Derek's Backyard Tiny House RV

Meet Derek and his backyard Tiny House RV located in the heart of New Orleans!

Derek's modified Cypress 18 was originally used for a living space close to work, but recently he purchased a big house in town and has parked his tiny abode in the backyard. His Tumbleweed is now used for recreation and occasional overnights. 

For Derek, the build was a learning experience and a labor of love. "I would have a hard time parting with it (the tiny house)," he admits. Watch the below video tour where Derek openly shares the mistakes he made during construction and offers tips for future tiny house builders.

A highlight of Derek's tiny house RV is his transforming couch design. While the couch can act as a comfortable sitting area, it also transforms into a dinning area for four AND a full size bed!

Derek's couch and storage bench / sitting area

Derek's inspiration for this design came from the boating world. "And it was pretty simple to make," he explains. A hidden hinged piece of wood seamlessly latches the couch to the storage bench, creating a downstairs sleep space for two! The back rest of the storage bench in turn becomes the footboard of the bed. Cushions from the bench and couch are rearranged to create the mattress. Every item has two purposes!

Derek's transforming couch as a dinning area for four

A hidden hinged piece of wood connects with a lip to the storage bench for a bed

The cushions are used as a mattress for the bed. 

As for the exterior, Derek chose to go with traditional cedar siding, red trim and a red metal roof. Other features include a mini-split air conditioner, aluminum clad windows and a loft skylight.

His galley kitchen acts as the centerpiece of the small space with an apartment sized refrigerator, hot plates (that tuck away), toaster over, large farmhouse sink and plenty of counter space!

Derek's tiny bathroom features a unique alternative to the fiberglass shower stall. He chose to construct his own shower walls from a metal roofing material, creating an industrial aesthetic. His bathroom also features a flush toilet and a pocket door.

Derek's shower stall is a standard size - 32" x 32"


For more information on Derek's customized Cypress, follow him on Instagram @noladerek


*All photos provided by Tiny House Giant Journey

*Video provided by Tiny House Giant Journey. Subscribe for more tours.


Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.


Written by Jenna Spesard — March 09, 2015

Filed under: couch   Cypress   Derek   New Orleans   NolaDerek   Tiny Home   Tiny House   transforming couch  

Ladder vs. Staircase

Ladder vs. Staircase. This is a huge topic in the Tiny House RV world. How will I access my loft? A staircase will take up room, but a ladder seems difficult and dangerous to climb. How can I decide? Don’t worry, I’m here to help! Let’s look at some photo examples and discuss the pros and cons of each.

Rolling ladder pictured in this Tumbleweed Elm



    1. Space Saving. A ladder will save you valuable floorspace. 
    2. Tuck it Away. Tuck your ladder behind a bookshelf or into a hidden slot. You could also use a rope ladder, which can be rolled up when not in use. 
    3. Versatility. Ladders can be used in any tiny home. Stairs are not possible is all tiny homes, especially those without dormers.
    4. Lightweight. Ladders are usually very lightweight, unlike stairs.
    5. Mobility. Simply move your ladder to access your front storage loft.
    6. Can be used on a slope. You can build your ladder to function on a slight slope instead of straight up and down. This will make it easier to climb and more secure. Use flat footed rungs. Rounded rungs can be uncomfortable underfoot, avoid these. 
Chris's Rolling Library Ladder. More photos here


  1. Can be difficult / dangerous to climb. This is the biggest “con” of ladders.
  2. Pets cannot climb. If you plan on allowing your dog or cat into the loft, most likely they will not be able to climb a ladder (or at least not descend). If you have a pet monkey, disregard this con. 

Art's Ladder. More on Art's tiny home.


Art's Ladder stored out of the way. More on Art's tiny home.



  1. Easy to climb. This is the biggest “pro” of stairs. 
  2. Can be used for storage. You can also hide utilities within a staircase, such as a water tank, water heater, etc.

Tumbleweed Cypress with storage staircase to the loft. Notice the loft has a cutout passage for staircase access.


  1. There’s no way around it: stairs take up space. This is a big “con.” Of course, if you utilize the inside of your staircase as storage, this space could be functional.
  2. Heavy. Adding stairs to your Tiny House RV means that you are undoubtedly adding weight. You might need to compensate for the poundage elsewhere.
  3. Cannot be used in all Tiny House RVs. Stairs require a certain amount of headroom, at least for the top step. You will need to plan a-head for stairs (pun intended). Extend your dormers past the loft flooring, or create a cut out for staircase entrance to the loft. 
  4. Mobility. You cannot move your staircase. You will still need a ladder to access the front storage loft.

Tiny House Giant Journey's storage staircase made our of reclaimed crates. Notice the loft floor ends before the dormers.


Spiral staircase in Francis Camosse's Tiny House RV. Photo credit:

A normal staircase would not be possible in this Tiny House RV unless a portion of the loft floor was cut out for entrance, or the staircase was placed in the center. A spiral staircase is a great way around this obstacle. 

Is there another way? Of course! One of the most appealing ideologies behind Tiny House RV design is that you have the freedom to be creative. Use a rock climbing wall, a climbing rope or a pole vault to access your loft! Use alternating tread or a half staircase / half ladder. Use a slide or a fireman's pole to get down. Or how about an elevator?? 

So what are you leaning towards: LADDER or STAIRS? Comment below.


Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.


Written by Jenna Spesard — February 27, 2015

Filed under: ladder   staircase   stairs   Tiny Home   Tiny House  

Annie's Traveling Tea House

Annie with her carpenters: Adrian and Luis

Get ready for a really unique tiny house RV story!

A lot has happened to Annie Coburn since taking the August 2014 Tumbleweed workshop in Dallas. She admits that she was unsure of her future plans when she first decided to attend the workshop, but one comment from another attendee changed her mind (and her life) completely. "A lady said: 'I know this person who travels around in her tiny house and sells .....' I don't even remember what she was selling, but that statement put all the pieces together for me," Annie told us. 

Interior: "Tiny House Teas"

Annie has always loved to travel. In 2010 she created a travel website for seniors. So the idea of creating a business that could function out of the tiny house RV, while wayfaring around the United States, tied all of her passions together in one beautiful package. It wasn't long before Annie received her Tumbleweed trailer and started building her traveling Cypress 20 Equator without dormers.

Tumbleweed Cypress

"When I saw the picture of the Cypress, I wanted to give it a hug," Annie recalls. "It's so cute!"

But what does Annie intend to sell out of her traveling tiny home? TEA, of course! In the late 1990's, she lived in China and remains in contact with her friends there. "They know tea and tea producers," Annie comments. "So I have access to premium teas." In September she flew to China to strike up a partnership and, just like that, "Tiny House Teas" was born. 

Annie's tiny house RV is now close to completion, and she'll soon hit the road with her traveling tea business. Her first destination will be the Florida Keys. "The tiny house gives us options," Annie explains. "We can stay as long as we wish. When we feel the need for a change, just hook-up, fill-up and GO."


For more information on Tiny House Teas, visit the facebook page and website.

*All personal photos and video provided by Annie Coburn 


Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.




Written by Jenna Spesard — February 20, 2015

Filed under: Cypress   Equator   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny House Teas   Travel   Workshop  

Pack for Adventure: What to Bring in your Tiny House RV

The open road. Photo credit: Lisa Luken

Whether you are planning to be on the road everyday or you are choosing to stay parked in your favorite corner of the world for a bit, it’s likely that you have chosen a tiny house for the freedom it will provide. The adventure looks different for everyone, but it undoubtedly means a journey with less “stuff”.

So how do you approach the overwhelming task of choosing what to take with you?  How will you fit everything into only a couple hundred square feet?  The key is to focus on the fun ahead then choose what to pack for the adventure. 

You’re already being creative and living intentionally by choosing a tiny house.  You’re focusing on all that you’ll gain, not what you’ll give up.   So approach the task of evaluating your “stuff” with this same positive mindset.

A Tumbleweed Elm out for an adventure

Begin by dreaming big.  Ask yourself:

  1. How do I want to feel when I wake up each morning?
  2. What will I enjoy doing each day?
  3. How will I relax each night before dozing off?
  4. What will remind me of the people and places I love?

Then, just like you’d pack a suitcase, you’ll need to know your space and plan accordingly.  Consider:

  1. Do you desire lots of open “white space”?
  2. Or do you want to utilize every inch?
  3. What spaces could serve double (or triple) duty?
  4. How easily will your items transport?

With a clear vision of what a day in the life of your tiny house might look like, use your excitement to plan what to pack.

You’ll want to go through your “stuff” and continuously ask one question:

“Will this support me now on this adventure?” 

Interior of Tumbleweed Elm Horizon

As you do this, keep in mind the following:

1). Cover your basic needs

Think versatility and comfort for clothes, compact and dual purpose for your kitchen items.  Think creatively and resourcefully with everything!

2). Remember your vision

Be selective and intentional, keeping in mind the amount of white space, storage and keepsakes you’d like with you on the journey.

3). Think with an abundance mindset

Trust that anything you need will be available when you need it.  The “I might need this” reasoning will not support your freedom.  You don’t need any extra baggage!

4). Remain optimistic…

Think about the opportunities ahead and the new community of people you’ll meet.  By choosing to take only what you know you’ll need now, you’re making space for exciting new experiences.

5) Go with your gut

Remember when you experienced that gut feeling knowing that a tiny house RV was perfect for you?  Use that same gut feeling to make smart decisions about your stuff.

6). Give it a rest

Tired minds don’t make good decisions.  Working in small chunks of time can be better than putting in long days, so plan accordingly.

The open road. Photo credit: Lisa Luken

By approaching the task this way, you’ll be well prepared for the exciting adventure ahead, having intentionally chosen to bring along only what you truly need, use and love.

You’ll be ready to enjoy your tiny house and the big life it provides…with just the right items for the adventure.    


Lisa Luken is a Simple Living Mentor, helping people find joy and freedom through simplifying.  She and her family recently sold their “more than enough” home in Illinois, let go of nearly three quarters of their possessions and moved to the coast of Maine.  For more inspiration on simplifying and to learn how Lisa supports others on their journey, visit her website



photo credit: Lisa Luken

Written by Guest Blogger — February 16, 2015

Filed under: Adventure   Downsize   Packing   Simple Living   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Travel  

Q&A with Tiny House Experts

We asked three of our tiny house experts to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions. For the previous "Q&A with Tiny House Experts," click here.


Ella Jenkins / Tumbleweed Workshop Presenter

Background: Ella never built anything before undertaking a tiny home. She attended the Los Angeles workshop a few years ago and began building her Tumbleweed Fencl (now called Cypress) the next month. She built her entire tiny home wearing a skirt! Her enthusiasm was and is contagious. Ella now presents our workshops all over the country. Read more about Ella and her tiny home called "Little Yellow" on her blog

Ella's modified Tumbleweed Cypress

Question: What is your favorite part of your tiny space?

Ella: The kitchen. Or my yellow door. Or my window seat. Or...this could go on for a while.

Q: If you could do anything different to your tiny home, what would it be?
Ella: Replace my solid aluminum windows with aluminum clad wood ones (which I will be doing soon). But not much other than that, I'm pretty darn happy with everything else!
Q: What do you think is the best part of Tumbleweed's two day workshop?
Ella: Is it weird that I'm going to say the plumbing/toilet section? Probably. Composting toilets are just so interesting!

Brittany Yunker / Tumbleweed Workshop Presenter

Background: Brittany built her Fencl (now Cypress 18-Overlook) after attending a Tumbleweed workshop.  Without any building experience, she created a beautiful cottage that she now uses as a vacation rental.  She also modified the interior and really took great effort to accent her home with charm. Take a look at her website to learn more about visiting this home.

Brittany's modified Tumbleweed Cypress

Question: What is your favorite part of your tiny house?

Brittany: My favorite part of my house is the loft bed with the skylight overhead.  It's so cozy up there, and it is wonderful to watch the stars from bed on a clear night.

Q: What was the most difficult part of your build?

Brittany: The most difficult part of the building process was overcoming all the questions in my own mind (i.e. "how the heck do you cut a birdsmouth notch at the right place in a rafter?", and answering the multitude of logistical questions that others asked me.  "Where are you going to park?", "How is the toilet going to work?", the list goes on.  I didn't have all the answers, but I tackled each issue methodically as I built, and everything came together splendidly!

Q: Any space saving advice?

Brittany: Find creative and unique ways to hang things on the wall or use vertical space such as a cabinet or closet.  Use beautiful personal belongings as artful wall hangings.  I decorated the wall of my bathroom with my earrings, jewelry and hung my (ahem, beautiful) skis from the ceiling.  Find furniture that folds, tucks away or is stowable and that fits your body when using it!

Meg Stephens / Tumbleweed Designer & Workshop Presenter
Background: While Meg was getting her degree in Architecture she stumbled upon Tumbleweed and fell in love with the designs. She became fascinated with building her own and called us to order tickets to a Tumbleweed Workshop. The conversation lasted 30 minutes and ended with a scheduled job interview to come design tiny homes for Tumbleweed. Meg designed our newest model, the Linden, and is currently building one for herself and her husband to live in full time.
Meg's Tumbleweed Linden
Question: What is your favorite part of your tiny house?
Meg: I really love my trim. It took a long time to get all the curves cut, but I think the end result was totally worth it. I also really like the glass block "windows" that I made and installed high on the long sides of my house.
Q: How was it building with SIPS? Would you do anything different?
Meg: Building with SIPS (Structurally Insulated Panels) was fun, I had a big work party and we got the walls and roof up on my house in two and a half days. However, I'm nervous about doing the wiring and plumbing because the interior of the walls are not accessible. If I were to do it again today I would probably have gone with the Amish Barn Raiser instead of SIPs.
Q: What do you think is the best part of our two day workshop?
Meg: I love the discussion and seeing people make connections with each other during the course of the weekend. Many group builds and friendships have come out of the workshop, and it's an invaluable experience to add to the knowledge that the workshop provides.
Meg giving tours of a Tumbleweed Cypress on display at a workshop in early Feb 2015
What questions should we ask in our next Q&A with Tiny House Experts?


Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — February 11, 2015

Filed under: Experts   Presenters   Tiny home   Tiny House   Tumbleweed   Workshop  

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