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Chicago’s First Tiny House Resident: Toni Shelton

Meet Chicago’s first tiny house resident: Toni Shelton. Toni, aka “Disco Toni,” owns an event planning/promotions/photography business. She’s a 5-time serial entrepreneur from the Hyde Park area of Chicago and was recently featured on the cover of California Magazine.

Now she’s living in an amazing tiny house of her very own in a residential area of Chicago. Pretty cool 🙂 The home was built by Timbercraft Tiny Homes, and it’s their Boxcar Model. See pictures of the house (with a first floor bedroom!) from Timbercraft and Toni below, and read more about her story on the last page.

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Chicago’s First Tiny House Resident: Toni Shelton

Images via Toni Shelton

Cooking in her new tiny house!

Enjoying family in her comfy living room.

One happy family right there!

Here’s the model from Timbercraft

Related: Timbercraft Tiny House on Wheels For Sale, AL

Wow that spacious loft is amazing! Great for guests or storage.

Pretty fun little spot.

Now that’s a perfect tiny house bedroom.

Related: 150 Sq. Ft. Timbercraft Tiny Home

Look how happy she is!

Images via Toni Shelton

From Toni Shelton: 

Tiny homes are something that millions of people have become interested in, thanks in part to television shows that have shed light on them. They focus on minimalist living, yet provide people with the comforts they need. Chicago’s first tiny home has made its way to the city, fits in well, and is turning heads everywhere it goes. Owned by Toni Shelton, a Chicago icon herself, many people have questions about the tiny house, and she’s not shy about dishing up the answers.

“My kids all thought it was a joke when I said I was going to have a tiny house,” explained Shelton. “Once they saw that I was serious about it then they got on board and really like it. The tiny house process has been very exciting so far and I’m thrilled it was given to me.”

Shelton’s tiny house is just 200 square feet. It is 8.5 feet by 24 feet and this baby weighs in at 14,000 pounds. She worked with an Alabama-based company to design the tiny house, having a first floor bedroom, plenty of storage space for her shoes and clothing, and opting for her favorite earth-tone colors throughout. Once the tiny house was ready, she made her way with a friend to pick it up from the manufacturer. She then spent 2.5 days covering 4,500 miles to pull it to its destination. All along the way, people would marvel at the tiny home, ask questions, and want to take pictures of it.

“We felt like celebrities pulling the tiny house, because people were in awe of it,” added Shelton. “I’m thrilled to bring it to my home city, Chicago, where it will be a part of all that I have and do here. I’m happy to be Chicago’s first tiny home resident and look forward to spending time in it.”

Shelton has four grown children who are spread out from New York to Los Angeles, where she will end up taking the tiny home for vacations to visit them. When not on vacation with it, the adorable tiny home will be nestled into her Chicago neighborhood. She reports that it’s everything she thought it would be and loves how it brings her back to her down-to-earth lifestyle habits.

Deep down inside, Shelton says she’s a mountain country girl. She’s always enjoyed the simple things in life, is a nature lover, and eschews high priced luxuries, such as diamonds, designer clothing, and fancy cars. All she needs is just her Jeep Wrangler and a backpack and she’s one happy lady. People often ask her if she’d sell her tiny home, but merely laughs and says only for $100,000!

A Chicago native, Toni Shelton owns an event planning/promotions/photography business, and is known for her contributions to house music in the city. Known as “Disco Toni,” she has won numerous awards for her humanitarian and charity work, and has been featured in numerous magazines around the country. A 5-time serial entrepreneur from the Hyde Park area of Chicago, Toni has also spent time working as a Hollywood publicist and appeared on E! Entertainment Television. Shelton was recently featured on the cover of California Magazine.


Related: Harry Connick Jr. Stays in the Pioneer Tiny House

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

Latest posts by Natalie C. McKee (see all)

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • keepyourpower
    March 17, 2017, 3:00 pm

    14,000 pounds! Really? Need a hefty truck to pull that!

    • Paul
      March 17, 2017, 4:15 pm

      What stuck out at me was the “4,500 mile journey” home with it – Guntersville, AL (headquarters of Timbercraft) to Chicago is 630 miles – takes a lot of wrong turns to add-up to 4,500 miles, lol. I moved from the NW suburbs of Chicago to an area 1.5 hours west of Fort Worth, TX and it was only about 1K mile, so 4,500 really caught my attention, haha. Looks like a nice place, though.

    • November 3, 2017, 9:38 pm

      10,000lbs is the limit you can pull with a CDL B. Need a CDL A to pull that one! Probably a Kenworth tractor unit too!

  • March 17, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Nice article, however some very important information has been left out.

    – what permissions did she need to be able to live in it, for example did she need a building permit?
    – how does she address water / sewer / grey water / electricity?
    – is it considered an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) or an RV?

    These are all questions I receive on a daily basis by potential clients looking to purchase THOW for use in an urban location. It’s always nice to know how others have successfully dealt with the above.


    • Natalie C. McKee
      March 19, 2017, 5:23 pm

      Hi Richard — all good questions. I’m afraid I just share what folks share with me, but I would like to know more. Maybe we will get a follow up.

    March 18, 2017, 5:51 pm

    I love it…! Very nice job, and well laid out…!

  • Sherry Wood
    March 18, 2017, 8:56 pm

    I like it too ! This is not everyone’s taste, but I LOVE white and light colors inside a tiny home….makes it appear bigger inside !

  • Andrea
    March 19, 2017, 8:13 am

    Well done…..love you it!

  • Nancy M.
    March 20, 2017, 10:02 am

    Love this house! Super livable, lots of storage, downstairs bedroom, etc. And plenty of room upstairs for guest! My daughter also lives in Chicago, so I am especially curious how she managed to meet city regs…

    • Natalie C. McKee
      March 20, 2017, 11:19 am

      I think there’s a chance she didn’t. She may be flying under the radar.

  • Wendy Anne Darling
    March 21, 2017, 9:11 pm

    Great article. Thanks, Natalie!
    I’m a Brit, living in the US. How’s the Tiny House Movement going over in the UK?

    • Natalie C. McKee
      March 22, 2017, 8:22 am

      Hi Wendy! I’m an American living here 🙂 I haven’t been here long enough to see a lot, but I know Tiny House Scotland is working on a homeless village in Edinburgh which is a step in the right direction!

  • Susan
    April 2, 2017, 10:57 am

    It’s beautifully done! Love the 1st floor bedroom. A very livable home. I do wonder where it’s located, as Chicago is definitely not the tiny house capitols the world. But…it’s a start!

    • Natalie C. McKee
      April 3, 2017, 8:05 am

      Yea she didn’t disclose (which is probably wise on her part haha — don’t want strangers coming by!)

  • Pete Wilson
    November 2, 2017, 7:08 pm

    Very nice. Tastefully decorated inside and out; love the outside colors and the porch is a great tough. I like it!

  • Keith Falkner
    November 5, 2017, 8:04 am

    I admire the simple lines and planes, especially the single-plane sloping roof. Such a roof minimizes cost, weight, drag, and maintenance. It is easy to make such a roof leakproof, and to construct the ceiling inside.
    Such a roof directs snow to one side, and makes it easy to collect rainwater.
    There is much more to admire, but the roof is a real winner.

  • February 29, 2020, 10:51 am

    think it super great

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