As three Virginia Beach women prove, with a little female ingenuity, you can have your own “Mom cave” or “she shed” regardless of your budget, space and style.
Though “man cave” entered the lexicon c. 1993, courtesy of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, it wasn’t until about 2012 that the term “mom cave” emerged and a few years later that the moniker “she shed” became fairly widespread. The concept has grown in popularity as new generations of women feel the need for Virginia Woolf’s “room of one’s own.” But you certainly don’t need to pen the great American novel in your lady cave for it to serve a valuable function.
When Dia DuVernet, president and CEO of the Virginia Beach SPCA, and her husband, Pierce Tyler, bought their Virginia Beach home some four years ago, Tyler was elated to finally own a garage, a sizeable yard and a riding lawn mower. But he was met with a “Not so fast” from his loving wife. Missing the covered outdoor spaces of their older residences in Norfolk and Olde Towne Portsmouth, she diverted the mower, paint and tools to their freestanding shed and set about converting their 400-square-foot, two-car garage into her mom cave.
Having flipped numerous houses in the Outer Banks, Norfolk and Olde Towne, as well as a family home in Florida, this was not DuVernet’s first rodeo. DuVernet, who loves antiques, built her budget-friendly approach around pieces, including antiques, that the couple already owned. A dehumidifier removes unwanted moisture in the summer during which time the cave stays comfortably cool. And, except on the coldest of days, the space is equally comfy in winter.
A hand-painted sign purchased on DuVernet and Tyler's honeymoon is just one of
the personal touches in her homey mom cave.
DuVernet has a flare for "betwixterior" design—betwixt and between the interior and
Left: Antiques fare just fine thanks to a dehumidifier; Right: Sushi is always allowed
on this furniture.
In addition to serving as a retreat when Tyler and the couple’s teenage son, James, are watching TV, DuVernet utilizes her mom cave as a space to snuggle with the family dog, Sushi, rock in her rocking chair or work from home. The inviting space is also ideal for entertaining. Guests flow from the driveway through the double garage doors into the erstwhile garage, where the bar is typically located, and there they might stay. Or they might migrate into the main part of the house.
DuVernet’s decorating style is relaxed but refined. The red of the home’s many Oriental rugs is the dominant color in the mom cave where DuVernet says she “had a little more decorating fun.” She built two cozy seating areas around pieces that she already owned, filling in with occasional tables, pillows—changed with the seasons—, indoor/outdoor rugs, plants and planters, decorative objects and lamps from Lowe’s, Target and T.J. Maxx.
Lighting is especially important to Duvernet. She eschews overhead lights in favor of table and floor lamps and, her favorite, strung café lights to create an inviting transitional indoor/outdoor space. A low, decorative screen that once corralled Sushi now hides bicycles and golf clubs. Here and there are hints of whimsy, nostalgia and family history like the large, hand-painted, wooden poem-sign that the couple bought on their honeymoon on Tortola at Egbert Donovan’s Shell Shack.
The Lipstick Lounge looks girly, but boys are allowed.
The Lipstick Lounge
Not far up the road, but worlds apart in terms of décor, is Barbara Taylor Creech and Linda Schell’s she shed, aka “The Lipstick Lounge.” Where once was a utilitarian condo storage unit now stands a lady cave without precedent. When these two good friends learned that their waterfront condos had an extra storage unit for rent, they snapped it up and began its transformation.
With no hint from the outside of what lies inside, opening the door is like stepping into a jewel box. A little sweet and a little seductive, this fanciful yet stylish space is all about the parties which spill out onto the adjacent landing where food is served, and down a few steps to the dock. A neutral, checkboard linoleum tile floor anchors the otherwise all-hot-pink-and-white-all-the-time décor.
Left: Why have a buffet when you can have a bar? Right: Humor is always on the
guest list at the "LL."
Portraits of the pair of beauties and brains behind the Lipstick Lounge.
Every day is Valentine's Day at the Lounge.
Swags of pink, beaded curtains mark the entrance to this space that is equal parts whimsy and tactile glamour. Appointed with attic treasures and decorative fill-ins from local and online shopping sprees, the cushy sofa, casual chairs and occasional tables are largely white; the accents—like a lip-shaped pillow—largely pink. A carved screen spray-painted white with a hot pink border conceals heating and cooling units, while framed photos, full-length portraits of Creech and Schell painted by David Cochran and a hand-painted “Lipstick Lounge” door sign by Cyndi Nance infuse the space with personal charm.
If there was ever any doubt about the primary function of this space, one need look no further than the big, beautiful, rustic wood buffet which serves as a massive bar just to the right of the entrance. This space is a happy hour haven. Though Lipstick Lounge parties are by invitation only, Alexa is always on the guest list, as she famously provides music for cutting that pink and white scroll rug.