Living Large in Small Houses

A photoessay on small houses and the people who love them.

Alyse Nelson on December 20, 2012 at 8:30 am

A tiny house with a picket fence.

A Jay Shafer tiny home. Flickr: nicolas.boullosa

My husband and I think we’ve found a way to pay off our mortgage early, without taking on an extra job or working nights. We’ve decided to construct a rental unit—a “mother-in-law suite”—within our home. If it pans out as we hope, the rental income will let us pay off our loan 10 years early. And who knows: it could give us a chance to live closer to family as we, or they, get on in years.

Jason and I are not alone; lots of folks across Cascadia and beyond are experimenting with adding a second (or third) dwelling to an existing single-family home. And in perhaps the most interesting development, more and more people are choosing to buck the “bigger is better” trend in North American housing. They’re taking small spaces—back yards, side lots, or freestanding garages—and using them to build tiny houses.

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Positioning a tiny house

So, you’ve built your tiny house (I’m so jealous…) and backed it close to where it’ going to live but there is a gate, or something in the way. How do you get your house into its final position? This is how.


It’s called a powermover. Here’s the site.

A Pattern Language for Tiny Houses

Carrie of writes about how tiny houses can express many patterns. Good ideas, good thinking, and good examples.

I think I have some reading to do.


Here’s the post.

The Small House Movement: What’s the Big Deal?

Lakeside Cottage First Floor

Compared to the rest of the world, North America often seems to be the epitome of all things super-sized. We live in houses and apartments that would be considered gigantic in many parts of the world. We fill up our houses with stuff, then we fill up our garages (a true luxury for most in the world) with stuff, and often end up renting self-storage units to handle the overflow! A whole cottage industry has sprung up just around dealing with forgotten and abandoned storage units.

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Cowgirl Cabins – Vintage Trailer Vacations

Cowgirl Cabins Grand Opening

Each trailer has been carefully selected and given a unique personality by using western decor, paint, and special touches throughout. Also noted is that each trailer has been named after a strong, independent and adventurous historic women.

interior of cowgirl vintage trailer

Read more (and more pictures)

Scaled Solar for the Tiny House Off Grid on the Cheap

Here are some pictures of my system. First, of course, are the Solar panels which consist of two 50 watt panels wired in parallel and then connected by way of charge controller to two deep cycle golf cart batteries. They use a 6 volt wired-in series to make the 12 volts that my system than runs on.

Solar panels

From The Tiny House blog:

I got the panels used for fifty bucks each. The batteries cost $300, but will last at least ten years with regular maintenance. The charge controller was under a hundred dollars. The fuse box is from an auto parts store and cost $20. The fixtures are 12V halogen lights. I also have LED lights for conservation periods, such as cloudy days in winter. This, plus a small inverter for recharging my computer and small appliances, complete the system.

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Lorna’s 1930s Shepherd’s Wagon


From the tinyhouse blog:

Over the course of two summers starting in 1945, Lorna Benedict lived in a shepherd’s wagon on a large ranch in Wyoming. During her stint as a shepherd she watched over a herd of sheep, chopped her own firewood, shot and skinned local wildlife and fished the rivers for her food. Every few weeks, when the sheep moved on to feed, horses would be hooked up to the wagon so she and her home could continue the process. When asked what she liked about the lifestyle, she said “Nothing!”

“Well…at that age, it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Lorna added. “But now that I look back on it, it was really amazing to be out in nature with those mountains in Wyoming. I sure did read a lot.

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Dan’s Smaller House in Lithuania


From the tinyhouse blog:

This new project is on a farm not far from the capitol of Lithuania, Vilnius. This makes it much easier to acquire various building materials. But in general, wherever you are in Lithuania, you are not far from a sawmill, wood being a major export and forests abundant. And being from America, I like to build with wood.

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Learn to Build Your Own Tiny House, Hands-On


From the tinyhouseblog: Good info on why tiny houses make sense. Plus a workshop that I can’t attend. Sad smile

There is no question that we, especially here in America, have built our houses too b16-300x200[1]ig in†the†last 50 years. The last 20 years especially have been the worst in terms of super sizing our homes. We have gone over the deep end and for some reason, we continue to build houses that have enough space to shelter 30 people and yet only 2 or 3 actually live in them. The amount of resources necessary to build and maintain these homes is immense and the impacts, both environmentally and financially, are huge. You’ll likely be shocked to know just how much each hour you spend awake in your home actually costs!

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