A new getaway for women
Area ladies jump aboard the she-shed craze
When the little house in Loleen “Dolly” Lindeman’s backyard on Willamor Road was built in 2003, she said she didn’t think the word “she-shed” existed.
Lindeman’s parents had passed away and she had to decide what to do with their belongings.
Being an only child, she said she was very close to them and had a hard time parting with their everyday things. So, she decided it would be nice to honor their memory and recreate their kitchen, where they had so many talks and meals.
“Growing up in the ’50s in the small town of Alden was a wonderful life, and I wanted to remember it always,” she said.
She found a builder of luxury playhouses, Alan Mowrer of La Petite Maison, who agreed to build a small house with a loft as a play area for her grandchildren and an open ’50s kitchen area.
Mowrer spent 10 days in Albert Lea constructing the house, which includes a table and chairs from her parents’ kitchen, along with a washing machine and wash tub.
“My mother loved wash day and had the washing machine and tubs in a room right off her kitchen in their first home,” Lindeman said.
The shed also has a vintage stove, acquired from a friend, and an old sink and cupboards. The loft has a removable ladder for the children to escape to their play area.
Over the years, the house has been used for entertaining family and friends and for birthday parties. It has been used as a food and beverage serving area for family gatherings, a bridal shower and other parties for their children and their friends.
Lindeman said the washtubs work well to fill with ice and keep beverages cold.
“As I look out my kitchen window directly at the little house, it makes me happy to keep the memories alive from long ago and more recent as well,” she said. “It serves as a wonderful backyard retreat, and we have many photos of the house with family, friends and pets posed in front of the house.”
She said her grandchildren used the house for several years but are now grown, and it has since become her own space — the essence of the modern day she-shed. Men are allowed into the house by invitation only.
She invites her gal friends over for happy hour or coffee and also enjoys spending quiet time in there herself. She hopes to one day write a book there.
“It seems like it’s a getaway, but it’s in my backyard,” she said.
‘A she-shed can be anything you want it to be’
Barb Zeller’s she-shed was initially built as a retreat, but has come in handy for her massage business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She ordered the 10-by-12-foot shed from Karl’s Carquest in July 2019 after hearing two women come into Hill’s Gardens, where she is a seasonal worker, and talk about she-sheds.
“One of them had just gotten hers and loved it obviously,” she said. “I asked many questions and saw so many pictures and fell in love.”
She said she was able to pick out which design she liked and even little details such as the designs for the windows and doors.
“You can add so much to it to make it like you,” she said. “A she-shed can be anything you want it to be.”
The shed sits on a cement pad near her home between Alden and Conger that was initially built for dog kennels. She has made stepping stones with stained glass that lead from the house to the shed.
Her husband, Wayne Wilmot, insulated the shed, and put in flooring, electrical and wood paneling on the walls. The shed has a mobile air-conditioning unit for the summer and a heater for winter. There is also a large screen over two of the large doors that allows the doors to be open without the worry about insects getting in. It includes a mixture of new and repurposed items.
Zeller said she and her husband like to entertain, and her she-shed is a perfect place for her to hang out with other women and enjoy refreshments such as wine and cheese. The shed features seating and an area for drinks and snacks.
She said her inspiration for the space came from a pillow she purchased with a turtle in bright blues and orange.
She said she has been thankful for the space during the COVID-19 pandemic and that in addition to having a space for a retreat, she can move the couches out and her massage table into the space to keep her workspace separate from her house.
A family affair
Women in multiple generations in one family south of Joice, Iowa, have transformed an old barn on their family property into a she-shed for crafting.
Bonnie Rodberg said her parents moved to the property in the early ’50s and at one point the family questioned whether the barn should be torn down.
“We were like, ‘Should we tear it down?’” Rodberg said. “It was getting really dangerous.”
Rodberg’s sister, Wendy Mikkelson, said they had thought of making it into a garden shed, but then opted to fix it up into something more like a she-shed.
Cheri Schumann, Rodberg’s daughter, said the women in the family all love crafting and painting and it would be a space where they could all create things together.
They moved the barn to a different space on the property, painted the outside walls, whitewashed the inside walls, put on a new roof and added windows.
They have tried to repurpose as much as they could, with the only money being spent on paint and fabric for the seat cushions for chairs that sit outside the space.
“It’s nothing fancy, but it’s everything we’ve found around here,” Mikkelson said.
The shed is outfitted with electricity, and there is a trap window at the top of the shed to open and allow for air flow.
On the walls hangs some of the women’s artwork, along with family collectibles. On the back wall are paint and other art supplies, along with the table that the women make their creations on made out of an old door with a branch underneath for support.
Rodberg said the women also have also had she-shed parties, where the women come for a glass of wine and visit.
“It’s not fancy, but we sure have enjoyed it,” she said.
Personalizing your she-shed
She-sheds can be used for many purposes, whether as a retreat, to socialize with friends or as a space to work on a hobby. Some use she-sheds as a space for storage or for potting plants.
They can be built out of a variety of materials.
Lori Nelson of Alden’s she-shed was constructed out of wood from an old barn that was in a tornado.
She has decorated it to her liking and developed the landscaping to include plants such as hostas, sedum, red coneflower, bee balm, hibiscus and trumpet vine.