Kris is a Tiny House Talk reader who was willing to share her gorgeous tiny home on a foundation in Alaska with us! It’s 500 square feet, and was built by a local contractor from a Sheldon Homes design (which, unfortunately, has gone out of business EDIT: We added layout sketches which you can see below). Kris owned the land the tiny sits on outright, and after a couple years of making payments on her home, now lives debt-free!
She moved from a city apartment with neighbors sharing her walls to her cozy home in the country with her own space where she can craft and garden. There’s even a stream that runs through her property and lulls her to sleep at night.
We got to ask her some questions about her tiny life, so be sure to read our Q&A with Kris at the end of the post!
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Her 500 Sq. Ft. Tiny Foundation Home
Her cozy living room with a bay window.
Absolutely love those wooden cabinets.
Her little bathroom with a flush toilet.
She did her tile shower herself.
Her entryway with stairs to the second floor.
Extra storage space.
Windows upstairs looking at the trees.
Awesome woodworking details.
And the lovely Kris!
What are/is your name(s)?
How many people (and animals) are living in your tiny house?
1 adult, 1 standard dachshund
Where do you live?
A few miles outside of Palmer, Alaska
How long have you lived tiny?
If you count my apartment, I’ve lived tiny most of my adult life. My tiny home, though, is 200 sq ft smaller than my apartment was. I’ve lived in my tiny home for 7 years.
What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time?
I’m an artist and garden blogger. I work out of my home.
Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?
I’ve always loved the charm of tiny homes and the concept behind them. As a single person, I didn’t need a big home. I wanted something that was economical and energy efficient. Building a tiny home was also affordable.
How did you first learn about tiny life?
About 10 years ago while looking at small house plans, I ran across Tumbleweeds. And that was my connection to tiny homes. Only, I didn’t want anything on wheels. But, once I had that specific terminology, I began to research “tiny houses”. That’s where the vision began to really take shape. I watched You Tubes and began looking for tiny house plans.
How did you acquire your home?
I purchased a tiny house plan from Sheldon Designs (the ‘micro cottage’) and hired a contractor to build it.
Are you comfortable sharing how much it cost? Have you done any renovations?
Costs vary so widely and are not necessarily comparable. For instance, I already owned my property free and clear. But I had to install a well and septic. In Alaska, we build on a 2×6 frame. It’s a pretty sturdy little place. I went with a soy-based spray foam insulation. My best friend and her husband helped with some things, like exterior painting and trim work, and tiled the shower. I did the interior painting to save on labor. But I actually wanted to put some of my own sweat equity into it. It was the first time owning my own home.
My friend is the daughter of a superb carpenter. She helped me make some artsy modifications to the Sheldon plan to give it some interest. We added some extra windows, did an interior cut-out or two, and identified some wall cavities for built-in storage. *The large, triangle cut out is for a stain glass window. The plan had a full tub, but considering the 15 mile drive to the nearest laundry, we opted to turn the tub into a shower to make room for a stack w/d.
What are bills/utilities like compared to before?
At my apartment in the city, the landlord paid the heat because it was natural gas. Here in my rural valley, there is no gas line. I chose to heat with a Toyo oil stove. The price of heating oil is in line with gasoline prices. Like any home, heating costs are higher in winter, lower in summer. In my area it’s usually between $250-$300 for 100 gallons. But, my tiny home is pretty well insulated and in a typical year, I burn less than 300 gallons of oil per year.
Without a gas line, all my appliances and hot water heater are electric. I have in-floor heating which is really nice. However, it’s electric, so I don’t use it that much because it really draws a lot of power.
Before going tiny, what was life like?
I lived in a 700 sq ft 2-bedroom duplex apartment in the city, so I was used to living small. But apartment life means neighbors on the other side of the wall. Paying rent every month. Needing to ask permission to do practically anything. I wanted to garden and do some landscaping and it’s just not practical on someone else’s property.
Is there anything from your old life that you miss?
Honestly, there really isn’t anything I miss. The most dramatic change was the difference in lifestyle between the city and the country. Conveniences you take for granted. No 5 minute trip to the grocery store in the middle of the night for a Haagen Dazs craving or whatever. In the country, if you need a repairman, they charge extra for gas and travel time. And I don’t have trash service, so I have to take it myself to a transfer station, but its not too far from home.
What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?
The biggest benefit hands down is that going tiny made home ownership possible. I built what I could afford. I paid off my home in a couple of years and I now live debt free!
My tiny home has all the nice features of an average-sized new construction home, just scaled down!
What about some challenges?
Learning how much Less really is More. You can’t enjoy your tiny home if you cram a bunch of stuff into it. Then, your space will feel and look larger. In my experience, if lives more comfortably being able to move easily throughout.
There were things I didn’t anticipate. It was harder than I thought to find a builder who would build a tiny home (in my state, anyway) and to get financing. The majority of lenders do not understand “tiny homes”.
Finding quality in smaller. Since this would be my year-round residence, I wanted attractive-looking, good quality appliances.
Same thing when it comes to furnishings. A lot of stuff made for a normal home doesn’t easily transfer over to a tiny house. While I have pretty amazing storage considering, the spaces are smaller. It really does force you to make hard choices if you don’t want a lot of clutter.
I’ve come to the conclusion that customized features are the way to go for better compatibility and duo-functions that are so incredibly helpful. I was unable to go that route, but I have some ideas I want to do in the future, now that I’ve lived in this space a while.
Finally, I thought I would have to clean LESS because it’s smaller. But you actually have to clean more because it’s smaller. A smaller space gets dirtier faster.
What makes your tiny home special?
I love the rustic style and the way it lives large. The vertical windows look out into the woods so the eye has someplace to go beyond a wall.
Part of the living “large” part is an upstairs loft with its own private space. I love having the bedroom on a different level. I have real steps (not a ladder) and the view at that height puts you right up there in the trees. I have a little stream that crosses my property on its western border. When I leave the bedroom window open just a bit, I can hear the rushing of the water. It’s very relaxing at night.
I especially love the bay window and custom craftsman-style features my friend helped me design. I love all the wood accents that make it feel warm and cozy.
The woodsy setting makes all the difference in the world. It’s peaceful and quiet. I’m a nature girl at heart, so for me, it’s thrilling to hear the hear owls and occasionally coyotes. I love seeing the stars at night. It feels like a never-ending camping trip!
What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?
Research a LOT! Watch some you tube videos and look at lots and lots of plans. While many tiny homes are on wheels, you can build one on a foundation, too, just like I did.
- Tiny Home, Wild Adventures: Their DIY Timber Framed Tiny House in Northern CA
- Shotgun Tiny House on a Foundation by Willowbee Tiny Homes
- 200 Sq. Ft. Tiny House Cabin — No Wheels! For Sale
Our big thanks to Kris for sharing! 🙏
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