Ecologist Jenny Carney grew up playing in the woods of rural Wisconsin and is now a Principal and LEED expert at YR&G in Chicago, a sustainability consulting service for organizations and communities. However, her love of nature urged her to return to her roots. Carney purchased six acres of wooded land in Wisconsin near the Mississippi River where she built Xanadu — a simple 150 square foot shelter.
Recently featured in Real Simple Magazine, Carney’s “shed” for living in the woods reflects what she considers a modern angst: nature-deficit disorder. She used the term after reading the book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by journalist Richard Louv. The book discusses our contemporary detachment from the natural world and how to remedy it.
Xanadu is Carney’s answer to the disease, so she kept it simple. Without many building skills and a few tools, Carney, her father, Paul, and a small group of friends and family built the shelter over a long weekend. The shed sits on a floating foundation of gravel and concrete deck blocks, has a metal roof for water collection, and a 7×16 foot porch with sliding glass doors. The house has formaldehyde-free plywood and fiber-cement siding.
The one room cabin does not have plumbing or electrical. Carney collects rainwater in a barrel, cooks on a camp stove or on the cast iron woodstove and has a solar-charged battery for lights. Xanadu has a small outhouse with a sawdust bucket. Retro storage lockers hold food and clothes and the walls hold everything else. Carney sleeps on a handmade Murphy bed that lies flush against the wall and her bedding also acts as sofa cushions.
Photos by Jenny Carney and Tool Made