Big changes are happening

3/23/16Announcing my new tiny adventure: #UnBoxed #TinyDonuts, made in a #tinyhouse. I can’t wait to get my Kickstarter project going to raise funds for all the tea lights and thimbles of oil needed to make my first dozen. Thank you all, my #tinyhousetribe for your support. I will have signup sheets for my mailing list on the third floor of the hotel at the #tinyhouseconference tonight.

Here’s my inspiration and why I think this will be a huge success!


November is the first month we’ve exceeded 2,000 blog views.Appropriate, given the American Thanksgiving holiday. I am thankful to all of you for your tremendous support and encouragement. I believe 2016 will be a big year for UnBoxed. Can’t wait to share more of that journey with you all.

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My Super Exciting UnBoxed Road Trip to the Tiny House Jamboree (plan)

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.  ~ by Robert Frost (from “The Road Not Taken”)

I have so much writing to catch up on… and these next two weeks aren’t going to help. Redefining what’s important in life, building a tiny house, and taking on new responsibilities at the office have kept me busy.

It’s official. I will be at the Tiny House Jamboree, in Colorado Springs late next week. Over ten thousand people have registered for this free, yes free event. You can still show up and register on site. Do it!

For a Tiny House enthusiast like myself, the opportunity to go to the very first Tiny House Jamboree event is such a privilege. I was also lucky enough to attend the first two Tiny House Conferences (in Charlotte, NC and Portland, OR) the last two Springs. This will be a little different. It is a different vibe than other events, not better necessarily, just more like a festival, it is substantially bigger, is free for attendees – sponsored by vendors, will have live music and of course one of the most kick-ass lineups of Tiny House speakers ever assembled.

Things are starting to align really well on this trip. I’ve got my camping gear, lots of great stuff to listen to, and the determination to make this a journey like no other. The exact details and locations are removed to protect the innocent. I leave early on Wednesday morning and am essentially driving 45 hours round trip — enough to cross the country if I straightened out the roads. I’m super pumped just looking at the map, thinking of the people and places I’ll get to see in five days of driving in addition to the three-day event. This is going to rock. If you want to follow my progress on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, I’ll be using the tag #MyTinyRoadTrip.



The original story on Hipstercrite is important to read first. Again, don’t click on my important video response until you read the article above, FIRST.


Now, I don’t live in a tiny house yet, but I will someday soon. My video response captures how I feel about it:

Video Response

Never give up. Never surrender. – Jason Nesmith / Commander Taggert

The Modern Tiny

There are many, many examples of tiny houses if you look online. Curated below are a couple of examples of modern style tiny houses. There are some interesting and unique design features of these, including: lightweight and inexpensive materials, industrial fixtures, and sometimes minimalist furnishings. These are inspiring to me. I hope you find them fun and interesting idea generators, regardless of the style you want for your own space.

As I am compiling my list of inspiring designs, there’s something I notice; many of tiny homes don’t have names. I’m not sure why not, or why I felt compelled to name my design before it’s even built. I’m calling out three specific examples, and will try to describe them as best I can.

Miller House, near Boise, Idaho


Macy Miller, perhaps one of the more well-known and well published tiny house owners, has created an inspiring project. I’m surprised I haven’t written about it before now.

Macy is an architectural designer, and was able to build this fantastic project for only $11,000 USD. The gooseneck trailer provides a nice sleeping platform, adding to the living space significantly over the more typical designs. The exterior is clad in repurposed shipping pallet slats, and adds a very pleasant texture. I like that the whole trailer bed wasn’t used for living space, and a cozy porch on the tail provides a place of transition before entering the house.

The interior is decidedly modern and the lines are kept clean. There’s some great use of color for accent pieces, like the hand-blown glass lampshades. Many folks I’ve talked to about tiny houses have made comments about the appropriateness for families. Here, a family of three, plus a Great Dane, shows that it can and does work.

Here’s a great interview with Macy on NPR from December of 2013. There’s a great amount of info on her site: 

220 SF Tiny House, Western Massachusetts

selman-tiny-house-2011-croppedThis house, build by students from the Warren, Vermont based Yestermorrow Design/Build School, is ground bound—sitting on foundation piers and not wheels. At 3650mm (12′-0″) x 5790mm (19′-0″), it’s still pretty tiny. The polycarbonate cabinet doors look great, and would help reduce weight, important in a wheeled design. As you might be starting to notice, I really like shed roofs. The straw bale hot water heater, feature in the video, is brilliant and another great way to save money and reduce carbon footprint. I also like that it has the same vanity sink I purchased for my project earlier this year.

Minim House

Minim House - 03

The Minim House, designed by Foundry Architects in Washington, DC, is a bit wider than typical trailer homes, meaning a permit and most likely a professional crew would be needed to move  it. However, as I’ve described tiny homes to many new to the idea: they are moveable, however aren’t necessary meant for moving often like a travel trailer. This balance between fixed and wheeled, allows for a well-cared for and high-quality tiny house to become a family heirloom and can help its owners respond to changing jobs and the desire to live in new places without giving up a home. More info available at Minim Micro Homes.


Another UnBoxed find: Forge

Since my last update on the models and sketches I’ve been exploring, I decided that my project needs a little simplifying. By maintaining the original enclosure, and removing the loft, I am looking to do more with less. I should have something to share on my own designs again shortly.

I’ve begun exploring Pinterest to look at both tiny houses and shipping container projects, thanks to my good friend and architect Bob. There are so many great projects out there, and I will be updating my ‘pins’ often, so feel free to subscribe. This week, I discovered a site that has developed a flexible system for container studios – very much in line with my new goals for this project. The site is ContainerPlan and they call this system FORGE. I love the tag line –
Dedicated DIY“.
You can download plans and 3D models for a modest fee. There’s some clever design ideas here and even with the doors and a long wall panel removed the design keeps the spirit of the container; while updating the look in a way that would make it welcome in any neighborhood. 20140612-205632-75392817.jpg





To see more details of how these are crafted, see:

Hello, Dolly!

Container DollyWell, here’s an alternative to a trailer that I had not previously considered.  This, dear readers, is what is known as a cargo dolly.  In its former life, this was used by the military to transport equipment and temporary buildings.  This is an intriguing idea, since the container could sit lower than a trailer when transporting to save fuel, and can be set back down and the dolly stowed for future use.  The photo shows it not quite in it’s upright position, which is a little higher than the axle. The seller updated it, added electric brakes, cleaned it up with some shiny paint and it passed inspection with the Texas DOT.  It could be yours, for the right price on eBay. Current bid is USD $2,000. That’s priced significantly less than some other options, which is something to sing about.

Tiny Houses with Big Ambitions – Time

Time published an excellent piece today with video on the Tiny House movement. It’s fantastic to see communities to help the homeless developing like Camp Quixote… Go check it out.


Also, more about the permanent location of this camp, which opened in Olympia, Washington about 6 months ago is here in the Seattle Times:

20140529-212609-77169499.jpg {photo credit – Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times}

Digital Fabrication and the Modern Tiny House

20140413-134212.jpgBefore thinking about a shipping container, I considered a sort of caravan/boat hull hybrid. Last year, I watched Alistair Parvin in a TED video titled: “Architecture for the people by the people“, passionately sharing the WikiHouse project for its democratization of design and building, the social impacts of small, affordable housing and how a simple sheet of plywood could be transformed into an entire building system (even the hammer and ladder to assemble it).

Housing for the 99%, designed and fabricated by and for the 99% with local materials. All designs are added to the creative commons, for share and modify open source rights. The basis of WikiHouse is code (also open source) built on top of the commercially available design software formerly owned by Google, and now Trimble – SketchUp (who’s motto is ‘3D for everyone’). Anyone can use the free version, SketchUp Make, to design and build their own tiny, or not so tiny houses for personal, non-commercial use. The best way to get the WikiHouse plugin today is to go to the Extension Warehouse from the SketchUp application toolbar, and search for WikiHouse as shown below.


Once installed, you can browse throughout the library of open source models, like this structural join that I downloaded below. If you wish to manipulate the design, you can generate automatic layouts of the parts as they fit on a sheet stock of the size you specify. By default, the extension is set for metric plywood sizes of 2400mm x 1200mm. You can easily change the units to inches and adjust accordingly.


More complex models, like this entire tiny house below, take a little longer to generate the cut file preview. This house is many more pages, each representing a full-size sheet of plywood. Notice that each part is also labeled, to make it easier to assemble after cutting with a CNC machine.


This open-source project started me thinking how that concept could be ruggedized, made to withstand being pulled around on various terrain, pre-assembled. Images of upside-down boat hulls on a trailer came to mind as a possibility. It would consist of a grid of interlocking plywood parts, to form a shell. A sort of modern ‘Bucky’ Fuller machine for living. 3D printed parts or even an entire house could be exciting. Perhaps elements of those ideas will creep in to the current project, or I will save them for the next one.

Anyway, the co-founder of WikiHouse and now of, Nick Ierodiaconou, will be the Keynote presenter at the SketchUp 3D BaseCamp 2014 tomorrow. And I hope to have a chance to interview him as part of my assignment while here. More on that as the week progresses.