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She Built A Designer-Inspired Tiny House

One of our wonderful readers, Sandra, sent me her recently completed designer inspired tiny house on wheels. She is not planning on living in it full-time, instead, it’s a really inexpensive vacation home that’s 100% insulated with vapor barriers.

Since Sandra lives in the wilderness, parking is no issue for her. The tiny house gets parked on the shore of the Great Slave Lake on a private campground. By next year, she hopes to have it hooked up with solar panels. All the lighting is LED and the refrigerator is so small that it uses very little electricity. The fireplace is electric but Sandra notes that she hardly has to use it since cooking and some body heat keeps the place relatively warm.

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Could you see yourself living in this designer-inspired tiny house on wheels?

Sandra's Tiny House

She built herself a tiny and inexpensive vacation home. 🙂

Sandra's Tiny House All Setup at the Campground

An RV toilet was installed along with a shower in the bathroom. The only sink is in the kitchen so that the bathroom can be really small (2×6) to conserve the most space.

Sandra's Tiny House on Wheels

Before this, Sandra had a 40′ motorhome with a 12′ slide out which compared to this.. She hated.

Sandra's Kitchen in her Tiny House

A 24″ cookstove was used in the kitchen. She used an IKEA wine rack and installed it above the kitchen fan.

IKEA Wine Rack Above Kitchen Fan in Tiny House Sandra's Tiny House Sleeping Loft

Sandra hired a carpenter to do most of the work and this person ended up being quite the perfectionist as you’ll see in the photos the attention to detail is quite amazing.

Living Room in Sandra's Tiny House

It all started with an old 8×16 office trailer that she ended up having to tear down completely. Right now it’s in Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada. The locals who’ve learned about the house have loved it so she’s thinking a few more will pop up in the area before long.

Sandra's Tiny House Getting Finished Up in the Shop

One of Sandra’s regrets is going with a single axle trailer. Because of this, she tried to use the lightest materials available that would still give it structural integrity and it proved to be a bit of a challenge.

Tiny House still in the Shop

Some materials acquired were recycled like the roofing which came from old tires. She estimated that the project would end up costing her a total of $20,000 to $23,000. It’s still not 100% finished but is very, very close. I like the log cabin siding and am surprised by how little it’s used.

What do you think?

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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!
{ 39 comments… add one }
  • sesameB
    September 28, 2012, 3:04 pm

    Exceptional, excellent. I love this!!!!
    rural Arkansas

    • October 4, 2012, 5:44 pm

      Glad you loved it! 🙂

  • Dominick Bundy
    September 29, 2012, 12:00 pm

    yes , I think i could live in something like that. Very nice layout. She did a good job. designing it.. But where is the closet? Didn’t see any place for a closet. for storage or to hang clothes. the other change i would do is take out the standard kitchen stove. replace it with a 2 burner gas cook top with a convection microwave oven. and make the sink a little bit bigger. Also more overhead cupboards for food storaage would be nice too…

    • jerryd
      September 29, 2012, 3:30 pm

      I use my loft space for closet, storeage as in fla it’s just too hot to sleep up there. I also need the storeage and just sleep on my convertable couch/ chair/bed.

      I received a TH email from someone who wanted pics of my 12′ x12′ cabin interior arrangement but lost it and can’t find it in the archives.

      At this point it’s only a shell and plan to finshed it to a customers needs or as my money comes in. Also I don’t have the knowledge to put pics up yet.

      It can be completely self contained for power/water/drying toilet which arond much of Fla especially near Tampa can be done without a permit. It can easily be moved by a flat bed tow truck or I’ll sell land with it. It’s 12 miles SE of 813 Tampa, 671 and 3059 if anyone wants to see it, the land which could be a legal 4-5 tiny house coumpound. Thanks,

      Jerry Dycus

    • October 4, 2012, 5:45 pm

      Great ideas for changes Dominick! Thanks.

  • Dorothy
    September 29, 2012, 12:22 pm

    Very attractive home. LOVE IT!

    • October 4, 2012, 5:47 pm

      Isn’t it beautiful? Thanks Dorothy!

  • Barbara
    September 29, 2012, 1:01 pm

    Very nicely done. Even the dog is little!

  • Sandra
    September 29, 2012, 1:38 pm

    There are spaces in the loft with IKEA cubes for clothes storage and a coat hook in the living room. I put a propane stove in as my site had limited power (15 amp) and I love to cook. A microwave/convection draws to much power. Also the oven warms the cabin in 5 minutes. It also serves to store my pots and pans. There is under counter storage and a bank of drawers you can’t see in the kitchen and shelving on a wall in the bathroom for cleaning supplies. If I were to live in it full time I would have added more closet space, but it is just my beach cabin. If I do this again it will be a 20 footer…

    • October 4, 2012, 5:48 pm

      Thanks for clarifying on the storage situation Sandra, much appreciated!

      • Meaggen
        November 2, 2017, 3:03 pm

        How does it hold up when traveling? My boyfriend and I are also building on a single axle trailer and I’m worried about the weight along with stability when driving it through the mountains (we live in Phoenix, AZ).

        • June 14, 2021, 1:23 pm

          My tiny house was built on a single axle and I sorely regretted it. The main challenge is that it will pivot on the one axle while underway, see-sawing between lifting up on the hitch and pushing down, which will present huge challenges for any tow vehicle that is not substantial enough. It worked ok being towed by a 30ft U-Haul truck, but not so much with a pickup truck. I ended up selling it at a huge loss because I could not guarantee it was adequately road-worthy and had to sell “as is” to avoid any liability. My advice is go with dual axle unless your build is on a 6×8 trailer, lightweight, and only a single storey (not full allowable height).

        • Marsha Cowan
          June 14, 2021, 7:07 pm

          I have had both single and double axle trailers. As long as the axle ratio to the trailer is about 60:40 in the single axle, it should pull pretty easily. That means the axle should be about 60% distance back from the front of the trailer (not the tongue) to the axle, and 40% distance from the axle to the back of the trailer. I have hauled my single axles with tiny houses through mountain passes as well as on highways, in neighborhoods, on country roads; this ratio seems to work best. Placing the weight inside the tiny house so it is evenly distributed along the length of the single axle trailer bed also greatly helps keep it steady while driving, and try not to make the house really heavy on one side and light on the other as this can make it sway to pull to one side while hauling. I hope this helps.

  • Devon
    September 29, 2012, 2:33 pm

    Adorable! Way to go, Sandra!

  • TomLeeM
    September 29, 2012, 7:31 pm

    I think she did a great job on the design. It would be a great place to retreat from it all; even for a short period of time. 🙂

    • October 4, 2012, 5:48 pm

      I totally agree. Glad you liked it Tom!

  • Michael
    September 30, 2012, 9:11 am

    Thanks Sandra for the post. Your cabin has inspired me as a builder and designer of tiny homes and cabins on wheels. I just may add a couple of these to my 22 ac of woodland property in TN. to be used as camping and retreat rentals. Very nicely done!

    • October 4, 2012, 5:49 pm

      Glad you found it inspiring Michael, thanks!

  • Mary beth
    September 30, 2012, 9:21 pm

    Sandra What a beautiful house, someday I would love to live in a tiny house. What really caught my eye was your dog. I adopted a chi mix who looks just like yours Not much fur except right down her back and on her curly tail. Same big eyes. My Libby would be. Right at home in a tiny home. Thanks for the photos. Mary beth

    • Sandra
      October 1, 2012, 11:00 pm

      Yes I love my Chi..she isn’t thrilled about the sleeping loft, but is quite happy on my lap or in her bed (on the floor by the faux fireplace). Winters here are very brutal (-40) so she is a summer loving dog. Summers here are the same as most northern areas. Only this is the land of the midnight sun. We have months of mostly warm weather and daylight. A couple of months we do not have night!.

      • Mary beth
        October 2, 2012, 9:28 am

        I live in Vermont, our winter cold is similar to yours except we don’t have the night/day light/dark thing going on. Probably my chi wouldn’t like the loft either. I would try for a bigger trailer and do a small bedroom on the ground floor, using the loft for starage. I just love the wainscoating(spelling), really adds something different. Lovely comfy and inviting space. I hope you get many years of enjoyment.

        • Sandra
          October 2, 2012, 10:02 am

          Yes, as I pointed out earlier, I would definitely go to a 20 foot trailer if I do another. The thing is you can buy a great Murphy bed from Costco. I was going to do that but not enough room to let it down in a 16 footer. I would still put the loft bed in too..then you can sleep 4 (close friends lol). Also if you had a bit longer trailer you could but more of a staircase in with storage underneath. But I am very happy with what I got 🙂

  • Florence Robinson
    September 30, 2012, 10:58 pm

    Good ! Inspires me to purge closets, downsize, simplify.

  • jay
    October 1, 2012, 10:24 am

    very cool! sandra, what model of electric fireplace are you using? i’m currently on the hunt for one and yours looks like just the right size.

    • Sandra
      October 1, 2012, 10:53 pm

      Reply to Jay..looks were part of my plan..this one comes from Costco. Was $200.00 Canadian..but probably cheaper in US. It has two heat levels (with fan) and two fire levels. It is really nice to watch. Yes you can get the same heat from a tiny quartz..but it is my little retreat and looks count.

  • jerryd
    October 1, 2012, 9:00 pm

    Jay, electric heat isn’t based on size or price but only by wattage so get the smallest metal one you can find. I have some under 1/4 cubic’.

    Ceramic Disc styles are good because they don’t get too hot and if the air stops flowing they cut power so it doesn’t overheat.

    There is no good reason to get bigger ones or pay more than $20. The oil, quartz, etc ones do not work any better than the same wattage smaller, less expensive ones and just take up more space.

    Radiant ones can heat surfaces better but the air is colder. If you want radiant heat a Sun lamp is better and uses much less power.

    I mostly use electric blankets, pads in 12vdc or 120vac keeps me much warmer on far less power, 20-50 watts.

    • alice h
      October 2, 2012, 8:22 am

      The big advantage to the oil filled radiator type heater is there’s no noisy fan, just steady, quiet heat. In a tiny space those fans can drive you bonkers. There are baseboard types you can mount on a wall fairly unobtrusively as well as the freestanding ones. The heaters that look like a woodstove are cute but if they have a fan it interferes with your enjoyment of the quiet. Some heater fans are quieter than others, best to try it before you buy it.

  • Ann
    October 3, 2012, 11:17 pm

    Article was marvelous but the discussions in the comments section are even more interesting to me!

  • Ann
    October 4, 2012, 12:39 am

    It says this house has an RV toilet, is it plumbed like an RV too?

    • Sandra
      October 4, 2012, 7:18 pm

      Yes 12 volt demand pump feeds it from an external tank. Works well. Also has an RV style blackwater tank, just because I may take it somewhere without sewer.

  • Ann
    October 5, 2012, 1:38 pm

    Actually I’d delete both SesameB and jerryd’s posts (and this one too) because they are seriously off topic and spouting religious commentary that many people find objectionable. Take it to a religion forum people!

    I come here to read about tiny homes and living well with less!

  • Teri
    October 5, 2013, 6:06 pm

    I like the laddler design on the side rather than the front. Really keeps it out of the way

  • LaMar
    October 5, 2013, 6:09 pm

    Nice work!

    I am glad she included the realistic cost of around $20,000. That has been my estimate including a trailer but she did have a carpenter do the work which adds to the expense.

    Log siding is a nice touch but you could save some money with cedar plank siding and it still looks like a cabin.


  • Ruth Vallejos
    October 5, 2013, 6:28 pm

    Like the kitchen layout. Very simple. Clean. I also like the TV shelf over the stove – a friend of mine reversed the order in a 2 story space: he put the fire place up high and the TV down below it. That way he knew none of the electronics would fry due to heat.

    Everything is easy on the eyes and uncluttered. I think I would build in a retractable stair (like under a semi truck) if I were to leave it on wheels. If it were to be rooted, I would surround it with deck on the entry side. Probably tuck storage (garden tools & such) under a retractable skirt.

  • LLB
    October 5, 2013, 6:51 pm

    This is BEAUTIFUL!! I could totally live here.

    I especially love the little stove. What kind of stove is that?

  • Otessa Regina Compton
    October 6, 2013, 11:35 am


  • Michael
    January 21, 2014, 5:30 am

    It looks great and Sandra did a good job. However for me its a bit too tiny and I don’t like lofts anyway because they aren’t for a hot climate.

  • September 2, 2018, 2:35 pm

    These are great designs. You did a great job. I had seen some similar design from someone from the NY names Austin Jay.

  • Desert
    July 25, 2019, 5:55 am

    This is extremely fascinating substance! I have completely appreciated perusing your focuses and have reach the conclusion that you are right about a significant number of them. You are extraordinary.

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