Solarium She Shed & Dancing Deck




I wanted to create a space in my front garden area that I could enjoy all four seasons(I live in the the Northeast US).

She Sheds have become popular recently so I thought I'd make one for myself.

This is my creation! Read on to see how I put the whole thing together..

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Step 1: Beginnings: the Space & Building the Framework

1. The first photo shows the last, untended portion of my garden: an overgrown mess, basically.

2. The second photo above is the Secret Door into my garden. ; )

3. I visited our fire pit, which is where all retired projects lie in limbo before their eventual immolation. I spent a while taking things apart: my faves are put together solely with star drive screws, my dreads are fastened with loads of rusty nails... ugh.

4. About 30 minutes into making the cuts and putting the frame together, I (re)discover there are no premium cuts when dealing with freebies. I clamp and swear and try to untwist the torque, as witnessed in the third photo. It all worked out mostly fine in the end.

5. My (almost)final platform for the deck and shed. As I figured later what was going where, I added several more support studs into the frame.

Step 2: Deck, Subfloor, Stain

1. The receipt is blurry, but the total for (10) 10' cedar decking boards and a sheet of 3/8 sub-floor came to $154. The stain was $42, which was a waste as I didn't really like the results, and I only needed a quart. Actually, a half quart now and the rest for next year's touch up. Pooh.

2. Boards and sheet loosely arranged.

3. Nine boards screwed into platform. (tenth board will be for the steps)

4. Cedar boards stained and sub floor underneath primed. Under the subfloor for the She Shed I wrapped the top of the frame with plastic as an extra barrier from any moisture below.

Step 3: Walls & Roof

We have a lot of unused fence panels. I found a couple that were in decent condition and decided to use them for the side walls.

I cut the tops at the angle that my roof would be, then fastened them to the frame sides.

I built the back wall from salvaged, fire-pit wood, stretching some heavy-duty shade fabric across the back as a barrier to protect the insulation.

I built up the sidewalls higher, then built the roof with more freebie wood. The front center beam is fortified with angle iron that I literally found in the grass. It was the perfect length, just needed a few coats of white primer.

I purchased many yards of clear vinyl(20 gauge, the thickest they have, $9 a yard, but easy enough to print out 50% off coupons) at Joann Fabrics. I stapled a little but mostly used roofing nails with the rubber washers to attach the plastic onto the roof. It is stretched over the top and underneath, as well. I bought a slightly thinner clear vinyl to staple over the outside of the side walls.

Step 4: Doors and Front, Insulation, Walls and Flooring

I built two doors out of purchased oak(1 x 2 x 8's), (1 x 4 x 2') and previously mentioned plastic.

I pre-drilled all the holes, and used leather strips to staple the plastic onto both sides of the doors.

I hinged the doors for opening by drilling holes of limited depths into the doors, deck and joists above, then inserting oak dowels as the hinge pin. I created the sidelights with 2 layers of plastic, allowing enough slack for when the doors open.

I laid leftover flooring pad onto the subfloor, and insulated the side and back walls with R19. I stapled some nice wool I had in my fabric stash over that, finishing off the top with some decorative moulding.

Step 5: Seating

1. These are planter containers that I don't use. I think with some paint and fabric treatments, I can give a new life to these cast-offs.

2. Frames sprayed with a wonderful, bronze color.

3. Variety of home decor fabrics from my leftovers stash, in soothing, nature colors.

4. Using the frame to make my pattern for the seat cover.

5. Two tops, side wall, and piping.

6. Some batting to sandwich between the two tops.

7. Using paracord to create the piping trim for the top.

8. Sewn piece of seat top

9. Three large pieces of felted wool for cushioning for top of seat.

10. Finished seat.

11. Ottoman, or smaller seat, creating pattern pieces for.

12. Top, bottom, piping pieces, and side walls.

13. Finished, stuffed piece.

14. Seat top circle cut from wood and attached to frame.

15. Finished

16. Bench I created from two pallet ends, 2 x 4's, wool stapled onto sides and front, then fitted with a bench cushion and pillows I had.

Step 6: Cornish Cottage Heater

Cornish Cottage heater for my Solarium She Shed. Many versions of this exist, I believe my design improves upon previous iterations, from the addition of a small chimney(which turns it into a convector rather than just a radiator) to the addition of insulator salts to keep the beeswax tealights(another improvement over paraffin) warm enough to burn evenly and completely. Plus the aesthetics at night are lovely!

This is my favorite video showing how to make one:

I also placed large rocks along the back wall and made sure all of my planters were ceramic(not plastic), so as to capture as much solar heat as possible during the day, which would be slowly released into the night. I want to keep all the lovely plants in there as happy as possible!

Step 7: Wall-mounted Folding Table & Other Shelves

I wanted to have the option of a fold-down table in case it rained or was too cold and I wanted to do yoga inside the shed rather than on the deck.

I hinged the shelf(purchased, similar to a butcher block) and two props with catches underneath.

I then gradually added more shelves to certain wall areas that would not obstruct with the seating.

Step 8: Decor, Solar Lighting, Insulation.

1/2. Progress photos of the mostly-done interior.

3/4/5. Photos of completed interior.

I purchased one set of globe, stringed solar lights and stapled them all along the interior of the space. This is more atmospheric than functional. For reading, writing, etc. I use candlelight.

I purchased two bales of straw, taking them apart in layers, and stuffed the entire underneath of the shed with it as ground insulation.

Step 9: Mini Beach

1. This is the before pic with all the undergrowth. I pulled up as much as I could and laid down lots of old sheets and blankets.

2. We have access to sand on our property, though it is a 3 minute truck ride, so I made many, many trips with sand-filled buckets, dumping them onto the mini beach. (It was a great workout!)

3. I added a nice top layer of purchased play sand, maybe 8 bags total.

4. I built a nautical-looking side table from pallet wood, a steel pipe, and rope.

5. Using the last 10' section of cedar decking, I created some steps for the deck.

Step 10: All the Cool Things You Can Do With a Solarium She Shed and Dancing Deck

Enjoy the video/photos and I hope this inspires you to make your own!

Outdoor Structures

Runner Up in the
Outdoor Structures

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    11 Discussions


    9 months ago

    Get ideas here; I am curious now that it been a finished project for awhile How is it holding up to the elements? Especial the vinyl roof did you ever have a snow load on top of it?

    Sangeeta KaurK

    1 year ago

    Love it-amazing artist and fab projects-time for tea!


    2 years ago

    Adorable! I think you have enough projects in here for several Instructables.i might do something similar, but because we get snow, I’ll have to use rigid plastic sheeting or old windows....oooh, now you have me planning!


    2 years ago

    This has everything! Reclaimed wood, carpentry, solar power, sewing, clever heat. Just a nice private, personal space for activities.


    2 years ago

    This project makes me so happy.


    2 years ago

    Great project!


    2 years ago

    This is super cool! I like how you used the fenceposts for the walls, lit it with solar, and the heater is really a cool idea I'd never seen before (how well does it work? it seems that even if it's not terribly efficient, it'd be super relaxing and a nice ambiance!). Also, great video! Super fun, and has a lot of neat ideas. One last thing I liked..this seems like it's 3 or 4 instructables in one, but I appreciate that because it all ties together so nice (the heater, the table, etc). Well done!

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you! Being a small space, the warmth of the sun heating up all the rocks and planters, plus the Cornish Heater, it gets pretty toasty in there, though the true test will be when it is 20 degrees outside. : )

    cdstudioNHTreasure Tabby

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you! It is special being inside, day, but especially at night.


    2 years ago

    This is fantastic! Love the idea of having so much sunlight. :D