Little House on the Ferry

Once upon a time, Arianne and Sean lived in two separate houses in Las Vegas. Between the two dwellings, the couple had over 4,000 square feet combined. So how did they end up spending “happily ever after” in an Alaskan abode surmounting to no more than 150 square feet? Well, it all started with a newspaper clipping… 

Arianne had always considered downsizing and living tiny, but it wasn’t until her mother sent her a crinkled photograph of a Tumbleweed featured in the Denver Post that she truly fell in love. “I used to dream about it.” Arianne admitted. “Sean and I wanted to live a greener lifestyle.” Her partner is an engineer in sustainable and renewable energy. Minimizing would help open other doors for the couple as well, including a big move to a certain beautiful and adventurous state. 

With an Alaskan tiny house on the menu, Arianne and Sean teamed up with Tumbleweed’s Meg Stephens to design their perfect abode - a modified Elm. The couple knew the main course of this particular tundra was best served cold, which meant a higher R-value insulation and electric heating in the floors. They also customized their house to have a galley kitchen, four skylights, and two lofts!

But once the house was complete, Arianne and Sean faced another challenge – getting their house from the Tumbleweed build site in Colorado to Anchorage. Their journey began with a cross-country road trip, including a stroll up the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway.

Next the couple took to the sea, as they boarded the Alaskan Marine Highway Ferry.“Most people were boarding cars, but we pulled up towing a house!

The workers were surprised to say the least.” Arianne chuckled, remembering. “They said it was the first house they ever loaded onto the ferry, and it barely fit!” She recalls seeing numerous whales along the swaying careen up the west coast of Canada and Alaska. Finally, they docked in Anchorage, and set out to begin their new life.

Now, half a year later, Arianne works locally for the Air Force piloting C-17s – a plane that could fit six Tumbleweeds inside! She and Sean are enjoying their new house, new location, and new neighbors – most recently a curious moose greeted them one morning, resting his head on their front porch!

Who knows, maybe he is interested in a tiny house with a little extra antler-room?

*All photos provided by Arianne and Sean

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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 11, 2014

Filed under: alaska   Elm   green building   green living   Jenna Spesard   See a Tiny House   small house   Tiny House   travel   Tumbleweed  

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  

    Erin & Pete's Tiny Farm House

    Many tiny housers fantasize about being completely self-sustainable or “living off the land” but never have the resources to reach that goal. Enter Erin and Pete, a tiny house couple with a drool-worthy 40 acre dream.

    With backgrounds in wildlife biology and forestry, the duo spent several years traveling and living on the road. When they finally decided to settle down, they returned to their home state, Michigan, and began the search for their forever home. Erin remembers one open house in particular with an enormous basement. “If we live here, we’re gonna fill this basement with stuff we don’t need,” she recalls saying to Pete. The couple had been considering a tiny house for years, but it was only in that moment that they decided to make their dream a reality.

    In May 2012 Erin and Pete bought Tumbleweed Fencl plans (now known as Cypress) and began their build with little to no experience. Two years later, the build continues at Erin’s mother’s house, over an hour drive from their apartment.

    “We make the trip almost every weekend to work on the house,” says Erin, “But we have to be done by winter.” With the exterior complete, the tiny house just received a heavy dose of wool insulation - a necessity for Michigan winters. Erin hopes to have their interior cedar panelling up in the next few weeks, as long as the weather is compliant. 

    Erin & Pete with their tiny house after a snowstorm. Photo credit: Big Lake Tiny House

    But what the twosome is really excited for, is the next big move. Recently Erin and Pete purchased 40 acres in Chatham, Michigan. The plan is to move onto the property this summer with the almost complete tiny house, building as they go. The ultimate goal? A fully operational farm complete with: dairy cows, chickens, pigs, bees, a veggie garden, and sugar maple trees (which already occupy half the property)!

    The couple also aspires to build a barn for the animals and a structural bath house. “We love to cook.” Erin explained, “A separate bath house will free up space to accommodate a large kitchen.” Plumbing in the tiny house will be minimal, the stove and heater will be propane, and electricity will run off solar power.  

    With their outdoorsy backgrounds and ambitious attitude, we bet Erin and Pete will have a cozy tiny house cloaked in a beautiful farm before long!

    Look for updates on Erin and Pete’s tiny house here.

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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 05, 2014

    Filed under: Farm   Forestry   House   house plans   Lifestyle   Michigan   Sustainable   Tiny   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny Houses   tiny kitchen   Tumbleweed Cypress   Wildlife  
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