Little Yellow House Update - Tiny House Blog

Little Yellow House Update

little yellow house

by Ella Jenkins

It’s been a year now since I moved to the bay area and thought you might consider running an update now that I’ve been living tiny for a year. It’s tiny for two as of 10 months ago!

Everything is still going beautifully. It’s amazing how big a tiny house can feel when you’ve built it around what’s important to you. It’s truly just like the average house, but smaller and exactly the way you want! I actually felt I could have gone with a shorter trailer when I first moved in, but now with my boyfriend living here too it’s perfect.

We met 3 days after I moved to the Bay area, and he thinks tiny houses are just as wonderful as I do. It probably helps that he doesn’t have a lot of stuff either!

I rent space on a small ranch and get to see a little sliver of the ocean out my window every day. I work for Tumbleweed teaching workshops on everything to do with tiny building and living and I work an average of 5.4 days a month. And that’s it 🙂


I get to be music-y and beach-y and arts-y and as creative as I’d like in my extra time because you just don’t need very much when you don’t have to take care of very much. Basically, I love my house, and I love how simple it has allowed my life to be.

*Ella 🙂

sitting area


living room

Ella and boyfriend

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Donna McFarland - October 31, 2013 Reply

BEAUTIFUL! Thannnnnk you for sharing with us all…I love your life! 🙂

    Nilah - January 17, 2021 Reply

    2017! Holy cow, how did that happen? Is time speeding up for anyone else or is it just me? We celebrated 4 years in Little Yellow back in October (our tiny-versary if you will ?? ) and I can t believe it s come and gone so fast. The holidays were a chilly blur (by California standards) and the wee stove has gotten near daily use, cranking out the heat and keeping the house warm and toasty.

Pam - October 31, 2013 Reply

I expected the house to be yellow!

    sc - October 31, 2013 Reply

    the door is yellow.

Elsie Gilmore - October 31, 2013 Reply

Love, love, love! This is exactly what I needed to hear as I prepare to embark on my tiny (or at least very, very small) journey next year. Thank you for inspiring me today!

Ali - October 31, 2013 Reply

I love the branch as a jewelry hanger. I think their house is adorable! I would love to live in one, but I think with four kids, a dog, and a husband we’d need a little bit of a bigger place.

Deek - October 31, 2013 Reply

I had a chance to tour this lil’ place, and its great- well thought out, fun, and inviting…..

holly c. - October 31, 2013 Reply

The prettiest little house ever! Happy for you, Ella!

Cathy Johnson (Kate) - October 31, 2013 Reply

Looks WONDERFUL…just right. I love the porch support, too.

Alexandra - October 31, 2013 Reply

Very sweet and homey. Best wishes!

Amy Scoon - October 31, 2013 Reply

So cool. I have recently downsized and am living in a room in my daughters home. I have been dreaming of building a small house on wheels. I have many ideas, and cannot wait to actually get some plans on paper. Love this blog.

    Pocono - October 31, 2013 Reply

    Unless you do not leave your room to use the bathroom, kitchen, laundry or living area of your daughter’s house, you are living WITH your daughter. You are not “living in one room”. While I applaud those who wish to downsize, it is wrong to tout “no taxes” “no rent” “no utility bills” when you are letting others pay them. You cannot own land without taxes. Someone has to be paying them. Unless you cook over a wood fire, use candles for light, and bathe in a creek you are using “utilities”. The exception may be 100% solar, but that is highly unlikely. I would like to see these issues addressed in these articles so they are a little more realistic and the average reader sees the whole picture.

      sparky - October 31, 2013 Reply

      Wow, that escalated quickly.

      IMHO - October 31, 2013 Reply

      No need to be an A$$ about it!

      Ella - October 31, 2013 Reply

      I don’t know anyone living in a tiny house that would tout such claims. As a renter, my situation is little different from the 1/3 of Americans who rent.

      My landlords set a price that covered their needs and made it worth it for them, which I pay every month. I have water/electric connections and my utilities are included, which means they have factored in the possible fluctuation of these costs.

      I would be the first to say that I pay rent, utilities and taxes, and have no interest in hiding that. I am not letting others pay them, I pay them just as you presumably do, only my share is appropriately tinier.

        Pocono - October 31, 2013 Reply

        I was responding to Amy Scoon’s post about living in one room. If you notice, the post was made as a REPLY to hers. I was not saying that Ella does not pay rent.

          Erica - October 31, 2013 Reply

          It wasn’t much of a “reply;” you talked primarily about taxes, utilities, and rent, none of which Amy Schoon mentioned in her post.

      GreyGhost - October 31, 2013 Reply

      She’s not putting you out or bragging about taking advantage of the system, so why the hostility?
      I agree that it is not always mentioned when it comes to utilities, but it is obviously much cheaper to operate a tiny home as compared to a 2K+sq ft house. My house here in FL is 900+sq ft and my electric has been running just shy of $170 all summer long. I’ll be moving to TN and building a tiny house shortly after the new year. All off my bill will be drastically lower, though they will still be there along with a small property tax as we are buying our own land. Lets be positive and helpful instead of negative and hateful. JL

    Shell - November 2, 2013 Reply

    Wow and ouch, that did escalate. Amy, I just say good for you and many positive thoughts for your dreams to come true soon. Sending loving kindness out to everyone else. Take a deep breath, people. It’s ALL good. : )


Lisa - October 31, 2013 Reply

It’s wonderful that you have found the perfect job, the perfect house and the perfect partner. This is what life should be about! The very best to the both of you 🙂

adam - October 31, 2013 Reply

Working an hour and 20 minutes a week comes off more like smug living than simple living. Does your transmission ever break the same month you need dental work?

    Irene - October 31, 2013 Reply

    Wow, bitter much?

    Ella has worked out the kind of life *she* wants to live and has written this story for an appropriate audience–people who are interested in this way of life. There are people who work 60, 70 hours a week and have money up to their ears, but no time to enjoy it. I do not understand why her simple statement is “smug.” There is no need to be an angry person. Ella seems sweet and happy with her life. I don’t understand how this is smug.

    I enjoyed this story and the follow-up from when Ella was building her house some time back.

      adam - October 31, 2013 Reply

      omg I must be blind cause I thought it said 5.4 hours not days. Still a feat, but I’m not incredulous anymore. duh… Got to save face somehow… That’s still not a lot of work! Work I love you!

    Remy - October 31, 2013 Reply

    Ella actually self insures. This means she has saved up enough money to be okay in case something very expensive happens.

    Our economy would be in a much better place if the average person had the discipline and education to do this.

    dewhit - October 31, 2013 Reply

    They will crucify you and question your heritage for making honest statements like that Adam.

    Responsible living calls for having a plan and resources for yourself and those depending on you when the rainy days happen.

    Many will just cry out and seek someone else’s umbrella when those life storms let loose.

    The lifestyle gets paralleled with the structure to the extreme in many stories.

Carol Farrar - October 31, 2013 Reply

This is so inspiring, especially the photo with the harp, as I am a harpist. Big instruments can dwell in a tiny house !

    Sal - October 31, 2013 Reply

    Yeah. I’m loving the look and feel of this tiny home, but I can’t for the life of me how I’d get my baby grand piano in there. Maybe a piano annexe/basement?

    s - October 31, 2013 Reply

    I play a full sized orchestral harp and I’ve been wondering just what size of trailer I should be looking at. To anybody with big instruments (piano, drumset, big harp, etc), I’d love to see pictures of how you arrange the spaces to make it fit!

Sierra - October 31, 2013 Reply

I love this post! I’m currently living in a two-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend and while it is beautiful, it’s way too much space for me! I’ve always loved tiny houses (and the zero mortgage that accompanies them), so now it’s just a matter of convincing my boyfriend. 🙂

laurie - October 31, 2013 Reply

It’s a wonderful house, and a wonderful story! Congratulations on figuring out what is important to you at a relatively early stage in life — I hope those values will carry with you to your next phase, whatever it may be. It would be great to see an annual update from you. Please keep your positive attitude, but remember to have some empathy for your critics and detractors. You’re still young and have been very lucky; your lifestyle (especially in the very expensive area where you live) would be much harder to attain, if not impossible, for someone with kids, health issues, etc. And someone — not you — owns that open land that you live on, so your situation is only as stable as they are. Carry on and good luck to you both!

Joe Murphy - October 31, 2013 Reply

Hi.. Super cool article! I am venturing into my first build on my own and the inspiration from your story is nice!


Christina - October 31, 2013 Reply

Beautiful house, beautiful photos and an even more beautiful couple. Congrats!

Wendy Bailey - October 31, 2013 Reply

Boo to the naysayers- She is young and healthy and for the time being living in paradise. Sometimes you just have to take the leap and do something everyone else thinks is crazy.She works 5.4 days a month, not an hour and twenty minutes a week. It’s an adventure- no different than many people her age who take a year off to tour Europe, live on a sailboat and sail around the world, etc. Likely as she gets older and life gets more complicated her living situation will change. But for now- Bravo, I think it looks wonderful.

Remy - October 31, 2013 Reply

I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous of your life!


Waif - October 31, 2013 Reply

I’m in my 50’s, but look a lot younger, am healthy, single, no kids, and would LOVE to own a tiny house like Emma’s. Since the Tumbleweeds are RV-certified, I could buy one and live at a nice trailer park (nice ones are out there, I’m told) and live on less money and enjoy a little more freedom. Sounds perfect to me. It’s gotta be better than throwing money at an apartment every month. Congrats to Emma, and please keep us updated. Also, if you encounter any negatives to living in a tiny house, please let us know. I want to be fully informed on the pros and cons before buying a tiny house.

Jelly - October 31, 2013 Reply

Well done Ella. Your Tiny house, but also your story are so inspiring. A huge round of applause from me over in the UK.

connie - October 31, 2013 Reply

Beautiful..just wonderfully simple! Living the perfect life!

Wendy P - October 31, 2013 Reply

There are several people with major chips on their shoulders here. Firstly, let me address the ‘no-tax’ status (with regards to land-tax). When you RENT land from someone you indeed, avoid land taxes but are in effect, helping them pay theirs! I now own a home but sometime wish I didn’t have the worries of that ownership.

She didn’t say she was avoiding the IRS and not paying personal taxes! And I don’t believe she mentions that she hooks up an extension cord to the owners home, so perhaps she IS living utility free, surviving off the power of the sun.

In addition, one could, in theory, haul dozens of gallons of water from your workplace or gas stations to your home to drink (or for all you know, she could be recycling rain water.) Yes, in theory THE EMPLOYER would then be paying her water bill in the above scenario, but she didn’t mention she was bugging out in preparation for disaster either and was attempting to be 100% independent of society. Lighten up people… she’s not a user, abuser or polluter. I’m trying to simplify myself – it seems that it is easier at the beginning and then again at the end of life to simplify your belongings and your aspirations in life.

    Pocono - October 31, 2013 Reply

    My post was in response to Amy, that’s why it was posted as a reply. It was NOT addressed to Ella or her living situation. No “chip” here, just see too many people dreaming unrealistic dreams because they don’t get the whole story. I will leave now. Have a good evening.

      Amy Scoon - December 9, 2013 Reply

      Cannot believe how much you read into a simple comment. I do, indeed, leave my room. I also pay utilities, a cable/Internet Bill, and even taxes! I am not wandering through a dreamland, running from the government or law, nor am I trying to get away without paying my share. Just remarking that getting rid of lots of my stuff and living in a smaller space is great, and am researching building a small home of my own. Exactly what was said. Nothing between the lines.

Georgina - October 31, 2013 Reply

I understand what Pocono was saying about Amy “downsizing” to a room. When really she has just moved in to her daughters house. I don’t think there was a “chip”

    MJ - November 1, 2013 Reply

    I believe moving from a home/apt. into a room qualifies as downsizing. I understood her to mean that living in a room let her know that smaller was sitting well with her and encouraging her dream to live in a tiny home at some point. Sometimes I think people read fast, assume fast and write fast when if they’d think a few moments and put themselves as much as possible into the writer’s frame, there might be a bit less blunt judgement in responses here. Life is short, kindness is long.

      Amy Scoon - December 9, 2013 Reply

      Thank you MJ. That is exactly what I meant. I am an intelligent person who is spending time researching tiny living. Downsizing has been great! I am not dreaming of living off the grid and not paying utilities. I pay utilities and even a cable/Internet Bill right now. Not naive, just interested.

Steve - October 31, 2013 Reply

Where in the Bay Area is this? I wanna get a small house, but I have no place to put it. I live in Fremont.

Amanda - October 31, 2013 Reply

1) I’m so happy to hear how great things are going!
2) I’m also very jealous that you only work 5.4 days a month :p
3) I love your colorful socks 😀

beachmama - October 31, 2013 Reply

Hi Ella!

I think you may be living in my neck of the woods . . . I’d LOVE to see your house sometime if you would be open to the idea. I may have seen the house under construction when me and my husband were bidding a job near by (he has a tree service business).

I lived in a 29′ travel trailer for 4 years while building a 2,800 square foot house 20+ years ago. I now long for tiny living once again. Good for you to create a life you love and the independence to do what you love. A small fraction of the population will do without all of the material trappings and 9 to 5 jobs to live a simpler life . . .

richard pace - November 1, 2013 Reply

Fantastically refreshing.One of lifes success stories.Well done

alice h - November 1, 2013 Reply

ABOUT ELLA – Good to see things are working out well, congratulations on living your dreams and long may you do so.

ABOUT “DOWNSIZING” ETC – I do agree that some people may have unrealistic dreams of tiny house living and “freedom” (a horribly abused, over used word!)but if person A and person B come to an arrangement that works for them about hosting a tiny house or other living situation then it’s nobody else’s problem, barring health, safety and legal issues.

Not sure why moving into a room, regardless of where or whoever with, doesn’t count as downsizing. No mention of where she was living before but it’s pretty hard to live smaller than one room in a house that already exists as someone else’s home and sharing the facilities. No mention of whether or not there’s a storage container or garage full of stuff elsewhere. If she got rid of a house full of stuff to move in with her daughter then she is indeed downsizing.

Also wondering why there may be an assumption that she isn’t contributing financially or with chores or whatever and wouldn’t do so in having her own tiny house. There isn’t enough information in the brief comment to support some of the conclusions.

    Amy Scoon - December 9, 2013 Reply

    Thank you Alice. Contributing with everything, including taxes, utilities, cable/internet, and housework. Got rid of a whole house full of stuff I don’t need and it is very liberating. I now own a bed, dresser, night stand, and lamp. Loving it. It’s not a large room either. And I spend most of my time there. I believe I could be very happy in less than 200 square feet.

Chanti - November 1, 2013 Reply

Beautiful place and dreamy lifestyle… What do you do for retirement savings or health insurance? Health insurance in particular – because it is great to be healthy but also easy to have a mishap that can result in tens of thousands in medical bills. This happened to an uninsured friend of mine who just stepped wrong and ended up with a 40k broken leg (yes – 5 digit hospital bill).

    Bob H - November 1, 2013 Reply

    And coming soon insurance for everyone, even if you choose not. Time to add a few more work days.

Cedar - November 1, 2013 Reply

Yes, I always remember the lovely tiny home with the harp. Sweet photos!

Charlie - November 1, 2013 Reply

You know you can’t self insure for health insurance if you have a major illness or accident. My insurance company has paid out beaucoup bucks for a liver transplant and later 8 months of chemotherapy. Living your dream can only last so long. So if your boy friend bails let me know because I can afford to pay for your health insurance on my pension, but I’m afraid I’d have to sleep on the couch. No way I could make it up to the bed at my age 🙂

Shelly Baril - November 1, 2013 Reply

I adore the thought of going tiny and my hubby and I are thinking of downsizing. A few things I’m concerned about are 1) Is it big enough for a dog? 2) How do you find a place to park your tiny home? 3) The overall cost of building or buying a tiny home already ready to go.
Any suggestions?
Thanks so much for your story and lovely photos! Very inspiring in my hope to live life mores simply!

    Xpermit cabin - November 9, 2013 Reply

    Just a couple of suggestions:
    1- dogs don’t care how big anything is. They just need enough room to turn around and a couple of meals a day, some walks, and your love!.
    2-Buy a lot somewhere and , since your TH is on wheels, most likely nobody will ever care if you live there in it, unless you are “waving flags”.
    Generally: I know lots of folks who have “nothing” and do okay and have “everything” because they have simplicity and order. They have no debt, no clouds looming. Some of them want to move to complicated, some don’t. It is all about choice.
    A good Tiny House costs less than a good SUV….and you can live in it!

Cap'n Frank - November 1, 2013 Reply

You Rock!
Living in the Half Moon Bay area is a real plus, enjoy yourself.
My daughter lives at the southern end of Pacifica across the HWY from the beach. She has a small house with a storage shed that we laughingly call the little father house. I may tiny-house-it-out as a project and a place to stay when wintering in CA. Could be fun!
To my point.
I’m leaving LA (I’m retired) and heading to Port Angeles, WA on Freshwater Bay, 12 miles west of town, in the spring. I have 2 1/2 acres with room for one or two tiny house builds (all hook ups)next to my barn/garage. It would be a live and build opportunity for the right person(s). If you know of anyone in that area looking for such an opportunity come spring, you could steer them my way!!!!!!

    Jani - January 29, 2014 Reply

    There is a website called Tiny House Listings (?) that you might consider listing your space available. They have a “parking” section that seems predominately filled with folks looking for space rather than your generous offer.

Matthew Laznicka - November 2, 2013 Reply

My wife and I love your house! very inspiring!!
Your an adorable couple!

Shell - November 2, 2013 Reply

I think what you’re doing is amazing. I admire your courage and strength to just go for it. It is a beautiful house and you seem like a cute couple. Many positive thoughts for a great future. Thanks for the inspiration. Someday I would love simple too. : ) Namaste

Ashley - November 3, 2013 Reply

I am starting a tiny house build this summer and I want to know about your trailer. Can you give me the brand name of your trailer and some relevant statistics? I think your house is one of the coolest thing I’ve seen. Peace

Update to the Little Yellow House | Paleotool's Weblog - November 7, 2013 Reply

[…] update from Kent Griswold’s website, The Tiny House Blog.  This is arguably the cutest house in America, built by Ella Jenkins at the the Little Yellow […]

Xpermit cabin - November 9, 2013 Reply

Well, for sure these folks are beyond adorable. Some/many of us truly envy their life/independence/beauty and style. I do!
Here is the “small/big” picture from my planet:
There is a greater message here. What I see is a message of hope for a life of actually living, not a life of striving. Striving to keep ahead of credit cards/banks/loans/mortgages and , above all ,expectations. This is a simple truth, which is never actually simple: We don’t need as much as we think.
Ella and her companion get this. Thanks to them for sharing their beauty and ease.

Kate - November 16, 2013 Reply

I love this ‘yellow house’!! Love the cabbage rose pillows and ALL the touches. Am wondering, do you cook in your place? Am trying to prepare a small house for a tenant and am providing fridge, micro-wave and toaster oven for food prep. Am thinking of shopping for a ‘hot-plate’ but wonder how satisfying that would be. Any ideas? Thnx.

Amy Scoon - December 9, 2013 Reply

Holy cow. Haven’t looked in awhile. Never said I do not pay rent or utilities. Simply said I got rid of many of my belongings and moved into a room in my daughters home. Also said I would like to build a tiny home. No clue where the nasty remarks about using utilities came from. I actually pay utilities. And even a cable TV and Internet Bill. Someone seems really bitter about something and is reading things into my simple comment.

Finegold Dillytwatte - April 20, 2015 Reply

It makes me think of what goldylock’s house would look like if goldylocks were a fucktard

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