For example, one wall may be slightly shorter than another. Learn to live with it if you can. It’s part of the she shed’s charm. “We learned some really good building skills and enjoyed each other’s company during a time when interacting with friends and family was limited. The bonus? “We now have a beautiful new space too!“ said Joanne.



Most big-box hardware stores deliver (at exorbitant fees), but they also rent vans by the hour so you can transport your large construction purchases, such as lumber and drywall.