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Debt-free With A Shed Turned Tiny House


Shawn and Jess have been living tiny now for more than four years in an RV, and they recently finished this tiny house on a foundation where they will vacation and plan to retire someday!

This is a great example of a new shed transformed into a tiny living space. They purchased the shell from Tuff Shed and then Shawn built out the entire interior of the home. It has two lofts, a large main living area, and a bathroom/kitchen in the back. While the indoor kitchen is quite minimal, there’s a large outdoor patio area with a grill and more.

Watch the video tour below, and enjoy our Q&A with Jess after the photos!

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They Took A Brand-New Shed And Turned It Into Their Mortgage-Free Tiny Home!

Their shed home looks great in any season!

This loft is accessible by a winding staircase.

View from one loft to another.

The main living area by the front door.

This makes me a little dizzy!

The simple indoor kitchen.

How brilliant is this sink and toilet combo!

Nice shower stall!

Their outdoor kitchen. Wow!

Now that’s a neat fire pit.


Jess: Living Tiny For Four Years

What are your name(s)?

Shawn & Jess

How many people (and animals) are living in your tiny house?

2 adults

How long have you lived tiny?

We’ve been living tiny (currently in an RV) since 2016

What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time?

ICU RN – was a travel nurse until a year ago but now work at the local hospital

What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?

Spend more quality time together, living debt-free and the ability to travel more.

What inspired you to choose a tiny house?

We’re not defined by “stuff” but by what experiences we’ve had, and hope to have!

How did you acquire your tiny home?

The shell was built by Tuff Shed and the interior was completely designed, built and completed by my husband, Shawn!

What are bills/utilities like compared to before?

Significantly less than when we were renting a house/apartment!

How did you find a place to “park” your home?

Our tiny house is on a foundation – it’s where we plan on vacationing and eventually retiring one day!

Is there anything from your old life that you miss?

Not at all!

What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?

Less financial and time investment – more fun!

What about some challenges?

None so far

What makes your tiny home special?

My husband designed and built it for us!

What is your favorite part of your tiny home?

The floating staircase and on-demand water heater.

What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?

Don’t allow “stuff” to keep you from going tiny – take a picture of it and then donate it

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Our big thanks to Jess for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

Latest posts by Natalie C. McKee (see all)

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Bigfoot
    January 9, 2021, 9:15 am

    It would be helpful if there were a few more pertinent questions and answers. Also, the video was of no help to anybody that is interested in a similar undertaking. What is the property zoned as? Were they required to get any permits? Was there another permitted structure already on the property? Was there an existing well? What were the costs involved? Some areas allow structures to be built if the land is zoned straight agricultural with no permits. Was this the case here? I only mention this because I think this might be a viable option for many people rather than a THOW.
    While driving around my area recently looking for property for a relative, I saw a shed setup on an acre lot that had to have been fully permitted. I live in Levy county Florida which is a large, mostly rural county. You absolutely cannot get power on any property here without a permitted structure and you have to submit engineered plans for that. I can only assume that the homeowner of the shed/home had submitted engineered plans for the shed-structure and then had the electrical, plumbing, well, and septic installed and inspected as there is a new well and power at this site. Bottom line, they set up a shed as living quarters and it is all done legally. This place is maybe a mile or so from me and I will try to find out more specifics. You can get an acre of land in Levy county for $6-8K. Add in a well and septic ($10k) Add in $15K for an engineered shed, add another $5-6K for interior, plumbing, etc. and you could be set up with a permanent, legal home for under $40K. I believe my ballpark numbers are on the high side and this could be done much cheaper. You could also have an engineered set of plans drawn to your specs and build the ‘shed’ yourself, saving quite a bit of money and giving you ultimate control of style, function, and quality of your little shed house. I have went by this shed/house to try to meet with the owners but have been unsuccessful so far. Although I’m pretty sure of the process they went through to get set up as I’ve built permitted structures in Florida before and have been around the construction industry most of my adult life (I’m 62), I’ll try to find out some more exacting info on this as it seems to be one of the most affordable solutions for housing and the process is probably going to be applicable to many other states.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      January 11, 2021, 5:01 pm

      I would love to hear what you find out!

  • Donna Rae
    January 15, 2021, 7:07 am

    A small cabinet with a small sink cannot be called a kitchen. An outdoor grill is nice but it is no substitute for an indoor kitchen with a stove and refrigerator, especially in bad weather. I’m all for economizing but that is ridiculous. The curved shower may seem a fancier design but why not just put a rectangular shower/tub across that wall? Instead you have that little space that is awkward to clean and serves literally no purpose. Ok, maybe they got a good deal on the shower so again economizing might be understandable but the shower/tub would be so much better, especially if you have a kid but even if there are adults that enjoy a good soak. A stairway with storage underneath would have been a better choice than a fancy but rather flimsy spiral stairs. Sorry but I have to say this is the most lacking tiny house posted in a long time…maybe ever. As I always state, however, this is based on my personal preferences though I do think my comments are worth considering if someone is thinking of doing something similar. Who knows, maybe there is someone who doesn’t need a kitchen and who thinks the spiral stairs are wonderful.

    • James D.
      January 15, 2021, 2:03 pm

      Well, what’s ridiculous is a matter of opinion… Kitchens can be small, even smaller than this one, and that’s actually normal in quite a few other countries around the world. There are even professional chefs who can prefer small kitchens for their personal use but that varies upon personal preference, which it really comes down to… Kitchens can even be small enough to be portable, as it’s really anything that you can use to cook with and means it can be extremely minimal and can still be called a kitchen.

      The words cook and kitchen even originated from the same source and can both be traced to the Latin verb coquere, meaning “to cook.” Trends in countries like the USA has just been towards residential kitchens having gradually evolved into expanded spaces that serve social functions as well as food preparation but that trend has started to reverse in recent years and average size kitchens are starting to be smaller.

      This has varied throughout history, like before 1900 the average home size was about 850 square feet, and the kitchen, on average, occupied about 70 square feet. The kitchen was largely a hidden space, not used for dining or socializing, except for some rare exceptions like rural farm kitchens that did serve meals in the same space, just to get an idea of how much things have changed and can continue to change.

      Mind, modern technology allows a lot more functionality in a smaller footprint and that reduces size as a factor for what you can do with the kitchen and some people really don’t need much to have their needs met.

      While there are always trade offs, the curved stairs take up less floor space, especially with the alternating steps, letting it fit into spaces you either couldn’t or would have much greater difficulty fitting a regular staircase, like would be the case in this shed conversion, but it still has the benefit of stairs over a ladder, and as the structure is made of metal it’s actually pretty strong. Regular stairs, like walls, can also block light, make the space feel smaller, block some airflow, and reduce what you can put around it as, like a door, you can’t block the space needed for its usage.

      So, it should be remembered, there’s always other ways a space can be utilized, and the same solution won’t always work as well in every possible layout. Different people have different needs and can have different priorities, along with dealing with different situations, like a space too small for traditional stairs, that can require different solutions…

    • Marsha Cowan
      June 16, 2021, 8:15 pm

      The curve in the shower gives you quite a bit more floor space for getting in and out. I thnk it was a clever way to do it, and that nook is only about 6 inches deep, but looks easy to clean. The staircase is in the living room and because it is open and steep, it gives space to put a chair, sofa, table, or piano–whatever they want. It also has a much smaller footprint, especially with the space under it utilized for furniture, so it actually is serving a great purpose in a way that a staircase with storage could not do. I can’t get the video to play, so I am at a bit of loss regarding the kitchen except that the staircase picture shows a low wall on the opposite side of the sink in the picture. Is there another part of the kitchen and maybe a counter in that space? If so, it is a pretty decent little kitchen. In fact, the sink counter is about the size of my entire kitchen, and I cook big meals on my little single burner or crockpot and have plenty of room for prep and serving. It is true that someone can get a lot of ideas from these pictures and also from the comments, but I am always quick to point out that the pictures do not always show everything, and many times pictures obscure scale and distance so that we cannot always know exactly how things work together in the space. As long as the owner’s are happy, we are happy, right?

    • June 17, 2021, 1:14 am

      I’m with you Donna. A cabinet and a sink do not make a kitchen. If so, then can we also call powder rooms kitchens?

      • James D.
        June 17, 2021, 4:03 am

        @Kurt – Depends as anything and anywhere you cook or otherwise prepare food for consumption can be called a kitchen. Fact is kitchens have taken many different forms throughout history and throughout the world.

        Like kitchens don’t even have to be centralized but can be spread out over multiple rooms or even multiple different locations. Summer Kitchens, for example, are specifically kitchens in a separate building to keep the heat out of the primary dwelling during the hot summer months. Victorian era kitchens ideally were also in separate rooms for cooking, preparing food, food storage, etc. and each room could be multi-purpose like serving as a bedroom, etc. as well…

        Kitchens can also be portable and as not everyone prepares or consumers food the same way, the tools and equipment used in the kitchen can differ to the point of being completely different from what you may be used to.

        People who eat a raw food diet, for example, would have a kitchen configured very differently… While some people prefer cooking with non-traditional methods like Instant Pots, etc. Other people can prefer a kitchen that can be configured as needed so instead of permanently placed appliances have appliances they can store away when not needed. Kitchens can also be just hidden, which is something you may seen in Europe, for example, as not every culture wants their kitchen to stand out, among many other examples of why kitchens won’t always look the way you expect them to…

        Besides, the photos and video are just from when they finished the build but haven’t moved in yet. Like there’s no bed in the loft, there’s no towels, etc. in the bathroom… We don’t even know if they just prefer cooking outdoors…

        Like Marsha Pointed out, there can be a lot not seen or in proper context…

  • June 17, 2021, 1:12 am

    How brilliant is the toilet sink combo? Not! It’s too low (unless you’re a short person) and you have to either sit on the toilet lid or lean over the toilet bowl to use the sink. Stupid idea in my opinion…coming from someone who suffers from spine issues.

  • NITA Hiltner
    July 27, 2021, 3:18 pm

    No way, Jose on those stairs! Dangerous.

    • James D.
      July 27, 2021, 3:58 pm

      Alternating tread stairs can take awhile to get used to but they work quite well…

      There have been studies done, like the one NIH did comparing alternating tread stairs versus conventional ships ladder stairs, demonstrating both loaded (carrying a toolbox) and unloaded conditions, and the alternating tread stair was perceived to be safer and more comfortable to use. Moreover, the alternating tread stair had significantly fewer missteps…

      While they are specifically used for space saving alternative to using a ladder, in spaces a conventional stair would not fit…

      • Eric
        October 16, 2021, 4:37 pm

        Studies undertaken by the US Navy have shown alternating treads to be significantly safer.

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