Bethany’s Tumbleweed Harbinger

Bethany who lives in Carrboro, North Carolina wanted a small home. She says: “When my cousin first sent me the link to the Tumbleweed website, I knew that a tiny house was what I wanted to build.” I chose the Harbinger because I work from home and the bump-out was perfect for a little office. When my builder first dug the footings and started on the foundation, I climbed inside the perimeter and said to myself, “What in the world was I thinking?” But as the framing went up, the roof was shingled, and the floors were laid, the house seemed to lift and expand. I realized it would offer all the live-work space that I needed. There were a few challenges, as we had to the adapt the plans slightly to meet covenant requirements and to make the loft more open and accessible, but it’s fair to say the challenges were in scale with the size of the house! I was completely thrilled to see my Harbinger completed and ready for me and my two cats to make it a home.

Now that I’ve lived in the home for a few months, I can’t imagine needing anything bigger. My neighbors, who have much larger homes, probably talk it up more than I do, and I never want for visitors who enjoy relaxing in my cozy living room or out on the deck. There are plenty of small spaces to be had in my town, but few are single-family, energy-efficient homes. I’m glad to have built a Tumbleweed from the ground up and to be able to live in a way that supports my values, particularly in a time when that can be so hard to do.

To learn more about the Harbinger plan visit the Tumbleweed Tiny House website. Harbinger

[nggallery id=21]

Join Our eMail List and download the Tiny House Directory

Simply enter your name and email below to learn more about tiny houses and stay up to date with the movement.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Irene - November 25, 2011 Reply

Bethany, your home is absolutely beautiful, every room. The layout, the details, the paint colors. You have done a wonderful job, and I wish you many happy years in your home.

Shadlyn Wolfe - November 25, 2011 Reply

Wow! Just…wow! That is beautiful, functional, and altogether awesome!

Cherie Worley - November 25, 2011 Reply

So pretty! It is gorgeous! It looks absolutely darling from the outside and very stylish and cool on the inside. Wishing you a long, happy life in your small home!

Kshanti - November 25, 2011 Reply

Well done!

Donna - November 25, 2011 Reply

WOW! Your home is BEAUTIFUL! Yes it is a tiny house, but it seems so HUGE for just one person (and 2 cats, lol) That bathroom is a luxury bathroom and tastefully decorated, and your kitchen POPS! Everything is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

Kay in KCMO - November 25, 2011 Reply

This is terrific. And I especially love the colors in your kitchen: the dark blue against the orange is so dramatic and works beautifully. - November 25, 2011 Reply

I really like the attention to detail thru out the house. (great stove) If all young people started out this way the pressure of Buying a home would be off their shoulders.They could enjoy it. Instead of an ordeal it could be an adventure.

Mark E Tisdale - November 25, 2011 Reply

Beautiful little house – so jealous!

mike - November 25, 2011 Reply

One of the best I’ve seen. What is it about 500sq ft.?

staceyranae - November 25, 2011 Reply

By far this is one of the BEST tiny houses I’v ever see. And I’v seen a bunch! 😀 ~stace.

alice - November 25, 2011 Reply

This looks absolutely marvellous, spacious and a true home sweet home. My dreamlife has new inspiration!

Bob H - November 25, 2011 Reply

I agree with all the above, fantastic little house. This can be called a house, its on a piece of land & no wheels, garden hoses or extension cords from a host. By far the best showing tiny house ever listed here. Nice job.

Mike Moore - November 25, 2011 Reply

Great work, Bethany ! Always nice to see another Tumbleweed in North Carolina. I’m north of you, just above Durham.

Sandy - November 25, 2011 Reply


It’s lovely! Do you mind sharing if you took out a bank loan and did it include your lot? Just wondering if the bank was easy to work with since the house is small. I’ve read on other sites that fianacing a small house can be problamatic.

Again, your home is wonderfully bright, airy and cheerful. Well done!

frank - November 25, 2011 Reply

Congratulations on getting such a small house through the permitting process! What changes were required in order to meet covenant and/or building department requirements?

Debbie - November 25, 2011 Reply

Beautiful! The kitchen and bath are fabulous–those are always my concerns when I see tiny house plans. Did you borrow space from the living area? They look bigger than the plans. Congrats on your beautiful new home!

Andy - November 25, 2011 Reply

Love it!!! Can you give us an aprox total once the modifications were made? I plan on building the B53 within the next few years.

Mary D. - November 25, 2011 Reply

Beautiful little home, well done! BTW…what is the washing machine you chose? And how is it performing? I’m in the market for a compact washing machine and I’m having trouble deciding which brand is best. Thanks!

Maria - November 25, 2011 Reply

Hi Bethany,

My husband and I live in Raleigh and are looking at the Whidbey and Harbinger plans for building one in the area.

Would it be too forward to ask about coming to see your home to get an idea of what we are looking at with the plans on the Tumbelweed site?

We are trying to envision how to make our stuff work in our current home but reality may require us to sell things that wouldn’t fit.

Who was the builder? We might want to use them in the future.

    Kent Griswold - November 25, 2011 Reply

    Maria, contact Tumbleweed and they can put you in touch with Bethany it is my understanding that they will show it to serious, interested people but can’t have everyone stopping by. -Kent

      Maria - November 26, 2011 Reply

      Hi Kent,

      I did contact Tumbleweed regarding Bethany’s home, though I’m not sure I emailed to the correct address. I think I may have mailed a customer service address. 😉 I will give it until middle of next week and then try again.

      I can certainly appreciate Bethany not wanting her house to be some tourist show. My husband and I have seen a Fencl recently that was for sale, so we have an idea of the space and what we need to do to live in a tiny home. We are looking to see a bigger space to help us gain some perspective in making sure we make the right choice in terms of our future house size.

      Thank you for responding.

    Mike Moore - November 25, 2011 Reply

    Hi Maria,
    I live in a Tumbleweed in Rougemont, north of Durham. It’s the Mulfinger (no longer on the site), which is about 350 sq. ft. If you’re interested in a tour, just let me know!

      Bubba Dirt - November 25, 2011 Reply

      Hey Mike,
      My Father lives in Oxford,NC. We have some land there and I am dreaming of building one of these.
      Would love to get intouch and take a look at your place. All the best!

      Maria - November 26, 2011 Reply

      Hi Mike,

      My husband and I would definitely be interested in seeing your home. We’ve seen a Fencl for sale so we have an idea with that particular size, but we are very very interested in seeing something that would help us in making a decision and setting our goal.

      I see your email address in the above comments. My email address is

      Thank you so much for this opportunity!

molly - November 25, 2011 Reply

Thank you for sharing your home, and all the pictures! It is really very beautiful and well done. Just the sort of house I would love to live in. 🙂

Karen - November 25, 2011 Reply

this is absolutely lovely in every way!!

Hannah - November 25, 2011 Reply


karen - November 25, 2011 Reply

whoa. that is simply beautiful. agree with the above poster that the kitchen & the bathroom are top notch! everything about it is lovely, lovely, lovely!

Alex - November 25, 2011 Reply

It’s great to have been able to see a real example of the Harbinger. Thanks for sharing Bethany!

2kids2cats - November 25, 2011 Reply

Wow. I plan on building a Bodega with slight modifications to meet minimum sq feet requirements and you have really inspired me. Such beautiful use of color, although as much as I love it, I couldn’t live in a “Gator” kitchen, LOL. Great job!!!

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural - November 25, 2011 Reply

This is the best tiny house I’ve ever seen. I was taken by Brittany’s in Washington and this is the same exact design, but just on a larger scale. I like how it looks like a normal house. I’ve always had a problem with the typical tiny house that is narrow, which I know is that way because of highway codes. Since I’m not interested in moving a house, but keeping it on a foundation as you have, yours is ideal. I love how spacious it is. That has got to be its most striking feature, plus it’s just lovely as can be from the outside. My friend loves how you have full-size appliances in the kitchen and I love how you have a bathtub (a necessity) with the impressive tile design. My grandma would love your lovely lavender paint choice! Additionally, I love how you have an office beneath those gorgeous windows. That is just amazing to have all that in a tiny house. I am also very impressed by how much floor space you have in your loft bedroom and just overall in every room. The side view you have pictured looks so much like a shotgun house I adored that I had in Kansas City that I’m seriously torn between the project I’m working toward and your house. My current project is saving to build a small log cabin that is based upon one of the historic log cabins at Tall Pines Inn in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, but you’ve done such an amazing and commendable job, that I’m leaning to recreating what you have done. I’d be curious to know the true square footage as I read 310 on Jay’s site for the lower level and then the loft, which didn’t indicate its size. Thank you so much for sharing and for your inspiring story.

Casas diminutas (Parte 3) – Las casas Tumbleweed « Casa enlatada - November 25, 2011 Reply

[…] La Harbinger de Bethany (es una casa con cimientos) – Montones de fotos, ¡excelente! […]

Gigi - November 25, 2011 Reply

Thanks for sharing your beautiful home. It’s very inspiring for us to strive and have a small but beautiful, practical and functional home.

Nicole Marie - November 25, 2011 Reply

Outstanding!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your house with us Bethany, it is beautiful!

Me'chelle - November 25, 2011 Reply

Superb very elegant, I was wondering when someone would beat me in building the Harbinger, maybe I’ll make New Vessica if I’m lucky.

That’s a lovely jewel you’ve got there take good care of it.

Bryan - November 25, 2011 Reply

I daydream about building a Tumbleweed B-53 and always thought the extra room off the back needed an exit. I see I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Beautiful home.

Josh - November 25, 2011 Reply

This is definitely one of the best-looking and most functional looking tiny houses I’ve seen on here – by that I mean that it looks very modern and cozy, with all of the necessary comforts of a home that’s been miniaturized a little. I was curious and did a little detective work/research and was surprised to find that this was on a half-acre piece of property assessed at nearly $200K. It seems to me to be sort of counterintuitive to build a tiny, inexpensive (relatively speaking), house on such a small piece of land where you’re only a stone’s throw from neighbors who have $200K parcels with $300K homes on them. I think I’d want to opt for the peace and quiet and seclusion of a rural setting, where land would also be more reasonable. And if you think about the development potential of a parcel in a seemingly affluent neighborhood, I would think it would make more sense to sell it to someone with the means to build another $300K home and invest the proceeds of the sale into a site that’s more conducive to the whole tiny house/low impact/less dependent, etc. sensibility.

I think this little house was executed perfectly except for the location. I think a beautiful little tiny home deserves some space and some scenery!

Barb - November 25, 2011 Reply

Holy Buckets! Absolutely stunning!! Do you sleep in the loft or the downstairs room? Your house is beautiful. thanks for sharing the photos!

wyndwalkr - November 26, 2011 Reply

FRantastic! And from all the positive comments, this is the type of thing that so many of us come here to see. REAL living! Sure wish the code-makers would see the light.

    Bob H - November 26, 2011 Reply

    Try talking to your code inspector. In my case (500 sq. ft.) code was very easy to work with, no trouble whatsoever.

william carlisle - November 26, 2011 Reply

Best small home yet, Beautifully detailed and well executed. As a home builder I really appreciate great work ! We have been moving our emphasis to smaller homes and will building sub 1000 sq ft customs in Northern NM .If you are interested in a Casita give me a call 505 259 3768

Bonnie - November 26, 2011 Reply

It’s so nice to see a tiny house with a working kitchen (some of us like to cook & bake!), and a full-size bathroom. No showering over the toilet, urgh!

Plenty of color — I get really tired of the all-wood, all-the-time look! And is that a clothes washer/dryer in the kitchen? Luxe!

This is really nice. You have everything you need, and it’s “normal” scale. No two-burner cooktops calling themselves a stove, for instance.

I could see myself being happy in a house like this. I think you’ve done a terrific job.

Lisa Clark - November 26, 2011 Reply

What a lovely home you have (I’m totally green). I am currently saving up to build the Whidbey on some land I have (well that is the current plan). Seeing your home give me a much better idea of what the Whidbey will look like as they are both quite similar in appearence.

Sande - November 26, 2011 Reply

We love your house…and we live in Carrboro, too. Where are you?

Denise - November 26, 2011 Reply

This is absolutely stunning. This is my dream of a small home. It has been beautifully planned out and executed. I have probably looked at everything on the web and this is exactly what I have planned out over and over in my mind, and would start on it “yesterday” if I was in that position. I love it–great job! May the Lord bless you and may you have many years of enjoyment in your new home. PS Where’s the walk-in closet? *grin*

Terri - November 26, 2011 Reply

Wow-gorgeous! I am curious what it cost to have this built with the same quality of finish, appliances, etc. That little bit of extra space and the windows and doors in back make it feel like much more house.

Jessica - November 26, 2011 Reply

Love, love, love! It is so great to see a bigger Tumbleweed home built. Bethany you did a fabulous job and I am very jealous. Enjoy your beautiful home.

Marianna Maver - November 27, 2011 Reply

Love this little house — much more spacious than I would have imagined! And love the colors in the bath& kitchen. I’m wondering, for future reference, if the stove Bethany insalled is full- sized,or narrower (say, 20 inches), and if it’s a more compact one, what brand it is?

Jay Shafer - November 27, 2011 Reply

It’s so exciting to see photos of a finished Harbinger! And it has been done so well. Thanks for sharing, Bethany.

Monday Grab Bag of Links … | The Pretense of Knowledge - November 28, 2011 Reply

[…] Monday Grab Bag of Links … November 28, 2011By adminArchitecture. (pic via Freshome) Imposing Modern Residence in South Africa Home of an Artist: Laurie Frick Residence in Texas Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kenneth Laurent House in Illinois An Amazing Mansion in Madrid Yallingup Residence by Wright Feldhusen Taj Exotica Resort and Spa Maldives Villa Feste / BBVH Architecten Bethany’s Tumbleweed Harbinger […]

Find Apartments - November 28, 2011 Reply

I don’t know why when I saw this picture it immediately reminded me of the Smallville series even though I’ve seen hundreds of tiny houses. Anyway, congrats on a truly beautiful home you have there.

Kevin C - December 1, 2011 Reply

This is perfect! A job well done. You can tell the builder and the owner made a ton of great decisions to take a great design and make it a perfect home.

Is that a minisplit heat pump on the wall? That’s the way to go!

Al - December 2, 2011 Reply

Gorgeous! You did amazing.

I was wondering though, the Harbinger isn’t meant to be moved, but can it be? Can it be built on wheels to be moved?

Bethany - December 15, 2011 Reply

Wow, thanks everyone for your fabulous comments. I’m flattered! A couple of brief answers to questions I saw here:

Building cost was between $75K and $80K not including impact fees and land cost. Types of finishes, appliances, and all sorts of things could be done differently to lower the cost, obviously.

Washer/Dryer combo is an LG.

Stove is normal size (30 inch).

Love the inverter heating and cooling. Also on-demand water heater. It’s an Energy Star certified home.

Sande, I’m near downtown but I promised my neighbors not to ‘advertise’ the address!

And Josh, the good sleuth, you are right that it’s totally uneconomical to build this sort of thing on an in-town lot in a high-priced area. But markets aren’t ‘rational’! : ) Carrboro is incredibly walkable, bike-able, and beautiful, and I feel I have balance in my quality of life and my footprint (my car stays parked most days.)

Thanks again everyone for taking a peek!

Wayne - February 29, 2012 Reply

Great pics and something I am thinking of building. I was just wondering if a spiral staircase to the loft would fit. I saw some from England 1 meter in diameter about the smallest I could find on the internet and not too expensive (available in white painted decorative metal).

Karen - March 5, 2012 Reply

This is really a cute little house, especially for one person. Just out of curiosity, I looked at the plans on the site and figured out if you bought the plans with the bump out (404 sq. ft.) added the loft (100 sq. ft.) and put it over a basement – you could have a house almost or around 900 +/- square feet. Of course, I realize that it depends on where it’s built. I wonder how much the utilities and insurance expenses are?

Andie - July 17, 2012 Reply

Just darling and homey and just what I dream of owning myself. You have done a spectacular job of turning every inch into a perfect little home. I am
very impressed.

The Tiny House Movement « Financial Independence « Early Financial Independence - October 17, 2012 Reply

[…] I had to pick a favorite, I lean toward the homes that resemble traditional houses (maybe because they’re quite large in comparison to the trailer options), but you can find a […]

Nancy Peacock - October 23, 2012 Reply

Bethany – I’m excited to see a tiny house in my neighborhood. I hate to impose but may I visit? I thought I was the only local who was interested in tiny houses. Am considering one. I live in Hillsborough. Grew up in Chapel Hill.

Danielle - February 1, 2013 Reply

this is just adorable! can you post a floorplan? how about an approximate finished cost?

this home really has everything a “regular” home has, but just in a smaller space. i notice a dishwasher, four-burner range, regular tub and toilet, etc. much more livable than some i have seen on this site!


Joshua - June 23, 2013 Reply


I was wondering if I can your address. I live in Durham and am not looking for a home tour, just wanted to drive by. We happen to be at weaver street market and thought if you reply today we can swing by on the way back.

Joshua Klein

Daniel - September 13, 2014 Reply

I am in the process of building a tiny house too – and I’m excited that at least the ones on permanent foundations are welcome in Carrboro! How did you navigate furniture? I’m planning on using a lot of drop-leaf tables in the wall, custom made furniture, and using the vertical space of 9′ ceilings. Most furniture in the USA assumes a lot of sprawling space, and we tiny house folk need to be creative!

Nathan - November 1, 2014 Reply

I live and work in Chapel Hill, NC and am very interested in building a tiny house in this area. I am currently looking into the zoning laws here but wanted to know if it is possible to get your contact info to talk about your experience.

Sara - February 29, 2016 Reply

Hello, I found this article via a search on Google for tiny house parking in carrboro nc. Do you know of any land for sale or rent in the area? I found a builder, but I’m not able to move forward until I have secured parking. I look forward to any advice you may have 🙂

Leave a Reply: