Tammy and Logan’s Tiny House Tour

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.

http://humanurehandbook.com/

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!

http://rowdykittens.com/our-tiny-house/

[nggallery id=10]

52 Comments Tammy and Logan’s Tiny House Tour

  1. Jack

    Beautiful house Tammy, congrats. Just one comment regarding the stove. When I’m hiking I use denatured alcohol for my stove but my understanding is that it should not be used in an enclosed space as the fumes it gives off are toxic. Is your stove vented to the outside?

    Reply
    1. Logan

      Hi Jack,

      Ethanol should burn pretty clean releasing only water and carbon dioxide into the air. These Origo stoves have been used on boats without mechanical ventilation for decades. Nonetheless, we intentionally placed the stove next to the door and a two windows to give some cross ventilation. Even if the vapors are non-toxic it will be nice to get rid of the heat in the summer time.

      One safety concern that we did test was the type of denatured alcohol that we use. Some brands of denatured alcohol leave behind a soot after combustion which means there are more impurities in the alcohol that we could be breathing or could get into our food. We are using a type of denatured alcohol that doesn’t leave behind any visible soot. :)

      Cheers!

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Take a Tour of My Tiny Home

  3. alice

    Oh, that Hercules Powder box piece on the loo cracked me up! Love it all, great design. Looks like you could sleep downstairs if you wanted in that window seat extension area and the double doors really add to the spaciousness and function. I can see a lot of spaces for upper cupboards but there’s a lot to be said for leaving as much open space as possible too. How nice of the cats to let you share their home, they look so comfy there. Just wondering about the functionality and costs of operating an alcohol stove compared to propane.

    Reply
    1. Logan

      Hi Alice!

      Thanks for the kind comment! To answer your question, alcohol is much more expensive than propane. Alcohol is about $15/gallon whereas propane is about $3/gallon. We went with alcohol because we watch a documentary film called ‘gasland’ and we decided we didn’t want to support the devastating practice of “fracking”. Also, alcohol is easier to transport on our bicycles and we have the hope of using a solar still to make our own stove fuel in the future. :)

      Shelia and Kai have a great article on their choice to use alcohol in their tiny home on their blog 2cycle2gether if you are interested. :D

      Reply
  4. Sophia

    So exciting to get the tour of Tammy and Logan’s tiny house. I just love how cozy it feels and it seems like there is so much storage space. Just beautiful.

    Reply
  5. Lisa

    Super cute. My husband and I are having one the same size being built by Tortoiseshellhomes, much different lay-out though. Pics will be posted here very soon, it’s about half finished. We’ll be putting it in an RV park, so will have a regular toilet, I do wish some day to have a composting toilet instead if we ever find property. We get along really well so living in 144 sq. ft. won’t be a problem, not every couple would be capable of downsizing this far. I would say a one bedroom of 400 sq. ft. would be better for lots of couples. We’ll let everyone know a few months into it how the space is feeling to us.

    Reply
    1. Kent Griswold

      Yes Lisa your home will be featured here soon. I visited it a couple weeks ago when it was framed and Bill told me the roof is on now. I hope to get out to see it again soon. -Kent

      Reply
  6. www.kevinsmicrohomestead.com

    I have to agree I like the wood tones very organic warm feel . what is your heat source ? and what is the size of the house ? Love to see more out side pics .

    Reply
    1. Logan

      Hi Kevin,

      You can find more pics of the outside of the house over at Tammy’s blog Rowdykittens under “Our tiny house”. Kent also has a link at the bottom of this post.

      Reply
    1. Logan

      Hi Grant!

      We have a cat litter box built into the left hand side of the window seat that you saw Tammy’s parents sitting on in the video. The other side of the window seat we use as a laundry hamper. :) You can see a picture of the litter box in the window seat over at Tammy’s blog under the “our tiny house” section. :)

      Cheers!

      Reply
  7. Kieron Maibusch

    Great looking house. I’m currently in the process of building a tiny house of my own and was wondering what kind of lights you used under you loft. They looked like LED’s and did not look to be very deep as they were able to fit under what appears to be the 2×6’s of the loft.

    I am trying to find a type of lighting for up in my loft because headroom is already at a premium. I don’t want anything that will intrude on that, and it looks like the lights you used would work perfectly.

    Reply
  8. Logan

    Hi Kieron!

    Great question! We learned about those lights from Joanna and Collin over at their blog ‘Our wee house’. They are Ikea INREDA spotlights. They are LED lights and they are a surface mount so they should fit your needs. They are much brighter than we originally thought since they are labeled as “cabinet lighting”. Unfortunately, Ikea just raised their prices on these lights from $45 to $60, but they are still the most affordable and easy to install LED lighting we could find. :) If you are willing to pay a little more for recessed, ultra tiny, and ultra bright LED spotlights check out “puck” lights from the company ‘affordable quality lighting’ (AQL). They are $100 for the set similar to Ikea. We used AQL for our porch light and their customer service was really wonderful. If we were to do it over again we would have purchased every light through them. :) They are based in California and build almost all of their own LED lights. :)

    Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Kieron Maibusch

      Thanks for the response. I’m based out of Illinois at the moment so will definitely look at the ikea lights you mentioned as the AQL lights are halfway across the country haha.

      Feel free to check out my house and give any insights in how you designed yours and what advice you may have. It would be greatly appreciated.

      kiestinyhouse.wordpress.com

      Reply
      1. Logan

        Good luck on your project! I’ll check out your site. :)

        Affordable quality lighting has a web based store also. We never visited them in person either since we are located in Oregon. ;) If you need an exterior, recessed porch light with minimal depth due to the loft, check them out. :)

        Cheers,
        L

        Reply
  9. Maria

    How do you folks handle doing laundry? I’ve seen some tiny homes where there is a washer/dryer unit installed. My husband and I are looking at building either tiny or small, but we feel having a washer/dryer unit would be important in our design in addition to a burner/oven unit.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Logan

      For now we use a nearby laundromat or the machine in the landowners house. We may install a small washer in the future but we were concerned about all the grey water a washer would produce and how to handle it. :^)

      Reply
  10. Deek

    T n’ L,
    Again, congrats, it must be such a great feeling to finally be inside a new home that you’ve worked so long and hard for. Enjoy it. It looks great and I especially love the double door addition, it really serves to open the space up.

    -Deek
    Relaxshacks.com

    Reply
    1. Logan

      Thanks Deek!

      It is indeed a wonderful feeling. We got to see Dee recently and she said the french door design was really popular at the recent Tumbleweed seminar in Atlanta, GA.

      Some folks have asked about lost storage space, but with less stuff, many things become possible. ;)

      Reply
  11. Karen

    Amazing…. I especially love all the light. All the light really adds a feeling of it being much bigger… Enjoy!!

    Reply
  12. Hazel

    A tastefully done and obviously well-built tiny house! Congrats!

    I do have to wonder though if all your possessions are there now. There’s not much in the way of food or cooking gear, few clothes in the closet, empty bookshelves, no heat source. It looks like Dee’s tiny house…no signs of the trappings of daily living really; she can make a cup of coffee or heat a can of soup, use her laptop and that’s it. I just don’t know how a person (or 2 people!) get down to having virtually no possessions so that even a tiny house looks bare.

    Many people who need to downsize to someplace like this (because of the recession, foreclosure, job loss, etc) need to live there completely: all their belongings, clothes for all seasons, stored food (bulk is cheaper), equipment for cooking, showering and laundry, hobbies, the whole works!

    People living in tiny homes in 4 season climates need more space to store clothing and gear for all weather and all year. Where do you put the snowy, wet boots, coats, hats, mitts, scarves, etc for 2 people just walking in the door in the winter?

    I do love tiny houses and have lived in small spaces for periods of time (a boat/a tent and van/ a 5’x12′ home-built trailer/an Airstream) but I see space constraints in tiny homes that would make full-time, complete, long-term living difficult especially for 2 people.

    That said, I would love to live in one by myself in a 1 or 2 season climate!

    Reply
    1. Logan

      Hi Hazel,

      Everyone has different needs for different climates and habits. The video did indeed show most of our belongings, although not all because we use many of them on a daily basis. For instance, I was at work when Tammy shot the video so, my bicycle, rain gear, and one outfit and a pair of shoes I had with me. Also, we downsized many of our books and possessions because we didn’t precisely know how much space we would have. We have all we need and as you pointed out we have room to expand a bit again. ;) We do have bulk grains and food stored in the cabinets and our range allows us to use an oven as well as a stove top for cooking a variety of meals. The house is built and insulated for 4 season use even though we don’t get much snow in the pacific NW. We have radiant electric heat for now and eventually plan to put in a wood stove. The doors were custom built to size, thickness, and insulation to handle the rigors of all-season exterior abuse.

      Again, not everyone can live in a space this size. This space works for us and its just one of many examples on this blog of how folks can downsize and still have everything they need. Living small can free up your time and money to focus on relationships and experiences that really make a person happy in life. :)

      Reply
      1. Chandra

        You may have already answered this somewhere, but who did you have build those french doors? They did a fantastic job!

        Reply
  13. Bob H

    Love the kitchen area, fastastic sink & stove. Looks like a mini park model. I would be interested as to what kind of insurance would be required. What is this building insured as ?

    Reply
    1. Logan

      Hi Bob H,

      Insurance is a huge topic all by itself. Typically insurance companies only insure what they are familiar with and since they are not (yet) familiar with this style of tiny home, no insurance options exist to my knowledge. I’m sure Kent or another guest blogger on this site can chime in here and also address this issue perhaps even on another blog post. :) My understanding is that the only RV’s that are insured are those that come from big manufacturers.

      Reply
      1. alice

        RV potable water hoses have been used for years, don’t seem to cause problems. Easily substituted for lower grade garden hose at a reasonable price.

        Reply
      2. Logan

        Thanks V for the concern! As Alice mentioned we are indeed using a Potable water rated hose. I believe Tammy used the term “garden hose” as a way to explain. :)

        Reply
  14. steve

    I really like this layout over most of the other tiny homes I have considered. I am still in the process of trying to pay down my own obligations and look to my own build one day (soon I hope). How could I get a copy of the plans for your home. I would love to look at them for ideas. I went to the Portable Dwelling Website but did not see any way to contact or ask so I figured I would try here…

    Steve
    stevenjdubois@yahoo.com

    Reply
    1. Logan

      Hi Steve,

      The plans aren’t available yet, but Dee has mentioned getting them up soon for sale on the PAD site. She said the french door design went over very well at the last Tumbleweed seminar she attended in Alanta, GA. :D We can’t wait to finally put up an updated floor plan on Rowdykittens! :)

      Reply
      1. steve

        thx Logan! This french door concept really makes this a very unique tiny home as well as the window seat in the living room area. Where your desk is could make a great place for a small wood stove…could you keep us posted as when your plans for this home dee designed may be available? Also, how long from start to finish did it take to have this home built professionally for you?

        Reply
  15. PE

    Is it my imagination or is it truly possible that serious “put your money where your mouth is” tiny/small living is gaining steam? It seems the enthusiasm and response is growing, no? Question for all – compost toilets – the last one I came across exuded an unpleasant smell – have they gotten more efficient over the last few years?Where do you unload them? Are there code issues for this type of “parking”? Is it better to do it out of sight, like a back garden? Love your committment, Rowdy!

    Reply
    1. Logan

      Hi PE,

      Composting is a vast topic. For more info on the subject check out the link above to the Humanure Handbook by Joe Jenkins. We can only speak from our personal experience and our toilet smells no worse than a traditional flush toilet. :D

      Reply
  16. Gigi

    Congratulations! I envy you both because you now have a tiny house that you dreamed of. Me and my husband might take 2-3 years (hopefully less) before we can build our own tiny house. Right now, I enjoy making sketches and designs for our future tiny house keeping in mind to allot a space for our future baby. I wish someone will post a tiny house design for a family of 3-4. :D Thank you for sharing your photos and experience with us. Enjoy!

    Reply
    1. Logan

      HI Gigi,

      That time to wait is a good thing I think. Anticipation is one key to happiness. It took us 4 years to save up, scale down, and design our little home and we are happy that we were patient. Moving into the tiny house has been a relatively easy transition since we have been preparing for so long. :)

      For ideas regarding tiny house designs and children check out Andrew Odom’s blog “Tiny Revolution”. :) Also, the next PAD tiny house to be finished soon will have a design that includes a flexible modular space to facilitate needs for a family of 3 so keep your eyes open for that design to go up on the PAD site too. :)

      Cheers!

      Reply
  17. Adam

    love the siding and roof. We need independent power and water systems for these Homes. We can only do this stuff depending on others. Need to make a breakthrough. Good luck and enjoy it guys.

    Reply
  18. Troy

    I really like your Tiny House. Unlike others on the net you did not try to cram everything into it. You kept it simple “KISS” Most people try to cram a lot of stuff in. If we eliminate all the junk in our life’s, we don’t need all that much space. So I say to the world, “Keep It Simple Stupid”. Live simply, enjoy life. Why work yourself into the ground just to have all this junk?

    Reply
    1. Logan

      Thanks Troy!

      Yes, we decided that before we put in lots of storage we would try and live in the house first and see what our needs were. So far we haven’t needed the extra cupboards, shelves and stuff. :)

      It was a bit of a shock though to go from renting to “owning” in that before we never had to worry about door handles, light fixtures, etc. But living in our own space required taking ownership of all those things. Even though it is relatively “simple”, there are alot of details that still make it seem a bit complex to us. ;)

      Cheers!

      Reply
  19. Penelope

    Love the space, and the skylight, the french door, and shelf modifications, great idea. I especially love the kitties, they prompted me to comment. I am going to check out bamboo revolution right now. Hey, where did you get the tiny stove/oven? Can’t wait to build my own.

    Reply
    1. Logan

      Hi Penelope,

      We got the stove/oven off of a craigslist ad from an older couple who were selling their boat. Its an Origo 6000 alcohol range. Check out Sheila and Kai’s blog 2cycle2gether for more info on the stove. They inspired us to get one. :D

      Reply
  20. Marie Ortiz

    I live your Tiny House! I was wondering where in Portland you live. Portland is such a cool, laid back city. My son lives there & I’ve spent a lot of time there. Your kitty’s are cute.

    Reply
  21. Pingback: Air Purifier » Blog Archive » Your Questions About Air Purifiers For Pet Dander

  22. Kelli

    I’m moving to a small studio apartment with a sleeping loft, which is going to help me see if I can handle living in a tiny house layout. How do your cats get up to the loft? Do you carry them? I am going to install a cat spiral and hope my cat can get up to the loft.

    Reply
  23. Logan

    Hi Kelli,

    Our cats climb the loft ladder. It took them about a day to figure it out but now they negotiate the ladder very well and go up and down many times during the day. One of our cats actually climbs a wall mounted scratching post (called a kitty in the city climber) and then launches herself into the loft. :) Don’t worry they will figure it out. ;)

    Reply
  24. Pingback: Tiny Houses | England House Plans Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>