Danny Yahini’s tiny house company, YahiniHomes, offers the best of both worlds in the small house industry. His various custom homes are not only small and portable, but they can also be set up on a trailer, or on your choice of foundation, and then added onto later to accommodate life’s little changes.
Danny, who’s based in Athens, Ohio, has been designing and building small, energy efficient homes since the 1980s. He now concentrates on building smaller, moveable homes that are affordable for his clients. All of Danny’s well-insulated cabins are built with high quality materials and are designed to be moved easily. They can also be designed with detachable porches and decks. The cabins can include local and natural materials like natural edge poplar and bamboo flooring and Danny utilizes solar power and heating systems in off-grid cabins.
He currently has four different designs: the 15′x20′ Cabin, the 8′x18′ Side Porch Cabin, the 8′x14′ Off Grid Cabin and the 8′x18′ Butterfly Cabin. His latest design is The Pod, a 12′x24′ skid mounted home that is designed to be added onto. The cost of the passive solar Pod was around $20,000 and the 2×6 walls of the home were finished with stucco paint.
The interiors of the YahiniHomes feature simple, beautiful designs, storage and versatile bed and living areas. They all contain kitchens and bathrooms. The 8′x14′ Off Grid Cabin has a interesting platform bed (like a sheep wagon) that accommodates additional storage and a pull-out table.
Photos courtesy of YahiniHomes
The other night, while watching the offbeat, but visually beautiful Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus by Terry Gilliam, I was charmed by the impressive Imaginarium wagon that the movie characters travel and live in. While the wagon in the movie (best known as the late Heath Ledger’s last performance) is whimsical and transports visitors to realms of fantasy, the basic idea of the carnival/sideshow and medicine show wagon is included in the tall, elaborate structure.
The rural areas of North America in the 19th century enjoyed traveling sideshows and medicine shows as their entertainment – welcome during the time of the Great Depression. These shows included circus performers, burlesque, vaudeville, Wild West spectacles, oddity exhibits and theater productions. Medicine shows traveled around delivering “miracle cure” medications and other products between various entertainment acts. Many of these types of shows traveled in horse drawn wagons decorated with elaborate paint and filigree to add to the flair of the production. Because of the transient nature of the job, many of the performers lived in these wagons full time. Movies like 1932′s Freaks and shows like HBO’s Carnivale give a glimpse into how these people lived on the road.
Very few of these wagons exist today, but some can be found refurbished and used as decor or displays. Even modern day fortune tellers like Suzie Kerr Wright, aka Astrogirl, has a recreated carnival wagon where she reads palms and interprets the Tarot.
Many readers of the Tiny House Blog might know Gregory Kloehn best from his Dumpster home that was featured on Inside Edition and the Rachel Ray Show. Gregory now has a new project in the works. The Homeless Homes Project, which features tiny structures built out of illegally dumped garbage and industrial waste are becoming more than an environmental stance or garbage art. These little homes are fast becoming a collaborative project between different groups who want to help shelter people who live on the streets.
With names like R2D2, Romanian Farm House, Uni-bomber Shack and The Chuck Wagon, these structures are built from pallets, bed frames, futon frames, doors, plywood, OSB, paint, packing crates, car consoles, auto glass, refrigerator shelves and anything else Gregory can find in local dumping areas around his home in Oakland. He looks for anything that has real wood, tempered glass and sturdy frames, and only purchases nails, screws, glue, paint brushes and saw blades. When a home is completed, he pushes it into the street, take a few photos and then gives it away.
“From that point on, I have no more say in it,” Gregory said. “The homes take on a life of their own. One was stolen, one was sold, one was firebombed, one is in a neighbor’s backyard with dogs living in it, the rest are still on the streets with people living in them.”
Gregory’s initial concept of these homes was not to house the homeless but came about because of some research he was conducting on homeless architecture and the various structures built by people who live on the street. He was inspired by their resourcefulness to take found objects and create homes and a livelihood from them.
“I was inspired to take these same materials back to my shop and put them together in a more permanent fashion,” Gregory said. “After about a week of collecting and building, I had a 21st century hunter/gather home, built from the discarded fruits of the urban jungle.”
“This sat at my studio for a number of months, just collecting dust,” he continued. “One rainy night, Charlene, a homeless woman I’ve known for some 10 years, asked if I had a tarp for her. I told her I didn’t have one and I went back inside. As I walked past the home, it hit me, I should give her this. I ran back out and told her to come back tomorrow and I would have a home for her. She and her husband Oscar came back the next day. I handed them a set of keys and a bottle of champagne and watched them push it down the street. It felt so good that I started making another one that same day.”
Gregory’s now working on the projects with several community groups and people who come to his shop to help. The plan is to move into a larger space that can accommodate workshops and larger builds. He said his Dumpster home project taught him many lessons that he’s applying to the Homeless Homes including sticking to his original vision.
“Regardless of what others say, or what you may even say to yourself about an idea, if you think it has merit and you want to do it, you should just do it,” he said. “Don’t let petty details derail your desires, you can deal with those later, what’s important is the essence of your ideas.”
Gregory’s interest in tiny homes came from building a lot of different homes and condos over the years and realizing that the smaller projects actually made him happier.
“There is a spontaneity and playfulness in making small homes that traditional houses do not offer,” Gregory said. “It reminds me of making forts as a kid, no city planners, no architects, no crews, no bank loans, just my ideas and my hands.”
Photos by Gregory Kloehn
The Columbia Missourian recently ran a story about university student Alicia Harris and the tiny house she built with her father, Paul. The 180-square foot house was built for only $22,000 over the course of two months and Alicia lived in it while interning in Amarillo, Texas last summer.
Her tiny home was built on a 7 1/2 foot-by-18-foot flatbed trailer and contains a small kitchen, bathroom with a shower, a loft bedroom and living space with a full closet. The minimalist interior is full of wood accents. The trailer is currently parked in an RV park in Columbia, Missouri while she finishes school. Alicia shares the tiny space with her large Great Dane, Roscoe.
Alicia’s house was based on a blueprint from the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and her desire to be mobile and not tied down to high housing costs was the catalyst for this type of home. She also appreciates the low utility costs.
“A perfect example: My first month’s electricity bill was $4, and the second one was $10,” she told the Missourian, “and that was living in Texas in the middle of summer.”
Photos by the Columbia Missourian