Simple and Tiny


During a presentation at Yestermorrow about tiny house design the speaker Lina Menard, shared a concept she called “keep the kettle on the stove”. Basically, keep things where they are functional and useful.

Logan and Tammy’s tiny house has a wet bath. In a video tour of the house, they mentioned it was easier to shower at the gym because setting up the bathroom for a shower was a pain. I don’t think these were their exact words but I can’t find the original clip so I’m improvising.

Even if I’m misremembering Logan and Tammys words, these two concepts influenced the design for Little Lou-everything is easily accessible and functional without having to be converted. A murphy bed is a good example of what I was trying to avoid – it folds up into the wall to save space which is great but you need to fold it up everyday to have access to that space. That seemed like a daily chore that would be a pain. It’s pretty great to be able to roll out of bed and leave it it unmade while enjoying your morning coffee. Which is why I went for a lofted bedroom.

cozy and messy in the tiny house loft

For me, it’s better to simplify and declutter than to design custom storage to hold lots of stuff. With just a few cabinets, most of the stuff in the house is on display at
all times. Therefore a lot of thought goes into every item that comes into the house. I typically try* to abide by a zero waste philosophy which means I try* to buy second hand whenever possible. When buying new, I look to buy things that are well made, durable, functional and beautiful.

ditched the jewlery box to save space and add beauty

 Throughout the year before move in, downsizing was a high priority. Friends would leave my apartment with an armful of stuff after every visit. I sold, gave away or donated a lot of stuff keeping only the bare minimum and the sentimental. Most of the stuff filling my apartment was thrifted, picked up at the curb or inherited from previous roommates. None of it was particularly valuable or sentimental. It may not be in the spirit of zero waste but if I regretted getting rid of something it was easily replaceable.

moving out of my apartment

*when it comes to zero waste, it’s all about little changes over time to make a big difference. While still far from zero waste, I work hard towards to goal on a daily basis.

Everybody poops!

Hopefully you were able to tune into Tiny House, Big Living on HGTV and catch the episode about Little Lou! If you did, thank you! You probably noticed my not so subtle talk about poop. Sometimes the filter between my brain and my mouth is non existent. Thank God I’m not shy.


These poop comments seemed to generate a lot of buzz. A colleague sent an email with the subject “You said ‘poop’ on TV!”. A friend posted on Facebook “Best line I’ve heard on hgtv “I’ve trained myself not to poop in the morning” YES.” and a couple of strangers even tweeted about it.

Because of my job, I’m more comfortable talking about waste than the average person. It’s also one of the most frequent questions people ask about the tiny house. So I’m pretty blunt about it. I use a composting toilet, which is really a nicer way of saying a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat, that I’ve got to dump when it’s full. I’ve been dumping into a green cone food digester which works really great for nitrogen rich materials (food) but its slow to break down carbon rich materials (sawdust from the toilet). In an effort to not overwhelm my systems and because dumping the full bucket isn’t the most pleasant, I try to do my business elsewhere.

It’s not extreme, I’m not making myself sick, it’s not really a big deal.


Baby it’s cold outside…

well it was cold. now spring is here and it’s warming up. this was pretty a mild winter but march was unseasonably cold. the tiny house side of my brain was grateful because it was easier to settle into little lou when the temperature was above zero and the ground was bare. although, i would have liked to use snow to skirt my trailer instead of hay bales. the snowboarding side of my brain was really disappointed. regardless, i’m feeling grateful for the sunshine and warmer days ahead.

i’ve talked before about how much thought went into insulation for little lou. making sure the house would be warm enough for full time, year round living was the highest priority. so along with proper insulation, the house also needed a good source of heat. first i had to decide propane (scary, danger) or electric (expensive, grid tied). ultimately, propane appliances were the right choice for little lou.


then i had to select the best heater. like so many other tiny house builders, i love the dickson marine stove. it’s simple, functional and beautiful. but it probably wouldn’t be sufficient. i relied heavily on ethan over at the as a resource for tiny house living in vermont. his blog post on choosing the right heater is awesome.


the mini franklin was tempting because of it’s size and, well honestly, it’s pretty cute.but again, probably not sufficient in the depths of winter. i had no intentions of relying on a supplemental heater. one heat source had to do the trick.


based on and some independent research, the williams direct vent heater proved to be the winner. it has enough btu’s to keep little lou toasty, is reasonably small and the price was right. the heater was converted from natural gas to propane by a professional who also installed the unity. installing propane is scary stuff so i leave it to the pros.

this winter, paranoia set in and i used a space heater a few times in the bathroom to prevent frozen pipes. it was overkill and expensive. the bathroom is the furthest point from the heater (which may have been poor planning) so i keep a thermometer in there to monitor the temp. it’s never more than a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house. i probably won’t do this again next year, except on the coldest nights – like 20 below kinda cold. to keep the kitchen pipes from freezing, the cabinet doors are left open at night and when i’m at work. this step would be necessary regardless of which heater was installed.

there is a small deck over the hitch that hold several 30 pound propane tanks which supply gas to the heater, instant water heater and stove. when it’s cold a 30 pound tank lasts about a week and a half. when it’s warm, a 30 pound tank will last at least 3 weeks but probably more. heating the house in winter can be expensive, but i live in the northeast. heat in the winter will always be expensive. however, high costs in the winter will be offset by minimal costs in the summer.

overall, this heater is great. but who knows- maybe next february i’ll be updating from a tiny house igloo about how this heater isn’t sufficient at -20 degrees.

Mother effin’ Spiral Staircase

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Perhaps this isn’t the most eloquent title for a blog post, but it pretty much sums up how excited I am. I really wasn’t sure what kind of stairs I wanted for my tiny house. I felt like  my only options were straight ladders or storage stairs. If we did straight stairs, the dismount would have been awkward-a quick step to the side to avoid the cabinets near the ladder base. Storage stairs would have been cool, but I didn’t feel like I needed to extra storage (I have a bunch of space in the loft above my bathroom). Plus, we didn’t have time to build elaborate stairs.

HGTV was planning to come in mid December to film the final day of building and the big reveal. We decided to just build a temporary ladder until we figured out the perfect solution. But then I found the perfect solution about a week before we were scheduled to finish. With one week left and a ton of work to do, I seriously debated even mentioning the idea to Seth. I knew if he saw the photo he would be determined to make it happen.

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Well I finally showed it to him and he was determined to make it happen. I need you all to know just how amazing Seth is – he looked at a couple of plans for similar steps but mostly built this staircase without directions. He stayed up until 1 am working on it so we could have it installed for the final reveal. This staircase is an awesome demonstration of his hard work and talent. I’ll be forever impressed.

Funny story – we never had time to paint the staircase. There are two coats of primer, which was applied by some of the HGTV crew (we were behind schedule). The paint and glue were still wet when we installed the stairs so we couldn’t climb up them for a few days after installation. Also, Seth was able to bend the plywood because it accidentally got wet in the rain. We thought it was going to have to be trashed but the moisture actually worked in our favor.

Little Lou, Big Star!

I’ve used this space to share details of the construction and design of my tiny house. I’m not the greatest at writing on a regular basis, but I’m trying. I like to keep you updated. Some information is missing because I haven’t had the time to share it yet. Some information is missing because I’ve had to keep it a secret!

In February of 2015 I received an email from one of the many tiny house newsletters I subscribe to announcing an open casting call from the HGTV show Tiny House, Big Living. I figured it was worth a shot and sent in an application. I was a little indifferent about being on television but I wanted to help promote the tiny house lifestyle in a bigger way.


I didn’t hear anything for months. I assumed nothing was going to come of it and we got started on construction. Then in August, I received an email from the casting director asking if we were interested in a casting interview. Yup, you bet we were! Seth and I Skyped with the casting director and a few days later got word that our build was selected to be on the show.

In mid-September a crew of 5 showed up and started filming. The crew filmed for a total of 7 days between September and December. It was actually really hard work. We had to get comfortable speaking in front a camera, angling our bodies appropriately etc. It was really frustrating at times because we were already working on a tight timeline. It certainly added another layer of stress to the whole process but I’m very grateful that we had the opportunity to do something like this. Also, I’m much kinder to the cast when I watch House Hunters now.

After a few more months of waiting, we finally got word that the episode will air on Monday April 25th at 9pm on HGTV. I hope you’re able to check it out!