Asked on Feb 11, 2016

Free insulation ideas for 10x10 shed, cheap decorating ideas?

Liona Shareing
by Liona Shareing
Hi, I'm a senior on a fixed income and hoped to be able to bring in money to pay my space rent in my senior mobile home park without giving up my privacy and needing to share my main home.
I have a barn style 10'x10' shed that I thought would work for someone needing a cheap place to live. I planned to add a door to the guest bathroom from my California room (which has a separate entrance.)
I live in San Diego while the weather is mild it can get down to 42 at night in the winters at times.
If someone has ideas that would work for free materials to use for insulation as well as room set up it would really help me.
One idea I had was to get larger sheets of cardboard from Costco staple gun them between the wood and to try to find free packing peanuts to pour inside. then painting the cardboard a cream color to make it appear more spacious.
There is a built in bookshelf I thought could be turned into a closet.
Please pardon the mess in the pictures. I haven't had time yet to clear out the space.
  22 answers
  • KeepItSimpleSister KeepItSimpleSister on Feb 11, 2016
    If it gets to only 42 degrees in the winters I think you can just make sure you have a nice down blanket at the foot of the bed. What you can do is get some Tyvek and put that up inside and the cover that. .I don't know how handy you are .. certainly lots of potential; and then I would put it up on AIRNB .....that way you can turn on and off when you want someone there.. Do you have electrical in the shed?
    • Liona Shareing Liona Shareing on Feb 12, 2016
      @KeepItSimpleSister thanks for the suggestions, I have an extra down blanket, I'll look into the tyvek. When I was in there this morning it was actually quite comfortable. It already has styrofoam sheet insulation that I thought I could use some spray foam to seal and secure, and perhaps use something else to make an air pocket. Cheap being free cardboard sheets from Costco and attaching them between the ribs. Then painting everything a light color.
  • KeepItSimpleSister KeepItSimpleSister on Feb 11, 2016
    See the potential?
  • Theresa Smith Theresa Smith on Feb 11, 2016
    You may want to check the rules and regulations of your MH park, as well as local occupancy laws before putting effort in making this habitable. The San Diego laws should be online at the city web site, or you could probably call them. It would make an adorable "she-shed" for crafts, etc. as well.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Feb 11, 2016
    I totally agree with Teresa comment. I would hate to see you put all the work into the shed all to have to be taken down. Also another thought did you apply for a permit? I do not know where you are located, however I do know a lot of states are very strict about this.
  • Liona Shareing Liona Shareing on Feb 11, 2016
    Hi Theresa, we can rent out rooms if we run it by management. I am hopeful that it will work otherwise I could possibly divide the California room which would have someone closer to my own space.
    • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Feb 11, 2016
      @Liona Shareing Well as long as you did the necessary homework. Reach out to Habitat for humanity as they offer great discounts on various supplies.
  • MN Mom MN Mom on Feb 11, 2016
    Make certain you comply on all rental regulations. I'm guessing this shed isn't considered the same as renting a room as it's not in your home and isn't actually considered a dwelling. Modifying a shed for fun and modifying one to use as an income rental property are two very different things.
  • Polly Zieper Polly Zieper on Feb 11, 2016
    . this is a shed? does it have plumbing, heat and electricity?Are you zoned for another residence on your lot?
    • Liona Shareing Liona Shareing on Feb 12, 2016
      @Polly Zieper There is electricity and the guest bathroom in the house would be for them to use.
  • Liona Shareing Liona Shareing on Feb 11, 2016
    I went to the habitat store today and they had no solutions. They don't get insulation donated.
    • See 1 previous
    • Ann Ann on Feb 12, 2016
      @Liona Shareing If you know or see contractors working in your area stop and ask them for their insulation scraps. Your shed won't take much and chances are they have leftovers from their jobs.
  • Barbara C Barbara C on Feb 12, 2016
    Insulation is probably the least expensive item you will have to buy.Get a neighbor,to help you put in up. You might want to rethink the cardboard idea.Here in the South,insects love cardboard.
    • Liona Shareing Liona Shareing on Feb 12, 2016
      @Barbara C thanks I don't want it to be eaten, I'll see what else there is available that is inexpensive an they don't like to eat
  • Dee Lowe Dee Lowe on Feb 12, 2016
    Please save yourself alot of hassle & maybe fines from the city..I understand the what & why you are considering this but I have a feeling the city might think otherwise.
  • Skyval Skyval on Feb 12, 2016
    I wish you well and don't know about the codes there but the best and easiest insulation that really works is plastic - get a big , cheap roll of the whitish-clear plastic from Home Depot and just staple it up as tightly , flat and neatly as you can over the whole inside - truly instant warmth and no "stuff" to put behind it , no peanuts , no insulation , nothing , just a sheet of plastic is a miraculous answer to warmth even in cold northern climates .
    • See 2 previous
    • Skyval Skyval on Feb 12, 2016
      Oh , and another cheap thing I've done is to staple nice sheets up on the walls , Goodwill gets brand new designer sheets from stores like Target when the season's over or they have a tiny thread sticking out or something and you can get beautiful big new sheets for $1.99 - $2.99 and it would go fast - only your tenant would have to be real careful with those soft walls & not puncture them . So , you'd do the plastic first and then sheets or whatever over the plastic .
  • Skyval Skyval on Feb 12, 2016
    Also , a fairly inexpensive and pretty cool wallcovering is canvas painter's tarps in the same aisle probably , at Home Depot . They're only about $5-$8 for 4x6' size and can be stapled or hung from cuphooks ,etc. There are many sizes too .Oh and if you do canvas tarps be sure to get the natural , warm colored ones - sometimes some of them have a gray cast to them that isn't as warm and pretty as the more yellowy natural canvas color .
    • See 2 previous
    • Liona Shareing Liona Shareing on Feb 13, 2016
      @Skyval Would you suggest applying the plastic, following the contours of the wall with the ribs (like corduroy, sorry best analogy I could think of) Then doing the same with the fabric? What do you think about using spray on glue instead of stapling it? If you would send me a direct email, my address is
  • KeepItSimpleSister KeepItSimpleSister on Feb 12, 2016
    That would work
  • Wendy Ylen Wendy Ylen on Feb 12, 2016
    If you can get past city codes/inspection, you have to make sure you use every inch of space. I would build up from top to bottom. It would be fairly easy to put in a counter top for a small kitchen & above that's bunk bed. The other side could probably fit a small loveseat or futon with a tv across from it, on the wall. If you've never watched Tiny Homes, now is the time to do so.... and find ideas there, use the show for inspiration. They have so many cool ideas for cheap. Good Luck!
    • See 1 previous
    • Wendy Ylen Wendy Ylen on Feb 12, 2016
      Maybe you can hire some high school kids or even a college kid who's looking to make an extra few bucks.You can have that person handle the bookshelf. There are all kinds of cool ideas out there, just have to search! Pinterest is a wonderful place to find great ideas! Here is a website I found with some neat ideas!
  • Janet E. Janet E. on Feb 12, 2016
    I suspect the owners of your mobile home park would object vehemently to you allowing someone to live in what is basically a storage shed. The last thing you would want is to be evicted so you would be well advised to get permission first.
  • Liz Liz on Feb 12, 2016
    Liona, I would get written permission from management. Somehow, it seems like it would be easiest to rent out the room that you already have and let the renter use the guest bath. We used to own rental property, & be sure to get lots of really good references on any prospective tenant. Good luck & let us know what you decide to do, Bev
    • See 1 previous
    • MN Mom MN Mom on Feb 13, 2016
      I agree with you.
  • Kini Kini on Feb 12, 2016
    If you are going to rent it out, you better check with zoning ordinances. If it is not up to code you could be in violaton and be fined.
  • Liona Shareing Liona Shareing on Feb 13, 2016
    I'm still in the planning stages, but decided I'm going to redo the shed with sheet plastic for insulation & fabric from sheets over top, painting the rafters-ribs (don't know the proper term. I'm going to use is for a she cave or guest space. With all the recommendations about problems with the park, I'm going to have a barn door type door as a second entrance to the guest bath from the California room and use Ikea type wardrobes to close off the space and for tenant to use as closet. I'll post photos when I'm done. thank you all again for your kind help!
  • Marizius Marizius on May 26, 2017

    You should post it on Pinterest you know :)

  • Paula Paula on May 26, 2017

    @Liona Shareing those "ribs" you continue referring to are called STUDS. The studs are along the walls, rafters are in the ceiling, and the floor is constructed with floor joists. I'm not sure that you've even read any of the advice people are giving you. Skyval repeatedly told you the "ribs" as you call them are studs. Also, several have suggested/warned you before you waste time, energy, effort, and money to make certain of the city and your MH codes and regulations, all of which you seem to have ignored. It's your time, your dime, spend it in any manner that pleases you. Imho, it is aggravating for someone to ask a question but ignore the answers you're given. Thank you, off my soapbox now.

  • Grandma D Grandma D on Mar 18, 2020

    Hello Liona,

    San Diego has had recent law changes regarding what you want to do, and those changes will benefit you. I've read through an article about that. You may want to read it, too. Hopefully, the link won't be stripped out, but just in case, go to remodelworks dot com and search for "granny-flat-regulations-in-san-diego" to locate their article.

    You also can consider using cardboard as you thought. You can make that cardboard both insect resistant and fire retardant using a borax solution that you spray on. You can get the details at ehow dot com. Just search for "how_5602322_fireproof-borax" for the article. I highly recommend you exercise all safety precautions when mixing and applying it.

    Once the cardboard is dry, you can paint it to give it a more traditional look. Fabric is expensive.

    With that said, you also need to make sure you meet regulations for remodeling a storage shed. A permit may not be necessary, but if you go to the building department and tell them what you want to do, they will explain to you what any regulations require.

    Don't be dissuaded by negative comments. There always is a way; you just need to do your research and be persistent.

    I wish you great luck. There are many people who need an affordable place to live, and you could help them as well as yourself. I applaud you for thinking out of the box, and also encourage you to be certain you are providing a safe place for someone to live while also protecting yourself.

    Best wishes,

    Grandma D

  • Holly Lengner - Lost Mom Holly Lengner - Lost Mom on Feb 11, 2022

    There is so much potential when it comes to sheds and what they can be used for these days.