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Handmade Forest House in Oregon - Sink

Brian Schulz shares his tiny home with Kirsten Dirksen. It’s a Japanese design inspired timber frame home tucked into a temperate rain forest. It sits on a 14′ x 16′ footprint and is made from locally found and salvaged materials.

For example, he salvaged lumber from trees that had come down in the wintertime floods. He’d collect these logs out in the bay while out on his kayak, tie them into temporary rafts, and then come back later to bring them ashore – floating them onto the back of a truck.

Much of the lumber he milled himself, choosing to use live edge siding on the exterior for the aesthetic and to simplify the milling process. Inside the walls are covered in lath and a natural plaster that’s then covered in milk paint. Much or the timber frame are made from peeled cedar poles.

Instead of western style furniture he built a Japanese inspired raised tatami style platform for sitting, eating, or just hanging out.  One of the ideas he borrowed from Japanese architecture were tiny doors and windows that seem to go to nowhere.  These function to open up small spaces, add ventilation, and (some would say) allow energy to pass through the home.

The project began with a tiny brass sink he found in a salvage yard. He bought it knowing he had nowhere to put it but that sparked the idea to build this house. The sink drains into a planter box just outside the kitchen window.

The home’s heat comes from a old scaled-down cook stove that Jøtul was making from about the 1950s. The staircase is made from a single log he notched while it was still out in the forest. The stair log was so heavy it took about 15 friends to bring it inside and set into place. The stair railing was made quickly from tree limbs that were found just outside the house.

To earn a living Brian teaches people how to make skin-on-frame kayaks, but I doubt he’d say it’s a job. Brian seems to have found a way to live a rich life with ample time to do the things he loves – a lifestyle that is likely cheaper and might even feel more rewarding to live than what most of us would call normal.

You can learn more about Brian and his kayak workshops at Cape Falcon Kayak. If you liked the video be sure to subscribe to Kirsten Dirksen’s YouTube channel and be sure to visit her Fair Companies website for more tiny living stories.

Handmade Forest House in Oregon - Bed Loft Handmade Forest House in Oregon - Live Edge Siding Handmade Forest House in Oregon - Kitchen Handmade Forest House in Oregon - Tatami Platform Handmade Forest House in Oregon - Stairs Handmade Forest House in Oregon - Stair Rail

Update: Kirsten posted a new video with a full tour of this working off-grid farm.

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Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel

Located in the funky Alberta Arts District of NE Portland, Oregon (map) is the first tiny house hotel in the USA. There you’ll find three tiny houses that encircle a small courtyard.

Each house is equipped with a bathroom (flush toilet & hot shower), kitchen (hot plate, refrigerator & microwave), electric heat, and sleeping space. Each of the three houses has it’s own unique character too.

  • The Rosebud – Traditional style, 120 square feet, Sleeps 1-2 people.
  • The Tandem – A larger tiny house, 160 square feet, Sleeps 1-4 people.
  • The Pearl – Modern style, 90 square feet, sleeps 1-3 people.

Currently it costs $125 a night to stay at The Tiny House Hotel but check their website for current rates.

Visitors to the Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel

Below: The Rosebud

The Rosebud - The Tiny House Hotel

Below: The Rosebud’s Interior

The Rosebud Interior - The Tiny House Hotel

Below: The Tandem

The Tandem - The Tiny House Hotel

Below: The Tandem Interior

The Tandem Interior - The Tiny House Hotel

Below: The Pearl

Pearl - The Tiny House Hotel

Below: The Pearl Interior

Pearl Interior - The Tiny House Hotel

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Tea House - Exterior

Architect Todd Miller founded the Oregon Cottage Company in 2009, and is located at the HEC (Human Ecology Center) located 3 miles South of Eugene, Oregon. The 27 acre forested property where he now works overlooks Spencer’s butte. Todd has been steadily downsizing his own life since 1998 and has a real dedication to simple & sustainable living – and the tiny houses he designs & builds clearly reflect his values.

He just completed his seventh tiny house, which Kent at Tiny House Blog posted yesterday. It’s a tiny tea house with shoji screens, tatami mats, and even a sunken tea warming hearth. But it’s also a complete home with a composting toilet, on-demand hot water, a 5-foot long kitchen, and Japanese soaking tub. Up in the sleeping loft are three 2 1/2″ thick tatimi mats. Throughout the house are  finished woods, walnut accents with contrasting pine walls. This latest creating is stunning.

His previous tiny homes are more traditional in style but also very well built and nicely finished. Some have pitched roofs common to many tiny houses and others have shed roofs like this latest design. It’s nice to see how Todd’s tiny houses are developing with each new design. I’m really looking forward to seeing what innovations he comes up with next.

You can learn more about Todd and his tiny homes on the Oregon Cottage Company website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He also sells plans for these houses if you’d rather build it yourself.

Tea House - Oregon Cottage Company Tea House - Loft Tea House - Main Room Tea House - Kitchen


Tea House Bathroom - Oregon Cottage Company

Siskiyou Tiny House

Siskiyou - Oregon Cottage Company Siskiyou Colonial - Interior

Ynez Tiny House

Ynez - Oregon Cottage Company Ynez - Interior


Alsek Tiny House

Alsek - Oregon Cottage Company Alsek - Interior


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Tiny House

April Anson is a graduate student at the University of Oregon. She built this tiny house instead of choosing to rent, and plans on living in the home while in school and possibly beyond. She recently spoke at a conference and presented a paper on tiny house rhetoric and philosophies which was well received. April posted the following on her blog:

“ I am happy to report the paper was so well received that not only did I field enthusiastic questions of interest and support, I was also asked to speak at the 2014 Sustainability Symposium at Concordia College in MN. I must say, I was very much encouraged by people’s responses. As my paper was a critique of some of the problematic and privileged romantic rhetoric surrounding the tiny house movement, I was nervous that the critique would come of as non-constructive criticism. In fact, it was just the opposite. The talk roused interest as well as very productive discussion on some of the unique potential in the movement, and how the movement might be developing.”

I suspect folks like me are partially responsible for some of the romantic rhetoric, so I’d love to read the paper. ;-)

Below are more photos of April’s wonderful tiny home. We don’t see too many gambrel roofs on tiny houses but as you’ll see below, they can really add a lot of interior headspace – especially in the loft.

Photo credit to April Anson.

April Anson - Exterior

April Anson - Exterior Front Porch April Anson - View Up April Anson - Ladder to Loft April Anson - Kitchen April Anson - Kitchen Counter April Anson - Gambrel April Anson - Front   April Anson - Desk April Anson - Built in Seating and Storage April Anson - Books April Anson - Bed



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Rough Cut Sheds 4

Rough Cut Sheds is a small company in Yelm, Washington that literally uses rough cut board & bat siding on their structures. They can build tiny structures up to 200 square feet and deliver them to your property in most parts of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

What impresses me about the houses, cabins, playhouses, barns, etc, that I see on their website is the diversity of buildings they have made. While the aesthetic seems very consistent it sounds like they’re happy to build to their customers specifications. So if you have an idea and need a builder in the Pacific Northwest these may be some people to considering hiring.

To see more visit the Rough Cut Sheds website.

Rough Cut Sheds 3 Rough Cut Sheds Cabin Rough Cut Sheds Cabin 2 Rough Cut Sheds Interior Rough Cut Sheds Interior 2


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Anderson 8 wide

Back in 2010 I posted news of a tiny house builder in North Powder, Oregon called Rich’s Portable Cabins. I thought it was time for an update. Rich builds both tiny house sized and park model sized homes.

His tiny houses are less than 8′ 6″ wide and can be pulled behind a full-size pickup. The park model sized homes are usually 12′ or 13′ 10″ wide and often 14′ 6″ tall. The narrower park model homes are easier to move and often don’t require the use of a pilot car.

He also has designs that come with and without lofts for those that don’t want to climb to bed. Unlike some of the larger park model home manufacturers Rich is more flexible and uses quality materials – lots of wood, wool insulation, etc. So if you’re not interested in building your own home and/or want to be able to finance your tiny/small home this is one route you could take.

To see more visit richsportablecabins.com and at facebook.com/RichsPortableCabins.

Below are some photos of the Anderson, one of Rich’s 8-foot wide homes. Scroll past the Anderson for some selected photos his larger homes.

Anderson overhang

Anderson ladder

Anderson front door

Anderson floor plan

Anderson wool insulation

Below are samples of some of Rich’s other cabins.

IdeaBox in Salem Oregon

Oasis Duplex

Chico Cabin


Kitchen 2


Narrow Double Loft

Classic Puget Sound

Central Loft Dore

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Travis is selling his off-grid cabin. It’s located on a river about an hour west of Portland, Oregon in the coastal range. The cabin is just shy of 200 square feet making it possible to build without a building permit. Travis made prefab panels off-site and then brought them to the property for final assembly. There are many windows giving the interior a lot of light and views of the river.

The cabin is simple and mostly a blank slate. It has a nice commercial three basin sink, gravity-fed water, a propane range, a Dickenson propane heater, sleeping loft, and shower. Two video tours and more photos are available online. To contact Travis continue and read more about this cabin.

(note: This blog receives no proceeds from the sale of this cabin. This announcement was made for informational purposes only – and since it looks like a nice place to me!)

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I connected with a tiny house builder from Oregon this past week. Rich builds some very nice portable cabins in both trailerable and park model size; but our conversation began with the news that he’s building a tiny house community in North Powder, Oregon designed for the type of homes he builds.

My understanding is that the community will be setup like a mobile home park, including the necessary utilities. The site is a former lumber mill that Rich has been carefully bringing back to life. It should have enough space for 100 homes. Below is a photo of the site, which is actually a very large panoramic photo… just click it to zoom in.

To learn more about these homes and this community project connect with Rich through his website at www.richsportablecabins.com.

The following is a guest post written by Rich.

I’ve always enjoyed figuring out ways to beat the system. Now I’m not complaining about how life has treated me over the years, but know in my heart there are other ways that might be better, more fitting to an individuals needs or desire when it comes to living space. A big house with lots of rooms might be cool for a while, but as we all know the rooms tend to fill up with stuff, as nature and houses both abhor a vacuum. So small is good right? Now, I admit this “8 wide stand up loft cabin” isn’t as small as many of you tiny housers go, but hey, I’ve got stuff too! The cabin is LARGE when concerning the rig that can pull it. Tipping the scales at 13,200 lb. it is on the verge of being too heavy to pull with a 3/4 ton truck, and though I have, a one ton would be better. I will say though it has exceptional balance and tongue weight, so if you go slow and there is only a light wind it can be moved safely. By the way I didn’t design it to be pulled any great distance, except occasionally and with a larger rig, and so the weight wasn’t going to be a issue as long as it didn’t become too heavy. Enough said about the weight! On to more important things like how is it built, and will I be warm in the winter, and how much is it?

Built as a show cabin and for the occasional trip down to the river for a weekend, the cabin sports a lot of great features and innovations. Let me walk you through it.

Built with conventional building materials, the cabin presents itself as the look that RPC- Rich’s Portable Cabins, has become know for. Combined with what I call the “underslung floor system”- my unique approach to solving the height issues encountered when building functional loft cabins- and the steepness of the roof, the cabin height is well under 14′ and will go most places without a problem. Be aware that the cabin is a low rider, a street rod of sorts, and may drag on the rare tall speed bump.

The under side is protected from the critters with heavy sheet metal adhered to some osb, and offers protection from the elements too. Insulation in the floor cavity is 10″ thick and has an R value of 38. I guarantee there is no cabin anywhere that has more insulation than that in the floor. R13 in the walls and R30 or so in the vaulted ceiling. Loft has less because of the rafters, but still I don’t think it will be a problem to heat it when it is 10 below outside. The steel frame and axles contribute significant weight to the cabin and I could have used smaller steel, but it’s what I had on hand at the time.

The framing is always fun and relatively easy, but one needs to pay attention to framing and design details so everything fits, and we all know there is hardly anything worse that going backwards! One thing to remember when building larger cabins is that steel bends, so be sure to consider how the steel beams will react to weight. Sorry, the only way to know how much camber and where to put it in the frame is by experience only. Camber is applied by using a large stick welder at about 300 amps.

Next is bracing and sub skin. To keep the cabin walls straight requires straps, sheathing or a combination of both. If there is one thing I’ve taught my crew its this: Stand back and look at what you’re doing on occasion, line up the lines and develop a good eye for verification that all is well. It’s easy to nail a stud on the wrong side of the layout line, and if a fellow can catch it right away, it’s so much easier rather that having the boss catch it!

Pine interior is a pleasure to work with, but pay attention to loose knots and bad color. We always put two coats of water based lacquer on the interior to give it added protection and shine. It will make the walls easier to clean and won’t hold the dust as readily. The wood is 3/4″ thick and though heavier than 1/4″ paneling, it is far superior. Put a nail anywhere to hang your pictures. A word of caution: don’t drive the nail more than an inch deep, because you never can tell where a wire might be, and a nail could short out the wires.

Speaking of wires, this cabin is fully wired to NEC and has numerous outlets. Plenty for all the electronics and other stuff. It also has an inverter and batteries for when you need to be off grid, and even has a solar panel on the roof for gentle charging of the batteries. If you need to run a generator to power the cabin its easy to plug it in, and with the built in charger on the inverter, the batteries will be charged at the same time.

The bathroom is large due to the design, but firmly believe there is nothing wrong with a bathroom big enough to dry yourself off in without hitting your knuckles on the wall. The shower is huge at 36″, and has a glass shower door. The toilet is a low flush RV type toilet, and dumps into a 32 gallon black water holding tank. The shower, washer/dryer and the kitchen sink drain into a gray water holding tank, also 30+ gallons in size. The cabin has a 40 gallon fresh water tank and a 12 volt pump system for when you’re off grid. The hot water is provided with an on-demand water heater so you never run out of hot water.

The stand up loft feature is an element I’m very proud of. I developed the concept and lead the industry with this feature and because of the design, it can accommodate a person who is well over 6′ in the loft trough. There is lots of storage beneath the trough floor, and even has a stand up utility room beneath the stairs for the systems.

Appliances are: medium sized propane fridge with freezer, 40,000 Btu propane forced air furnace, propane range, microhood, Eurotech washer/dryer, Rinnai tankless water heater, small ac in the loft. Has custom lighting as well plus a ceiling fan.

The exterior siding is tongue and groove cedar with two coats of oil based stain, and since the cabin is house wrapped, there should be no issues with moisture or water damage to the structure. The roof is metal and is screwed into Doug fir 1×4. The fir wood really holds the screws well, and won’t back out after a few years in the sun and winters. Windows are of the typical vinyl variety, but have low E for extra insulation value.

The cabinets are assembled and installed, interior walls installed, flooring goes in and finally on to the trim. And if you are like all the rest of us, by the time you get to the finishing touches, you’re ready for this grand adventure to be done. Let’s get on with the next cabin shall we?

There are a lot of steps in between that I didn’t mention, and if you decide to give cabin building a try, be prepared to spend hundreds of hours for a cabin of this nature. Or have me build it for you. The price on this cabin is $42,000


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Dee Williams built her Tumbleweed tiny house several years ago for about $10,000 from a lot of reclaimed building materials, which helped keep the cost low. So besides being a tiny house, it’s an excellent example of how used building materials can be taken out of the trash and made new again. I first saw this story on RowdyKittens. Read the whole story about Dee Williams on the PBS website.

Also be sure to visit Dee’s tiny house website, Portland Alternative Dwellings.

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

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Dee Williams has launched the Portland Alternative Dwellings website with the web design help of Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens. The first design they’ve created is the The Don Vardo (pictured below) which demonstrates the high quality craftsmanship of the homes they will build. It’s intended to be a writing/guest studio and complete with electric radiant heat, a kitchen nook, desk, and pull-out double bed. The structure is incredibly stout and built to take the stress of road trips. This is one tiny house company to watch.

Portland Alternative Dwellings

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One of my regular readers, Malcolm, spotted this little building on Oregon Live this morning and passed this onto me. It’s a little home office built from an 8′ by 20′ shipping container. Mike Corvi, a Southwest Portland resident and businessman, bought the gently used empty metal shell for $2,900 and then with the help of a couple of experienced builders, friends, and some sweat equity had a usable building within 6 weeks for a cost of $8,000. It sounds like the next step for Mike could be a business manufacturing complete units like this for about $16,500 each. Thanks again for the tip Malcolm!

Backyard Shipping Container Office



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Dee Williams will be sponsoring a little house construction workshop on June 27, 2009 in Portland, Oregon. It’s a one-day workshop taught by Dee and KT Anderson with a combination of classroom and hand-on training. It’s not a design workshop but a real hands-on construction workshop where you’ll learn things like how to connect your tiny house securely to a trailer, general construction techniques, building codes, and staying safe with power tools.

You might recognize Dee Williams from the many news stories that have covered her simple living adventure since she started living in her Tumbleweed tiny house back in 2004. It took her 3 months and $10,000 to build her house and much of it was made from salvaged building materials and hands-on sweat equity.

KT Anderson has 20 years in the trades and recently graduated from a two-year program at the School of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg, California, which also happens to be one of my favorite towns on the Mendocino coast. She is currently working to design and build a green home in Portland.

The cost of the one-day workshop in Portland, Oregon is $250. To register or learn more contact Dee or KT by email.

  • Dee Williams – email hidden; JavaScript is required
  • KT Anderson – email hidden; JavaScript is required

Photos provided by Dee Williams.