One large DIY chain reports that sales of sheds are increasing by as much as 50%. Taken in isolation this might not such a surprising figure, but interestingly it's not men who are the main purchasers - this rise in sales is being driven by women.

Although both sexes see sheds as valuable places to get away from the confines of their household, women have more ambitious plans than using them to store domestic clutter, lawn mowers and various garden equipment.

Sheds owned by women are being turned into offices and creative spaces. Very practical if you need to juggle family life with running a business as the shed office couldn't be much closer to home.

Appropriately kitted out, they are also transformed into gyms, quiet retreats to practice yoga, art studios and, if anyone else is allowed in, places to hold children's parties.

Summerhouses and log cabins are included under the general term 'shed', and without any rules these retreats can be styled in so many ways to suit individual taste and practical requirements.

Sheds are extremely versatile and, due to their strength and weatherproof nature, can operate as a functional office or alternatively a comfortable space where you can separate yourself from the stresses of the everyday world.

Contemporary or traditional, the shed can be used throughout the year, equipped with heating and other facilities, a welcoming space far different than any damp and rodent ridden preconception.

No wonder women are being increasingly convinced that sheds, summerhouses and log cabins offer a great opportunity to have a place to call their own away from any masculine influences and this means that sales will no doubt continue to rise.