The long-term care plan

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Thurston County — It’s easy to see why Jane loves where she lives.

Her little red house sits on a quiet, winding street that most people in her city have never heard of. The branches of the apple trees in her yard bend with the heavy weight of their fruit, and her backyard looks out over a wide, expansive pasture that dovetails toward Henderson Inlet.

She loves her house, her property, her neighbors. So, when family members began to ask when she would move into an assisted living home, after she started to encounter health issues, she balked at their suggestions. She didn’t want to leave.

Jane searched for a solution to maintain her quality of life, and Modern-Shed became a part of that solution — Modern-Shed, and her neighbor’s daughter, Jasmine.

“This is my long-term care plan,” Jane says of the beautiful idea that came together last year. “It occurred to me that I could build a tiny home to house a caretaker.”

Jane’s 14’ by 14’-foot cherry-red Modern-Shed fits seamlessly with her house. At just under 200 square feet, she didn’t need to obtain a permit from her local planning department.

The Modern-Shed houses Jasmine and two cats, Luna and Zinni, only steps away from Jane’s home. The arrangement makes it easy for Jasmine to look after Jane, and also allows them to socialize in the relaxed backyard patio easily.

“We needed it be very close to the house,” Jane says, while Jasmine adds: “We don’t want to be too far apart, either.”

Jane is 70, and has lived alone most of her life. She moved to Olympia 22 years ago, and bought her home 12 years ago when she “immediately fell in love with the property,” she says.

The house was “a wreck,” but after much work, it became home. She renovated it in such a way that it was easy to move around in the house. Jane has faced mobility issues in recent years, which prompted the worry of her siblings.

“I am getting older, and my family are all out East,” Jane says. “They were all begging me to move into a retirement home. I didn’t feel like I was ready to and I didn’t feel like I should have to. Why should I? I didn’t want to leave. I love my house. I love my property.”

Jane’s next-door neighbor’s daughter, Jasmine, would come around to help Jane garden and perform other miscellaneous chores around the property. Jasmine was living with her mother, but was in search of a new living arrangement.

“We put two and two together,” Jane says. “It has worked so well, I gave up my long-term care insurance policy.”

DSC_1394Jane had been interested in the tiny house movement, and started researching in earnest when their plans came together. Once she found Modern-Shed, she never turned back.

“I was immediately struck by the design of Modern-Shed,” Jane says. “I stopped looking elsewhere. I loved the mid-century modern look.”

Jane worked with Modern-Shed design professional Jeff Bergerson, whom she felt had incredibly valuable insight into the process. For instance, Jeff encouraged Jane to choose higher ceilings than she would have picked out on her own.

“Jeff was enormously helpful,” she says. “When you have higher ceilings, it makes the room seem bigger. I’d also advise people to choose furniture wisely. The more you can tell someone like Jeff what you want ahead of time, the easier your process will be. And absolutely, you should accept his recommendations!”

The shed features a kitchenette, a three-quarter bathroom, a loft bed with room underneath for a walk-in closet, and space for Jasmine’s art supplies.

There are also shelves and poles strategically placed for Luna and Zinni to maneuver their way around the shed — they even have a “catio” (cat patio) enclosure in the back of the shed where they can use the litter box and relax outside, still covered from the elements.

“I was thrilled by the whole process,” Jasmine says. “It was really exciting and really fun. While it took longer than we expected it to, it was exciting to watch it from the ground up.”

Their neighbors, and Jane’s family, all love the new Modern-Shed, which was fully completed in June.

Jane is simply happy her vision came together.

“I would not be able to take care of this place that I love without Jasmine,” she says. “I am so happy we have this Modern-Shed. She’s here, but it’s just enough separation so I feel like she’s not taking over my space.”

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