Living Large Reveals: A Tiny Backyard Studio Retreat

Artist and writer Cathy Johnson doesn’t live in a tiny house, but she loves the idea of tiny cabin getaways. She has one about 30 miles outside of Kansas City, where she lives in a suburban bedroom community.

cathy shed outside

That cabin is perfect if she wants to get away for a day trip, but it is in a very remote location, completely off grid and impractical to get to everyday.

About four years ago, Cathy decided to build a tiny, 10 x 10 backyard escape so she could draw, write, meditate or just relax.

There were some hiccups in the planning and construction process. After marking out the original 8×10 plan, they realized that is really too small

It’s always good, if you can, to mark out your tiny structure and walk around in it, mentally put everything in it you need or desire and see if it will work for you.

Good thing Cathy discovered this before construction began. Next, they had to deal with the city, who said that anything under 120 square feet doesn’t need a building permit.

What they didn’t know was that all decks do. Once they purchased the permits (including an electrical permit), all systems were go. You can see the building progress on Cathy’s blog, A Shed of Reality, she has some really good construction tips and other cool stuff.

When the building codes guy came out to Cathy’s place, he told her, “That doesn’t look much like a shed, I hope you know you can’t work in there!” Cathy said she thought he might have thought they were going to have clients coming to the house or something. “After all,” she said, “Sheds are for working.”

Cathy Johnson Shed Chairs

All is well now. Cathy’s Shed of Reality is heated by a floor strip and a small electric woodstove in the winter and cooled by a window unit in the summer. She says that she goes out there almost every day. Sometimes, she is alone, other times she is with her adopted kitty, Pepi, a cat left behind in her neighborhood when someone moved. “My husband really likes napping in one of the comfy chairs in there,” Cathy says.

Cathy Johnson Shed Interior

Cathy recently wrote on her Facebook page, “I can’t even begin to say how important it’s been to me, how fulfilling, healing, a place for growing, learning, creating, interacting with nature.”

Cathy Johnson French Doors

What I love most about it is that it was made using a lot of recycled materials and that view from those French doors is awesome!

What do you think of Cathy’s little backyard artist’s retreat?

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10 Responses

  1. Cozy is exactly the word — along with welcoming and comfortable. What a lovely, but practical, workspace.

  2. Brette says:

    This is gorgeous and cozy!!

  3. I have to laugh, Kerri…that table looks soooo…empty! As usual, a couple of years later it’s covered with rocks and bones and shells and curiosities…the desk looks the same though. Even to Pepi lying on it, where he was when I left for the night, today!

    Thanks for the nice feature!

    • Living Large in our Little House says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your little hideaway with us! And I know what you mean about the table, my desk probably looks the same (minus the cat). 🙂

  4. Roxanne says:

    Love those doors. So important to have nice light.

  5. Yvette beck says:

    Lovely place Cathy…it must be wonderfull to work, in there or just looking outside and enjoy nature it looks like Zen… a child I dreamed of such a place…I build one with the help if my son but it is not big enough to work in..maybe in the future I will make it bigger…
    Enjoy your cozy cabin….

    • Living Large in our Little House says:

      I didn’t build one as a child, but I went to the neighbor’s woodpile and climbed up there to read and write. 🙂 Thanks for reading the story, Yvette.

  6. Jane Boursaw says:

    Amazing! I love this She Shed so much. And I’ve got just the spot for it back in my woods. 🙂