Tiny Homes, Big Suprises

Author: Kaitlyn Walsh
jayshaferSay hello to the original “tumbleweed”. You may not be able to tell from the photo, but this tiny home is actually on wheels! I am excited to say that I have just finished a fantastic weekend seminar led by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Thank you to the demonstrators, Tumbleweed leaders and fellow attendees for a wonderful and informative experience. Though I don’t think this style of living will enter the “mainstream” in the near future, judging by the large and diverse turnout at the workshop I would say the market for these adorable living spaces is definitely expanding. The word is clearly spreading; In my newly discovered (and slightly problematic) search-engine exploration of all things tiny, I see a new website or blog pop up every day, with tiny-homeowners sharing their stories of little custom-built homes-on-wheels. If you haven’t yet heard of the “Small House Movement”, let me tell you a little about it.

Though the idea was actually sprouted as early as the 1920’s, many are giving credit to Jay Shafer and The Small House Book for igniting the flame once again. His book tells of his quest to live a simple, sustainable lifestyle, and how he came to build his “Tumbleweed”, a tiny house on wheels totaling just 89 square feet. This is where eyebrows get raised.

According to the US Census Bureau, the average size of a single family home in the Northeast US is 2,613 square feet. Many of us live in homes larger than this. So it was expected that I was curious how or why someone would choose to live in a space not much bigger than some people’s closets. Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, the host of my seminar and a leader in tiny home building, sells the construction plans for their tiny homes on wheels (I met someone who built their own with just two other people in less than 4 months!) ranging from Jay’s original 89 SF “Epu” to the 172 SF “Popomo”. The company also designs cottages on foundations that vary in square footage from around 250SF to almost 900SF (a much more reasonable number for most people). Below is their Tiny Home Menu from the seminar:


So suffice to say, I was very intrigued by this and decided to do some more research. I bought The Small House Book and spent one of the more recent fair-weather days reading the entire thing cover to cover in the park (it is now covered in sticky notes). The book delves into some architectural history, Jay’s story, and finally, the ideology of the whole thing- which impressed me the most.

As you can imagine, living in such a small home requires very careful planning, a very efficient use of space, and for many of us- a change of mentality. Living “tiny” forces you to choose between what is essential in your life and what is simply “fluff”: the Formal Living Room that may look beautiful but seldom amounts to anything but extra square footage and a whole lot of dusting, the grand two-story marble Foyer, or that extra-extra bedroom that’s there “just in case”. Even the width of doors and hallways in a typical home seem extravagant after looking at some of these teeny tiny floorplans. A very interesting experiment Jay talks about in his book is this: Organize your things into categories (whether in boxes, shelves, cabinets, etc.) and put a label on your belongings with the date of the item’s last use. If you come across that item and it has been more than 6 months since you’ve touched it, it needs to be thrown out/sold/given away. Very radical, yes, but ’tis the spirit of living simply.

I’m not sure if I would be able to live full-time in a tiny house, but I am certainly taken with the idea. I find it quite charming actually. Many of the people I met at the workshop, though there for different reasons, had much of the same vision for their tiny home. It represented freedom. Whether from debt, possessions, monotony, or other.

For more information about tiny houses, our quest to build a tiny home in Fairfield County, or to get a list of tiny house resources, please contact me directly at kaitlyn@walshandpartners.com



  1. Hi selling my tiny house.. 41 oak rd. East Haddam, CT 06043
    774 sq. Ft.
    Gorgeous open floor plan two beds with tons of storage.
    Feel free to contact me

    • Kaitlyn Walsh says:

      Hi Mark,

      Just wanted to congratulate you on the sale of your little home in East Haddam! If you ever find yourself in Fairfield County, we’d love for you to stop by and chat.

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