Ski Lodge on Wheels

Above: YouTube video of Zack & Molly's Tiny House filmed edited and produced by Sam Giffin.


When extreme skiers Molly Baker and Zack Giffin set out to pitch their idea for a ski tour to their sponsor, Outdoor Research, Tumbleweed’s Epu provided the inspiration to bring people something that no one had ever seen before. Armed with Zack’s background in carpentry, a love for skiing and Tumbleweed’s website, Zack and Molly created a tiny home with everything their team of FIVE athletes and cameramen would need. What followed became an epic adventure, and a public reaction, to the tiny home on wheels that was something nobody expected.

Neal Provo on the slopes. Photo by Mark Fisher.

Tumbleweed recently had the opportunity to talk to both Zack and Molly about their tiny home adventure during the 2012-2013 ski season, and one of the first things we wanted to know was how people reacted to it. Zack explained that when they came in to Silverton, CO, they had multiple invitations for places to park their tiny home. “The whole community, they just got it and loved it.” The crew would go out for a day of skiing and were amazed to come back and find gifts and firewood left on their doorstep.  “We take it in to the community and it’s like a magnet. The kids understand it. The grandparents understand it.” Molly tells us, “Bring a tiny house in to the community and people are almost automatically your friends. They feel like they are part of something.”  The sense she got from the people she met was, “‘Thank you for sharing this piece of art.’ There is an emotional connection.”

Tiny Ski Lodge on Wheels. Photo by Mark Fisher.

When challenging norms, not everyone is going to agree. Zack says that, although people’s reactions were overwhelmingly positive, there were a few exceptions. “People either get it or they don’t, and they don’t understand why. We show up and we have a completely different mentality. [To those people] we are an affront to their values.” Molly tells us of a police officer who came upon their house parked along a street. “I don’t know what is wrong with this, but something is.” She tried to explain that it was like a cabin on wheels but he just couldn't get it. A few people thought it was Santa’s workshop and, a few others, a coffee cart. "It was so surprising to see people's reactions. Their imaginations of what we we're doing exceeded what we expected."

When pitching the idea of this ski tour to Outdoor Research, the team used Tumbleweed’s Epu in their presentation, along with a more standard tour modeled on the use of an RV.  Molly said the RV“[was] not going to connect with people. There was no question they trusted that this was the only option.” Zack, on the other hand, said he was “almost dead certain they wouldn’t go for it and, to my surprise they did.” He was impressed with the company’s ability to see the value in it. “Not every company would say yes to this project.”

Once given the go ahead, Zack and Molly had seven weeks to build the house and plan the tour. The work and the hours put in by both were daunting, but Molly tells us "We were certainly dreaming big, but it's amazing what you can create with grand ideas and purposeful intentions." To make matters more interesting a tree fell on the house in the early part of the build and a freak cold snap filled the home with snow. Molly faced the challenge of trying to explain how they were traveling when calling to ask permission to stay in parking lots. If they didn't understand she’d ask, “Have you heard of Tumbleweed?” and direct them to the website. “Then you drop the tiny house on them!” Looking back she says “Every time we pulled in I sensed that we had exceeded expectations.”

The interior of the home was customized to meet the needs of the team of five skiers and cameramen as well as all of their gear. Two ropes connected by wooden dowels swung down between the ceiling and the wall above the wood stove to separate the gear, and dry it after a day in the snow.

Zack & Molly in their tiny house. Photo by Mark Fisher.

Given the drying clothes and the occupation of the small house by five adults engaged in vigorous physical activity, it is surprising that people’s first reaction upon entering this tiny space was often “Oh my God! It smells amazing in here!” Zack credits three things for the unexpected reaction –

  • The lack of mildew. Mildew is a common problem in these climates especially in small spaces. The team would stoke the fire beyond what they needed and open the windows to help dissipate the moisture created by drying clothes and five people breathing.
  • The smell of a wood fire.
  • The smell of the raw wood interior. The idea of using raw wood came from looking at Tumbleweed’s website. Zack remembers the scent in the tiny house giving one “warm feelings, feelings, like home.”

Spiral staircase leads up to loft. Photo by Mark Fisher.

Attention to detail in a small space is critical. The staircase (pictured above) in Zack and Molly’s tiny home is an excellent example. They wanted to keep the space open for conversation, but placing a ladder up against the wall would run a person straight up in to the pitch of the roof. In order to avoid that problem, Zack along with his friend Paul, a talented woodworker, created the staircase you see in the photos. It allows the space to stay open and still allows a person climbing up to bed to find themselves centrally located in the loft. That is not the only aspect of this staircase that makes them unique. If one looks carefully, the stairs, the brackets holding the stairs and the angles of the brackets all conform to the golden ratio revered by both architects and artists for centuries. Each stair, bracket and angle differs from the previous one at a ratio of 1:6. Attention to detail at its finest.

When asked about their favorite moments with their tiny home, Molly laughs and recalls the first time she saw the house pulled on to the street. “From the back you can’t see the truck so you just see this house going down the street. I was crying I was laughing so hard.” She also recalls an evening more recently at the Banff Film Festival when 16 friends gathered in their tiny home, including a friend in a wheelchair. “People were sitting on the stairs, the couch… everywhere. It was wonderful.”

Zack says it’s “when people talk about being inspired by what we’ve done, when they connect the dots and see the possibilities of an adventure of their own.”

In their video (featured at the top of this post) Molly sums up their experience eloquently - “Living in the tiny house we learned that it’s so much more than a house, so much more than a powder crazed ski mobile. It’s a way to spark conversations, make new friends and be at home wherever you go. It serves as proof that ideas can become reality even if you are afraid of what they might turn in to.”

Molly, Zack and their team leave on another ski tour in their tiny home on December 1st of 2012. If you are in the mountains of the western United States this winter, keep an eye out for them!

Tiny House at Night. Photo by Mark Fisher.


Written by Bernadette Weissmann — November 23, 2012

Filed under: ski lodge  

Small Kitchen Design Tips

The Best of Small Kitchen Design - The Little Rock Whidbey

Small kitchen design is unique in its need for both functionality and eye appeal. Lindsey Lewis of Little Rock, Arkansas adapted the kitchen in our Whidbey plans and takes high honors in both!

The small kitchen photos below offer great solutions for solving some of the most common small kitchen design dilemmas with stunning results!

Storage is one of the biggest issues confronting the occupant of a small kitchen. Kitchens, by their very nature, require “stuff” – pots, pans, utensils etc.  Storing these necessary items in a way that does not create visual clutter is key. Lindsey’s stunning banquet is a great option.  Linens, large pots and pans, over-sized serving platters or your Aunt Helen's favorite candle sticks will all fit snuggly and out of site in large, neutral colored baskets beneath the seating. 

An island at the center of the kitchen provides additional workspace and another option for covered storage. It has the added benefit of providing space to place items coming out of the refrigerator or, with the addition of a stool or two, a space to socialize with a glass of your favorite Sonoma wine while the meal is being prepared.

Cabinets with glass doors help make small kitchens look larger. In her Little Rock Whidbey, Lindsey uses frosted glass in her cabinet doors and a brightly colored back wall with stunning results. 

Shelves are another common option for kitchen storage. They keep things open and light but come with a few pitfalls. Most designers suggest choosing which items to place on them with great care to eliminate potential clutter. Stark white plates with cherry red bowls and stew pots make the perfect statement next to this sink. Handy hooks for coffee mugs hang below freeing up more cabinet space.

The flooring helps to create much of the character and dynamic of this custom Whidbey. Extending that flooring from the great room through both the nook and kitchen helps maintain the uniformity of the space.

Lighting is an often over-looked aspect of design.  The natural light in this Whidbey is astounding but Lindsey also took care to provide “task” lighting in key areas. Note the lights above the table, island and sink. Carefully assess how you are going to use your space and locate task lighting according to your needs.

Small kitchens do have several things going for them that their larger brethren do not. There is an inherent efficiency in a well-designed small kitchen that no large kitchen can compete with. Everything you need is at your fingertips.

The other advantage a small kitchen has is cost. Because a smaller kitchen is going to use less square footage of counter space and fewer cabinets you will be saving money. Apply the funds to upgrades. High quality counter tops have great visual appeal and wear better over time. Custom cabinetry with high-end pulls and handles add immense value and character.

Congratulations Lindsey on a stunning adaptation of Tumbleweed's Whidbey! Your kitchen is an inspiration! 

For more tips from the number one name in small house design read The Small House Book.  


Written by Bernadette Weissmann — November 13, 2012

Filed under: design   Downsizing   home design   kitchens   Whidbey  

Affordable House Plans

We've made it easier than ever to afford Tumbleweed House Plans. Now you have the option to order your plans today and pay them off over the next year.

Starting at just $69.90 per month, you can order professionally drawn house plans. And it's simple. Your credit card will be charged each month on the same day. For instance, if you purchase plans on November 14th, you'll be charged on the 14th of each month for the 12 months (from November - October).

You'll receive your plans instantly and can start building right away.

Not sure which set of plans to purchase? We make it simple by allowing you to exchange a set of plans for any other set of the same value up to 2 years after your purchase.

This new program is available on the following house plans:


Written by Steve Weissmann — November 13, 2012

Filed under: plans  

Small Bedroom Design Tips

Anyone who's ever had to go at it alone in a small apartment has a good sense of how to manage available space in a small bedroom.

You're in this room, your clothes or dressers take up one part; your bed, makeshift futon, couch or something else takes up the sleeping space, and then you have .... what? A short path on one side of the bed or drawer and another path to the restroom or kitchen. You stare at the blank walls and one small window, and wonder how are you going to make this an enjoyable room, one in which you can spend time even in the quietest moments?

It's not easy, but it's doable. Here's how:

Single types can strip their room down to bare essentials - a raised bed, bookshelves along the walls, use of mirrors, plants and a few throw rugs to open up the floor space. By keeping personal effects slight, a small bedroom can actually give the appearance of being larger than it is with strategically placed objects, lights and pictures.

Couples can work together on bedroom projects. One couple, chronicled at YoungHouseLove, decided to redo their bedroom, adding clothing wardrobes, curtains, new bed sheets and more to come up with a beautiful solution to a small apartment problem.

Families have a tougher time with the number of bodies in a small apartment, but with a little ingenuity about placing cribs or beds for the kids a certain way, moms and dads can save space for their kids as needed.

These are just a few of the small pointers. Thankfully, the Internet helps with suggestions at every click! Here are some easy-to-implement solutions for sprucing up your tiny bedroom.


Clearly, your twin, double, queen or king size bed will take up the most floor space. There are no easy ways around this. If you want a large bed to roll around in, you'll need the floor space. Smaller beds take up less floor space, but they also limit your bed rolling.

One alternative is to raise the bed. By building a deck platform in the room and putting your bed onto the deck, you can free up all that space below to add a desk, sitting area and more. However, you may not be able to ever enjoy those nights when you just want to fall into bed. Your ladder walk up is always going to be the issue.

You can buy a loft bed kit online or find DIY ways to get the job done. Recommended for rooms with higher ceilings!

Bed Sheets & Comforters

When working within your small bedroom space, it's important to take into consideration the light colors and light textures to open up the room's appearance. Having light, ambient colors filling your bedroom can give you much needed peace and serenity after a long day of work. But light colors can smudge easier too.

Look around for possible color combinations that work for your room. If your bed faces the window and gets a lot of light, you may not need to have a bright yellow bed cover. There are plenty of duvets and comforters at to get a sense of how a particular bed sheet and comforter setting could help to restyle your room.


Do you have room for a shelf of books? Instead of using floor-standing bookshelves, which takes up valuable space, how can you add shelving higher up the walls to elevate your knowledge?

Built-in bookshelves higher up the walls can help free up crawling space for young babies and toddlers and help keep junior's books in some reasonable shape. Often, the bookshelves lend a strong presence to the room's overall aesthetic glow. Plus, shelves hold a lot of stuff, and that's important in a small room.

Mirrors & Art

Most bedroom design experts suggest mirrors to open up visual lengths, widths and overall appeal. Apartment Therapy suggests using over-sized interior mirrors to expand the illusion of space in a small area. For instance, when a large mirror is placed directly opposite a window that streams in light, it can double the amount of light that comes into your room.

Other ways that mirrors can build space in your bedroom is to use dual mirrors on each side of the bedroom door. If the mirrors are balanced against the incoming light from a window, you might even be able to create a trifecta of light pattern in your room. And how sweet would that be?


Recessed lights into the ceiling are the best way to avoid lamp space on your floors. If you can do this, try to get a dimmer switch for separate lights throughout the room. Having a brighter reading light and a dimmer light near your dresser at the same time can create swell effects.

If recessed lights aren't an option, think about clip-on lights placed strategically throughout the room. Varying shades of light, coupled with mirrors and light colors can do remarkable things to a room's visual space.

A small bedroom may be a temporary item in your life, but for the time being, making visual and aesthetic adjustments in your space will optimize the light, color and overall appeal of your room. Remember, the more stuff you bring into the room reduces the size of your room that much more. So be particular and enjoy open spaces, and you'll find that leads to more energy and goodwill spread throughout the room.

Written by Tumbleweed Staff — November 09, 2012

Filed under: bedroom   design  

Life Inside a Micro Home

Watch More News Videos at ABC | 2012 Presidential Election | Entertainment & Celebrity News
Pushing tiny to a new extreme, an architect designs a tiny home only 5' wide to fit in an alley. You've got to see this video!

Written by Steve Weissmann — November 02, 2012

Filed under: video  

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