Don’s Ash Cabin

by Kent Griswold on April 11th, 2014. 33 Comments

Update new photo below 4/11/14

Don Richmond wrote me the other day about his cabin project and I wanted to share it with you. Here is Don’s story.

I was stunned by the similarity of the House of Fallen Timbers story to my own. I live in rural Southeast Lower Michigan, and my 2.25 acres has been ravaged by the ash borer problem. So last winter I had quite a few dead ash trees to cut down and clean up. Like David, I had plenty of burning wood, and I was afraid they would start falling down and causing (safety) problems, and I was also tired of how bad they looked, as well as having to clean up all the shed during windy conditions. But I got to looking at them, and at how many “straight” sections of log they had in them, and I thought “Hmmm…crazy idea, but I wonder if I could build a small log cabin from the straight pieces.” I also had seen Dick Proenneke’s PBS special, and was impressed that a single person could do that.

So on January 2nd of 2010, I started cutting down trees. A friend helped me, a guy who burns wood for heat, and I told him that if he helped me cut them down and cut them up, he could have all the crooked stuff to burn. It took a while, but we got them all cut down and stacked the straight ones in drying piles, and he got quite a few loads of excellent firewood out of the deal, which I helped him cut to burning size pieces and load onto his trailer. He was happy, and so was I.

Making a long story short, it’s 11 months later now, and I have ended up with an ash log cabin. The only thing I have left is to install the stove pipe so I can burn wood for heat in my Grandfather’s 1887 wood stove that I have in there.

The costs for building were minimal, as I attempted to (and took great pride in) using resources and materials I had already laying around or could recycle from other sources I could find. I did buy some things, like the USB sheets for the roof and floor, 3 insulation rolls to stuff between logs, hinges/handle for the door, but that’s about it. It was a great project, and I learned a lot, and gained great appreciation for the pioneers who did this type of thing for their families to provide them with shelter. I also pretty much did it solo. Besides the friend helping me cut down the trees and stack the logs, one other friend came one Saturday and did some odds and ends – peeling some logs, doing some notching, etc… – more because he was excited about what I was doing and wanted to learn how to do some of those things than out of necessity. Other than that, I did the rest myself, including the nut-busting-back-breaking moving around of VERY heavy hardwood logs. Luckily, I got through it without any big accidents, though not without some scary moments, particularly getting the real big logs up to higher and higher levels.

So I just wanted to share some thoughts and ideas on our projects. Congratulations on your own completions. I share and understand your efforts, and give you credit for all your work.


Don Richmond
drichmond (at)

New photo of patio below.

new patio

Our Tiny Cabin

by Kent Griswold on April 3rd, 2014. 42 Comments

Michael and I knew that we wanted something smaller, but even more so, we knew that we wanted our own land. Michael was raised on cattle ranches down in Alabama and Mississippi. He has many head of cattle that he wants to bring up to where we currently live. We always talked about buying a place or building a place, but neither of us are machine inclined. So we knew that we were going to hire someone that could build our tiny cabin for us.

tiny cabin

We bought a historic hundred and four-year-old cottage in the antique district also known as Goodlettsville about 20 minutes away from downtown Nashville three years ago. Previously we were in a one bedroom apartment so when we bought this cottage we felt like it was so much bigger being that it has three bedrooms. After living in it for a while we realize that three bedrooms were not necessary for us we actually use the master bedroom as a den and media room and we sleep in a smaller bedroom and then of course the third bedroom has been used as a guestroom and catchall.

cabin delivery

Mike and I have always talked about gardening cattle and having acreage someday. I came across Tiny House websites and blogs about a year ago online. Even though we knew we wanted to downsize Mike wasn’t too keen on the small tiny houses that were 6 x 6 on trailers from the get-go. However through the past year we’ve done a lot of research and decided on the size that could work for us.


Mike and I garden extensively. The whole backyard is a working garden. We grow our own food and we know how to preserve. We also have kept hens for years. We had the Mennonites in Dickson Tennessee build us a rather nice-looking coop, and we exchange our vegetables and eggs with the neighbors in our community. What we can’t eat, freeze, or can we give to family, friends, and Church folk.

unfinished interior

We found a company up the road in Greenbrier Tennessee at the Amish general store that builds sheds and small cabins. The company is actually just over the state line in Kentucky. Their quality of work and customization options were second to none. As soon as I spotted what they call a “vinyl Quaker cabin,” I immediately talked to Mike and said I think I found the cabin we’ve been looking for! It is 288 sq ft, not including the sleeping loft. At 12 x 24 it was very easy to have it delivered.


Depending on their order load, your cabin will be delivered within 4 to 6 weeks. Ours took about five weeks, because we had fully customized it. We have windows in the sleeping loft, double glass doors on the back that could lead out to a deck, and extra height added.

Our goal is to be off grid as much as we can be. We are choosing no electricity, plumbing, etc. We will use wind, solar, rain water, propane, kerosene, composting toilet, and wood. Keep more hens and grow our own food.

tiny cabin

We are excited about our journey and we know that this is the right fit for us, it may not be for everyone, but Mike and I knew that this was coming, even before it was in front of us.

We are excited to insulate the tiny cabin, put up some sort of wall materials such as bead board, and we received leftover hardwood flooring from some friends.

Our plan: within the next 12 to 18 months to be fully off the grid on our own homestead, growing our own food, and looking for alternative fuel options.

Our next venture is finding a good used tractor! :)

Shon & Mike
Goodlettsville, TN

tiny cabin

April 3rd, 2014and filed in Your Story
Tags: Amish, cabin, Tennessee, Tiny House Articles

The Revival

by Kent Griswold on March 26th, 2014. 37 Comments

by Jonathan Morningstar

Let me introduce myself: My name is Jonathan Morningstar. I am an itinerant United Methodist pastor, which means that I can be moved to a new parish at any time. My wife Amanda and I are always one phone call from the bishop away from moving to a new town, which honestly can cause a little anxiety. The parishes that I serve provide my wife and I with a more than adequate parsonage, but we have always wanted a place to call our own!

We started looking at our options, and found the Tiny House Blog! It has been such a helpful resource in this process. We decided to locate our little cottage in a campground that my family has been attending for years. It is a century old revival type camp-meeting in central Pennsylvania. At this campground, there are many small cabins owned by families that have attended the meeting, often for generations.


My grandfather was a minister too, and his small cottage is just down the way from mine, now owned by my uncle. Through the bat and board siding, the sound of hymns and spiritual songs and spirited preaching comes wafting through the cabin in the humid late summer heat.

The Susquehanna river is just down the hill from the campground, where we often swim and fish. It’s a perfect place to relax. We lease a small tent pad, which our 10X16 cottage occupies. We had the cabin shell built by a local shed company, and delivered to the site. We then finished the interior. Four of the 16 feet is porch, but we decided to maximize space by locating a sleeping loft above the porch. This puts the interior at around 120 square feet, 160 if you count the loft. We’ve kept an open floor plan, having a corner for the “kitchen” and “office,” a sitting area, as well as a centrally located pot-bellied stove that provides heat. The stove is quite small, I found it at a local antique shop. The bolt holes on the legs have always left me wondering if it in fact started life in a railroad caboose.


A small secretary desk provides a valuable workspace; much of what I do as a pastor involves writing and reflecting, and this quiet location is a great place to focus on this task. Most of the furniture is reclaimed, or heirloom. The heavy oak love seat, rocking chair, and chair are from my great aunt, and were used at the campground 50 years ago. My mother has had them for as long as I can remember, but a few years ago gave them to me. They are now back home!


The antique brass lamp was my grandmothers. We’ve decided not to insulate the cabin, and instead have left the walls open, you can see the inside of the bat and board siding from the interior. Only being a three season cabin, we didn’t feel the need to insulate, the little wood stove easily heats the place during cooler spring and fall days.

desk and light

The other reason we left the interior unfinished, other than to save a little money, is because leaving it “breathable” just feels more like the mood of the camp. Not too long ago, the campground was full of canvas tents, I slept in one as a kid. The canvas tents have been gone for a while now, and I believe the loss of the old wall tents takes a great deal away from the rustic feel of the camp. Our goal with our cabin was to make a space that was faithful to this “feel.”


Hope you enjoy our little cabin, which we’ve nicknamed “the revival.”

the cabin

Jim Walter’s Tiny House

by Kent Griswold on March 14th, 2014. 47 Comments

by Jim Walters

A lot is being said about tiny houses these days so I thought I would show everybody mine. It’s right around 200 square feet. Total cost to build for me was about $600.00. One or two could live in it, but one would be ideal.

Right now it’s a guest house, but I used to have my studio in it and where my wife and I would party. It is basically made of left overs from when I built the cabin we live in now.

Jim's cabin

interior 1

interior 2

interior 3

interior 4

cabin on the hill


March 14th, 2014and filed in Your Story
Tags: cabin, Jim Walters, Tiny House Articles