Can you imagine living in a shed … in your parents’ backyard? Would it be a great way to save money and regroup? Or tiny and cramped and drafty? After a bad breakup during the housing crisis, Rachel living with her parents and losing sleep because of her stepdad’s incredibly snoring. Solution? Move into the shed in the backyard!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi! I’m Rachel. I’m 32 years old and I live in the UK in a town called Swindon with my partner Richard and our English bull terrier Sid. I own a small cleaning business which I started 7 years ago and I’m also a wedding and family photographer.
Other than photography, one of my passions is writing/blogging and I do this on my personal blog This Life & Me and (as of January) on the wedding and lifestyle blog B.LOVED. I will be writing their health, fitness and wellness posts so I better get my butt in gear and get motivated!
How was it that you came to live on your parents’ property?
After my relationship of six years broke down, we weren’t in the position to sell the house we had bought together because it was in negative equity and selling meant losing a lot of money.
I tried staying there alone for eight months but the bills and mortgage were too much for me financially and I had no choice but to move back home with my mum and stepdad, Rae. I also had a dog and this made renting a property all the bit harder. I felt like all of a sudden I’d become a single parent to a young naughty dog who was making my life extremely hard!
When did you realize that actually living in the same house with your parents wasn’t going to be an option?
Moving back home after having so much independence is never easy for anyone, especially if you’re in your late twenties. From the day I moved home there was the issue of where my sofas were going to live. I was paying them off and I expected that moving back home was a pit stop, a temporary solution until I found my feet again. I imagined I’d only be there for six months, max.
There was talk very early on of me having my own lounge area, a space where I could put my sofas and chill out with my friends whenever they came to visit. I think my parents just felt really bad for me and wanted to make me feel as comfortable as possible whilst I nursed my broken heart!
To further complicate matters, my Mum wouldn’t allow my dog in the house so he slept in the outside office area. It was cold and lonely for him; I wasn’t comfortable or happy with this but I had no choice.
Who came up with the idea for the shed?
It was actually Rae’s idea to build the shed (or “Summerhouse” as we liked to call it) and I was so excited at the thought of having somewhere to call my own again.
At first, the shed was just one room, big enough for one of my sofas, a TV and my tea and coffee-making stuff. (And a few shelves for wine glasses of course.) It was the cutest room I’d ever laid my eyes on and I was beaming with happiness when it was finally finished. The dog had a new sleeping area which was great and I had a space to call my own!
I decided to move out to the shed full-time when Rae’s snoring kept me awake night after night. My sofa bed was a double and it literally took up most of the living space. But it was peaceful sleeping out there and with my electric heater to keep me warm, it was super cozy.
The room stayed like this for a while but it wasn’t really practical as there was no room for anything else so I bought a single bed instead and transformed the room. Rae made me a screen to section off a little area for my toilet and for a while everything was perfect!
As you can probably imagine, fitting an entire life into one room was extremely hard and although I loved it, as time went on I felt a bit cramped. I also had no space to edit my wedding photos and I missed having my own desk. By then, it was clear I wasn’t going to be moving out anytime soon so we decided on a more long-term solution. I spoke to Rae and he agreed to add an extension on to the shed so I could have a separate bedroom!
Can you walk us through the dimensions and features of the shed?
Initially the shed was 3×3 meters but after the addition it measured at 3×5 meters. It was tongue and grooved inside and out and was insulated with polystyrene. The floors were chipboard with laminate on top which was cheaper and easier to clean. My desk and chair, a small vintage sofa, a full length mirror, and the dog’s bed lived in the main room. The bedroom was tiny but perfect for a single bed and my portable toilet. I was living the dream! 😉
Did you ever have friends or dates over?
I had many friends over during those years and they all reacted the same way: they loved my shed and wanted one of their own. I met Rich whilst I was still living there and I once made him the most romantic dinner in the shed with my little garden table and chairs, complete with a table-cloth and candles!
How long did you live there?
Six months actually turned out to be three years. Then Rich and I decided to rent a place of our own along with the dog.
How did the shed affect the other aspects of your life?
At times I found it hard to entertain friends in the way you do when you own a proper house but I really loved living there so I wasn’t too bothered. I’m sure I did save some money although I’m not sure where it all went if I’m honest!
What’s your living situation now?
Today Rich and I live in a rented two bedroom house and the dog is probably the most happiest he’s been in his entire life! My parents put some gym equipment in the shed but I’m yet to hear of them actually using any of it…
What did you learn from this that ANY of us could apply to our daily lives?
I used to have a habit of wallowing in self-pity and asking myself why my life wasn’t going the way I wanted it to. I would often compare myself to others and I felt like a failure for living back home in my parents garden. But now I see that no matter how tough your situation may seem to you at the time, it really is only temporary and you just have to make the best of the situation.
I also learnt that my parents would go to great lengths to make me happy and for that I am eternally grateful!
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Rachel! Do you guys have any questions for her?
Each year on my birthday, I make a list of new things I want to try. Then I try them.
Make fire cider
Make mayonnaise from scratch
Take part in maple tapping
Do a candle-lit cross country ski trail
Watch ‘The Graduate’
Get a hot stone massage
Take a dance class with Kenny
Knock on doors for a political candidate
Get my eyebrows microbladed
Visit a Russian bath house
Take a restorative yoga class
Try hammock camping
Attend temple for a high holy day with my in-laws
Go to the Minnesota Landscape arboretum
Take a ropes course
Shoot clay pigeons
Cook my own vegan ‘bacon’
Eat a tempeh reuben
Try Sonora Grill’s eggplant fries
Attend ‘Dance Church’ at the dance center
Etch a pumpkin
Go to the Ikea Julbord buffet
Sleep in a train-car-converted-into-a-house
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