Step by Step How to Build a She Shed – My Experience

Whether you call it a “She Shed”, art studio, writing retreat, home office, or potting shed; building that special place takes some thought and planning. Here’s what I learned when I built my very own She Shed.

I built a She Shed that I use as an art studio in about a month (with lots of help), using mostly reclaimed material. I wanted a quiet space with lots of light, tucked behind another building on our property in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for privacy. It’s my dream studio.

My She Shed which I use as an art studio in Jackson Hole, WY.

First you have some Choices to make

Before the first nail was driven into a 2″x6″, there was a lot to consider. You can check out my post: “DIY She Shed – 6 Things to Know Before You Build”.

In that post I cover:

1. figuring out the purpose,
2. location,
3. lighting,
4. size,
5. style,
6. and budget for your She Shed.

Determining the pupose of my she shed was easy. I wanted an art studio. I’m in Wyoming so a rustic style seemed natural. And as an artist I wanted an art studio that was private, in a location where I could focus on my painting. So I placed it far from other buildings and tucked out of sight. And let’s be honest, sometimes I just want to be in a place where I know I won’t be bothered, isn’t that why we want a She Shed in the first place?

Inside my She Shed – my art studio!

Do some Research and Dream a little before you build your She Shed

In order to imagine what kind of studio I wanted, I looked at a lot of examples of other art studios, “she sheds” and even potting sheds. They are all smallish buildings with many different styles. I found it was important to have a clear understanding of what I was looking for, both in size, height, and style.

It’s so important to do this research before you start building. Changing the plan once things are underway can present all kinds of delays and extra costs; like any construction project. And it’s good to spend some time thinking how you’ll use your she shed and what’s important to you. In other words, don’t rush in. Take your time to make your plan.

There are many resources for inspiration, below are just a couple of books I found on Amazon that are sure to give you lots of ideas about how to go about building your dream she shed whether you’ll use it for art, writing, an office, gardening or just a special place to call your very own. (That bring said, don’t forget a lock for the door!)

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”

Before you Build – Make a Plan and a Sketch

Once you have all those ideas about your new she shed floating around in your head, it’s time to make a plan. I recommend putting things down on paper. Make a sketch, to scale if you can, of what your she shed will look like. This will help when you are communicating about your she shed, whether it’s to someone who will build it, or the employee at the lumber yard or hardware store when you’re not sure what you need.

My sketch helped me visualize the studio and figure out how tall I wanted the building to be. I didn’t need 8′ walls. I decided to make the walls 6 1/2 feet tall. I’m 5’9″ so that’s plenty tall, plus the vaulted ceiling. A small building like this would have looked, and felt, out of proportion with 8′ tall walls in my opinion.

My studio is 8’x10′, just big enough for my easel and a small table with my pochade box on it. Plus a corner for a comfy chair. That’s all I need when I paint and I wanted to keep this new space uncluttered. All my art supplies (extra canvas, extra paint, frames, books, it’s a long list) are kept somewhere else.

Art studio sketch.

Building an art studio (She Shed) – My Experience

Below I’ve outlined the steps it took to build my art studio. With sketch in hand, I was able to hire two construction workers to build the studio in their off hours.

A DIY she shed is a lot of work but the great thing is you can build it and customize it to meet your specific needs.

Sourcing Reclaimed Materials to Build a She Shed

This project really came together in the beginning when I found some wonderful 100 year old wavy windows at our local Habitat for Humanity store. Much of the design hinged on these windows: their number and their size. Their size being huge, it took three trips to get the windows home in our SUV.

I also sourced an old barn door (that had to be cut down) from Idaho and some beautiful old barnwood that came from Montana. It all took some searching online and some driving. I feel these old time worn elements give the she shed character and a story, and the search was well worth it.

I used a lot of reclaimed materials which did help with cost. Depending on your budget you may want to look at premade sheds or kits that you can alter to fit your style.

Framing

After I had all the materials, it was time for the work to begin! With sketch in hand I was able to hire two construction workers (their specialty is framing) to build my art studio on their off hours.

Watching the floor and the walls take shape was very exciting! The flooring system was built and put up on concrete blocks to keep it off the ground.

Framing the floor system.

After the floor came the walls. The walls were built, with space for windows and the door, and then assembled. Within just a couple of days the skeleton of the structure was up. Because I hired professional framers to build the building, it was framed with lots and lot of 2″x4″s to code. This building is sturdy, which is important because we get some high winds here in the valley.

Walls beginning to go up!

The Roof Structure

Next came the roof. First the 2″x6″ beams, which you can’t see here, then plywood, then tar paper and later a metal roof. I left the 2″x6″ beams exposed on the inside to give it that rustic feel. I also stained the beams before they were used, that was a lifesaver.

Working on the roof.

Windows Options when you build your She Shed

Below you can see the windows are being placed into the spaces left for them in the walls. I should note that old windows are great but they take a little more work to install. These windows came from a house that had 10″ thick walls (I’m not kidding, you can see that in the photo above where I show you the windows before they’re installed) so it required cutting off some of that excess wood.

These old windows were in great shape, but old windows can contain lead paint so you’ll want to be careful about that if you do any sanding on old windows.

Windows going in.

Next the walls are covered with plywood and then with tar paper. Tar paper keeps the moisture out and is just another barrier for protection from the elements.

My She Shed Metal Roof

Below you can see the roof is on. It’s a metal roof because there is nothing like hearing rain on a metal roof. I’m looking forward to being in the art studio during a rain storm. I looked around for a reclaimed metal roof, but metal roofs are so thin it seemed after they are used they aren’t in great shape. They get deformed and bent easily. So we went with a new roof which was I’m sure easier to install than some old bent up roof. Though those old roofs do have a great look!

A quick photo before all the walls are up.

The perfect Door!

The door is also in! I found the perfect old barn door on FB Marketplace. This door seems to have made for this she shed, it’s just the right size.

Siding – Important when you build your She Shed!

I felt siding was very important because it defined much of the style of this she shed or art studio. But, siding options are limited, especially because I wanted something old and authentic. I did find some wonderful old barn wood from Montana. Again, on FB Marketplace. But it was in the town of Thayne, Wyoming, almost 2 hours from our house.

Siding going on.

My sweet husband drove with me for 2 hours to the ranch where the sellers lived, along with their stacks of Montana barn wood. I put on my gloves and picked out what I needed and we loaded it in the back of our SUV. This was a really fun day for me!

I love the way the siding worked out. It was well worth the drive to go and get it, at least I think it was!

My Happy Place

This DIY She Shed was a big project, but well worth the trouble. I hope you’ve learned something you can take with you as you’re planning to build your very own She Shed, whether it’ll be an art studio like mine, or just a special place to call your own in this busy world! Good luck!

My art studio.

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