Rotens “Ideabox” inspired Small Home

by Kent Griswold on December 28th, 2012. 30 Comments
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by Paul and Shari Roten

We are the former owners of Kaizen Tile & Stone in the Seattle area, although are both originally from small towns in the Midwest of the USA.

We spent years renovating others homes as well as our own cottage in West Seattle prior to starting our tiny house outside Newport, Washington. We’ve gone from 10 acres of woods to having an “Ideabox” inspired home well underway with the burgundy metal roof due to be installed in just two weeks!

Paul and Shari

We’d love to include some pictures and would love to share our story. Because of your site, we have been inspired by others walking a similar path, and made changes to our footprint after seeing some of the plans from Ideabox. As parents of 5 and grandparents of another 5, we’ve decided to make our Roten Retreat a two story to accomadate our lives and loves, with option as we age to be able to live on one level only. The¬†foot print is 500 sq ft with 1000 total for both floors.

foundation and floor

first walls

more walls

the dogs helping out

first floor walls complete

second floor

enjoying the build

2nd floor complete

sheathing on

getting the roof on

cold weather


30 Responses to “Rotens “Ideabox” inspired Small Home”

  1. Em says:

    I’d love to see pics of the interiour & exteriour when you’re finished!

    Looks like a cool house. (And I totally get needing a place for the grandchildren.)

  2. JCinCT says:

    Wow, Really like this. Will love to see the finished project… please get back to us all when done

  3. KM says:

    I like the “Northwest Modern” model Ideabox and would love to actually see your version (if at some point you are willing to have in-person visitors). Looks great, so far!

  4. Hunter says:

    A lot of hard work but many hands helping speeds things along.I think it will be very nice and comfy when done. Love the out house, just need some solar heat when enclosed and you’re good to go.

  5. Paulette says:

    This looks so interesting–I love the upstairs windows! Please let us see the interior and exterior pictures when you are finished. And the floorplan!

  6. This is my favorite style of house, a roof that goes up and never comes down. Can’t wait to see photos of the finished house.

  7. Love the simplicity of lines (and buildability). Boy, does that ever help a project get done.

    It is like making the choice to have bread, cheese and a bottle of wine… instead of cooking a multi-course buffet. What isn’t fantastic about the picnic? Heh…

  8. -billS says:

    I want to see more of this project. Would be interested in knowing you thought process on placement on the lot. Is the roof sloping to the North? As a newly empty-nester couple, I have been trying to sell my wife on the concept and we always return back to kids/future grandkids/visits and holidays. Seems you have thought this through. I could never imaging myself climbing a ladder to go to bed when I’m 70. Please keep us up to date. Thanks, -billS

  9. alice h says:

    Styrofoam seat in the outhouse beats those hard plastic things any day. Much warmer to sit on. The pink or blue high density stuff works best and you can easily carve it into a comfortable shape.

  10. Charles E A Johnson+ says:

    Our outhouse was our first structure…now a garden shed. Sawdust toilet inside the cabin now (for her), and mine is inside a 7 x 7 hay shed…walls look a lot like these!

  11. Gregory S says:

    I’d like to know what your plumbing layout is
    going to look like ( if any ) and also floorplan
    details so I can see how you are going to get to
    the 2nd floor. The shed roof should allow for
    easier insulation and cheaper easier framing.
    Great idea.

  12. Sandra Allen says:

    When can I move in? I don’t eat much…heck I won’t eat at all!
    Seriously, this looks like a place to live and love out your days and I envy you all the way to my green feet!

    Great job, and the former posters are right. You had some great people to help and that will be a memory for all involved to keep.
    Looking forward to interior when you have them done.

  13. Michael says:

    Fantastic, except for one thing.
    An outhouse?
    And how does one prevent frost bite on their backside in the winter when the temp gets below freezing and into the teens?
    I spend too much time in there to be freezing at the same time.

    • Dev says:

      My Granny used to take the seat indoors so when she went to the outhouse, the seat was still warm. I suppose you could install a “Mr Buddy” propane heater to warm the space before you spend any time in there.

  14. Melanie says:

    That is awesome, would love to see the drawings/lay out to get an idea of what you can fit in that size home. Congrats and Have A Blast!

  15. Tom Thomas says:

    I’m thinkin that the outhouse might be temp while under construction . . . ? ? ? With 1,000sf and the possibility of up to 17 people under the roof at times (holidays..etc) – I’d HOPE there is at least one bathroom in this house. I’m also surprised at the limited windows. Looks like some entire rooms would be windowless. I’m anxious to see the finished project. I’m envious of those who actually get out there and DO SOMETHING awesome like this.

    • Alan says:

      Plenty of windows framed in – the sheathing covers those windows in some pics, but will be cut out to expose windows later. Look at the framing (no sheathing) pics to get a feel for the window openings.

  16. Br. Curt says:

    Very nice! Looks like you have a slight labor problem with those two slaggards sleeping on the job. HaHa. I used to work in a railroad tower in Minnesota. Our toilet was a Johnny-on-The-Spot that we had to walk a ways to. Never got frostbite even when the temps. were -20.

    Looks like a good place for the good life. Thanks for sharing. I’m sure all of us want to see your finished work.

  17. Judy says:

    Wow, feel a real connection as we are parents to 5 and grandparents to 5 also and of course love this blog! We will be following your story and are very excited about what you’re building at this point in your lives!

  18. Lauren says:

    Love this! Especially with your view to being able to accommodate grandchildren and your own aging. I want to live “tiny” but my husband can’t stand the idea of anything under 1200 sq feet (there has to be a way to bring him around, and this may come close), plus I thought the tiny home lofts would be difficult in “later years”. Would love to see interior photos when it’s finished!

  19. Carolyn B says:

    Thanks for sharing so many pictures. Looking forward to all updates.

  20. Paul and Shari says:

    Hi all and Happy March!
    We are ANXIOUSLY anticipating warm temps and lots of helpful visitors!
    Our place is located just outside Newport, WA….so if you may just be in the area this summer, let us know and we would be more than happy to show you what we are up to next!
    Yes, there are LOTS of windows as we have incredible views in most directions, and yes, the outside “bathroom” is just a temporary aide at this point….but I’m sure it will come in handy when working in the garden or hanging out clothes!
    Shari was injured on the job we hold just over a year ago, but the decision was made to continue with a second story AND pray that we may enjoy the upper level for years to come before having to make the switch to the first floor bedroom. There will be a regular stairway at the NW corner of the place….which is the low side of the Norhtern angle roof….where you see the guys working on the roof!
    We are SO very thankful to have had such wonderful family members and friends help us along the journey thus far. We are very blessed.
    We apologize for the delay in adding a note….with the hectic past few months we’ve experienced, we missed seeing the link up!
    Bless all of you for your wonderful and inspiring notes! They give us encouragement to keep on moving forward and believing that “the best is yet to come”!

  21. Paul & Shari says:

    Good March to you all!

    We just spent a wonderful few hours in Newport at the “Roten Ranch” this past weekend. It was a glorious day with sapphire blue skies prevailing over our hopefully – soon to be – new home! We can’t wait to get started up again and with the forecasted temps this week, the snow should be completely gone soon!

    Again, if any of you plan to be in or near Newport, WA this summer, please get in touch so you can have a first hand peek at what the Rotens are up too!

  22. Patrick says:

    Paul and Shari,

    Your story and photos are most inspiring! I can see you’ve a wonderful assemblage of family and friends to help you realize your vision.

    I’m designing a cabin, myself, and keep revisiting the virtues of loft vs full upper story. I like a small footprint and low elevation, though I must confess that a regular staircase to a full-standing-room second story has a lot to say for itself. Still haven’t decided which way to go.

    I presently live down by Pullman, but get up to Spokane frequently (not too far from Newport!) and would love to come see your place and “talk shop.” What’s the best way to get a hold of you? (Is it permissible to share email addresses over this blog?)

    Hope we’ll be able to connect. And the best of luck to you in bringing your new home to the move-in stage (possibly this summer?)!

    • Paul and Shari says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Thank you SO much for your note….sorry about the delay in getting back to you…its been a busy time as we prepare to head to the Roten Homestead/Ranch/Retreat!!

      We would love to have you come and visit. We should be in Newport early to end of May full time.

      You may email us at

      And if others are interested in coming by – if you can handle the outhouse!! – feel free to drop us a note as well.

      Wishing you all the best….and the Best IS yet to come!

      P & S

  23. Sandy says:

    I see eColi germs ALL OVER that outhouse, No sink, no soap, no hot water!!!!! That’s the recipe for plagues. NO THANK YOU!!

  24. Paul Shari Roten says:

    Lots of changes going on! Septic is in, backfill is complete, sheetrock has started! And, with just two small in wall electric heaters, the place is super toasty!

    Wishing you all a great holiday season. We are blessed.

  25. Paul Shari Roten says:


    Can we please keep it to positive remarks only?

    We are doing the best we can after nsny challenges. Negative comments dont go well with the positive energy and spirit we are instilling in our home.

    Paul and Shari

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