Designing backyard retreats for women

A space of your own…

Between the daily stress of parenting, balancing work with family life, and caring for ageing relatives, life can be hectic for busy women. Having a private spot to sneak off to and regroup helps when trying to maintain your stamina and sanity. The outdoors provides a great option for getting in some much needed down time with its soothing breezes, beautiful flowers, and calm blue skies.

Nature offers many mental health benefits, which makes a comfortable backyard retreat the perfect place to relax and unwind. Reading a book, taking a luxurious nap, or just spending a few moments in solitude can help you avoid burnout, establish a positive mindset, and be ready to tackle life’s many challenges.

Porches, decks, and full-sized she sheds are ideal for outdoor sanctuaries. However, even a small space, like a section of a patio or balcony, can transform into a stylish, quiet getaway with a little imagination. Whether you rearrange your existing balcony furniture to create your outdoor oasis or carve out a secluded corner of an area shared with family, these tips will help you design your very own Zen retreat.

Making your space comfortable

First and foremost, your outdoor hideaway needs to be cosy and welcoming. While you’ll want enough room to move around, an area that is too open or sparsely furnished can leave you feeling exposed and actually increase your anxiety. Try to envision yourself enjoying the space to decide what items you should include. Think about factors such as:

  • Seating style. Consider how you prefer to lounge when picking out seats. If you like to stretch out, a daybed or chaise provides plenty of room. Swings, hammocks, and rockers allow for gentle movement that you may find soothing. Want an upright option? Armchairs, benches, and ottomans are all viable solutions.
  • Adequate support. You’ll need something soft to lean against as you relax. Plush pillows and padded cushions cradle your body and help keep you cool and comfortable. Choose outdoor-friendly fabrics that are weather and fade resistant. Bold printed fabrics also make it easy to add whimsy or put your personal stamp on a design.
  • Functional furniture. Even the most casual space needs a few practical pieces. Use a few end tables to hold drinks, books, or snacks. A moveable bar cart, on the other hand, offers plenty of surface area while allowing for more flexibility in your layout.
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Set the scene for serenity

After arranging furnishings, put the finishing touches on your hideout with accessories that reflect your unique style. Your goal should be to create a calming, pulled-together look that invites you relax. Here are some ideas on what to include:

  • Greenery. Surrounding your retreat with plants is an ideal way to gain some extra privacy. Use a trellis or pergola with vines growing upward for a feeling of seclusion in shared spaces. Large potted plants and vertical gardens can also act as living walls.
  • Decor. Candles are key to increasing the cosy ambience of any outdoor space. Choose types with citronella or essential oils that repel insects. Accent pieces, such as artwork and statuary, offer another simple way to infuse any motif with extra personality.
  • Fountains and fire pits. There’s something soothing and tranquil about listening to the soft sound of flowing water or staring into dancing flames. If you have the room, consider installing a water feature or fire pit in your layout to give the relaxing vibes an extra boost.

Setting up a ‘she shed’

A ‘she shed’ is a small backyard structure that functions as a studio or hangout for women, similar to a child’s clubhouse with more sophisticated decor. Some include high-end features like climate controls and electricity. The secret to a functional she shed lies on the inside rather than the exterior, so converting an existing garden shed will work just as well if you need a more inexpensive option.

When designing your she shed, keep these tips in mind to make the most of your space:

  • Choose your furniture wisely. While you can repurpose front porch furniture in one of these buildings, if the roof is leak-proof, you can use indoor items as well. Shop garage sales and flea markets to find vintage pieces such as wicker chairs or a scroll-legged desk to stay on budget and put a personalised spin on your shed’s decor.
  • Consider its purpose. Spend some time contemplating what activities you’ll do while inside your private retreat. Do you love books? Line the walls with shelving and create a reading nook in a corner with a comfy chair and overhead lamp. If you enjoy gardening or crafts, place a table against one of the walls where you can grow seedlings or work on projects.
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Solutions for any space

If your yard is tiny and you lack a balcony or porch, it’s still possible to carve out a comfortable spot to hide from the world. A portable hammock that can hang from trees or fence posts will allow you to snag a few quiet moments to yourself while visiting a local park. Even a folding chair or blanket left in the car can provide a place to sit outdoors on a break at work or inspire an impromptu solo picnic.

Spending time relaxing in nature is a wonderful self-care technique. We all need a safe place to step away from our worries and find some inner peace every now and then.

Whether you choose an elaborate setup or something simple, be sure to make time to slow down and savor the moment as you unwind in your backyard retreat.