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Couple Living in 160 Sq. Ft. Backyard Tiny House

Would you ever consider living in a 160 square foot home? It seems too small for comfort, right?  Well, one couple has been choosing to live in just that amount of space right in their own backyard!

Mike and Laura decided to build this tiny home in their backyard, renting out the main house for extra income. Yes, the home is extremely small, but every inch of space is functional. And the home is designed to appear open and roomier. They are able to comfortably cook, eat, sleep and bathe–and here’s the best part–it only takes 15 minutes to clean the entire home! It’s even got its own deck off the living area.

See how Mike and Laura enjoy everyday life, simpler and cozier in a tiny home. It may not be the choice of everyone, but it certainly works for them! Please enjoy and re-share below. Thank you.

Couple Living in 160 Sq. Ft. Backyard Tiny House


Images © Terry Iverson Photography via Portland Biz Journal

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Images © Terry Iverson Photography via Portland Biz Journal

Learn more and read the full story/interview: http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/sbo/2014/04/tiny-houses-peek-inside-160-feet-of.html


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Pamela is a writer and blogger and Tiny House Talk is excited to have her on our team helping us share more inspiring tiny houses and stories on simple living with you.
{ 64 comments… add one }
  • Cahow
    February 25, 2015, 6:13 pm

    Colour Me Confused!!!

    Alex started the article with this: “Mike and Laura were going through a period of economic distress and decided to build this tiny home in their back yard.” And my reaction was, “Ah, I’m sorry.” 🙁

    Then, I saw their tiny home. And did an estimate of the cost to build that gem. And then my reaction was, “Something’s not matching up, here!”

    So, I visited their website where the man, Mike Mercer stated, “We didn’t make this choice out of necessity, it was a result of many factors: the strength of Laura’s and my relationship, our comfort with having less of our stuff around us and a desire for an adventure.”

    Huh. I didn’t catch a *whiff* of financial hardship in his blog. They may have CHOSEN to downsize and thereby save $$$, but “hardship”…well…um…???

    Oh. The house? Fabulously built HIGH END tiny house; very nice.

    Mike Mercer, by the way, serves as Executive Director for the Northwest Earth Institute.

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:36 am

      I removed that line from the story because it isn’t true. Sorry for the mistake everyone!

  • Cahow
    February 25, 2015, 6:15 pm

    Oooops, my bad! Alex did NOT write this article; guest blogger Pamela is the author.

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:37 am

      It’s okay still my responsibility!

  • Karen R
    February 25, 2015, 7:45 pm

    Whatever the case, it is very attractive and functional.

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:37 am

      Thanks Karen!

  • Marcy
    February 25, 2015, 7:53 pm

    I have nesting tables in my house, but would not have thought of a long nesting-table/bench. Clever! Lots of nice design in this one!

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:37 am

      Thanks Marcy!

  • Marcy
    February 25, 2015, 7:56 pm

    And is that a stairs-ladder combo leading to the loft?

  • Denise
    February 25, 2015, 9:14 pm

    I’ve seen photos of this beautiful home before – I believe it was built by Portland Alternative Dwellings (who create phenomenal tiny pieces of art to live in). If I’m wrong, please correct me.

    However, my attention also was diverted by what seems to be an outright fabrication of the owners’ background and reason for having it built. I already know first-hand how false the tiny house TV shows are (tiny house hunters, tiny house hunting, tiny house nation, etc etc) in representing the length of time required to build a custom TH as well as flat-out making up tiny houses for sale that are in fact vacation airBNBs in people’s backyards and could never be offered for sale as individual properties.

    We can chalk that up to how fabricated television is, but Pamela, the “guest contributor”, falsifying the back-story behind this house is all I can focus on now. I realize it’s just a blog, but since the readership is so vast I think that fact-checking and portraying a story accurately is still something that should be emphasized. I’d be pissed if someone submitted a write-up about my home and in essence made up my reason for having it built, just to appeal to a certain segment of readers.


    • Cahow
      February 26, 2015, 9:30 am

      Denise: YOU deserve a reoccurring role on Law & Order and that’s the HIGHEST compliment that I can give someone!

      Your second paragraph was EYE-opening! I’ve only watched 4 of the tiny house shows (Tiny House Hunter’s) and was completely turned off by the utter nonsense of it! All that was missing was Honey Boo Boo and Mama June for the “drama” effect. I had no idea that a large portion of the featured homes for sale were rentals! :0

      Your last paragraph was powerful and very, very well-written! I love your insight.

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:45 am

      Thanks Denise for your concern I appreciate it because it helps me get it right. I removed the line in the story that was untrue and I’ll do a better job editing and researching. Thanks again.

    • SC
      March 2, 2015, 12:35 pm

      I remember this house from a few months ago, I just remember the general reason that they built it to live in and rent out the main house.
      I reeealllly D-O N-O-T C-A-R-E why the house was built!
      I love the quality of the build, the fit and finish, I think its called. although its too dark for me and the loft too closed, as someone has said.

    • tiny
      March 8, 2015, 5:39 pm

      I enjoy this blog for the photos but have found the writing genetic, full of mistakes, and generally sloppy. Our own house was featured here last year with many embarrassing mistakes as well.

    • Wendy
      March 1, 2016, 9:36 pm

      I’m missing something here. I have cottages that I rent in summer months, one (a tiny house) is for sale and yes it can be sold as an individual property although it’s on same property as the other. Everything is movable..or just survey and divide…did I miss something?

      • Maryann Davis
        March 3, 2016, 7:12 am

        Where are your Cottages for rent located? Also is the one for sale located in same area.
        Thank you

  • Claudia
    February 25, 2015, 10:18 pm

    I thought this house looked familiar and, sure enough, it was featured on a number of blogs — including this one — last April. According to Alex’s original write-up, the owners also own the land the tiny house is on and rent out the big house on the lot.

    Doing a bit of digging, it looks like Shelter Wise built the house for $70,000 (http://www.shelterwise.com/our-models/). That works out to $437.50 per square foot!

    That said, the builder did a great job; it’s a beautiful tiny house.

    • Cahow
      February 26, 2015, 9:34 am

      Okay, Claudia, Denise wins a roll on Law & Order.

      YOU win a roll on “Columbo” for being a Super Sleuth. 😀

      Regarding the price you found for this “economically distressed” family…wow!!! I had priced it out at $60K, so add another $10K to the price (with probable upgrades) and I see no “distress” involved.

      Still a beautiful little house but a very muddy description of the circumstances. Thanks, Super Sleuth!!!

      • Claudia
        February 26, 2015, 1:39 pm

        Ha ha, you’re giving me too much credit, Cahow! I really liked the house when I first saw it last year, so naturally I wanted to find out who built it and how much it cost.

        I agree with you about the couple being far from “economically distressed” — not only is the tiny house far more expensive than most, they actually own land it sits on as well as a conventional house.

        I remember being so disappointed when I found about the price tag. I love tiny spaces, but one of the key reasons I want to downsize to that extent is for financial reasons.

        • alice h
          February 26, 2015, 3:13 pm

          I’d be economically distressed if I spent that much on any kind of house! However, I really like the look of this one, especially the exterior. Inside I like the wood but would probably do a whitewash on the upper wood panelling to lighten it up a bit. Not the full on Swedish white treatment but definitely some touches. That clerestory window design really looks good.

        • Cahow
          February 26, 2015, 3:20 pm

          “Full On Swedish”. Bwhahahahahaaaaa.

          alice h, you crack me up! I’m using that phrase from now on and will credit you with each use. 😀

          I agree about the lightening up the interior. On a sunny day it would look and smell nice with all that wood but a spate of Gloomy Gus days would do me in. It puts me to mind of those depressing log cabin motels that they had everywhere when I was a kid. Ugh! I only stayed in them to keep out of the rain and sleep; I felt buried alive, inside of them. 🙁

      • Eric
        February 29, 2016, 3:52 pm

        Win a roll??? Surely thou jest? Should than not be Win a role???

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:45 am

      Thanks Claudia!

    • Nick
      March 12, 2015, 2:02 pm

      Doesn’t seem to make much sense to build a house THAT small for $70,000. You could build one twice that size AND a piece of land in many parts of the US with a little sweat equity. I understand there’s lots of reasons to build tiny, but when I see the price tag of some of these built by companies I can’t help but think they’re a colossal ripoff.
      Cool house though

      • Eric
        February 29, 2016, 3:57 pm

        And therein lies your answer… in many places. Not all places eh?

        Now, not being a ‘Murican, but having read much etc I would say you would be hard pressed to build a house on some land for that kind of price… to THAT kind of quality. Seems to me, and I could be wrong, that a lot of cheap housing in the States is cheap for very good reasons. Cheap materials and poor workmanship comes rapidly to mind. I’ve seen numerous houses in the $US200,000 range that quite frankly I would NOT live in due to the dangerous shortcuts used in construction, poor foundation construction etc.

        So, really, it comes down to horses for courses doesn’t it?

  • Lisa E.
    February 25, 2015, 11:45 pm

    I could never do this bed loft. The ceiling is just too low and confining or restrictive. I’m getting claustrophobia and shortness of breath just looking at the pic; I’d feel like I was in a coffin buried alive.

    • Chel
      February 27, 2015, 7:37 am

      I agree with you Lisa. The space above the bed is way too low for comfort. Turning the bed sideways to sit up under maximum height would help, but on a permanent foundation the lack of height here seems mean. And considering the cost of this build, it could surely have been done with little or no change to the price.

      • Alex
        February 28, 2015, 9:47 am

        Good ideas Chel!

      • Eric
        February 29, 2016, 4:02 pm

        Disagree. Remember this is a TH that was allowed to be on the property because it is not permanent. Therefore it has to be capable of being moved off the property. Which means it cannot exceed the height restrictions you have in the US.

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:47 am

      Yeah those loft spaces definitely aren’t for everyone. And this one even has dormers. Some of them have even less space. But to some people (like me) it’s cozy. Especially with windows for stargazing, etc. 🙂

      • Lisa E.
        February 28, 2015, 10:21 am

        This is just another reason the THM is so wonderful; different strokes for different folks. A quick survey of THOW’s will reveal different house styles to suit just about everyone, from the Tumbleweed Fencl to scillion roofed, to (Walter Quade’s) Small Home Oregon’s Flat Back, to Brevard Tiny House’s “Sunnyside”, to gambrel roofs… you name it and the THM has it, including tiny foundation houses, too! 😀

      • Sarah
        March 1, 2015, 8:00 pm

        I agree with you here, Alex. I’m often confused that people talk about claustrophobia and they are in a tiny house!! Is this an oxymoron or what?

      • Chel
        March 5, 2016, 7:48 am

        Sorry Eric. Forgot it is a THOW. Height restrictions and aerodynamics get in the way of using the absolute maximum height. I like the layout and house generally, I just don’t like regular sleeping in less height than a small 3man tent. Horses for courses.

    • Hunter
      April 27, 2015, 6:21 pm

      Lisa E. i burst out laughing when i read the coffin comment because just before i got to your comment i had that thought run through my mind exact wording to a T. I too Start breathing as if short on breath when closed in, ie: elevators etc. Thanks for the smile today.

      • Lisa E.
        April 28, 2015, 1:01 am

        You got it, Hunter. Glad to provide a smile or a giggle any time. I’m also glad to know that I’m not the only one who thinks this loft space a wee tad confining. By the end of the night, I’d probably have crawled out through the skylight and be sleeping on the roof having made a bed for myself out of one of the solar panels! 😀

    • carla ifera
      March 5, 2016, 1:15 am

      ……yeah…..thatz what I thought lisa……the loft bed area really does look coffin-like…….caught my breath when first saw it…….beautiful home BTW.

  • Mary Kaye Rios
    February 26, 2015, 10:48 am

    People are so harsh! The house is beautiful, focus on that. I would like to know how hard it is to rent out your big house while living in your tiny house in the back yard though? I mean, who wants their landlord in their back yard? Just wondering…

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:48 am

      Good point Mary!

    • Eric
      February 29, 2016, 4:07 pm

      Bad comment argument Mary Kaye… sorry, but plenty of people worldwide live in accommodation where the Landlord lives as well. Apartments. Condos. Flats etc. So what’s really different about this? It’s not like they are in the same building… as per my examples. I’d say it gives you a tad more privacy etc. Plus… PLUS you get to share the workload of looking after the backyard. Share the mowing. Share raking up leaves. Sharing, ah, isn’t that called community?

  • Candide33
    February 26, 2015, 12:58 pm

    It is great but having to climb up on the kitchen cabinets to get into bed is just a no no. It is beyond bizarre that anyone thought that was a good idea.

  • Sandi B
    February 27, 2015, 3:50 pm

    A quick comment to Candide33 — you do not climb on the kitchen cabinets to get into the loft — the stairs just happen to be located at the end of the kitchen. And, then Chel you will see in the first and last picture that this is a THOW (tiny house on wheels), that is a tow hitch sticking out front — it is not on a foundation from what I could see. Don’t be so hard on Pamela — perhaps she confused it with another that she had looked at that had that story as a background story — why not contact her prior to crucifying her and find out why the confusion??
    Just sayin

    This is a beautiful design and great workmanship. I like to see that people are utilizing otherwise lost space, such as the stairs for additional storage. I would think that if one liked the design it could be built for less than $70,000. They used a what, $400.00 kitchen faucet not to mention the cost of the sink they used. This rig done in more white, or even light beige would make quite a difference and lower cost materials and less “custom” work I bet you could bring this in for under $35,000.00 and still have an outstanding little home.

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:49 am

      Thanks Sandi I agree that maybe people were a bit harsh with Pamela but either way I appreciate the feedback because part of the story was untrue and now thanks to everyone’s help it’s fixed and Pamela and I can keep improving.

  • alice h
    February 27, 2015, 5:14 pm

    Cahow, I remember those log motels from a late summer cross country trip when I was 10 or 11. They usually had a musty smell, noisy rusty plumbing (if any) and a hole in the window screen that let in lots of mosquitos. It was too hot to go under the covers to get away from them until early in the morning when it was just too darn chilly for skeeters and the cold kept you awake instead. My parents loved them because they were cheap and you could park the car right outside the door and they didn’t have to wrestle with the stinky, heavy old canvas tent we had.

    • Cahow
      February 27, 2015, 6:05 pm

      alice h: EVERYTHING you wrote is 100% my experiences as a child, too!!! I remember, wistfully, begging my parents to stay at a motel on our trips; they looked cheery, had a SWIMMING POOL, advertized “free air conditioning” and later in life, “Free TV!” (of course, it was Black & White TV, something that 1/2 the U.S. population has never seen nor heard of!)

      Minnesota and Wisconsin were littered with those horrid log cabins! Basically, it was a creaky plywood floor, walls and the bug-allowing screens. Any fabric in there, like scatter rugs or drapes were mildewed to the extreme; you had to bring your own pillow and linens at the ones we stayed at and they provide ‘flea-bitten mattresses’. They stunk opening the door, they stunk while you slept, they stunk no matter HOW long you stayed or HOW long the doors and windows were left open. My mum and step-dads were cheap arse bas-tards so staying HERE was an upgrade from sleeping in the car.

      I miss many things from my childhood but NOT these hovels; I’m glad that each and every one of them is gone…and their stinky-mildew smell, too! 🙁

  • Cahow
    February 27, 2015, 5:19 pm

    Well, now, THIS is interesting!

    This line, copied from the original text, is now GONE!!! ““Mike and Laura were going through a period of economic distress and decided to build this tiny home in their back yard.”

    It’s now replaced with “Mike and Laura decided to build this tiny home in their back yard, renting out the main house for extra income.”

    Too bad the original author of this article didn’t make some comment about the deletion of and addition of a vastly different driving force in going tiny. It’s like History being re-written, right in front of me!

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:33 am

      Sorry! I edited it but didn’t take the time to comment. I’m in the middle of a few crazy days with very limited online time.

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:33 am

      Thanks for pointing out that part of the story seemed untrue. I fixed it by just deleting one line.

    • Alex
      February 28, 2015, 9:34 am

      I really appreciate the help and the heads up 🙂

      • Cahow
        February 28, 2015, 11:30 am

        Hi, Alex.
        Well, if you ever wondered if your fans REALLY read your blog postings, this article validates that we devour what you post! LOL

        Thanks for fixing that line as it truly changed the driving force that prompted this couple to do what they did in downsizing.

        The house is still pretty, regardless of the circumstances. 😀

      • HUNTER
        April 27, 2015, 6:27 pm

        Sure, SURE, any time Alex 🙂

  • Ben
    March 1, 2015, 9:42 pm

    Indeed nice build! But for the price where’s the solar (for power and hot water) and composter…in my humble opinion all tiny house design should incorporate sustainability…it just makes sense!

    • sc
      March 2, 2015, 12:06 pm

      The only thing a tiny house or any kind of house needs to sustain, is the owner’s wishes. Whatever price point, style or feature that may be.

      • Denise
        March 8, 2015, 11:19 pm

        Thanks, SC – LOVE your reply! Why would anyone feel they have the right to determine what features all tiny houses “should” incorporate, or the gall to judge those that don’t? For a movement that’s supposedly all about individuality and freedom of choice, that’s an extremely contradictory and elitist viewpoint.

  • Denise
    March 11, 2015, 1:50 am

    This looks extremely cozy!

  • Jackie
    March 12, 2015, 2:08 am

    I love the THN, shows. Why because it is only for vision. I don’t care about cost, I will put my own design, what I need in a tiny house and I can do it cheaply with all reclaimed material. It would take longer than what the show claims of course but I don’t have the money for some company to build it and I would be more proud to say I designed and had my own sweat in it. There are so many resoraces out there if you just look ask and do the work. The show is designed to get your minds working.

  • Shelley Judd
    April 27, 2015, 6:40 pm

    Hi Alex
    Thank you so much for your dedication to tiny houses and there backgrounds.
    I love getting my newsletter, it always gives me a creative buzz on how I can build my own.
    I really hope you never get put off sharing due to miserable, negative and annoying bloggers like Cow and Alice, maybe if they simplified there life they could focus there own blog so people can read there work and throw out needless pickings and point out mistakes.
    Thanks Alex your the man!

    • Sondra
      February 29, 2016, 1:55 pm

      Agreed, I like to look for ideas and trust me I live in So Cal, $70k for a house is a dream price, add in a couple of acres for a couple $100k and I’d own land and a home for under $300k, unheard of in my South OC area ! I’m in ! Lucky for me my hubby could build this baby for probably cheaper, but if it was just me ? I’m no construction expert, I’d have to pay them to build me a home, probably $70k 😉

      Love your work and blog Alex, don’t let the harshness of others deter you from posting great pics and ideas for us to swoon over !

  • April 27, 2015, 9:58 pm

    LOVE this house. It is TOTALLY high end. But, if you have some equity in a “normal house” and sell it, you can afford to make this the bomb! The finishes are all very nice and high end. I’m SURE this cost a pretty penny, but it is totally lovely.

    I do not like, as a rule, “contemporary” homes with their asymmetry, BUT, when I see the gabled TH as opposed to those like this, (including the door on the SIDE as opposed to the door on the end) This one wins out every time… so in TH, I’m totally “contemporary” because of the valuable square INCHES it affords.

    Nice one guys!

  • shag
    April 27, 2015, 11:51 pm

    I really want to do this!!! I’m on a half acre so I’ve got the space. I just need to find out about how to get the permits or if I can get permits for it. There’s no HOA to worry about – just St. Louis County Ordinances and Zoning Laws.

  • April 28, 2015, 9:18 am

    Great Post Alex!
    Very much enjoy your reading and your bringing the “Tiny Home” Movement to the masses!
    We are launching now with the Building of our new Tiny Home in Enfield Maine! Also, We will have 4 other lots available. ~Jeff

  • Susanne
    April 29, 2015, 11:38 pm

    437 per sq ft- oh my god!!!?!?!

    September 13, 2016, 10:15 pm

    A more than beautiful tiny house, and I would move in it , in less than a Miami second, if it were affordable for me to do so, and by doing so I would not be contributing to an already inflated market in which most can not afford….! But it is a beautiful tiny house….!

  • Trish Dee
    September 14, 2016, 9:53 am

    Whether the tiny house shows are portraying homes for sale or rent is immaterial to me. The thing that drives me to watch them is learning about builds, materials, layouts, etc. This particular TH is not my style. I don’t care for all the wood or having to see the bottom of the sink when I walk in the home or the step/ladder right next to pots cooking on the stove. To me, this lends to having debris from the floor seasoning my food. Sorry, it’s just my opinion.

  • Trish Dee
    September 14, 2016, 9:55 am

    Correction: seeing the bottom of the sink remark was from a previous

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