Forget She Sheds, You Need a Dining Shed

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David A. Land

I've already used precious (digital) ink explaining my distaste for so-called "man caves," so you can probably guess my feelings on their female counterparts, the cringily named "she sheds." And, while I'm not a fan of gendering rooms in the house (or outside it), I certainly am a fan of designating bonus spaces. Which is why I was so delighted to find a new kind of outbuilding in this month's issue of House Beautiful. When style director Robert Rufino, visited designer Elizabeth Georgantas at her beautiful Nantucket home, he came across an empty shed on the property, which the designer wistfully told him she'd always envisioned as an entertaining space. Well, put two creative people in a space long enough, and your design wish is bound to become a reality. Step aside, she shed: This is the dining shed.

When Rufino entered the shed, the only thing inside it was a collection of artwork—in a most unusual space. Inspired by Earth at Hidden Pond, a restaurant Georgantas loves in Kennebunkport, Maine, she had hung a collection of paintings in frames of all shapes and sizes from the ceiling. The unconventional display lends a sense of whimsy to the space, making it all the more special a setting for a party.

To furnish the shed, Rufino selected an antique table Georgantas had in storage with a set of metal chairs found at a garage sale. Georgantas's husband topped it off by installing a vintage chandelier. In just a couple hours, the space took on a traditional-meets-casual vibe that perfectly reflects the kind of laid-back, barefoot dinner party the designer would host in the semi al-fresco space.

Beyond the furniture, Rufino and Georgantas accessorized the space to make it feel more intimate and inviting and, well, less like an abandoned shed. Their selections (glass bottles found around the house, an array of straw hats) prove that the decor doesn't have to be stuffy, expensive, or even new—just enough personal touches to add some character and voilà, it's a space ready to host guests. Or, to spend some alone time, if you insist.

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