Ever wanted to turn your backyard barn or shed into a livable tiny house for guests or for yourself?

Even if it were only for the kids to camp in once in a while..

One of our awesome readers, Jean, sent me photos and information on how she converted this barn into a little home.

At approximately 288 square feet, it’s not incredibly tiny, but you can take the same concepts and apply it to an even smaller structure.

Jean bought a 12′ by 24′ barn with a loft and converted it by hand into a guest cottage.

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 1   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House
Photos Courtesy of Jean H.

The exterior is a cedar color with a green shingled roof. Inside the walls have a mahogany finish. I encourage you to take a look at the rest:

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 4   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 2   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 3   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

She added a tin ceiling inside after insulating and installed a beam down the center where Jean also installed a ceiling fan.

When you look at the kitchen don’t miss the space saving built-in cutting board.

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 8   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

In the bathroom (see below) you can use a combination of tin and wood to keep material costs low.

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 10   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

She installed hand-made tongue and groove wood flooring, sanded the walls, stained everything, and polished.

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 5   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 6   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

Jean used an old log to create lots of what you see inside, added a carpeted sleeping loft upstairs, and insulated the entire thing.

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 7   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

The antique bar stools were a good choice and Jean used an old log to create the bar (see above).

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 9   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

jeans barn to tiny house conversion 11   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

She did all of the plumbing and electrical which meets coding regulations. Jean’s barn conversion also includes:

  • 6 windows with locks and screens
  • Full shower
  • 6 electrical wall outlets
  • New appliances
  • Closet with hanging rod
  • Tall drawer chest

Almost all of the furniture was hand-made. I don’t have details on total material costs or hours of labor but Jean said, “more than I’d like to admit,” in one of the emails that we exchanged.

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   How to turn your Barn or Shed into a Livable Tiny House

Alex

Alex has been living in small spaces for more than 7 years, he's the founding editor of TinyHouseTalk.com, and has passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. Send in your story and tiny home photos so we can share and inspire others towards simplicity.

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{ 62 comments }

  • Deek

    Very nice! Lloyd Kahn’s new book has an excellent example of a shed conversion too. I would have use lighter colors within though, just me, darker ones visually make a place feel smaller. I love that slab bar/table though- and several other aspects. -Deek

    Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks, Deek, glad you liked it. Can’t wait to get Lloyd’s book in my hands!

      Reply
    • carrie adams

      Deek hi!
      After watching HGTV like an addict…They say ‘don’t be afraid of color’. And dark color doesn’t have to confine a space?!?! I like the way the dark stain has been ‘finished’ and I wish to see the kitchen when all appliances are in place. BUT, I agree with you…I love lighter colors: they just seem cleaner and ‘newer’…To each his/her own!!!

      Reply
  • anotherkindofdrew

    I have long been fascinated by this idea and even wrote a post about converting sheds into tiny houses back in February of 2011. You can find that post here: http://www.tinyrevolution.us/2011/02/28/turn-your-shed-into-a-tiny-house/

    I agree with Deek in that lighter colors, more windows, etc. help make the interior space visually more open and inviting (as well as larger). That said, the stain is a beautiful and rich color and I commend Jean on his awesome work!

    Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks, Drew, glad you pointed that out. I’ve always liked the idea of turning existing structures into tiny homes. Sheds/barns are perfect for that.

      I agree with you guys on the light colors but I also like the dark. Gives it that bar-like atmosphere where you can drink your whiskey with pride, lol.

      Reply
  • Steve of Lazyaa B&B Guest Ranch (Indiana) home of the "Woolywagons"

    Very nice Well done I like the look. You have done a super job at this and it is obvious you are a craftsman

    Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks, Steve- glad you liked it!

      Reply
  • eli curtis

    I think the dark adds a bit of continuity with the exposed framing.it kind of dresses up the framing lumber a bit. I really love the use of galvy roofing metal for wall coverings it looks good,hangs quick and is definitely built to last! it Might even heat up quicker in there because the metal will not absorb heat like wood or dry wall.the draw back is that the building will cool off quicker.

    Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks, Eli. I like the use of galvanized metal too.

      Reply
  • Faye

    Hi Alex, Great Job!!!

    Reply
  • sesameB

    excellent. I already live in one (smiles), 6 six years and counting right here in rural arkansas

    Reply
  • Randall

    I like the steam punk feel of the dark wood and the metal.

    Reply
  • Carl in SC

    Great idea. We have a 12′ x 20 ‘ corrugated metal storage building with round metal supports inside. I would like to put some type of siding around the outside of the building and put a standard roof over the thin corrugated metal which has already been punctured by falling limbs. No insulation in building.
    Any info on best way to accomplish the task of putting siding outside and putting a stronger roof on, and insulating the interior. Any help will be appreciated.

    Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks, Carl. Wish I could help you there.

      Does anyone have any ideas he can use to add siding and a roof over his corrugated metal storage building?

      Reply
      • jean herbert

        not unless its just re-framed in i would guess,

        Reply
        • Alex

          Thanks, Jean!

          Reply
          • Eugene

            Well plywood sheet then shingles fro the roof, then for siding just side it like a house.

    • Kris

      Carl, I didn’t add siding to my metal shed, too much $$$. Save that money for a roof and porches. I pressure-washed it and painted it forest green, trimmed out the doors and windows with white. I don’t think these metal sheds could bear the weight of a framed roof directly on it, so I invested in an open carport-type metal shed to cover the entire top, with a few feet to spare over the front end to make a covered porch/entry for bad weather.Kept the metal doors on it for storms and security, framed in French doors just inside.Framed in the inside, added insulation and beadboard,framed in a small overhead loft from wood, NOT using the metal frame. Built our bathroom as an add-on out the side door. Cozy and critter-proof, and the green blends in my woodsy location. Good luck, there’s a lot you can do with one of these sheds.

      Reply
    • Ginnee in Costa Rica

      You could put up a free standing roof that is attached to posts of either concrete, wood, or bamboo. Your roofing material could be…Latex concrete. It is very light, very easy to do, very strong, and very cheap. It can be any shape you want. Here is one example. http://velacreations.com/shelter/building-components/roof/172-latex-concrete-roof.html Here is more information. https://www.engineeringforchange.org/news/files/CATIS/Thin%20Shell%20Concrete%20Roof.pdf This technique can be added over other roofs, such as existing tin.

      Reply
  • Roxy

    I would like to see the floor plan for this

    Reply
    • Alex

      Wish I had it.. We’ll see if she can provide it for us.

      Reply
      • jean herbert

        i went to lowes, bought some pine 1x6x8 ‘s. tongue and grooved them my self. put them down with screws….used an old laminate flooring hook to pull them in tight as we worked our way down each board. .took a heavy log chain and beat the crap out of it to give it that worn old look, stained them, put about ten coats of high gloss shine on them. and there we go….

        Reply
        • Alex

          Thanks!

          Reply
        • Thomas

          I think by floor plan, they meant the layout of the entire shed – like blue prints. We’re considering buying a 16×30 shed from Graceland Portable Buildings and doing this for at least 5-6 yrs then building a house and using this for a cook house for family get -togethers.

          Reply
  • Danielle

    Even as a kid, I thought a barn or shed would make a great home! Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Alex

      I always thought so too! Glad you enjoyed it Danielle.

      Reply
  • jean herbert

    thanks everyone for the comments, i wish i had knwon about the tiny house when i did this, i would have put it on wheels. thats the only regret i have. but. my dad is living in it right now and he loves it.

    Reply
    • Alex

      Hey Jean- thanks again so much for sharing with everyone. I think you’ve inspired at least a handful of folks!

      Reply
    • RockyMissouri

      Great job, Jean…!! Any chance of more photos…. I’d like to see it finished.

      Reply
  • Lex

    Thanks for this great post, love all the big, clear photos. The metal roof is a very unique touch probably a bit tricky to cut outlet boxes and such into it, but makes for a cool and sturdy ‘vibe’ to the house.

    I’d love to hear more about other good low cost paneling options as I prepare to finish off my new cabin addition -the price of most wood paneling is really high (T111 and beadboard, etc.)

    Alex

    Reply
  • Corinne

    Nice,,,,,,,,to work hard for what you have and very economical to save money,,,first you buy a shed,,and then do all the work yourself,,,it looks amazing how you stained the walls,,floors,,, I love the bar too,, imagination you have,,,,thanks for sharing with this too…..

    Reply
  • Corinne

    Very nice how you stained it yourself,, i love the bar how you fit that in the kitchen,,,,very resourceful….and it works when u can insulate this also….thanks…

    Reply
    • Alex

      Hey Corinne, glad you liked it. I think she did a great job too.

      Reply
  • jean herbert

    thanks for all the comments folks. enjoy getting feedback. as quick as this one sells i will be starting on one on wheels. here we go again!!

    Reply
  • sesameB

    Of course, I love this, just love it. Awesome. I have one here in rural south central sunny Arkansas. You rock!! This is the future.

    Reply
  • Stephen

    I love this! Before FINALLY deciding it was time to downsize,simplifiy and start fresh recently,I bought one of those rent-t-own sheds,12×24,though mine too (like someone else who posted)is made of the same material as these new steel roofs. Come Spring,I intend to move it to some property I own elsewhere and turn it into a tiny house where my kids acan stay when I have them too,maybe a mini-homestead. When I get it where I want it,I’ll make a post on it (I’m new t here,BTW) :)

    Reply
    • Alex

      Hi Stephen, that’s awesome! Can’t wait to hear about it when you start the conversion. 12×24 is pretty good size to work with. Welcome to the community by the way!! :)

      Reply
  • Stephen

    Thanks for the welcome! My journey with it won’t begin until tax season next year,being on a fixed income (I call it “early retirement”,but I’m disabled with 11 year old spinal injuries as of 4 years ago) will make things interesting. The property I own there,we lived on it before a housefire last year-it was a “total loss”,though 3 walls still stand,I will move there and spend a year tearing all of that down,hauling it aay,salvaging anything I can use,selling what I cannot (if good),living in that shed during,looking to build a more perminent “small home” (slightly bigger than ‘tiny house’) after that.

    Stephen

    Reply
  • Sharon

    Stephen, instead of building two houses – a tiny one and then a larger one later – consider building one house, but in stages. Design it so after you finish the first tiny part, you can add on another section.

    Reply
  • Stephen

    Sharon,I’ve been thinking the same idea (and thank you for suggesting it). The shed I’m converting is a steel building-shed 12×24 feet (288 sq ft),so I could easily enough buy another (LOL,I don’t mean to im;ly there’s bunches of disposible income,but rather that this one will be paid off and I could swing the same payment again ;) ),and could certainly “hook them together” in some form or fashion-though they may be too wide for the space I have until after the tearing down of the old…

    What I’m thinking as I’m researching,and have crawled under the old burned house to look,is possibly tearing it down to the floor,then section off and tear out all of it that was damaged,building a nice large deck over that portion (being a “mobile home”,a doublewide,it has that trailer frame underneath I’m not equipped to cut into haulable pieces myself,and cost to pay someone is prohibitive from what I’ve discovered),and rebuild using existing flooring/framework/foundation…just smaller ;)

    Reply
    • JEAN

      SELL THE TRAILER TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO BUILD A TINY HOUSE ON WHEELS. IM LOOKING FOR ONE NOW. PUT IT ON CRAIGSLIST. IT WILL SELL FAST. BETTER THAN JUNKING IT.

      Reply
  • JEAN

    i have since added homemade flower boxes to all my windows. and painted all the trim burgundy. looks great. thinking about a porch next.

    Reply
  • Stephen

    Jean,I think you misunderstood,1) it isn’t a trailer,it’s a doublewide (which is technically a trailer,but has certain and specific differences),and 2) it’s a total loss from a fire as far as someone buying it,it cannot be moved (besides the fact that it could never be moved out due to sheer size,as it’s now surrounded by other houses that weren’t there when it was brought in back inthe 80′s)…it must be torn down,whether it was sold or scrapped.

    Reply
  • Mary

    I own a 12×30 portable cabin that’s already insulated and wired. The interior right now is metal, but I want to refinish it in something else over time. I should start working on it this spring. Anchoring it to a permanent foundation is my main concern right now. Any ideas?

    Reply
  • Roxanne Schaffer

    How much did it cost to build the bathroom in the shed.
    I’m probably gonna do the same thing for my barn lol.
    Love the idea!!

    Reply
  • Judy

    Got excited when I read the headline because I thought it was a REAL (as in formerly housed horses) barn.I have a stable with a large hay room and 2 stalls that are 10 by 10 ft. I’m thinking kitchenette in one and bathroom in the other and hay room could be a living room with a murphy bed for sleeping. Would love to hear any other ideas for it.

    Reply
    • jean

      all i can say is craigslist, craigslist, craigslist for as many materials as you can possibly get.

      Reply
      • jean herbert

        i have since added a porch to my 12×24 lofted barn/cabin. its turned out very nice, i am adding an xtra room for sleeping next month, wish i knew how to put updated pic on here for all to see. any ideas???

        Reply
        • Alex

          Hi Jean just send me an email with those pics and I’ll add them for you. If you can just include a link to this post in the email so I know exactly where to add it without having to search around. Thanks! My email is tinyhousetalk at gmail dot com.

          Reply
          • jean herbert

            ALEX. I SENT THE PICS BUT DONT KNOW INCLUDE THE LINK SORRY

  • Abby

    Love, love LOVE this…I just recently went yesterday to pick out my barn/lil house…didn’t order it yet because I wanted to decide where to put extra windows and such..the one I liked was the dual loafted barn type with the double doors on the front..the lofts were on each end, with vents up there wonder I g of I should have 2 windows one in each loaft for summer breezes since k will not have power in NW Georgia. Any ideas on circulating cool air with no power? Thanks, Abby

    Reply
    • justin

      I’m considering turning my shed into a tiny house like you did. same dimensions but how high is it to the peak of roof from floor. Id love to do a loft as well. what was the final cost after everthing except appliances toilet sinks and cabinets?

      Reply
  • Jacqueline rogelio

    Awesome!!! can u give me an idea of the cost. I have a shed with two lofts that we want to convert. The question is whether we are going to add plumbing and electric. thank you

    Reply
  • Brandon C

    I love th look of your building, I’m doing this myself to have a place of my own when I come back from working abroad,instead of paying rent,dad’s idea, its a 12X36 lofted barn shed, but I’m running into an insulation issue with how to insulate the roof,with it not having an attic,so there wouldn’t be any ventilation any ideas is appreciated,only thought I have is that sprayed foam insulation,but no contractors are near me.

    Reply

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