It’s a sheddy life — but mom-of-four Jessica Taylor wouldn’t have it any other way.
In June 2020, after facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic, she and her husband, Lath, decided to shed the comforts of their three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in northwest Arkansas. The family of six moved into a 500-square-foot tool shed. Friends thought it was a very bizarre way to downsize.
“One of the things people find really weird about us living in a shed is that we use a composting bathroom rather than a traditional toilet,” Taylor, 30, who now resides in a lofted shed in western Tennessee, told The Post.
“It’s a bucket system,” the former bartender-turned-home-schooler (or shed-schooler) explained of her hut’s outhouse. “And [when] you [urinate or defecate], you cover it with wood chips each time. After two days, whether the bucket is full or not, we dump [the waste] into a composting bin in the woods, and then after a couple of years, [the waste] turns into soil for ornamental plants.”
But indoor plumbing is one of the very few amenities the family’s lodge is missing.
“The shed is two stories and has electricity, running water, a heat/cooling system, a 65-inch flat-screen television, a stainless steel refrigerator, an electric stove and foldout futons that we use as beds,” said Taylor, who’s shared clips of the chic shack with her more than 66,700 social media followers.
After buying the wooden workshop for $6,000 at a roadside hardware stand, she and Lath, 42, invested another $7,000 in renovations, which included adding a staircase that leads to its lofted area, privacy walls and an outdoor porch.
The parents used money from their tax returns, stimulus checks and unemployment to fund their 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, retractable faucet that extends from their kitchenette to outside the shed, where they shower under the cover of trees.)
Their brood, with kids ranging in age from 3 to 9, is part of the growing number of folks ditching their sprawling, often-expensive digs to live in outdoor storage units that typically house gardening equipment or sporting goods. It’s a no-frills take on the tiny house movement, with a dash of #VanLife for those looking for cozy, economical simplicity. On TikTok, shed dwellers have stamped videos of their hovels-turned-homes with the hashtag #ShedLife over 22.2 million times.
“More and more people are breaking free from the mindset that you have to have the big expensive, fancy house to feel like they’re making it,” said Taylor of the allure of shed life. “There’s value in living modestly. We’re able to spend more time together gardening and enjoying nature rather than working to afford lavish accommodations.”
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 estate, complete with one bedroom, a finished bathroom, a laundry room and a walk-in closet. Footage of their renovated cottage has scored over 2 million views.
Like the Taylors, the couple downsized for financial reasons brought on by COVID.
“Right after the pandemic hit, me and Lath lost our jobs at a restaurant where we’d 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 it and our other household bills anymore.”
After moving eight hours away and relocating onto her mom’s 6-acre property, where they’ve stationed their shed rent-free, the family’s monthly overhead has been reduced from more than $2,000 to a measly $400.
“Since we moved into the shed, we’ve become really financially stable, and we’re getting close to being debt-free,” said Taylor, adding that the cost-effective move has also allowed her to become a stay-at-home 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 [our new lifestyle] because we’re able to spend more quality time together than when I was working,” said Taylor. “It’s been really great.”
And #ShedLife isn’t just for families.
Mia Puhakka, 17, bypassed the stress of first-time apartment-hunting by setting up camp in her parents’ backyards.
“My mom and dad like having 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 garnered upwards of 1.3 million views.
Her family purchased and renovated the 12-foot-by-24-foot structure for about $9,300 from shed-dealers Old Hickory Buildings in 2019. Puhakka has since decked out the space with finished cedar and birch floors and walls, a mounted flat-screen television and a working fireplace.
And when she needs to use the restroom, she commutes a few feet to mom and dad’s. It’s a perfect setup for someone on the verge 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 shed is just connected to my [parents’] house,” said Puhakka.