The best books for women who want to create their own personal space

Erika Kotite Author Of She Sheds: A Room of Your Own
By Erika Kotite

Who am I?

I am an English major turned magazine editor turned book author, with a longtime love of outbuildings. Sheds, carriage houses, studios, barns… I love them all. When I had the chance to do a book about she sheds I was thrilled. Now with two books about she sheds on the market, I’m busy running She Shed Living with my business partner. We design sheds for women throughout Southern California, sell our own line of exterior chalk-based paint, and offer resources and advice to women who want a room of their own.


I wrote...

She Sheds: A Room of Your Own

By Erika Kotite,

Book cover of She Sheds: A Room of Your Own

What is my book about?

She Sheds: A Room of Your Own shows women the possibilities of having their own tiny, quiet space to enjoy in their backyards. The book answers the question “what is a she shed?” and goes on from there. I show more than three dozen different sheds and highlight the way women enjoy and embellish their spaces. Divided by chapters about artists, gardeners, dreamers, and old souls, the book is deeply aspirational but also realistic. It contains lots of practical information and even provides a first-hand look at my efforts to build a shed for my sister-in-law from a kit. Warning: you’ll definitely want one of your own when the final chapter is read.

The books I picked & why

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Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces of Extraordinary Women

By Jo Packham,

Book cover of Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces of Extraordinary Women

Why this book?

This book should be considered the bible of women’s artistic expression. Built on the idea of physical spaces and how they nurture the creative endeavor a woman does there, Where Women Create introduces you to dozens of extraordinary artists, textile designers, mixed media artists, book producers, entrepreneurs, and product designers. You get lost in their stories and inspired by their ingenious outlook on organization, clutter, and ways to keep the artistic spark alive.


A Room of Her Own: Women's Personal Spaces

By Chris Casson Madden, Jennifer Levy,

Book cover of A Room of Her Own: Women's Personal Spaces

Why this book?

This rich album of peeping in the windows of intensely private spaces may have been published in 1997 but its message of calm and possibilities burns just as brightly today. The lives of beloved personalities like Maya Angelou, Jessica McClintock, and Oprah Winfrey are opened so that you feel privy to what makes them who they are, or were. You can tell that Madden, one of HGTV’s first hosts, knew all of these women personally and was given great latitude so that we could have a real sense of the spaces these women run to for respite. Some may surprise you – a spartan bathroom with killer views, a guest room that was carved out of a living room – but all of them have a similar message theme of quiet triumph over stressful living. We all need a room of our own and there is more than one way to get it.


Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces

By Michele Slatalla,

Book cover of Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces

Why this book?

If you’re a fan already of Remodelista you will fall in love with this gorgeous sister that is all about the outdoors. The editors are brilliant at enticing you with easy projects and helping you see your backyard with brand new eyes. I am a list lover and Gardenista is filled with luscious ones. Start with 13 garden tours, hand-picked by the authors, each of which represent a unique plan, design, and palette. Then, jump into Eight Creative Ways to Get More from Your Garden and consider a chicken coop, outdoor shower, glamping spaces or an eat-in kitchen garden. This is a large book and truly is a guide for even the most tentative of gardeners. It’s a perfect accompaniment to a quest for she shed living.


Where We Bloom: Thirty-Seven Intimate, Inventive and Artistic Studio Spaces Where Floral Passions Find a Place to Blossom

By Debra Prinzing,

Book cover of Where We Bloom: Thirty-Seven Intimate, Inventive and Artistic Studio Spaces Where Floral Passions Find a Place to Blossom

Why this book?

I have a longstanding professional relationship with Debra Prinzing, who was a regular contributor when I was an editor at Romantic Homes magazine. Her stories and photos brought flowers to life in any issue she was in. She is also the founder of the Slow Flowers movement, which promotes growing and buying seasonal flowers locally. Prinzing’s newest book is a wonderful odyssey through the shops, studios, campers, and (yes) sheds of passionate growers and designers. Once again, by exploring the creative spaces of others, you’ll find a rich supply of ideas for your own space. Somehow, these floral artisans and their spaces create a synergy that’s impossible to resist.


Small Space Style: Because You Don't Need to Live Large to Live Beautifully

By Whitney Leigh Morris,

Book cover of Small Space Style: Because You Don't Need to Live Large to Live Beautifully

Why this book?

She sheds are usually small spaces and everyone can relate to the challenges of creating beauty with limited resources. This smart book pays homage to living small and makes you see wonderful possibilities where none existed before. I love walking through Whitney’s charming “Tiny Canal Cottage” as she calls it, the 400-square-foot place she shares with her husband, young son, and two dogs in Venice, California. The table of contents isn’t satisfied with vague chapter titles – nope, you get numbered ideas (238!) that are specific and doable. I love #026, which shows you how to trade a coffee table for a shallow shelf behind the couch. Also handy are tricks to quickly turn your living room into a spare bedroom, or a dining room, or a home office, and then turn it back into a living space again. You’ll meet kindred spirits in the design realm who offer their own time-tested tricks, such as Kim Lewis of Extreme Makeover, Angie Wendricks of Country Road Living, and Christina Shirley of Stella Blue Gallery. There are literally hundreds of pithy tips, shortcuts, DIYs, and brilliant storage hacks to pull from this book.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in gardens, interior design, and home decoration?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Simple Matters, The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes, and Country Living Tiny Homes if you like this list.