Living Small: Tumbleweed Tiny Houses

by hookedonhouses on August 22, 2008

Have you heard of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses? The company was founded by Jay Shafer, who built a tiny house for himself in 1997. A lot of people expressed interest in it, so he began designing and building them for others who want to live a simpler life.

He says his decision to try to live in 96 square feet came from concerns about the impact that bigger houses have on the environment, as well as the desire to live a simpler, slower lifestyle.

The little bungalow shown above is called The Loring and has 251 square feet of living space. You can see by the floor plan that has a sleeping loft that offers some additional space for the owner to stretch out:

The Harbinger house has almost 300 square feet and is one of the larger plans Tumbleweed offers:

Here’s the Epu, which is unbelievably tiny, at only 89 square feet:

Shafer took Oprah viewers on a tour of this home last year. Here are the interior photos, which show how he has made clever use of every inch of the space:

Epu kitchen

sleeping loft

To learn more, go to Tumbleweed’s website (all photos are theirs). You can see a video tour of this home on the CBS website. Read about a Yale grad student who is saving money for tuition by building her own Tumbleweed Tiny House to live in while she’s there.

If You’re Hooked on Tiny Houses:

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Amateur Tightwad August 22, 2008 at 12:14 pm

I don’t know that I would choose to live this way, but I love the idea and the thinking behind the aesthetic. And I love the idea of decluttering to the really essential things. You don’t see any candles in the shape of toadstools in this house, do you? :)

Jeannine August 22, 2008 at 12:33 pm

I hope you don’t mind, but I posted a link to this on my message board…I’ve never seen anything like this and imagine that others haven’t either.

How adorable! What woman wouldn’t channel the little girl in her that loved all things miniature when looking at one of these gems?

I live (with a golden retriever) in a 785 sq ft condo and while there are times that I wish I had more space, I also like that I am forced to think before I procure anything.

Amy August 22, 2008 at 1:31 pm

I like the harbinger. I also really admire people that are so committed to conservation. I couldn’t do it if for no other reason than because I have 3 kids. But it seems like you’d miss out on things like big family dinners and entertaining. But maybe you’d go to another family members house for that. I do love the creative use of space and like Jeannine mentioned you’d have to think about where you’d put stuff before you buy it. It would make a really sweet playhouse for my kiddos :)

JLB August 22, 2008 at 1:36 pm

These are too cool. I wish I could put on of these in my backyard as a “snoring house”. You know a place to go sleep when your significant other is snoring REALLY loud.

maya August 22, 2008 at 1:38 pm

i love them. they are so cute i want to pop them in my mouth like candy.

having said that, our 864 sqft rental is waaay too small and i’m looking forward to buying a house with a good bit more room.

very much looking forward.

i like the playhouse and (especially) office ideas though. i could dig it.

REAGAN August 22, 2008 at 2:00 pm

This is so amazing. I want one. My husband and I are always talking about “simplifying” this would truly be that!

Heather August 22, 2008 at 2:06 pm

My fav is the Loring. It would make a great mother-in-law suite.

rue August 22, 2008 at 2:18 pm

The Loring is my favorite and it would be PERFECT for a vacation house! Very cute :)

rue

Fifi Flowers August 22, 2008 at 2:23 pm

These are adorable… I want one to runaway to! Too small for hubby and kids to come along… LOL… actually they would make for a nice little studio! Love this post!
Enjoy your weekend… and if you have nothing planned grab your passport… A Good Year in Provence tomorrow! Fifi

dreams and decor August 22, 2008 at 3:31 pm

So sweet! However……where would I put all my STUFF??? (smile!) Patti

Bettsi August 22, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Sometimes I fantasize about living in a home like this. In a beautiful wooded environment- just the right mix of sunshine and shadow. Nobody there but me and a nice dog and lots of peace and quiet. Ahhhh.

Norma August 22, 2008 at 6:17 pm

I agree with you Julia, I also love the Loring House, I would use it as an office too, I could put all my decorating stuff in there, I really like that idea.

mom in high heels August 22, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Yeeeeaaahhhhh…I’m just not seeing it. I mean, sure it sounds good in theory, less carbon foot print, downsizing, blah, blah, blah, but I need some space. I love my family, but no way would I want to live with them in a super small house. I wouldn’t mind having one in my backyard and using it for dh’s “man cave” (so I could get all of his crap out of the house), or for my very own playhouse/retreat, that I could girl up til my heart’s content and no boys would be allowed. I would be the She-ra, man hating club-members: 1. No way could I sleep under that tiny eave though. I’d feel like I was in a coffin. Scary!

Starr August 22, 2008 at 8:08 pm

Can you say claustrophobia? Waaay toooo smalll!!

Lizzi August 22, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Just found your blog from Blissfully Domestic and had to tell you that I absolutely LOVE it! It’s nice to find someone else who is as addicted to houses as I am. The first thing I do whenever our local paper comes is scour all of the real estate listings. Can’t wait to read more of you!

Lizzi

Kimberley August 22, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Congratulations, Julia, on your first Blissfully Domestic post! So glad to see you there.

sfitzg August 22, 2008 at 9:47 pm

I love these houses! It would be great for a little cabin-type get away. You could put up a nice deck around one and basically stay outside for most of the day (I’m not a big one for tent camping!). Thanks for those fun pics.

Jen R August 22, 2008 at 10:12 pm

Those would be an awesome outside office or studio..I don’t think I could live in them full time …Jen R

laura @ the shorehouse August 22, 2008 at 11:05 pm

The Loring! (It’s all about the porch.) I’d want to pop in a small fireplace and put it in the woods as a ski shack perched high up in a mountain…ski in, ski out a must. I’ve never heard of these before and they are soooooooper cool.

sandra/tx August 22, 2008 at 11:31 pm

If I lived by myself, I think I could do with such a small space. Reminds me of the playhouse my daddy made when I was a girl.

DMD August 22, 2008 at 11:47 pm

I would have to buy two. One to live in, and one to store my Christmas decoration in.

Kathy :) August 23, 2008 at 4:59 am

I feel like you do if I could put one in my backyard then yes, otherwise too small for me.

But hey who wouldn’t want a bathroom where you could see your reflection whilst on the throne !! lol

Kathy :)

Mari Adkins August 23, 2008 at 10:35 am

I got here by way of Blissfully Domestic. I love houses. I’ve collected house plans since my teens. Most are now on my computer. I have files and files of plans and pictures. Total junkie. :)

Liz August 23, 2008 at 11:03 am

I think one of these would be an excellent alternative to my current Airstream-Camper-as-Writing-Studio dream, and it might be easier to get these plans & build than find an Airstream now that Ralph Lauren is buying them up and decorating them to the hilt!!

girlymama August 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm

these are so adorable.

i just found your blog and i LOVE it! i’m so glad there is someone out there who shares my crazy obsession ;-) looking forward to reading lots more!

Marie August 23, 2008 at 4:21 pm

These are so cute! I really admire people who can live with such limited possessions. While I have severly limited my clothing, and I don’t watch TV, I need a little more room for pictures, a musical instrument and music stand, and a washer/dryer. Oh yeah, and somewhere to put my husband and six kids! LOL!

Seriously though, I wonder if people who live in these homes have all their “stuff” stored in their mom’s garage.

Tori August 23, 2008 at 9:01 pm

Awww, how cute, that would be a fun weekend home!

Pat August 24, 2008 at 7:36 pm

There are many small cottage houses in Denver, CO with just a little more square footage than these. They are great for singles and as a second home.

Angela August 24, 2008 at 8:00 pm

On Walden Pond…

Liz August 25, 2008 at 3:23 pm

They are adorable! I think that they’d be useful here in the UK where affordable housing is difficult to build due to the cost of the land. They are ideal.

Robin August 26, 2008 at 12:08 am

I love these, they are like dollhouses for grownups! I’m all for living in a right-sized house, I never understand why a family of four needs 6,000 square feet and a “gift-wrapping room”.

Sue August 26, 2008 at 10:07 pm

I have always loved small. Call me crazy (and many do!), I like that! The Epu is wonderful. I saw this on Oprah and really was intrigued.
Now, I must admit that I like having a teensy but more space here at home but the concept behind this idea is spot on.
The American ideal of the McMansion has never appealed to me at all. I am one that gets overjoyed at *cozy*. See, I AM crazy!

Love,
Sue

maya August 28, 2008 at 9:14 pm

i’m wondering how much it costs to build one of these beauties. they would make excellent MIL suites – except for the MIL with bad knees who can’t climb up to the sleeping loft. :(

Tanya December 14, 2008 at 6:18 pm

LOL second house? OMG a second house used just a office? GOD you people are so and totally completely missing the point of less is more!!

Homes Suite Homes December 15, 2008 at 7:36 am

WOW! This is just adorable…it is like a dolls house for adults, i absolutely love the concept that all your domestic needs are met without demanding much in return from the environmet!
Would you mind if i put a link on my blog site? just such a great concept!!

Amy Jewell December 31, 2008 at 3:56 pm

And I thought that MY house was tiny! Mine is 750 sq. ft! A MANSION compared to these! How fun!

Ashley January 7, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Ohhh, I love the Tumbleweed houses! I would love to have one in my backyard to turn into a little red school house from back in the day (homeschool style, of course!). I’ve asked DH… he offered to give me his stinky shed instead! lol :) Love this post! Thanks!

Linda January 19, 2009 at 7:59 am

I really like the idea of decluttering… but I agree with a few of the previous comments.. not sure I could go that small…. one of the best things I like about these houses is the use of space normally taken for granted… very ingenious

Linda from http://cookingtipoftheday.blogspot.com/

Linda’s last blog post..Recipe: Potage St. Germain – Fresh Pea Soup I

ida February 26, 2009 at 4:04 am

i took a good look at the website. saw this homebuilder and homes on many other tv channels. here is my take on it. first none of the homes would make it threw a tornado. the xs house reminded me of an outdoor toilet without the moon crest on it. all the ones with the all in one toliet well i’ve seen that stuff before. saudia arabia in the enlisted barracks for the saudia army. we were there on a mobile team back in 90/91. the sarastarosa was a small home. but, it reminded me of other small homes built perhaps in the 1920′s here in indiana. they are usually the ones in the older neighborhoods with like 3 add ons. and the other homes enesti and b 53…..they are not that much smaller then my 1950 home. so it kinda was like a 50 flash back. the enesti was like a glorified townhouse type of layout.

ida February 26, 2009 at 4:06 am

oh and i forgot…..how do i feel about all these homes. well i really didnt care for them. i like my sexy exlarge master bedroom with my wall mirrors and black and red decor. i love a bathroom that is larger then my butt. and i wont trade my 1035 sq ft home for these things in the world. and to think yesterday all i would have needed is running water and heat. lol i think i changed my mind 360. thanks.

Kim February 28, 2009 at 10:45 pm

They are cute as a button but I’m not sure I could handle the limited space for the long haul. These would make great get-away second homes.

Kim’s last blog post..The Popularity of High Quality Wood in Interior Decorating

Anne July 16, 2009 at 4:29 pm

We even do small good in Texas.
http://www.tinytexashouses.com/

Nathan September 8, 2009 at 2:29 am

Those are so cute. Especially that one that was featured on Oprah. Though I think it’s a cool idea and maybe cool to have as a cabin or weekend home, I couldn’t actually live in one full-time. Besides the fact that my bed is bigger than the “bedroom” in the one, my bedroom is bigger than the entire house (and I don’t have that big of a room!). Still cute though, haha.

Kelly February 8, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I absolutely love the idea. I think you would have to be an outside person which I am. I could see myself living in one of these cute homes with a big deck filled with beautiful plants.

CAROLANN BOARDMAB July 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I WOULD REALLY LIKE ONE OF THIS HOUSES , I LIKE ALL THE GINGERBREAD DECS. BUT I HAD ONE THAT IS ONE STORY AS I’M DISABLED. COULD YOY HELP SUGJEST ONE? YOURS CAROLANN.

hookedonhouses July 18, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Carolann–
Check the official Tumbleweed site. I’m sure they can help you! -Julia

kate July 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

I want the Epu so badly! I really wish you could get these in Australia,I could very happily live in one and greatly prefer small spaces.I agree with his philosophy so much – life is so simple but we insist on making it complicated.

Lindsay July 25, 2010 at 2:13 pm

have you seen this one?! a catskills hunting cabin turned victorian cottage… i fell in love with it a few weeks back!

http://tinyhouseblog.com/stick-built/victorian-cottage-in-the-catskills/

hookedonhouses July 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Love it!

Kaira December 5, 2010 at 11:54 pm

You have a really interesting blog, and I love reading your posts! I am a realtor and artist in Portland, Oregon, and I will be sure to mention your site in my blog at http://www.homesbykaira.com. Please stop by my site, and I will continue to follow your blog as well. Keep up the great posts!

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