Small Living Journal

I'm excited to announce the launch of a new bi-weekly webzine called the Small Living Journal: the focus is on the small home movement.

The brainchild of Stephanie Reiley of the Coming Unmoored blog and a group of small living advocates, designers, and bloggers. The initial writers are Stephanie Reiley, Greg Johnson, Michael Janzen, Tammy from RowdyKittens, Hillary from ThisTinyHouse, Amanda from Constructing a Simpler Life, and Kent Griswold.

The first issue is an introduction of the members and how they became interested in the tiny house movement. The next issue on April 8 will focus on downsizing.

Go and check this out. I think you will find this another useful resource in your quest for living small. Be sure and sign up to the RSS feed or join the email list so you don't miss an issue.

Written by Kent Griswold — March 24, 2009

Filed under: In the News  

Will's Tarleton

Will Pedersen from Abbotsford, BC, Canada is just finishing his Tumbleweed Tarleton.

It has taken Will about 5 months, working mostly by himself, to construct this masterpiece. Will has mostly adhered to the Tumbleweed plans and used materials that are available and in stock at local lumber/hardware stores. The windows, door and countertop are all custom made. Will says that he just loves the feel and design of the house.

Will has done most of the work himself, except for the hookup of the water and drain lines where a plumber friend assisted him. He also hired someone to do the electrical work and install the lights and outlets and hook the house up to the grid. You can view some pictures of the construction on the Tiny House Blog.

Will kept track of his expenses and lists them here: (Click on image to enlarge)

Approximate cost U.S. Dollars is $13,500. Of course this will vary across the country, but gives you a good idea of what to expect here in the U.S.

Will took lots of pictures during his construction and you can view pictures of the process at Will’s project on Flickr.

Will lives and works at Glen Valley Organic Farm, a cooperatively owned farm in Abbotsford, BC. The co-op wants people to work and live here, but only one single family house (already housing 5 people) is permitted on the 50 acre farm. So, a small mobile house is a perfect solution to farmer housing. The co-op sells at farmer's markets in the greater Vancouver area (carrots, potatoes, beets, strawberries, raspberries and more).

Written by Kent Griswold — March 23, 2009

Filed under: Build it yourself  

Cooling Your Tiny House

Last week we looked at four ways to heat your tiny house and the question was brought up as to what is the best way to cool a small house in a hot climate. I thought we would look at a few options available to the tiny house builder to keep your home cool.

I did some research and found a couple of small or smaller air conditioning units that I thought would work in a tiny house. The first one is Koldfront 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner available at Compact Appliances for around $296 plus S/H. This is an ultra compact portable air conditioner that delivers a frigid blast of cold air and fits in almost any space. This compact portable air conditioner is capable of cooling up to a 225 square foot room. I am afraid that to them ultra compact means Height: 24 3/4", Width: 19 1/4" and Depth: 13 1/4" so this will eat up a corner in your Epu or Fencl. Still I think it would be worth looking into if you have a place to store it during the off season. A few of the features are a 24 hour timer, compact design, self evaporative system, energy saving design, built in dehumidifier and environmentally friendly.

You can get the full details at Compact Appliances.

The next unit I found was the Frigidaire FAA055P7A Mini Compact Window Air Conditioner. This unit is designed to cool rooms of up to 165 square feet. It is a 5300 BTU cooling unit with a 24 hour timer, 8-way directional control, energy efficient, and is EnergyStar certified. It also has an Electrostatic air filtration w/ ionizer, Low Voltage Compensation (LVC) technology ensures proper operation of the unit when voltage fluctuates. It is quite small with dimensions of 14''D x 12.5''H x 18.5''W. With a very reachable price of $126. You can learn more about it at Beach Audio.

The KoolerAire is a unique cooler and very affordable, but requires a more manual form of operation. It appears to be a fan designed for your icebox which creates cool air from the ice in the ice box. It would probably be best used in a climate where air conditioning is needed infrequently.

Here are a few details. KoolerAire's unique design makes it the most portable air conditioner on the market today. Because KoolerAire does not have the restraints of a water supply hose you can take it anywhere you would a standard KoolerAire or Igloo cooler!

KoolerAire fits securely within the top portion of your cooler, trapping the cold air inside. Once the unit is turned on, the powerful 100 cfm, brush-less fan draws hot air in through the large opening directly into and through the ice. The air is instantly cooled to about 50 degrees before being released through the smaller vent. At $40 you might just want to check it out here at the KoolerAire website.

The next step down is the basic fan and here is an example from Compact Appliances: a unique design with a small footprint. You could do something similar to the KoolerAire above with your own ice and fan design or just use the fan and park your home near a good shade tree, another way to keep your home cool.

Hopefully this has given you a few ideas on what to look for in a cooling system for your tiny house. If you know of some other great cooling sources please comment below and share them with us.

Written by Kent Griswold — March 13, 2009

Filed under: Build it yourself  

Heating Your Tiny House

Four Ways to Heat Your Tiny House

When you build your own Tumbleweed, heat is one issue you need to think about. The type of heating you choose will depend upon where the final destination of your tiny house will be.

Normal central heat or large wood stoves, etc., just produce too much heat for your small space. So what are some of your options? In this article we will look at some ideas for using four types of heat. Wood, gas, propane and electric heat.


The original Very Small Woodstove is the Jotul 602, from Norway. This model is a mere 12 inches wide, 19 inches deep. They are found most often in cottages and cabins in the woods, where the 602’s good looks are a highlight. It’s been around almost forever. Although very small it can heat amazingly well.

Jotul 602

12 x 19


Available from Jotul

The tiniest very small woodstoves are those built for boats. These are designed for very tight quarters, and often have a railing on the top to keep pots from rolling off. Here is a typical one from the Canadian coast measuring all of 12 inches by 12 inches. They are made of cast iron and porcelain and are so cute and enchanting, folks have thought of getting a sailboat just so they need one. You can use one in your tiny house just as easily.


12 x 12


Available from Marine Stove


Propane is also popular in tiny houses and Tumbleweed uses the Dickinson heater. This lovely little heater/fireplace. Ideal for boats or houses up to 32 ft. The combustion process is completely isolated from the inside of the structure by the unique, direct vent design. A built-in blower provides good heat circulation. Heater is sold with all accessories including a stainless steel backing plate and 28" of flexible, double stainless chimney. Safe, easy to use and extremely economical.

Newport Propane Fireplace (P9000)

17 x 9


Available from Dickson Marine


Gas is also an option and Woodstock Soapstone Company has the perfect little stove for tiny spaces called the Cottage Mini Soapstone Gas Stove.


    It’s 8,000 BTU heat output is perfect for a cozy, intimate area. It takes up little space (it can be installed on a stand or wall- mounted shelf). It’s a handsome design.

The Mini Franklin(tm) will bring warmth, grace, and style to any room setting. Its small fire will add ambiance and though it is just 17" tall, it will produce almost 8,000 BTU/hr!

Cottage Mini

17 x 14


Available from Woodstock Soapstone Company


There are many small electric heaters that will work extremely well in your tiny house. Following are a couple examples available at your local Walmart. Electric heaters cost much less than the above wood stoves and propane or gas stoves. If electricity is easily available this might be your most affordable option.

Oil-Filled Radiator De’Longhi EW0715W Safeheat Oil-Filled Radiator features Patented Easy Snap Wheels, Adjustable Thermostat and Three Heat Settings


Available from Walmart

Titan Ceramic Heater with Thermostat #TCM16W-U

Compact yet powerful, this ceramic heater sports a thermostat that lets you choose how much heat you want.


Available from Walmart Toe Kick Heater

Qmark QTS1500T

Electric Kickspace Heater (120 Volts)


A toe-space heater will fit where no other heater will. It can be recessed into toe space areas under kitchen or utility room cabinets or into the soffit area above them.

It can also be recessed into the risers of a stairway or under the vanity in the bathroom. It is convenient for checkout counters, ticket or toll booths and many other places where no other heater seems to fit.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas and a starting point to figure out what type of heat is best for your tiny home.

Written by Kent Griswold — March 06, 2009

Filed under: Build it yourself  

My Lusby


Do you remember the first time you threw a blanket over a card table or clothes line and crawled inside? That supremely satisfied feeling of being in your own small space? That’s how I feel in my Tumbleweed house. It’s especially true whenever I climb up into the sleeping loft and peer down at the cozy space below. I had a small house before this one – less than a thousand square feet - but there were rooms I seldom entered. It seemed that the dog and cats and I spent most of our time together in the kitchen, the bedroom, or the living room. Now we must share a smaller space, which, of course, has meant that we’ve all had to make some adjustments.

Both cats have finally learned to climb the ladder. I’m working on a shelving scheme that will allow them to move up and down without the ladder, so I don’t have to play elevator or move the ladder when I’m at home. Rosebud, my standard poodle, is very patient at taking indoor traffic direction from me, but he sometimes prefers to stay outside, supervising activities in the RV park. I’m always surprised when he tries a new spot for snoozing or cat and dog share a space - new behaviors for them!

Front Door

Everything has a place and needs to be in that place. My stainless steel cookware is a decorative accent over one of the windows and cloth covered boxes keep my personal items at hand but out of sight. No letting my mail pile up for days before dealing with it. Dishes get done at the end of the meal. But I can spend a good hour and the house is spic and span, while in my bigger house, an hour would’ve barely made a dent! Even in this small house, I still can sit in the living room, curl up with a book on the bench in the office, sit on the porch steps for some sun, or climb upstairs for a nap. I feel like Goldilocks who found a space that is just right!


Written by Cathy from Oregon — February 12, 2009

Filed under: Houses  
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