The idea of backyard she-sheds is sweeping the nation. If your company hasn’t been approached to either build one from the ground-up or renovate an existing garden shed into an owner’s paradise, it is only a matter of time. There are countless ways to make extraordinary use of she-sheds. Some want a dedicated office space or work-out area while others need a quiet place to engage in their favorite hobby or craft.
No matter how clients want to use their soon to be dream space, they have to get there first. This is where you come in. Often times, clients will come to contractors knowing the overall dream they have for their she-shed without knowing the best way to make it happen. These 6 unique design elements are a great way to bring clients’ dreams to life.
Strategically placed skylights
Skylights are a great option for clients who are environmentally conscious, want to cut down on operational costs, and crave natural light. Benefits of this design element include:
· Increases the amount of natural light in the space
· Allows for some solar heating
· Gives the illusion of added space
· Saves on energy costs
· Allows fresh air into the space (if the operable skylight design is chosen)
There are two types of skylights you can incorporate into your clients’ backyard shed design: curb-mounted skylights and deck-mounted skylights. Each kind of skylight can either be fixed or operable. The main difference between fixed and operable skylights is the ability to allow fresh air into the shed. Fixed models stay in place while operable skylights can be raised and lowered.
· Curb-Mounted Skylights – This type of skylight sits in a raised frame, called a curb that places the skylight above the roofline. The curb is traditionally made of wood, but can also be made of aluminum, steel, etc.
· Deck-Mounted Skylights – Deck-mounted skylights are still mounted in a frame just as curb-mounted skylights, but sit flush with the roofline
Both types of skylights are best mounted on a sloped roof to aid in the shedding of water. It is advisable to use underlayments and a flashing kit to ensure a water-tight seal. If a skylight must be mounted on a flat roof extra precautions must be taken to prevent water from seeping in. Free shed plans and ideas are useful when deciding the best way to incorporate skylights into your client’s new building.
Incorporation of window walls
Incorporating window walls into a she-shed not only provides a chic and modern look but will also offer several benefits to the owner. If your client is looking to take in the beauty of nature, let plenty of natural light in, and reduce heating costs, this is a design element worth mentioning. Benefits of window walls include:
· Ample natural light reduces the amount of artificial lighting needed to illuminate the space which saves your client money on energy costs.
· It is well-documented that exposure to natural light increases your overall mental and emotional health.
· Window walls allow occupants to be inside the space while still having the opportunity to feel as if they are one with nature.
· The transparency will undoubtedly make the space feel larger than it is.
· Window walls allow for passive heating from the sun in the cold winter months.
The number of exterior window walls will be based on your client’s needs and preferences. Only a portion of the she-shed may incorporate window walls. However, some owners have chosen to have every wall plus the ceiling be transparent in order to be as close to nature as possible.
One of the great features of window walls is that they require much less framing than traditional windows. Framing can be made out a variety of materials including wood, aluminum, steel, and so on to achieve the desired look; whether it be rustic, modern, or anything in between.
Clerestory windows are for more than aesthetics
These are small, typically rectangular shaped windows that go around the top of a wall. The incorporation of clerestory windows is very common in residential and commercial designs but can also be applied to she-shed designs as well. They are a great option for clients who want architectural character. Benefits of clerestory windows go beyond aesthetics including:
· Due to their positioning near the roof, they allow for the penetration of light much deeper into a room than traditional windows.
· In many cases, space is limited in a backyard shed. If the client needs wall space for storage, but still wants natural light, clerestory windows are a great way to incorporate natural light without taking up valuable space.
· Clerestory walls provide heating thermal mass when installed opposite walls that are normally in the shade. This, in turn, saves money on energy costs.
Clerestory windows can completely encompass the entire shed or the walls that will be the most advantageous based on where the sunlight hits. Another point of interest is that even if clients opt for traditional windows, these are still a great option if trees or other structures block incoming light into those windows.
Think outside of the box with built-ins
When clients come to you for building a she-shed, they have a purpose in mind and certain functionalities that must be met. One of the most common is the need for storage. It may be for office supplies, gym equipment, books, or arts and crafts materials. However, there may be a need for uncommon features such as a way to carry out a certain activity. Built-ins do not just have to be shelving. Creative spaces require unique solutions. Ideas include:
· Custom-built desk or workbench that fits along the wall or in an oddly shaped space
· Free-standing furniture can be clunky and take up a great deal of space. Seating built right into the wall is not only a huge space-saver but adds great character and charm to a space as well as offers additional storage options.
· Built-in shelving and cabinetry along the walls can offer clients a great space-saving way to decorate their interior and store important supplies.
One of the great things about built-ins is that you can give clients the option of either leaving them open-faced or creating decorative doors to keep materials neatly stored away. Built-ins are a better option for she-sheds compared to free-standing furniture in that they save space and are custom to the dimensions of the room which are often much smaller than residential and commercial buildings.
An outdoor living space sanctuary
Chances are your client is not just looking for a she-shed but seeking an experience. Maybe they want to enjoy a beautiful view, the sounds of nature, or just have someplace to go for a minute of peace and quiet. Designing an outdoor living space as an extension of your client’s retreat can offer just that. There are a few different options on how to give your clients an outdoor sanctuary.
· A simple, open, slightly raised wooden patio with the addition of outdoor furniture is a great way to enjoy nice weather.
· A patio with a retractable roof offers versatility. Retract the roof on nice days and utilize it for protection from the sun on hot days.
· A completely covered screened in patio or porch offers ultimate protection from the sun, rain, and even pesky insects.
· The addition of water features or even a moat could take the design to the next level
Hidden storage solutions
Storage solutions tend to be one of the main concerns when clients come to contractors for a she-shed. They need the space to use and understandably do not want the clutter out in the open for everyone to see. Once you’ve assessed your client’s storage needs you can present different viable options.
Hidden Loft Storage – This is a unique solution that offers a large amount of storage space without virtually taking up any usable space. It involves installing a faux ceiling below the true ceiling. The space in between is usable storage space. A hinged door that the client can pull open with a fold-down ladder similar to what you would see for an attic offers easy access. This is a great option for clients who need to store seldom-used items, seasonal valuables, or product inventory.
Furniture Storage – Any custom built-in furniture such as seating can double as a handy storage solution. Depending on the client’s wishes, you can either construct it as trunk storage where the seat opens on a hinge, acting as a lid or as cabinet storage.
Shelving in Disguise – The one draw-back to built-in shelving is that everyone can see what is on the shelving. More than likely this isn’t a favorable option to your clients. Building a façade on the front to disguise it as a piece of cabinet furniture is a great way to conceal the fact that it is indeed storage shelving.
Incorporate wide open doors
If your client is looking to let in natural light and fresh air, incorporating a door that is larger than a traditional door will allow for the enjoyment of ample amounts of natural light and fresh air.
· Glass French doors – French doors allow for an oversized entrance and give clients the choice of full glass inserts for high levels of natural light or half glass inserts for a higher level of privacy.
· Full-glass sliding doors – Glass doors are the ultimate way to let in natural light. The ability of the door to slide also doubles as a space saver and allows you to work within your shed with the door open without it getting in your way
· Bi-fold glass sliding doors – Bi-fold glass doors work much like an accordion. This is a great idea if your client is interested in an outdoor living area or entertaining out of their she-shed. The door can span across an entire wall in fact for an extremely large entrance out onto the patio. This allows the outdoor living space to essentially become a part of the shed.
Increase the versatility with a Murphy Bed
The fact of the matter is that many clients want a dual-purpose structure. Backyard sheds are a great option for guest quarters, offering privacy from the main house. If your client is interested in a versatile she-shed that can serve their main purpose but yet transform into guest quarters in the blink of an eye, consider suggesting a murphy bed. This is a bed that easily folds down in preparation for guests. When not in use the murphy bed folds up seamlessly to become a part of the wall or a cabinet perhaps. It can be placed on virtually any solid wall and disguised as a part of the décor.
Small elements that make a big difference
She-sheds may be small spaces, but they fulfill big dreams. The bottom line is you have to get creative when constructing small spaces. Bringing these 6 design elements in your clients’ backyard sheds will be sure to make for happy customers and build your reputation in the community as a she-shed construction expert in no time!
Source: Arthur Kudriavcev is the founder and editor of Woodsmith Spirit, a blog with tips, techniques and additional content, to assist entry-level woodworkers in the craft. More articles can be found at WoodsmithSpirit.com.
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