It is a sheddy life – but mother of four Jessica Taylor wouldn’t have it any other way.
In June 2020, after facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, she and her husband, Lath, decided to leave the comforts of their three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in northwest Arkansas. The family of six moved into a 500 square meter utility shed. Friends thought it was a very strange way to step down.
“One of the things people think is really weird about us living in a shed is that we use a composting tub instead of a traditional toilet,” Taylor, 30, who now lives in a shed in west Tennessee, told The Mail.
“It’s a bucket system,” the former bartender-turned-homeschooler (or shed-schooler) explained of the cabin’s outbuildings. “And [when] you [urinate or defecate], you cover it with chips every time. After two days, whether the bucket is full or not, we dump [the waste] in a compost bin in the forest, and then after a couple of years, [the waste] becomes soil for ornamental plants.”
But indoor plumbing is one of the very few facilities the family cottage lacks.
“The shed is two stories and has power, running water, a heating/cooling system, a 65-inch flat screen TV, a stainless steel refrigerator, an electric stove and fold-down futons that we use as beds,” said Taylor, who is shared clips of the elegant cabin with her more than 66,700 followers on social media.
After buying the woodworking shop for $6,000 on a roadside hardware stand, she and Lath, 42, invested another $7,000 in renovations, which included adding a staircase leading to the loft area, privacy walls and an outdoor porch.
The parents used money from their tax return, stimulus checks and unemployment to finance the housing project.
They also invested in a $4,000 well, which supplies them with water for drinking, cleaning and showering. (The family uses a long, pull-out faucet that extends from the kitchenette to outside the shed, where they shower under the cover of trees.)
Their brood, with children ages 3 to 9, is part of a growing number of people ditching their sprawling, often expensive burrows to live in outdoor storage units that typically house gardening or sports equipment. It’s a simple take on the tiny house movement, with a dash of #VanLife for those looking for cozy, economical simplicity. On TikTok, shed dwellers have tagged videos of their houses with the hashtag #ShedLife over 22.2 million times.
“More and more people are breaking away from the mindset that you have to have the big, expensive, fancy house to feel like they can make it,” Taylor said of the allure of the shed life. “There is value in living modestly. We are able to spend more time together gardening and enjoying nature instead of working to afford lavish accommodation.”
Fellow shed-living trendsetters Nick and Meghan Lucid recently went viral for sharing how they converted an 860-square-foot Tuff Shed from Home Depot into a lavish two-level property, complete with one bedroom, a finished bathroom, a laundry room, and a walk-in closet. -in closet. Footage of their renovated cabin has received over 2 million views.
Like the Taylors, the couple downsized for financial reasons caused by COVID.
“Right after the pandemic hit, Lath and I lost our jobs at a restaurant where we had worked for years,” Taylor explained to The Post. “Before that, we were renting a big $1,100 brick house in Arkansas, but we just couldn’t afford that and our other household bills anymore.”
After moving eight hours away and moving to their mother’s 6-acre property, where they have stationed their shed rent-free, the family’s monthly fixed costs have been reduced from more than $2,000 to a paltry $400.
“Since moving into the shed, we’ve become very financially stable and we’re getting close to being debt-free,” Taylor said, adding that the cost-effective move has also allowed her to become a stay-at-home mom . Reducing their monthly expenses even allowed them to buy an $11,000 garden shed to use as a second home.
“The kids love it [our new lifestyle] because we are able to spend more quality time together than when I was working,” Taylor said. “It’s been really good.”
And #ShedLife isn’t just for families.
Mia Puhakka, 17, sidestepped the stress of first-time apartment hunting by setting up camp in her parents’ backyard.
“Mum and dad like to have me at home, so I don’t pay rent [while I’m living in the shed]”, Puhakka, a part-time office assistant from Ontario, Canada, told The Post. Clips of her humble abode have received over 1.3 million views.
Her family bought and renovated the 12-foot-by-24-foot structure for about $9,300 from shed dealers Old Hickory Buildings in 2019. Puhakka has since spruced up the space with finished cedar and birch floors and walls, a mounted flat-screen TV and a working fireplace.
And when she needs to use the toilet, she commutes a few meters to mum and dad. It’s a perfect setup for someone on the brink of adulthood.
“I get my own space without having to pay for an apartment or a house, and I don’t pay for Wi-Fi or electricity because my stall is just connected to my [parents’] house,” said Puhakka.