Modern Shed Introduces the Dwelling on Wheels

The backyard shed pioneer is on the move.

Modern Shed on the water

Modern Shed

Modern Shed was a pioneer in the backyard shed world; Treehugger covered them way back in 2005, among our earliest posts. It is actually surprising that it took this long for them to take all their great ideas and put them on a chassis with their Dwelling on Wheels, or DW. Founder Ryan Smith explains to Treehugger why now:

"In many ways, The DW isn't too different from one of our traditional sheds, in spirit. It embodies a living-small, efficient, one-room structure that can go or be put anywhere. In general, we've seen a lot of interest in this concept because people are shifting around a lot right now. I think a lot of people are finding that they are changing their lifestyle or their work options, and so they're moving to different areas, or consolidating family in ways where they might be able to live a little more efficiently. So this concept, whether portable or a small room that can be added to a location somewhere, is I think a very strong one. That concept has been really amplified with this recent year, but I think there is a longer trend there, that started a few years ago. "
Night shot of unit
Modern Sheds

Smith describes it in the press release:

"The DW can do a lot–it’s great for enjoying nature short-term, for off-grid living, or as a second, remote home. Adjusting the floor plan even a little makes it a great home office that can move with people as their priorities move. I also think it’s a great ADU for someone looking to move closer to home, providing a way to have family close by. We’re really excited about the intersection of small, portable living with our experience creating spaces that offer our clients something really beautiful, and personal."

Some might argue the point about whether you can call tiny homes agile or describe it as portable living; these heavy and high buildings are expensive to move. But putting that aside, Modern Shed's 15 years of experience in designing small spaces really shows. They note that "having worked with small spaces for a long time, the Modern Shed team shows a sensitivity to conquering a limited square footage. The DW doesn’t attempt to fit an entire house into a small footprint, instead, the project works ​with​ the unique opportunities that building small affords, conquering the challenge to create a space that feels right-sized."

Kitchen tiny house
Modern Shed

In fact, while the "classic gable form creates a recognizable home," they seem to allude much more to boat design than home design. That kitchen with the induction cooktop and the RV fridge goes against the grain of the usual tiny home.

Office Layout
Modern Shed

In this layout they even seem to show that classic boat design of a table that drops down between the seating, extremely common on boats and very efficient.

Sleeping area
Modern Shed

Putting the sleeping at one end and the living at the other with the head in between is another classic boat move; the only difference is that the sleeping end isn't pointy.

DW on the rocks
Modern Shed

A few years ago, every modern tiny house was covered in Shou Sugi Ban, or burned cedar; this appears to be the year for standing-seam metal, as seen here and also on a new Baluchon French tiny home. The metal makes more sense than wood; it is lighter and thinner and is better at keeping the rain out.

Modern Shed roof
Modern Shed

The DW straddles the on- and the off-grid world "with a solar array on the roof equipped with batteries, and a wood stove to provide warmth, the DW is equipped to be used off-grid. The dwelling comes with two electric wall heaters as a backup, and is ready to accommodate water tanks or a composting unit."

This is hard to do. Their bathroom photo shows what appears to be a Sealand valve toilet that empties into a blackwater tank, and they say there is accommodation for water tanks, which means it has to get towed around for pump-outs like an RV. The four solar panels will pump out a max of 1200 watts, which certainly can't run the fridge or the induction range. But then it has a "shore power hookup" to run all this stuff; it seems like they have designed a land yacht with a foot in both worlds.

It's not the usual setup for tiny homes, that usually don't move that much, but it is workable.

Guy sitting at table
Modern Shed

There is lots of storage, again boat-like where you don't have a loose chair when you can build a bench with storage under.

End of unit
Modern Shed

It's 221 square feet, 26' by 8'-6", and starts at $129,000 – and notwithstanding that the specifications are a bit muddled, Modern Shed has the experience to figure it out and get it built. As they conclude:

"The first portable iteration from Modern Shed, the DW exemplifies the company’s values: creating beautiful dwellings efficiently, sustainably, and cleverly–levering the team’s years of experience tailoring spaces to meet the needs of over a thousand clients."
Modern shed on grass
Modern Shed

Notably, they are also offering 10-foot, 12-foot, and 16-foot wide units, which are installed on-site rather than on a chassis, and aimed at the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) market. That solves all these issues about power, parking, and pumping, and is probably where the real market is.