Building a Beautiful Home for Only $20k with Carina Gibson

Meet Carina Gibson, a multidisciplinary artist with a passion for building and creating sustainable structures. She started building her first tiny house in 2019 with no prior experience, driven by her desire to live more minimally and mindfully. Carina aims to promote environmental activism through her creations and draws inspiration from her Finnish-American background in her designs and life.

Carina’s journey towards minimalism

Carina’s journey started with her fascination with building and construction, which she couldn’t pursue while living in the city. However, a visit to her hometown in North Carolina sparked an idea that she couldn’t ignore. She wanted to create a space that she could call her own, a space that she had already paid for and designed herself. This idea tied in with her values of environmentalism and minimalism, and building a tiny house was the perfect way to bring her vision to life.

How Carina built a spacious tiny house without any design background

Carina’s creativity and love for experimentation led her to jump headfirst into the project. Despite having no background in architecture, engineering, or design, Carina managed to design and build her tiny house with ease. She utilized her spatial awareness to imagine and draw out a design that would suit her needs and preferences, ignoring the popular blueprints available online. Carina’s tiny house is 10 feet wide by 24 feet long, and she decided to go wider to create a feeling of spaciousness. She created a gabled roof, and part of the house has a loft, but above the bedroom and living room, there’s no loft, which some may consider wasted space. But for Carina, the feeling of space is more important than having storage space. The bathroom and kitchen are side by side, and the bedroom is on the ground floor because she didn’t want a loft bedroom.

The build took Carina two years, but the result was a beautiful and sustainable tiny house that she created with her own hands. Carina hopes to inspire others to live more sustainably and mindfully, and building a tiny house is an excellent way to achieve that.

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In This Episode:

  • Making a tiny home feel large
  • Designing as you build
  • The tiny house studio
  • What is “Dirtbag Minimal”?
  • Reimagining your space

wood stove

Most of Carina’s furniture is built-in

Sitting by the stove

Her “Disaster Doors” were a beautiful labor of love


Her bedroom is on the main floor


Carina estimates that the cost of her build was $20k, but it looks so much more expensive


A 10ft trailer allows for the kitchen and bathroom to be side by side


Salvaged windows called for a few design rewrites, but it worked out beautifully


The Dirtbag Minimalist philosophy is an interesting one

kitchen with tea kettle

She uses white paint combined with natural wood for a Scandinavian feel

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