I live in a shed with my man & 2 kids – we have to bath outside and my bed is in a cupboard | The Sun

WHEN mum-of-two Sofie Hepworth and her young family moved into a tiny 450sq ft 'shed' in the garden while they renovated their house, they'd be forgiven if they felt a little apprehensive.

Unsure of what to expect, product designer Sofie admits it hasn't always been easy to live in such close quarters with her chartered surveyor husband Rob, 45, and their two young sons, Teddy, seven and Reggie, five.

However, the stylist and content creator says it was actually one of the best decisions they've made – and tiny living in the studio she's nicknamed 'Sheila Shed' has been an amazing experience.

Sofie, who is in the process of renovating a Victorian coach house,says: “Life is chaotic at the moment, and it’s not always easy – but I can’t recommend living in a tiny house enough. 

“Sheila Shed is the minimum size that can be approved for a small one bed flat, so for four people it’s certainly interesting! 

"Yes, there are challenges and times where it’s hard, especially if you have young kids who are having a moment and you want a bit of peace and quiet – you have to take yourself out for a walk. 


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“[However] I can’t recommend this sort of tiny house living enough.

“It’s made us realise that you accumulate so much stuff in life you don’t actually need, and it’s not all about space if you have a well-thought out space."

Growing up, Sofie always had a love for interiors – an interest she inherited from her mum.

She says: “I have a shared passion with my mum for interiors, so from a young age I’d loved gorgeous interiors. 

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“I bought my first property when I was 25. It was a small flat in Blackheath, London. 

“It was a bit of a wreck and I did it up and just really got the bug for it, despite never having done it before. 

“Then I met my husband in 2011 and we went on to buy our first family home together.

Since then we’ve done up four properties together, making a profit and gradually going bigger and better each time. 

“Between us, we’re property obsessed. I do most of the design decisions and he’s really good at the DIY side of things.”

In April 2020, they bought five bed Victorian coach house – which needed to be completely gutted, and in parts even torn down. 

Sofie says: “This project is the biggest, most ambitious project we’ve taken on – and it’s been challenging. 

“Before we’ve been able to do up properties a room at a time, and been able to break it down into manageable projects, whereas this time that’s not been possible. 

“We have basically had to knock 80 per cent down, and only the front facade has remained.”

The family initially lived in the dilapidated coach house while they sought planning permission to build the garden studio they would call home, while the main renovation work to the big house took place.

Sofie says: “We initially lived in the coach house for a year while we waited for the planning process to build sheila shed – and even though it was spacious – about 2,000 sq ft – that was a lot harder.

"It was dark, it was damp, it was poorly designed and extended over the years and just wasn’t fit for purpose. 

“It was awful. Having lived in that, and now living in a space that’s a quarter of the size but purpose built and well designed, I would rather live in Sheila Shed than a large space that is poorly planned.” 

The family moved into the studio in January 2022, and they've resided there ever since.

Sofie says: “Building Sheila Shed was the first time I’ve completed a full build, albeit it on a smaller scale.

"We looked at living in a caravan or renting somewhere, or we could do what we did and build the studio. 

“We decided to do that as it adds value to the property, it’s something we’ll be able to always enjoy in the future, it can double up as a guest flat, and we might also Air B&B it too. 

“Also, because of what I do for a living, it made sense to do it and do it well, and with all the opportunities that have come from it, like a book deal, it’s paid for itself already so it was a no brainer for us."

From there, 'Sheila Shed' became a passion project that created a truly beautiful – and multi-functional – space.


  • Only buy multi-functional furniture that has at least two uses, otherwise it’s not worth having. 
  • Add wheels to furniture to make it easily moveable. 
  • Each area needs to be easily adaptable – for example, the living room becomes a play zone for the kids.
  • Maximise the space you do have and create clever storage – building cupboards all the way up to the ceiling makes the most of every inch of wall space. 

Sofie says: “I called it Sheila shed as I’m really inspired by Australian interiors – a lot of white with bold colours, and there’s a lot of one floor living in homes that are effectively large bungalows.

“We would always refer to the space as the shed – which everyone laughs about and says we can’t call it a shed – and so Sheila Shed seemed apt. 

“I wanted it to be a space that’s feminine, and usually the shed is thought of as the man’s domain, so the shed as been reclaimed!"

In order to make the space liveable for her family, Sofie had to think carefully about design, and she is such a master in maximising space, she's also writing a book on small living.

She says: “The essentials to make it work are multi-functional furniture.

"That’s a must and every item needs to do at least two jobs otherwise don’t buy it. 

“For example we have a storage ottoman – that’s a foot rest, it’s a coffee table, it’s a dressing space, it’s decorative, and it also stores the kids’ Duplo and train track in it. 

“We also added wheels so you can move it out the way, or use it as additional seating if you have guests round. 

“The space has to adapt, through the day and night, and overtime. It has to expand and retract – in the morning if it needs to be a play space, you have to be able to move items to create a bigger area.

“We have a Murphy bed which folds away into the wall to create even more space. 

“We put it away every day, and people often think that would be a huge effort – but it’s actually quicker than having to make the bed! 

“That then creates a generous office space.

“The boys then have a ‘pod’ bedroom – it is the size of some peoples wardrobes, however it functions really well due to the small space design hacks.

"It’s inspired by Japanese living and hotels, and is two by two metres, with bunk beds.

"It works really well and there’s a lot in there, with underbed storage and a fitted wardrobe."

Sofie admits, like with most things, there are positives and negatives to tiny house living.

She admits: “The thing that grates on me the most are the coats and shoes, and coming in and out of the space.

"You don’t have a dedicated entranceway so they’re often just strewn on the floor. Then there is a lack of privacy too. 

“But we’ve adapted as we’ve gone, and this really does feel like home.

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“We’ve also made a real effort to make sure we get out of the house, and spend quality time together.

"I can't recommend it enough."

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