Below is the Tiny house I built for under $3000 and %99 by myself. See more HERE http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewcauthen/sets/72157623267632282/
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It is impossible to do a search for small houses and not turn up Jay Shafer and the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. He is in large part the inspiration for the small house movement and Small House Style. It seems that one person has not done more to put the small house on the map than Jay and this is our homage to him…
Jay built his first small house (for himself) in the early ’90s and has been living small ever since. He founded the company in the mid ’90’s because people were expressing real interest in his small house. It seems that other people wanted to live simpler, cheaper and smaller – the Tumbleweed way too.
Jay appeared on Oprah last year and small houses officially hit the big time. You can view the Oprah Tiny Homes, Big Ideas slideshow and video on Oprah.com.
Jay has also made appearances in the San Francisco Chronicle, on CBS (w/ 2 great videos to watch), on NPR, and on countless blog posts and beyond. Keep your eye out for Jay – according to the San Francisco Chronicle he is dreaming up a small house community – shared land, connected by walking paths, on a small piece of land. A sexy, small house development instead of a trailer park? Sounds good to us.
Thanks Jay for being such an inspiration to small house lovers everywhere!
Here are some great video clips and slideshows that feature Jay and Tumbleweed Tiny Houses:
The Hour’s Hilary Doyle finds out if Jay has a good idea:
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company slideshow:
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company Lusby model slideshow:
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company – building the WeeBee:
Learn more about Tumbleweed Tiny Houses and Tumbleweed Tiny House Plans. Jay hosts workshops all over the country if you are interested in learning more.
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Summary. This page provides news and information about Jay Shafer and the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.
About. Jay Shafer is a social activist who, through his Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, works to improve the world of architecture, housing, art, esthetics, and low-impact community living. Jay simultaneously draws upon his experience and extensive knowledge of music, video, photography, art, politics, public speaking, teaching, religion, history, architecture, and literature. His impact on society is multifaceted and multidimensional. Those who encounter and embrace Jay’s philosophies typically have life transforming experiences that result in improved health, greater creativity, more effectiveness, better relationships, reduced materialism/consumerism, increased wealth, and general transcendence.
The Small House Book. Jay’s newest book, The Small House Book, is now available on the TumbleweedHouses.com website and has received positive reviews among those who have read it.
Testimonial. “I’ve known Jay since 2001 when I read about him in the Des Moines Register. In 2002, we founded the Small House Society. In 2003, I assisted Jay with the construction of my Mobile Hermitage and that summer became one of his first small house customers. The genius behind Jay’s fusion of art and architecture became increasingly apparent over more than 5 years of living in one of his zero-maintenance homes. In addition to being skilled in his profession, Jay is pleasant to be with. He is inspiring, funny, intelligent, passionate, compassionate, caring, and sensitive to the world around him. In the summer of 2008, I had an opportunity to travel with Jay for three weeks as part of the Border to Border Tour. Before the trip, I was concerned about spending such an extended period of time on the road. I didn’t know if the long hours and tight quarters would stress us out. Yet, I discovered Jay was delightful to travel with. What could have been a stressful three weeks turned out to be enjoyable and relaxing. Jay’s chosen circle of friends and business parters, such as Steve Weissmann, are also compassionate, caring, competent, and a pleasure to be around.” – Gregory Johnson, Director of ResourcesForLife.com
Media. Below are selected news stories about Jay Shafer and the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.
- CNN, American Morning, 22 October 2008. “Jay Shafer designs tiny homes and has even started a blog about living on less. His homes have a designer feel — interior wood paneling, stainless steel kitchens, built-in bookcases — packed into a space about the size of walk-in closets of upscale homes. His smallest home has 65 square feet; his biggest (a three-bedroom place) has 774 square feet.” [ Article | Video ]
- New York Times, 10 September 2008. “In July, Mr. Johnson, who lives in a 140-square-foot house made by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company of Sebastopol, Calif., took to the road to promote his vision of living small, along with Jay Shafer, Tumbleweed’s founder. The two men drove from Victoria, British Columbia, to San Diego, pulling Mr. Shafer’s house behind them on a trailer.” [ Article ]
- ByDesign – ABC Radio National of Australia. Jay Shafer and Gregory Johnson were joined by Matt Adams in an interview with Alan Saunders, the host of ByDesign. The show aired in Australia on Saturday at 9:00 am, 10 March 2007. [ Audio ]
- Oprah Winfrey, 20 February 2007. “Jay Shafer, founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, says living small is a luxury—and when he says living small, he means it. Jay’s entire house is only 96 square feet!” [ Article | Video ]
Jay on oprah http://www.oprah.com/home/Living-Small-and-Loving-It
These families live in super small homes. Learn how they cope with the lack of square footage—and love it!
Making the Most of a Small Space
Small-space dwellers Jay Shafer, Jack Sammis, Jane Mount and Maxwell and Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan each utilize some of the following ways to make the most of their tiny abodes.
Get rid of items you don't need or don't love so you can focus on the things you do love.
- Maximize storage space by designating a place for every belonging.
- Personalize your home with things you love that represent who you are.
- Make a room look bigger by painting all the walls white.
- Create ambient light by replacing doors with curtains and lighting a closet from within.
- Organize your space so you fit in 90 percent of everything and have 10 percent open. If you have openness, the world will bring more to you!
- Make the most of outdoor space—whether it's a small garden, patio or front yard.
- Build up! Create customized cabinets that go from floor to ceiling.
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Jay Shafer, founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, says living small is a luxury—and when he says living small, he means it. Jay's entire house is only 96 square feet! "It's the smallest house we've ever seen," Oprah says.
The first stop in Jay's house tour is the main living area—which he calls the "great room." According to Jay, there's plenty of space for all his belongings. "This place has more storage per square foot than most houses would," he says.
Jay's main living area is packed full of amenities that make him more comfortable—including a tiny fireplace! Another bonus—his commute from home to office is just inches away. Jay has a desk where he can sit and get his work done. And, if Jay wants to entertain, he says his "great room" fits four people comfortably.
Although his lifestyle might seem primitive to some people, Jay says it suits him. "I feel like as long as I know what makes me happy and know what doesn't, I can get rid of all that other stuff, and it makes room for a really comfortable life," he says.
Sleep walkers beware…Jay sleeps in a loft that's only three-and-a-half feet tall. "This tiny house makes my life a lot easier, except when it comes to making a bed," he says.
For Jay, living small is really about personal happiness. "Aside from not needing anything more than this, I really like the idea of putting what I do have into quality over quantity," he says. "Living small is really a luxury in the sense that I have a lot of time now that I didn't have before. I can focus now on other things I want to do in my life rather than just paying a mortgage and taking care of a house."
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Small houses challenge our notions of need as well as minimum-size standardsView More Images (5)Down a rambling residential road on the outskirts of Sebastopol, the dream house sits like a testament to discriminating taste.
This dream house is the love child of artist-builder Jay Shafer, who lovingly hand-crafted it. The stainless-steel kitchen, gleaming next to the natural wood interior, is outfitted with customized storage and built-ins. From his bed, Shafer can gaze into the Northern California sky through a cathedral window. In his immaculate office space, a laptop sits alongside rows of architectural books and magazines -- many featuring his house on the cover. And from the old-fashioned front porch, he can look out on a breathtaking setting: an apple orchard in full bloom.
But in an era when bigger is taken as a synonym for better, calling Shafer's home a dream house might strike some as an oxymoron. Why? The entire house, including sleeping loft, measures only 96 square feet -- smaller than many people's bathrooms. But Jay Shafer's dream isn't of a lifestyle writ large but of one carefully created and then writ tiny.
Shafer, the founder of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses, began his love affair with diminutive dwellings about 10 years ago when teaching drawing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. "I was living in an average-sized apartment and I realized I just didn't need so much space," he said. "I always envied people who had smaller homes, because they didn't have to do as much housework."
He bought an Airstream trailer, remodeled it and spent two years suffering the long, bitter winters before conceding that insulation was one amenity he was unwilling to forgo. "So I started from scratch and built myself a small house," he told me. He built the 100-square-foot home on wheels and parked it on a friend's farm outside of Iowa City. Eventually, he moved back into town but not without some difficulty. "I wasn't allowed to put the house on a city lot, because it was too small," he explained, referring to the minimum-size standards in the codes of many cities and counties across the country. So he bought a house, put his little house in the backyard and rented out the main house.
By 2000, he had decided this would be a way to channel his artwork, feed his hunger for simplicity and escape the rental rat race. After a friend asked him to build a house for him to live in, Shafer launched Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. in 2000. The friend went on to become the president of the Small House Society -- and thus was written one more episode of the small-is-beautiful movement. Shafer began building and designing little houses for people who wanted them as backyard retreats, second homes or primary residences. Eventually, he sold his own first home because he wanted something smaller and then built himself a 70-square-foot home on wheels (now called the XS House on his Web site).
"I knew I was going to be traveling out here and didn't know where I was going to put my house," he explained. "I wanted for it to fit in a parking place -- actually, I wanted to be able to parallel-park it."
I'd heard of getting a car small enough to parallel-park -- but a house?
Shafer pulled his house out West on a U-Haul and parked it in a public lot smack in the center of Sebastopol, hoping he would meet people sympathetic to the pursuit of the simple life and invite him to live on their property. It took exactly 20 minutes. For the next six months, Shafer lived on 40 acres of land with a creek outside the upscale town of Occidental. He then moved closer to Sebastopol, before selling his home to build his current one -- which he dragged to its current location in an apple orchard.
Over the years, he has built and sold 10 homes and dozens of house plans, which cost about $1,000. But the real story is that he's become a poster boy for simple living, with interviews or mentions in This Old House magazine, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and, last February, even on "Oprah." What's behind the rush to peek inside Shafer's tiny living room and grill him about his lifestyle?
"Our society's been based on excess for so long, it's still a somewhat novel idea to live simply," he said. At 42, Shafer has a quiet, boyish presence and the unclouded brow of a man content with his choices. But he's also someone who obviously has gone to great lengths to live life according to his own principles -- an intensity seems to flicker in his eyes and in the humility of his explanations. You won't find much in the way of ranting about greed and gluttony. Though he does sometimes utter words like "excess," he maintains it's not for him to judge the needs of others.
"I can't say what the definition of a small house is," he said. "Maybe it's 4,000 square feet, if that's what it takes to suit their needs. The idea is that the house is being well-used. Some people need more space than others." Even when asked about the likes of Larry Ellison (whose recent building plans involve battling for a house bigger than a city block), Shafer resisted: "I don't know his needs."
Shafer said that small-house fans tend to be a nonjudgmental lot because so many have experienced "discrimination": Most building codes across the nation maintain a minimum-size requirement that prohibits the building of very small houses like Shafer's. Some homeowners associations and towns maintain this high standard in order to maintain high property values -- as well as keep out the affordable-housing riffraff. This has meant that many tiny-house aficionados only live their dream by skirting the law, living in someone else's backyard or heading for a rural county with no planning department.
But even in counties where tiny houses are allowed, lenders don't always look kindly on homes the size of a walk-in closet. Indeed, Shafer knows that some people might even see his house as a threat to their property values: That was an argument he heard often from his father, who recently sold his 4,000-square-foot suburban home in Mission Viejo to move into an RV. Now, Shafer thinks his father may be coming around to understanding the inherent beauty of living small.
Shafer chose Sebastopol in part because he thinks the politically liberal community will be supportive of abolishing minimum-size standards. His next dream is to create a little community of small houses, with a half-dozen or more connected by walking paths on a small piece of land.
"Trailer parks get a bad rap because they are made of cheap materials, but their structure is very conducive to community," he said. "Everyone knows high density is the way to go." Indeed, the tiny house may be the antidote to vertical high density in small towns and rural areas where neighborhoods are eager to preserve views and open space. Unlike in a three-story, lot-covering, mixed-use development, from a cluster of tiny houses, you can still smell the apple blossoms.