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$11k 200 Sq. Ft. Handbuilt Zen Cabin in the Woods (Video)

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Almost two years ago I showed you this Japanese inspired tiny zen cabin in the woods.

Recently Kirsten Dirksen of Faircompanies went out to visit the owner/builder to create a video tour and interview based on the home.

Brian Schulz is the owner/builder of the cabin and he built it completely by hand for just $11,000 and about a year and a half of free time.

The home has a 14′ by 16′ footprint. He milled most of the wood himself right on site and used mostly recycled materials to complete the house.

Hand-made Tiny Zen Cabin in the Woods

Simple, Japanese Inspired Tiny House / Zen Cabin in the Woods

“It’s my dream for what I think living should look like,” says Brian.

I encourage you to enjoy the interview and complete video tour of this Japanese-inspired tiny zen home below:

Video Tour and Interview with Brian Schulz (Owner/Builder)

Read the original article based on this video over at Faircompanies.

Brian teaches traditional wood kayak building classes.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 41 comments… add one }
  • RockyMissouri
    November 12, 2013, 12:43 pm

    Thank you so much for that video tour ….!! A perfectly beautiful, and truly INSPIRED HOME.

    • Alex Pino
      November 12, 2013, 8:25 pm

      Glad you liked it!! Thanks for leaving your thoughts real quick 🙂

  • jerryd
    November 12, 2013, 2:09 pm

    Now that is a true artist and craftsman!! And knows what is really important. Well done.

    I’m going to steal your rough cut siding trick. I’d figured out to do a fence that way leaning them at an angle but your siding looks great and near free!!

    So many trees get cut down here they would happily deliver 8′ + pieces of tree for free, just buy, barrow or rent a lumber/bandsaw mill. And keep doing it selling the lumber for others to do the same plus beams, etc could be a nice job for siding and fencing.

    • Alex Pino
      November 12, 2013, 8:25 pm

      Thanks Jerry glad you liked it and good to read your thoughts here in the comments as usual!

  • Cahow
    November 12, 2013, 7:51 pm

    How can anyone find one thing to criticize about Brian, his philosophy or his home? What a well-thought out, grounded and superbly talented individual.

    I did have to laugh at one point, however. Brian had just told us about a walnut tree he had cut down “10 years ago” and hung onto the wood, to use as his countertop. And less than a minute later, he was talking about how “he wasn’t patient.” LOL

    Mate, you built your home around a brass sink you bought years ago and hung onto wood for a decade!!!! You’re patient, my friend, your patient! You just pick and chose when you want speed (90 minute railings) vs. slow (hand-joined Japanese light fixtures.)

    Watching the video, listening to his thought process, and NOT being beaten up about Hot Topics was truly enjoyable. 😀

    • Alex Pino
      November 12, 2013, 8:24 pm

      I thought the same thing when he said that about himself. I also think he’s pretty darn patient. Way more than most people I know that’s for sure.

  • tb
    November 12, 2013, 9:40 pm

    I this place in Portlandia? Fair Trade?

  • Ralph Sly
    November 12, 2013, 10:35 pm

    This is short and sweet because I am on a schedule today and spent some time on a comment last night to watch the comp crash and loose it but in short, LOL ya, come on midnight. I agree with comments made and am surprised there are not many more. This man is talented, without a doubt and complex but he is a Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! The impeccable craftsmanship and artistry is amazing. The window to nowhere, did you glimpse at the hardware used, it functions beyond perfect and so much more is impeccable, then the railing, the kitchen, Pure and unadulterated crap for this man or anyone to turn out and the irony is he can accept it in total flow of conversation.
    Butting a round to a flat and fastening it with a lag bolt would drive even me further off the edge. He dismisses being lackadaisical off the tongue like slobber of a St. Bernard’s chops. You seem to be all hitting on it but skirting it. It is as if two people built this place and the talented one should wring the neck of the other. Thank God the talented one didn’t give the other sucker much to do.
    I put this place under a microscope, his explanation of the way he installed and finished the plaster, he made love to this wall (been there done that on projects) just explaining it with very heated passion in his sole, (if that or any of my comment makes sense) (oh, what the hell, I have been around too long now to change) [see, it’s contagious] this is not of a man who wants to do anything in a rush. I understand blending rustic with refinement but the rest of the entire structure is too refined to accompany the crap. My place now, total crap and I love it. Nothing refines here to screw up the crap, and if it looks good when it comes through the door, I mess it up, of course with the exception of me. Be it not me to analyze this man, nope not me but everyone else is brushing on the same thought. I think. But I have been wrong before, once or twice, I think. I am going to take a pill now and go to bed. Goodnight. Oh and if you’re going to rip this comment apart, remember I am tender, loving and sensitive.
    One little question to jerryd before I go, how long would you give those upper railings and stair railing before it cracks, splits and falls apart, hopefully with no one depending on it for fall support?

  • Darcy
    November 13, 2013, 12:18 am

    Yikes, sorry guys but I am chocking to find something nice to say, I have never met a man that loves his wood so much, that’s all I am going to say.

    • Ralph Sly
      November 13, 2013, 10:25 pm

      Darcy, you didn’t feel the Zen? (how is that guys, six words) oh damn…

      • Darcy
        November 14, 2013, 12:50 am

        Oh Ralph, your like the guy in the zen Cabin, long winded and you talk a lot about everything but really about nothing.

        • Cahow
          November 14, 2013, 7:33 am

          Darcy: How did YOU benefit by attacking Ralph? Did it make you feel better about yourself? Are YOU happier, now?

          Ralph may, on occasion, be “long-winded” but at least his posts are a joy to read and provide many readers with a smile or good laugh. Your posts, however, are usually 100% negative, whether you’re commenting on this house, the mold on a pink house, etc.

          Take a Chill Pill and try to find SOMETHING positive to say, once in a while. *cough-troll-cough*

        • Ralph Sly
          November 14, 2013, 9:58 am

          Cahow, I am so touched, (maybe that’s the wrong word for me to use, I think Darcey hit on that one), ok how is filled with prideful emotion, I say as I wipe a joyful tier from my eye, “you’re a pip gal”. And to think I have been waiting for a poke from you on a positive recent comment I made on a small, ok, very tiny house but that’s ok, Doc in his always classy way has been pointing it out by gently using a salt shaker to powder it on to make his point rather than roughly rubbing it in. LOL ya gotta love him. (long winded hu, LOL, “ya think”)

        • Cahow
          November 14, 2013, 2:51 pm

          Dear Maligned Ralph (LOL),

          I did not see a comment from you on another Tiny House blog. I’m sure it’s my mistake in missing it. We’re slammed with work right now and I’m running 3 crews, trying to beat the shut-down that Winter brings. On those occasions, I just delete email alerts on comments, since reading them pulls me into the computer and I can’t escape. ~snort~ I’m only home NOW, for a quick lunch and wardrobe change for a new client meeting in 2 hours. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…I’m outta here, now! 😀

        • Alex Pino
          November 14, 2013, 9:18 am

          Can’t we all just get along? 😀

        • Darcy
          November 14, 2013, 10:27 am

          Alex, I find it out right ignorant when a article is posted and you ask for comments, but maybe you should only ask for positive comments, therefore life will be perfect for some of these people. I specifically stated , I could not find anything nice to say so I didn’t so because of that, Ralph goes on endlessly about nothing and cahow calls me a troll. I am not too sure then what kind of comments you are looking for? Life is not perfect and everything is not beautiful all the time, I did not like the dark dingy pink cottage and I think the author of the zen cabin is a fake, as he goes back home to his McMansion in the city, again nothing to do with the small house movement. When I like something I will be glad to say it but same goes for when I do not like it either. I read these articles to gather knowledge and ideas as I move towards early retirement myself, downsizing and building a small home. I will take things I like and put them into my new life when the time comes, so far I will have a bathroom with a running water, it will not be pink, there will be lots of nature light and it won’t have rusty antique sinks and dead decaying wood in it.
          Thanks for the ideas, keep them coming.

        • Alex Pino
          November 14, 2013, 12:26 pm

          No worries, Keep calm and carry on 😀

        • Ralph Sly
          November 14, 2013, 10:28 am

          What? Alex, you read negativity here? Some folks just have a need for attention so I for one am more than pleased to accommodate.

        • Alex Pino
          November 14, 2013, 11:53 am

          I just love and appreciate each one of you for being here and don’t expect it to be all sunshine and rainbows all the time, hahaha, so its all gooood 🙂

        • Cahow
          November 14, 2013, 2:45 pm

          Darcy: Comments on BUILDINGS are expected to run from 0-100% in regards to what people like or don’t like.

          Comments aimed at POSTERS is just Bad Manners. There are some commentors that I read at Alex’s site that I think very little of, in regards to their content, but I just shrug them off and Thank God they aren’t my neighbor. But when people cross the line from commenting on a building and personally start to attack the person doing the writing, I take great offense at that.

          I clarified my defense of Ralph, since it appears you didn’t pick up the hint I dropped about bullying. Bash away at the houses (Lord knows I do, on occasion) but leave the bullying and personal attacks out of it…please.

        • Ralph Sly
          November 14, 2013, 10:15 am

          Darcey, I am so pleased to find I have a fan, you actually read in totality the nonsense I sometimes spew? You must, to pass this very welcome critique. Thank you, sometimes I don’t even read some of it when I write it. However, as Doc pointed out, I am slow at changing dead set opinions until I do read others who contradict, with respect and subject knowledge, my way of thinking and a light will click. However there are some things I have been yapping about for years which ironically I hear echoed more and more as time goes on. Hum, maybe repetition and staying the course will produce success. And come on Darcy, really, although I am immensely flattered to be put in the abstraction of Brian, I could only wish. I could never hold a candle to this man. But if you think so then its good enough for me, I am egotistical.
          Sorry, I have to give Cahow her dues, you are a pretty negative person, and I am not even going to try to question her evaluation of 100%, between her and me, she is the statistician, Me, I just say, twice is too often, you see, I read you as well and most of it, as in your original comment on this post, “what the hell did you mean”, there was no opinion in those brief words. Damn, I am happy you were so clear on your opinion of me; and you score points of brevity there, “damn, I have to learn how to do that” you actually made your point. I can’t say it fell on deaf ears because, of course I am responding but you see Darcy, I am very secure and confident in personality, oh I do hurt and am sensitive but you have to be someone I love, loved or respected to hit that emotion. I do feel however you didn’t have the right to bring Brian down to my level, you might want to rethink that one and take an overall view of what he created here, if there was an insult here, it was toward him, man a double header, you good.

        • Darcy
          November 14, 2013, 10:42 am

          Ralph, Ralph, Ralph,I think I want to get up in the morning, make you breakfast and pinch your cheeks. If I was completely honest with my comments then I would have everyone on my case, this is why I chose not to say anything, because of that this is why I am getting negative comments towards me which I can handle. Do you want be to vomit and tell you about it when people like Brian gag me to the point of boredom? Do you want me to comment on articles when people are living In there small homes but they have no bathroom or just be positive and let them know their cushion matches the bedspread. I’d rather say taking a dump in the woods is really not that elegant for a lady, why build a house with no bathroom. Don’t worry my feelings are not hurt and I know how to take everything in this with a few grains of salt, what I tend to forget is there are people out there who can’t.

        • Alex Pino
          November 14, 2013, 11:51 am

          Lol, thanks, Darcy, yeah you know we can never please all and I do appreciate your honest thoughts and opinions. It’s nice to have that right 🙂

        • Ralph Sly
          November 14, 2013, 11:59 am

          Darcey, what a welcome comment your last one was, it showed a bit of you. You will notice, when I comment I do include the niceties, as in this case, first I find the human mind to be ever so interesting, I find Brian to be a case study. I am with you 100% on choice for lifestyles, I have to have those amenities and voice it. I am also passionate on health and safety and many other things. People do take some exception to brief unexplained comments, simply because they do not read minds. You weren’t ignorant, you just didn’t qualify anything. I responded in an effort to draw you out a bit and if we went through some nonsense to get there then, wow I am successful.

          Those of us who debate, do it with taste and respect for the most part, Cahow, Dock, Rev, Alice and the list goes on, Jerryd, LaMar, Parker, (I probably spelt half the names wrong but came close I am sure) I can’t pass their comments because they are very constructive to my lifestyle, and isn’t this what these forums are for? I said it in my post; diverse opinions are what keep me coming here and to other sites. I do not fear saying anything because when I blow my horn it is because I have been there and done that, when I mess up, I am the first to acknowledge that as was the case in the recent fire I had and nakedly laid out total stupidity over at Ken’s site. I was not a novice in the errors I made and that was the irony. You will notice a few of us write a little more personally because we have become comfortable to do so through mutual respect and jesting acknowledgements. I have so much admiration for many and do feel they are friends, not just words on a website.

          Both you and Cahow said the same thing about me this morning, she put it “long-winded” then gave her explanation, you put it “long winded” and explained you feel I talk a lot about everything but really about nothing, I often do but also feel I cover some very valid points, I may be ignorant in that belief but without feedback, I will remain disillusioned. Why then would I take yours as directed offensively and hers with glee. Same dress, different body. Now, with your comment “I want to get up in the morning, make you breakfast and pinch your cheeks”. If you are female and I speak jest fully here but always with a directive, that is always a welcome thought. But I might just want to make you breakfast. LOL Never worry about good honest opinions and say what you want. But if poor Alex has to pay for space, oh well, too bad. Oh damn, three paragraphs, I have to learn something about brevity. Long Winded hu. OK.

        • Alex Pino
          November 14, 2013, 12:28 pm

          If we were all the same it’d all be so darn boring. Let’s rejoice in the little bit of conflict we got there, Lol 😀

        • libertymen
          December 14, 2013, 8:14 am

          Hes kind of long winded and pretentious,but the cabin is pretty nice.Lots of labor for which he was not payed.
          The stairs are a potential problem in the future.The treads will loosen with use.

  • Doc
    November 13, 2013, 2:59 pm



    • Ralph Sly
      November 13, 2013, 10:20 pm

      I had a good laugh today Doc, thanks but did you have to say it so loud, all caps. My ears are still ringing. If Alex keeps showing little places like the one I think you are referring to then yep, no thinking about it but please notice, in no way shape or form did I say I would accept that small of area for full time occupancy. It’s not as if I would not have, say 35 year ago (more like 40) but with age and gluteus maximum running things now I look at these things which I would live in. That little one would make a fantastic hideaway for even me with a getaway bag and the extended period would be a couple of months.
      If you include the doable loft, in this one it is about the space I am in now; I have a queen bed on the living level so this would actually be larger. Smart wife you have not liking the other stairway, not sure, I seen a few but if I dare try thinking today, I think I know the one you are talking about, and yes this looks safe without the railing he chose, I believe you gave me that one in a thousand mile round about manner. Cahow touched on what I was getting at a little louder noticing the counter top and sink scenario. I just put a different spin on that way of thinking; I will just bet he took more the 90 minutes choosing where one board on parts of some of the exterior finish would go. This is one complex guy, and bright beyond brilliant, he defiantly built a beautiful home. I am only going to focus on the railings, I can see that drying out and cracking in no time at all and the bark will most certainly be a constant clean up pain. It’s not going to stay there. Hell, when we build fences with this stuff we cradle the upright and brace it better than this. It’s a hand railing on a stair case, and there is no protection on strength on the upper railing either.
      The one joy I do get out of coming on these sites is the diverse opinions,
      Alex you cad, I have been getting psychosomatic hangovers from “Kool Aid”? Thanks for the heads up Doc, it’s getting so I can’t trust Alex. I’ll lay off the stuff. I thought he was being upright but now, he may be getting smoother than exlax.
      Anyway, I would go on about a couple of other very small points but I am in a rush LOL…

      • Alex Pino
        November 14, 2013, 9:19 am

        LOL, drink up!!

      • RockyMissouri
        November 14, 2013, 4:15 pm

        Thank you for a great response… I truly enjoyed it..!!

    • Ralph Sly
      November 14, 2013, 12:06 pm

      See what you started, hope your proud of yourself mister. If you hadn’t been so damn insightful, I wouldn’t have been here today. LOL 😀

      • Doc
        November 14, 2013, 12:44 pm

        I knew it! He’s hooked!
        Great job Alex!

        • Ralph Sly
          November 14, 2013, 1:05 pm

          You got me laughing so hard that time I have tears running down my cheeks ya bugger and I have to go to a luncheon in a few minutes. Yep looking like a big putts with red crying eyes. Thanks Doc. LOL
          Hey, speaking of going out, I had to find a dress shirt in a hurry, wrinkles in clothing I always a pet peeve of mine and storage in the tiny house is a bugger if you can’t hang dress shirts. I bought one of those steamers and dam that works good. I figured it worked so good on the shirt I would try it on myself and you know, with time it might be successful but you have to keep it moving or it sure burns your ass.

        • Doc
          November 14, 2013, 1:11 pm

          Careful with that thing cause I think you’ll find it has the oppositite effect on some of your wrinkled parts, I’m just sayin’…

  • Ralph Sly
    November 14, 2013, 12:56 pm

    A little comment Darcy made had me viewing this Video one more time, did anyone see a bathroom in this house. I didn’t catch that, if not where do the dirty deeds go? Like she said, it’s not that lady like having a dump in the woods. It was on another subject but the point is valid. As a male I can relate to that but I didn’t see any facilities here.

    • Alex Pino
      November 14, 2013, 1:51 pm

      Yep–He’s got a separate structure for the shower/outhouse.

      • Ralph Sly
        November 14, 2013, 8:12 pm

        Thanks Alex, too bad, he has the room. That would be another detriment to me at my age and requirements.

  • Tom Zollinger
    January 1, 2014, 2:52 am

    Happy, Happy, Happy New Year. Period. I am about to construct a window or door to nowhere. Done. Now I need to put some glass and a frame and a house around it and all will be well.

    • Tom Zollinger
      January 1, 2014, 9:45 pm

      Alex. For some reason, this thread and video reminded me of the beautiful artwork — and buildings of David Lee, artist builder. In the most recent issue of Backwoods Magazine (BHM) some of Lee’s creations are pictured and he confesses to having been inspired by Tolkien’s writings. Few spots on this planet are more in keeping with Lee’s inspired projects than this website. Get (even more) inspired! http://www.boothbayregister.com/article/welcome-wizards-den/23861


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