TINY: A Story About Living Small

This inspirational documentary follows Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller as they endeavor to build a 130-square foot home in the Colorado mountains. The film is a wonderful representation of the construction experience from the point of view of the dreamer and novice. As some of you may know, I am currently building a modified Cypress, so TINY hit close to home (quite literally) for me.  My heart reached out to the couple as they struggled and cheered when they overcame defeat. Last week I was even lucky enough to chat with Merete about her build - the good and the bad.

Photo Credit: Kevin Hoth

“We made so many mistakes.” Merete recalled with a chuckle. “We bought windows that we thought were vertical, and proceeded to design the house around them, only to learn six months later that they were actually horizontal windows!”

When I asked how her and Christopher coped with the mishaps, she responded with ease: “One of the great things about building it together is that we could be each others cheerleaders.” Merete says her and Christopher will never get rid of their tiny abode. The difficulty in the experience only strengthened their connection to the home. “It's almost like having a child - a really large child,” Merete joked. 

Photo credit: Merete Mueller

TINY is also a wonderful visual documentation of the growing tiny house community. With Christopher and Merete’s build serving as the backbone, the film periodically cuts away to tour small shelters all across the country or to interview several builders and families who have chosen to downsize. Even a few tiny house legends make an appearance to share their stories. 

“Christopher and I were originally introduced to tiny houses from a magazine article about Dee Williams. It was really cool to meet her in person. When we interviewed her for the film, we were in the middle of our build, and she acknowledged that and encouraged us to keep going.” Dee is now currently on tour for her new book: The Big Tiny.

Merete also remembers getting a lot of blank stares three years ago when her and Christopher began construction,“We all hear the word "home" but we don't always know what that is, or how to get there. Tiny houses, for me, served as a lens on how to explore the question: What really makes a house a home?“ 

 

Photo credit: Merete Mueller

After watching the film and chatting with Merete, I certainly feel inspired to continue my build. I want to laugh at my mistakes one day. I want to feel that pride and exhaustion when my home is finally complete. And most of all, I want to answer the question that Merete and Christopher have posed: What is home? And, if you’re reading this, I bet you do too!

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FILM UPDATES:

Download the full film on iTunes here.

Own it on DVD  *with special features including: full length 12 minute interview with Dee Williams, extra build footage, and interviews with building code enforcers.

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Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — June 05, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   Dee Williams   movie   See a Tiny House   small house   Tiny homes   Tiny house movie   video  

Zee’s Tiny Classroom On Wheels

Tiny homes are versatile. While many use them as permanent minimal dwellings, others convert small shelters into gorgeous guest homes, lucrative vacation rentals, backyard offices, or tiny traveling solitudes. So, how about a tiny mobile classroom?

Zee Kesler is an artist and educator-in-training residing in Vancouver - a city known for having the second MOST expensive housing in the world according to a recent U.S. Think-Tank survey. She found it hard to find a permanent residence while attending school, and so last summer Zee attended Tumbleweed’s 2-day Tiny House Workshop with Derek “Deek” Diedricksen presenting. “I had so many questions,” said Zee. “And I really loved hearing Deek talk about salvaging, because I’ve always been good at resourcing materials.” From that moment on, Zee was hooked. She bought plans to build her own Cypress, not for a permanent dwelling, but instead this education-lover intends to construct a mobile community classroom.

Unique, you betcha! But this isn’t Zee’s first experience in portable education. She is also co-founder of MakerMobile:Workshop on Wheels, a traveling classroom/hackspace/art studio in the back of a converted cube van. Her tiny house will be an appendage to this idea, but with more amenities and better insulation.

Zee hopes to fit 8-10 foldout desks inside her future modified Cypress, with classes available for payment-in-trade (meaning you can pay with cookies, a t-shirt, or anything deemed worthy)! Some example subjects offered in the tiny classroom include: sewing, cooking, yoga, meditation, sculpting, origami, foreign languages, etc. All classes will have a qualified instructor, and Zee will organize and manage the entire operation.

That’s the goal, but this tiny houser is just getting started. Zee purchased a trailer this week and is currently resourcing salvaged materials. The build begins soon, but she just can’t help it - Zee wants to makes her Cypress’s construction an educational experience as well! “I hope to hire carpenters, roofers, plumbers, and electricians that will lecture as they build the house. “ Zee explains. She might even have the students build a miniature Cypress for some hands-on experience. That’s right: a miniature tiny house! “When I was at the Tumbleweed workshop I know a lot of people left wanting to build a tiny house, but didn’t have the resources. I want to share my build to help the tiny house community. This way, we can all learn together.”

Zee's build will begin in July and August. If you are in or around Vancouver area and would like to stay in the loop, join the mailing list found on her blog and/or support her here.

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Top Artwork by Brian Archer

Center Photo & Bottom Layout Artwork by Zee Kesler

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Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — May 27, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   classroom   diy   Events   See a Tiny House   small house   Tumbleweed  

Step Inside a Tumbleweed Cottage

Take a tour of this adorable 600 square foot home in Little Rock, customized from Tumbleweed Whidbey plans. 

Video courtesy of P. Allen Smith Garden Home

They might have the smallest house on the block, but one thing's for sure: Lyndsey and Tom's tiny cottage packs a lot of punch! As you float through the entrance, prepare yourself to be enthralled by a plethora of eclectic decor. From the vibrant couch pillows to the cozy lofted workspace, these tiny housers have created a feast for the eyes in this lovable little shelter. 

Notice how the white paneling elongates the room, while a clever use of storage gives the couple's home a wide open feel. "Little House in Little Rock" is colorful, quirky, and classy all at the same time. As Lyndsey describes her house in detail, with materials partly coming from salvaged resources, it's obvious that this tiny houser has a special connection with her abode. A bond that only few home owners will ever know. That's truly the spirit of tiny living! 

The house glows as sunlight beams through a multitude of windows and skylights. Storage was a priority for the couple, and the house has no shortage of cubbies and shelves. But the space that really steals the show, is the couple's gorgeous open kitchen

At Tumbleweed we're always amazed at what "build-it-yourselfers" can do with our plans.

Our homes come in two categories:

  1. Our "House To Go" is on wheels and range from 117 to 172 square feet. 
  2. Our "Cottages" (shown here) are built on foundations and range from 261 to 884 square feet

After seeing Lyndsey and Tom's customizations, we felt inspired! One of our Whidbey layouts now reflects their idea of an open kitchen, which we absolutely adore! 

While the average home is triple its size, "Little House in Little Rock " perhaps has the bigger heart. Thanks to Lyndsey and Tom for inviting us into their charming home and for inspiring us with their tremendous creativity. 

Catch up with the Arkansas tiny home couple on their blog

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    Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

    Written by Jenna Spesard — May 12, 2014

    Filed under: Build it yourself   cottage   design   diy   home design   look inside a tiny house   small house   tiny home   tiny house   tiny house decorating  

    The Big Tiny Memoir: Dee Williams Shares Realities

    Over the years, Dee Williams has acquired many fans. Tumbleweed Tiny House Company folks may try to push everyone aside and say "we are the MOST die-hard fans."

    What really gets us going are the stories and insights Dee shares, because she has lived tiny for many years. If you are even thinking about going tiny, we hope you have already watched Dee or read about her. If not, then please visit Portland Alternative Dwellings and catch up.

    Dee writes and publishes her story

    Dee has written her story, The Big Tiny, which will be officially released by Penguin Press in April 2014. She shares all her clear-headed thinking, including her hopes and fears in abundance. Whether contending with the weather, her concerns about flames in the house or what grade-schoolers experience while stuffing into her house, there's a silver lining: 

    "I thought I’d find something in all of this, and I got more than I bargained for. I discovered a new way of looking at the sky, the winter rain, the neighbors, and myself; and a different way of spending my time. Most important, I stumbled into a new sort of “happiness,” one that didn’t hinge on always getting what I want but rather, on wanting what I have. It’s the kind of happiness that isn’t tied so tightly to being comfortable (or having money and property), but instead is linked to a deeper sense of satisfaction—to a sense of humility and gratitude, and a better understanding of who I am in my heart.

    I know this sounds cheesy, and in fact, it sounds fairly similar to the gobbledygook that friends have thrown at me just after having their first baby. But the facts are the facts: I found a certain bigness in my little house—a sense of largeness, freedom, and happiness that comes when you see there’s no place else you’d rather be."

    Watch Dee in action

    One of our favorite "day in the life" videos shows Dee Williams going about her daily business, from inside and outside her tiny house. It was filmed as part of a National Building Museum exhibition, and shows Dee living in her home built with Tumbleweed plans.



    What's next for Dee

    When a book gets published, the author typically travels cross-country to local book store events. Dee Williams may be showing up in your neck of the woods soon:

    Washington, DC (4/22) - Brooklyn, NY, PowerHouse Arena (4/23) - St. Louis, MO, Left Bank Books (4/24) - Little Rock, AR, Arkansas Literary Festival (4/23-24) - Denver, CO, Tattered Cover  (4/28) - Boulder, CO, Boulder Book Store (4/29) - Seattle, WA Third Place Books  (5/1) - Portland, OR, Powell's Books (5/2) - Corte Madera, CA, Book Passage (5/4) - Santa Cruz, CA, Bookshop Santa Cruz (5/6) - Los Angeles, CA, Vroman's Bookstore (5/8) - Bellingham, WA, Village Books (5/11)

    If you're luck to live near one of these appearances, then put it on your calendar. You will meet Dee, listen to excerpts, and likely mingle with other local tiny housers.

    Written by Debby Richman — April 03, 2014

    Filed under: Build it yourself   Dee Williams   Portland Alternative Dwellings   The Big Tiny  

    Introducing REAL Barn Raisers

    Who are the real Barn Raisers?

    We had to share this video with you, to make sure you see that some people actually raise and move barns. Tumbleweed does not, in fact, offer this kind of help!

    Read More

    Written by Debby Richman — February 24, 2014

    Filed under: Amish Barn Raiser   Build It Yourself   DIY   Tumbleweed Trailer  
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