So Why Do We Live In A Garden Shed?

Technically it’s a Lofted Barn. Our previous one was a Lofted Cabin. We bought ours from Built Rite Barns. We have worked with two local dealers, a Mennonite family out of Hardinsburg, KY and another dealer out of Irvington, KY. Both are great to work with. You can chose any model you like, depending on what works best for your needs. While the porches are cute, it’s better to use that for interior space and just build a porch.

As renters we have lived in every type of home. From single wide trailers that were roach infested and falling apart to huge beautiful farmhouses. We have lived in places with land, and we have lived in sardined trailer parks.

So when we finally decided we just couldn’t rent anymore, we sat down and discussed what would be best for us.

1. Land. Land was most important. Space for the children to run, space to have some privacy, and space to grow food, build things etc.

2. Open floor plan. We have lived in some tiny places. When our 8th child was born we lived in a small 2 bedroom house. It actually worked for the most part, and with the right floor plan, it would have been enough space, provided we had a bigger yard.

3. Cost and maintenance. The two homes before this were both huge 4 bedroom homes. And we only used maybe half of it.  Why spend time, energy and money on living space we didn’t benefit from? With a blank floor plan, some organization and a minimalist mindset, we have enough space to be comfortable.

When we looked into ideas we thought the best way was to move onto the land mid spring, when it was just warm enough to camp, and build a small cabin by late fall, before it got too cold to camp. But opportunity presented itself in the fall, and we couldn’t manage the land and a home till spring. So we decided to get a rent to own lofted barn.

We used the cabin through spring and summer and with our  employment situation at the time,  we decided we weren’t getting ahead paying for both the land and cabin payments. We sent the cabin back and built the infamous “3 walled shack”. Which actually had 4 walls, because why would we only put up 3 walls, especially in winter? The cabin was a bare bones structure to keep us warm, dry and safe till spring. And it did.

Our plan was to build the permanent cabin over summer, as we had originally planned. When we found out we were pregnant, our deadline was to have the cabin ready by September. My husband and the two older boys were going to build the cabin with mostly bartered or donated materials. This would give us a paid for cabin.  They had a few jobs completed, and a few more lined up when the children were taken and everything thrown off course.

*CPS had inspected and approved the “shack” and their only stipulation was to have the open wall back up by winter. We had taken the wall out to offer a more open camp type feel and didn’t plan to be in the cabin come winter anyhow. CPS said that was even better. As our case progressed the GAL continued to put up roadblocks. She said she wanted to show we were vested in the community and not looking to leave. We needed to show we weren’t going to get our children back and “run” (even tho we had just built a new business and was doing well even in our first two months AND had permission to relocate if we chose, we would just have to return for court). She knew we had the GFM money and wanted us to show proof of building materials purchased or get a new prefab. So we bought the prefab. Our children were home two days later. It was her way of controlling and depleting our funds.

So we bought the biggest prefab on the lot. It wasn’t as big as we wanted, but time was key. We finished out the cabin- put in insulation, walls, flooring etc as quick as we could and moved in. We got the basics, but we still had the bare bones mindset of let’s just the new (permanent) cabin built. So we didn’t soak any more money into the prefab. 

Well a few months turned into 24. We decided to go ahead with another prefab. They are affordable and built well, and considering we aren’t expert builders, it made more sense. We have a 16×40, which is the biggest width they can transport in Ky. We designed everything about the layout. We chose to put 7 windows on the back wall and 4 large windows on the front. You can see our cabin here. We are still finishing out the cabin, we are working on the kitchen and bath soon.


The shed home movement is quite large. Many people have chosen these buildings as homes. You do need to know your areas rules on what you can and cannot live in. Some areas are more restrictive of your right to your life, liberty and persuit of happiness. These buildings make a great start to your custom home, and for a lot less than a traditional home. With all the improvements our finished cabin will be right around $20,000.

So how do we fit 12 people in a 16×40 house? Well let’s talk about minimalism. Minimalism is living a simple, clutter free life. If you want to learn more, how others apply it, link over to here. For us, it was a way to allow us more time for the things we want to do. It was a way to control the unwanted chaos (we like the good chaos) in a large family. We wanted more peace in the home.

In the big homes we lived in we had more space than we needed. And we had all of our stuff scattered all over the place. It was difficult to organize and we tended to have more stuff than we needed. In the cabin now, we have the layout so that everything has a place and things run smoothly. We don’t have room for clutter, so we don’t accumulate it. The children each have their own space for personal items they are responsible for, and family areas are kept tidy.

We are a close family. We enjoy spending time together. We don’t feel cramped most days. It’s a comfortable setting. I’m sure not all families would enjoy tiny house living, but we like it.

6 Responses

  1. Meagan

    I think it is lovely and a neat way to live.

  2. Carole

    I luve in a stirege building not lifted because my husband and i are both over 50. We love our life and our cabin. When deciding to go with a small cabin we had to look really hard at what was important and what was just clutter. Moving from a 3 bedroom house to 1 bedroom limited what we could keep, once we started it wasnt that difficult at all. I agree its not for everyone but that dosent mean its wrong or crazy (lol). Ihooe you and your children enjoy yours as much as we do.

  3. Kathryn Reynolds

    So very many questions about small home living!

    – How do the children store their own personal items? Tubs? Shelves? How do they store their clothing, shoes, socks etc?
    – Where do you store off-season gear like winter coats, hats, boots etc? I know that takes up a great deal of our storage area. Would love some ideas on that.
    – Where do you store the dirty laundry that must accumulate in great masses every day? At my house there is always a washer and dryer going so it’s a constant battle.
    – How do you store linens like sheets and towels? Does every family member keep track of their own items?
    – Do you have a lot of out buildings that store things like tools, bikes, etc that you don’t use every day? Just trying to picture how I could manage that.
    – So I believe the girls and your eldest son have their own rooms. Do the other kids sleep in the loft area? Do they have their own beds? How do you manage sleeping for that many in such a small area? My kids would be up all night messing around with each other lol.

  4. Sharon Grama

    I love your place!! We actually live in a 1865 2 story log home but most of the day I’m in my 10×20 barn roof storage building like yours with lofts. I made it into a office for my ebay selling we put insulation drywall and painted it and put me up a pretty wall border with mountains and woods on it and put carpet down in it and I absolutely love it. I have a big u-shape desk and a futon and tv, fridge, and microwave in there. I need a bathroom in it though and I swear I could live in here with no problems whatsoever. Then we bought another one and sit directly behind it almost touching and took the wooden doors off in between them and put up a accordion door and that we built shelving all the way around the walls for all my storage of items. LOL Now I just need another small one to add on for a bathroom. We live in Western NC up in the woods in the mountains and love living simple away from people. I actually only go into town like every 2-3 weeks and hate it when I have to be around people. Good luck in all your ventures and hopefully government people will and nosy neighbors will leave you alone someday and let you live your lives in peace.

  5. I cannot think of one good reason to complain about anyone who chooses to live in a garden shed. Actually around these parts where I live, garden sheds are slowly becoming pretty popular for living in. I’m simply not a fan of “big living”, having more house than I need. Lots of people are starting to wake up to the “keeping up with the Jones'” mentality and are choosing smaller living spaces. I’m happy for you folks! God bless you and your family!

  6. BlessedLittleHomestead

    -depends on the child. Some are more organized than others. Some like shelves, some like totes.
    -we have a storage area and totes. If you roll clothing you can fit almost twice as much in a tote. And of course, not hoarding clothing
    -we keep dirty laundry on the porch in laundry baskets. We wash once a week.
    -we have a tote for linens, our bed is a platform bed and we can fit 12 totes under it. We also avoid too many bulky bus keys an opt for layers.
    -we try not to accumulate junk, but we do have a place for tools and animal supplies.
    -yes, the children love the lofts. They are low, but I’ve seen quite a few adults use the lofts for themselves. Quinten didn’t like the loft and wanted a room downstairs, plus he’s built himself a work area in his room. The girls didn’t care but it was more practical to put them downstairs. Now the second loft has been cut back to open up to cabin more and it’s just enough to store clothing totes. The boys loft is being fixed up right now, Issac is building his area first and we will work from there. I’ll post photos once it’s done. But we have some nights they are a little wild but mostly it’s been that way their whole life so it’s not a big deal…

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