How to Build a Living Space From a Storage Shed

Written by jack s. waverly
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How to Build a Living Space From a Storage Shed
A shed like this can be turned into a suitable living space for one or two people. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

With the trend towards smaller housing and alternative housing, many types of structures are being considered. Storage sheds, once deemed too small for living in, have become one of the more common structures transformed into living space. This size home is suitable for a single person or couple who doesn't require much room.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • R-15 or higher insulation
  • Foam insulation board
  • Panelling
  • Moisture-resistant cement board
  • Apartment-sized appliances
  • Shower/toilet combo
  • Sink cabinet
  • Waterproof flooring or cement stain
  • Premium high-gloss paint
  • 2-by-4-inch lumber
  • 2-by-2-inch lumber
  • Nails
  • Drywall screws
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Saw
  • Windows
  • Exterior door
  • Wiring
  • Electrical breaker box
  • 3 wall outlets
  • Ladder

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  1. 1

    Remove any items and debris in the shed. Dust and sweep the area completely.

  2. 2

    Measure and mark the location for any windows you want to install. Set a window in each side wall to provide cross-ventilation. Cut the holes where the windows will go. Install the windows according to manufacturer's instructions.

  3. 3

    Determine if any sections of the walls are suitable for built-in storage (areas where you can install shelves between the wall studs). Locate three adjoining studs where the kitchen will be, as well, to create a pantry. Install styrofoam board against the exterior walls between the studs you've identified. Install panelling over the foam board.

  4. 4

    Install 2-by-4-inch boards between studs to create shelves in the areas you have identified. For the pantry, screw hinges to the top and bottom of one exterior stud, and attach a door.

  5. 5

    Install the wiring for any appliances. Set the breaker box near the front door. Drill guide holes through the studs to keep the wires inside the wall. Install an outlet with a breaker switch on each wall. Install any required plumbing pipes and fixtures.

  6. 6

    Install the insulation in the walls and ceiling. Apply the rolled insulation between the wall studs with the paper backing facing out. Staple the paper to the studs to hold the insulation in place. Apply the insulation between the ceiling rafters along the inside of the roof using the same method.

  7. 7

    Cover the walls with the cement board. Attach the board to the studs using drywall screws placed every 4 inches. Apply plastering tape over the seams of the boards. Apply spackle over the tape and screw heads to cover them up. Smooth out the spackle with the putty knife. Allow the spackle to dry. Sand down rough spots with the sandpaper.

  8. 8

    Paint the interior walls and ceiling with a light colour paint. This adds the illusion of space to the living space. Use the roller for large areas. Use the brushes for corners and small areas.

  9. 9

    Paint the concrete floor with a cement stain. This helps protect the floor from stains, moisture and damage. The cement floor will help maintain ambient heat.

  10. 10

    Build a half wall between the bathroom and the kitchen area. The wall should only be half the height of the shed wall and half the width of the floor. This allows privacy in the bathroom and the appearance of an open floor plan.


  1. 1

    Set a futon against one corner of the shed where the rear wall meets a side wall. This doubles as a sleeping area and the living area. Set up a table with a lamp nearby.

  2. 2

    Install a combination shower/toilet in the other rear corner.

  3. 3

    Install a single basin sink with cabinets underneath. Put the sink in the corner formed by the half wall.

  4. 4

    Frame a space half the length of the shed at the top of the walls. This will become the sleeping loft. Set crossbeams every 18 inches between the framing lumber. Lay plywood sheets over the frame. Nail the sheets into place to create the floor.

  5. 5

    Set up a ladder to reach the loft area.

Tips and warnings

  • Lay ceramic tiles over the cement floor to gain a more finished appearance without losing the heating value of the cement.
  • The foam insulating board has an R-12 insulating value which will help reduce any heat loss from the built-in shelving.

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