By Alyse Nelson
While attending graduate school in Portland, Oregon, Lina Menard didn’t rent an apartment or live in a dorm. Instead, she lived in a tiny house. During her tiny home tenure, Lina has learned to live and love tiny spaces. Lina became a tiny-house advocate, organizing tours of small homes, learning about the regulatory barriers of tiny home acceptance, and interning at PAD and Orange Splot, where she helped build tiny houses.
Lina Menard with her possessions, sitting outside a tiny home she lived in for 10 months. Photo credit Lina Menard, used with permission from her blog, thisisthelittlelife.com.
After spending almost a year in a 120-square-foot tiny home, Lina has a good idea of how to live well in a small space. “I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that I’m much happier when I live with just the things I like best. My relationship to stuff has shifted dramatically over the past year and a half. I’m much less materialistic than I used to be. But I really appreciate the little touches, too. It’s not about deprivation, but about intension,” Lina told me.
Lina’s tiny home includes a sleeping loft that she shares with her cat, Raffi. Photo credit Lina Menard, used with permission from her blog, thisisthelittlelife.com.
When you’re measuring square inches rather than feet, every detail counts. Lina’s tiny home features a dining room table that expands to fit guests, a window seat that doubles as extra seating for big meals, and lots of windows to let in natural light. Every single possession Lina has in the home has to serve a purpose, but she doesn’t mind: “It’s liberating to not feel tied to stuff,” she told OR Magazine.
Embed video with Lina’s tiny house:
She recognizes that tiny-home living isn’t for everyone, but thinks there’s a way to broaden its appeal: the “cohousing” model, where tiny homes would be coupled with shared kitchens, laundry facilities, guest rooms, and even amenities like barbeques, workshops, and gardens. “Tiny cohousing would just push the envelope,” Lina writes in her blog. “People who lived in a tiny house community would have access to all these things, but they wouldn’t have to own all these things themselves,” she explains. Continue Reading »
I received a note from my friend Dee Williams about an upcoming workshop and wanted to share it with you as the time is fast approaching. I wish I could make this one personally as it would be a lot of fun and is near where my daughter lives. Here is what Dee has to say.
I wanted to drop a note to ask a favor. I know you’re swamped and in the middle of your normal awesome life, but I wanted to let you know about some up coming workshops being hosted through Portland Alternative Dwellings (www.padtinyhouses.com). It seems there’s a rush of activity right now with great workshops on the horizon, hosted by Jay Shafer’s new company Four Lights Houses, Yestermorrow Design Build School, Tumbleweed, Deek Deitrickson’s Relaxashacks, and others.
PAD is excited to be a part of such a dynamic community of tiny house enthusiasts. VIVA LA TEENY TINY!!
PAD is hosting a two day Tiny House Design Workshop on February 23 and 24th in Portland Oregon. This same workshop will be repeated in April. We’re focusing on the nuts and bolts of tiny house construction, codes, moisture control and energy efficiency and systems (meaning poop, showering, turning on the lights and cooking up a meal… not necessarily in that order). Our classroom discussions will be anchored by a half-day tour and discussion at POD 49, a pocket community that includes a tiny house and two big houses. Folks can sign up for one day (Saturday or Sunday), or both.
In June, we’ll be hosting a hands-on Tiny House Building Workshop complete with tools, sunscreen and a big o’ can of LET’s DO THIS!
Would you please consider helping to get the word out about the workshops… blog it, blab about it, bang a drum or otherwise broadcast our work, and send folks to our website (www.padtinyhouses.com) for more information? Also, if you’re interested in attending, we’d love to have you there… just let us know ASAP so we can reserve a spot for you and immediately begin to ice down the beers (or other appropriate celebratory libation).
Again, we appreciate being a part of the tiny house world that was in part created by YOU!
Portland Alternative Dwellings
Kasey March who does the proofing and editing on the posts here on the Tiny House Blog made this neat find.
Portland, Maine architect Will Winkelman provided this restoration on a 1959 Chevrolet Viking short bus. His client was looking for something flexible and moveable for both wilderness exploration as well as being function and funky for a guest bedroom at home.
To make it funky Winkleman inserted an alternative life into the bus. With beads, dangles, and paisleys, they brought the 60′s lifestyle into the bus.
Using boatbuilding skills they transformed every inch into usable space and using recycled materials for the floor and other parts of the interior they made a beautiful space to live in and enjoy.
Read the full article and see more pictures at Remodelista. Thanks Kasey for sharing this cool space.
Photo Credits: Remodelista
A couple years ago Jordan Palmeri of Portland, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality conducted a study that showed that building small is the single best building strategy for energy and resource efficiency. Over the past year a group of us have been working to create a forum to share information about the benefits, strategies, and challenges of building small.
I’d like to cordially invite you to the upcoming Build Small | Live Large Housing Summit on October 26th in Portland. Additional information is available here: http://living-future.org/cascadia/buildsmall. I will be presenting in the Biggie Smalls: The Notorious Tiny House session with Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings and Derin Williams of Urban Nest NW. We would love to see familiar faces in the crowd!
The 2012 Build Small | Live Large Housing Summit will gather leaders in the development, real estate, building, and design sector from across the bioregion for an intensive day of inspiration, project case studies, and peer-to-peer learning. Industry professionals will see innovative designs and learn about the financial success stories emerging across our area.
by Travis Moles
Going up for sale in August 2012.
Tiny Cabin on a River, one hour West of Portland, Oregon.
Reasons That Might Persuade:
- It’s on a coastal river in Oregon that has a Salmon Run!
- It’s located smack in the coastal range, in a landscape dominated by wildness.
- There is a forest maintained hiking trail within walking distance.
- There is a wild river located a few miles away (river with no road along it -very rare in the US).
- There is a mountain lake located a few miles away with a healthy fish population.
- There is nothing but forest in every direction, except for my AWESOME neighbors upstream, which I can’t really even see from the cabin.
- The property is small, yet there are a multitude of places inside and out to nestle oneself with the main presence always being that of the river.
- Alternative construction process: It’s built modular with as much recycled and local materials as I could scrounge (more details in building section). I used a vegetable oil powered truck to acquire materials and haul them there.
- 5 miles away is a small general store with everything from food and wireless internet to pipe fittings and gas/diesel. There’s good cell service there. It’s nice to be able to go to the cabin and have a focused removed time, with the option to leave and check up on any real world commitments if need be. I like that I have to leave the cabin to do this.
My friend and fellow blogger Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens and her husband Logan just fulfilled a dream of theirs and moved into a tiny house.
The home was designed and built by Dee Williams and Katy Anderson of Portland Alternative Dwellings based in Portland, Oregon. I asked Tammy to give us a video walk through of her home and asked her a few questions also. Included in this post is her video and a photo gallery of their new home. You can view more photos of the construction of their home here.
Kent: As a couple living in such a small space where do you go to find your own private space?
Tammy: Logan and I both have solitary jobs. I’m a writer and he’s a scientist. During the course of the work day we both spend a lot of time alone. During the mornings, evenings and on the weekends, we enjoy spending time together. Even if our jobs weren’t solitary that would still be the case. Logan is my best friend and I love spending time with him. If I need alone time, I go out for a walk, practice yoga, or meditate. I don’t need a big house to find my own private space.
Kent: Will you do most of your cooking in your house or do you eat out regularly?
Tammy: I’ll do both. Logan and I have a tiny stove that runs off denatured alcohol. Logan baked cornbread for an office party and we made an amazing vegetable stir-fry for dinner last week. In the past our routine has been to cook mostly at home, however, we also love eating out and Portland has a great food scene. For example, the food carts offer a wide range of choices and it’s relatively inexpensive.
Kent: What type of plumbing, etc. is used in your home to take care of gray water and black water?
Tammy: I have a simple plumbing set-up in the little house; one pipe goes into the house and one goes out. A garden hose attaches to a valve on the exterior of the house and it runs to a kitchen faucet that is used to do dishes. For drinking water, we filter water from the faucet using a simple Berkey Light water system that sits on the counter.
I have a small wet-bath to clean-up, but right now I don’t use it because I shower after my yoga class and Logan showers at his office.
Gray water from the kitchen sink and wet-bath drains flow together into a single pipe out to under the house and is currently caught in a five gallon container under the house. We use the grey water to irrigate ornamental trees and shrubbery and so far we have been producing about 1.5 gallons of grey water per day (or less). Black water isn’t an issue because I have a composting toilet. The composting toilet is based off the model in the Humanure Handbook. Composting is a huge topic, so if you want to learn more, read the book.
Kent: How did you find a place to park your mobile tiny home?
Tammy: When I started looking for a parking spot, I emailed all of my friends and posted a flyer on the blog too. There is uncertainty when it comes to parking a little house, especially if you don’t have land of your own and I was scared we wouldn’t find a parking spot within the city limits. Moving to an RV park on Sauvie Island was an option. But the commute is a little too far for us, especially since we don’t have a car.
Eventually, acquaintances heard we needed a place to park and offered their backyard to us in exchange for rent. It’s in a beautiful neighborhood and I’m incredibly grateful to be in such a wonderful spot.
Kent: Is it legal to park your home where it is?
Tammy: The planning department has not integrated little dwellings into the city code yet. So technically, the little house isn’t illegal or legal. However, the City of Portland has been receptive to these types of homes. The history of small, mobile food carts is a great example and a wonderful precedent to Portland’s tolerance regarding alternative buildings within the city limits.
The primary purpose of city code is to make sure homes are safe. Our house is built to the International Building Code and was inspected by a certified electrician, plumber, and contractor. In addition to being beautiful, our french doors serve as an easy entry for emergency personal, in case of a fire or illness. Taken together, these features help planning department officials make a better appraisal of the structure.
If you’re thinking of building a little house, check in with your city planning department. In addition, be sure you get inspections by certified electricians, plumbers, and contractors to verify the dwellings safety.
For more information regarding tiny home construction details, read Go House Go.
Kent: What would you suggest to someone wanting to change their lifestyle like you have.
Tammy: First, give yourself time. It took us 4 years to pay off our debt and downsize to a tiny house. Some of my friends have been able to downsize really quickly and that’s great. For me, that wasn’t a reality. Part of simplifying required a huge shift in my mindset and that took time. I had to stop looking for happiness at the mall. I learned to focus on cultivating my relationships instead of worrying about stuff.
Second, focus your life situation. Living in a 150 square-feet isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. Ask yourself: How much do I need? What makes me happy? What amount of space will fit my family’s needs?
Finally, you need to practice with what you have. When we first started downsizing we cleaned out one bedroom of our two bedroom apartment and treated our big home as a smaller home. For instance, Gregory Johnson of the small house society started by renting out his house and downsized to only one of his bedrooms.
Kent: Do you have such amenities as power, internet, etc? If so how do you go about getting it for a separate unit from the main house?
Tammy: Yes I have the Internet and power. However, I am still tied to the grid through the main house. We’re sharing a wireless internet connection with the land owners and we’ve plugged into their house to get electricity with an outdoor extension cord. The little house runs off a 15 amp power source.
More questions? Please visit the FAQ page at RowdyKittens.com. Thanks!