What is a Gambrel Shed?

Katy Brackett

A gambrel shed is modeled to look like a smaller version of a barn of the same style. So named for the pitches of the roof on the structure, the gambrel shed has four slopes to the roof line — two on each side. The first slope from the peak in the middle is a shallow angle, and the second slope on each side drops off steeply. This makes for a dramatic and stunning roof line, and it allows for maximum headroom in the middle of the shed. It has the advantages of a sloped-roof design, such as easy snow removal when necessary.

The upper area of the barn, or the loft, is typically used to store hay or straw.
The upper area of the barn, or the loft, is typically used to store hay or straw.

Before the modern era, many barns were constructed in a post-and-beam fashion. The upper area of the barn was reserved for hay, straw or grain for animal feed. The gambrel style roof allowed for more of those products to be stored than a normal sloped-roof design. Many gambrel-style barns were painted red with white trim. In northern climates, barns were often attached to the farmhouse, making it easier to complete chores in cold weather.

Like a barn of the same design, a gambrel shed has more storage space and headroom than its pitched-roof counterparts. Sometimes, the roof space of a gambrel shed can be closed off like a small attic to provide more storage space, or the roof beams simply can be used to store items. To maximize its capacity even more, sliding doors can be added. Windows or skylights can be added as well, negating the need for electric lights during the day.

Many gambrel sheds have been built by homeowners from kits or plans. Again, like the gambrel style of barns, they are constructed from timber and are often painted red with white trim. The sheds usually are used for extra storage, but they can be used as outdoor offices or small hideaways.

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