My Shed is a Palace

One day, I said, “It’s nice here. We should buy property and move to the mountains.”

schoolhouseThis all started when we hooked up with a real estate broker friend – “We want to see every cheap crap house under $20k in the Northern Adirondacks.” And we did, from Keeseville to Paul Smith’s. We looked at a schoolhouse that had been jacked up off the foundation, and left there (pictured). Another house’s foundation had completely gone downstream on one corner – Black Brook was the basement. All for $70k. We thanked the owner and fled, telling our agent that evidently, we couldn’t afford a house with a swimming pool. And finally, we found a run down dump of a place that actually seemed to suit us. Just outside our favorite town. On the bus line to NYC. And we adored the little ramshackle village and the neighbors. Suckers.


We certainly were not going to stay in a hotel while cleaning the thing up. So I started rigging. It was a MacGyver fantasy – a 45 gallon trash can to save rainwater, a bed frame built out of a door, a garden hose hooked to a sump pump. I took a shower with the garden hose in the utility room because there were so many holes in the floor I knew it would just drain outside. And then the house guests came. Bats. Spiders. Ladybugs. Squirrels. The (actual) horror stories about dead previous owners didn’t help. The coupe de grace was finding an ID bracelet with the previous owner’s name engraved on it, and a horrible, sad letter from his estranged wife. To quote myself – “That’s it. I’m outta here. Tear the friggin thing down.”

newcabinIn our better moments, we were clever enough to remember that this whole thing is supposed to be fun. A place to hang out in our beloved mountains. We bought a prefab cabin and decided to just choke on the $2500 it cost. I called an Amish shed builder, ordered what we wanted, and our brand new 140 square foot beauty came on a truck two weeks later. And this thing is slick! Beautifully built, solid as a rock, and tight as a drum. I built in a pseudo-bathroom and rigged up water in laundry sink, added an outdoor shower, installed the generator out back, bought a nice indoor-safe propane heater, hung an antler lamp, built a storage loft, bought a double-height air bed, insulated and planked the inside walls with pine. It’s been a year, and we still love this thing. It’s my favorite place in the world.

insidecabinWhen we visited the property a few weeks ago, we actually were not even going to go into the cabin, because of the snow. Pretty buried, and all the way out behind the house. Ultimately, we found we wanted to just hang out at our own place for a while, so we shoveled our way in. Upon swinging the door open … what a strange sensation! Yes, it was spotless and just as we left it. Yes, it heated up instantly when we turned the heater on. Yes, the comfy chair and the piles of pillows and quilts were a welcome sight.

But, in a bigger sense, it was like meeting an old friend that you had forgotten you were fond of. It felt like we had opened the door to our honest to goodness home for the first time – perfect comfort, perfectly realized. All from a little shed.



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16 responses to “My Shed is a Palace

  1. ahhh…. yes,…. “home is where the heart is!”

  2. I love home! There’s no place like it.

    You should be pretty proud of that Amish shed – air tight so no little fluffy animals could call it their home during the winter.

    House coming down this weekend!! Will you be around? Is Mark taking pics for you?

  3. Not this weekend – but soon. Did I mistype that? I have to go check. I will be sure to let you know though. Probably May. Pictures? Heck, I am going to have TWO video cameras going!

  4. We’d get an occasional bat in the house in Wilmington. Rich named them all chirpy and tried to convince me they’d be great pets. “You’re sterotyping! They don’t all have rabies. Chirpy doesn’t. He’s too nice to have rabies.” Oh how I wish I was kidding.

  5. SP – I misread the comment on my blog. Sorry. Trying to multi-task, as usual.

    Don’t ever trust Chirpy!

  6. (Shudder.) You named the bat chirpy?! I named mine “Devil Bird!”

  7. Can’t believe I haven’t read your blog in ages but so happy to catch up. Starting to plan our next months! Love the shed. Bridget

  8. There’s No Place Like Home… your post made me tear up for some strange reason… 🙂

  9. I love it! It’s so cozy and looks like a great place to relax! Nice things come in tiny packages!

  10. livingonabike

    Nice Work!

  11. Kat

    When you get back up there, post more photos of what you did inside the cabin! Looks cute as can be and I love seeing how ingenious folks do big things with just a little.

  12. You might not know, but livingonabike is the original Garden Shed Dweller.

  13. Well, well, well! I wander away for a few days and look what happens! I’ve missed out on a lot, so had to go back to where you got Tin Lizzie. How beautiful she is!! You are really moving fast. Good luck in finding the right truck / vehicle for you.

  14. So glad that you went back and told the whole story about how you have arrived at your wonderful palace! I remember the post about the old school house off of the foundation! lol. So glad you are complete now. blessings,Kathleen

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