While owning your own tiny home is the “dream,” Molly’s story shows you can enjoy the tiny life even while renting! Her home is parked in the backyard of a family who actually protested in their city to allow tiny homes as ADUs. Molly doesn’t have the stress of “where to park it,” and her landlord’s actions are opening up more options for affordable housing!
When she got a new dance partnership in the Salt Lake City, Utah, area, Molly revived her long-time dream of tiny living and found this great place to rent. She says that although she lives tiny, she wouldn’t say she’s a total minimalist — she keeps the things she loves and finds space for them!
We got to interview Molly about her tiny life, so be sure to check out the Q&A after her awesome photo tour below! Follow Molly on Instagram here. Enjoy.
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This Tiny House ADU Became Molly’s Little Home
Molly is a dancer and makes room in her THOW for her hobbies.
Here’s the entryway into her THOW.
Her main bedroom sits over the kitchen and bathroom.
Her kitchen has all the necessary appliances.
Wow! What a lovely place to wake up.
And there’s this guest bed/lounge area as well.
Those little details make a house a home.
A large double sink helps with all that dishwashing.
When living tiny, it’s important to find places to put things on the walls instead of on the counters!
Gotta love a pot rack and some greenery.
Here’s Molly enjoying her bedroom.
And some tea in her happy space.
I still really love this “original” THOW layout.
Make sure to read her Q&A below!
What are your name(s)?
How many people (and animals) are living in your tiny house?
Just me 🙂
Where do you live? How long have you lived tiny?
In a suburb of Salt Lake City, since February of 2019.
What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time?
I used to be actively working as a professional West Coast Swing dancer / teacher / competitor / judge. But because of Covid shut downs, I’ve shifted into finishing my next book and sharing my knowledge of dance and intentional living with others. Throughout all of this, I’ve also been a freelance virtual assistant for a few clients as well.
Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?
I’ve always loved small spaces, living simply and intentionally. I’ve loved getting rid of so much excess stuff over the years, and it really feels like losing weight in many regards. My thought has less to manage, and the more I settle in, the more calm my space feels. I’ve also gotten to learn a lot about living in a space that uses propane for heat, a compost toilet, and lots of other small details that come with tiny living.
Whether it’s causative or correlative, I’ve found myself more directed in my life: my projects are starting to trim down to a more focused few, rather than a scattered many. And since I’m the only one in the space, I really get to make it my own. If something doesn’t belong (physically or metaphorically), it’s up to me to move it out.
How did you first learn about Tiny Home life?
I recently realized that my love of tiny homes and cozy spaces, in general, can be traced back to my love of the Boxcar Children books. I always loved the concept of running away and living in a “found space” away from the normal lives of other people. I grew up building forts in the woods, and seeking out small nooks and corners to curl up in.
Later, as a young adult, when I found out that people were living in tiny spaces, I knew that was the right fit for me too.
How did you acquire your tiny house? Are you comfortable sharing how much it cost?
In 2016, I seriously started researching Tiny Living—whether it was in a tinyhome, RV, or van. I learned as much as I could over the course of 8 months, and ended up realizing I didn’t want a mobile living structure—mostly because I still wanted to be in cold environments, and winterizing exterior pipes and dealing with the waste water / electrical seemed like a hassle.
I ended up tabling the idea and living in a house in Breckenridge, CO for a year and a half. But the idea of tiny living was always still percolating.
Come the fall of 2018, I began a dance partnership that resulted in me wanting to move to Salt Lake City, UT. And of course, when thinking about moving there, all I could picture was living in a tiny home. Within 3 months, I’d stumbled upon a tiny home space to rent. And, as of February 1, 2019, I’ve been living in this cozy tinyhome!
From what I understand, it was built for around $80K in Colorado, and then driven out to Utah.
Have you done any renovations?
I’ve done a few tweaks here and there, with the approval of the owner. One of which was designing a very simple removable ladder for the secondary loft space.
What are bills/utilities like compared to before?
My utilities consist of $20 for internet, and whatever I use in propane— which obviously goes up in the winter months.
How did you find a place to “park” your tiny? Or do you travel?
I found my tinyhome already parked in the backyard of a family’s home. So thankfully, I didn’t have to figure that out myself. But I did learn that the landowner had to go to bat for ADU’s to be approved in her county. She organized a “park-in” with other RVs, tinyhomes, and vans and worked to appeal the statutes so that my tinyhome could be parked in her area.
I travel personally, but the tinyhome has stayed put for as long as I’ve lived there. It’s currently on 4 jacks (instead of wheels), and has a wooden “skirt” built around the base for added insulation and aesthetic appeal.
Before going tiny, what was life like?
Before going tiny at one point, I was working a corporate job, slowly accumulating stuff to fit whatever apartment I was living in at the time. From the outside, my job looked incredibly fun and interesting (I was designing shoes with celebrity chefs), but in reality I was stressed, facing burnout and had very little hobbies outside of work.
Is there anything from your old life that you miss?
My eye and dental plan was pretty great. But I manage okay without it. 😉
What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?
I have less stuff to manage, everything I own has a place in my house which makes packing / unpacking very efficient. I’m more intentional about how I use my space(s) and my time, I get to cook/bake quite a bit, and I’ve started learning how to grow my own vegetables thanks to my neighbors and our land.
What about some challenges?
– There’s a bit of an issue with my propane tanks, so sometimes I won’t know when I’m about to run out of gas and will wake up with it SUPER cold. But that just gets me out of bed faster. 🙂
– Emptying and resetting my compost toilet isn’t my favorite, but hey, it’s gotta get done. 🤷♀️
– I had some build up in my drains, but we took apart the sink components and were able to clean out the fungal build up pretty easily.
– Being injured or sick isn’t very fun when I have to go up and down my ladder many times a day, or in the middle of the night to use the bathroom
– The hot water heater can only heat so much at a time, which leaves me with 7 minute showers. And if I do my dishes, it takes away from hot water time in my shower—so I’ve gotta be aware and give the hot water heater ample time to heat up another batch of water.
What makes your tiny home special?
It’s so incredibly cozy. I can host a few friends and it’s still comfortable for talking and dining; or I can spend days on end on my own, and I’m never wishing I was in a different space. When I cook, it fills up with delicious smells. And I created a way to convert my main space into a mini dance studio or yoga/workout space. It’s very modular.
What is your favorite part of your tiny home?
I love getting up before sunrise, lighting a candle, making tea, curling up with a blanket and reading or writing in one of my cozy nooks.
What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?
I’m a researcher, so I researched as much as I could before going all in. If you’re even considering it, I’d start the practice of getting rid of superfluous items on an ongoing basis. I’m also continuously working on how to pare down my mental “stuff”—choosing to take inventory of what I’m holding in my thought, and cleaning out anything that is clogging up a natural mental flow.
Anything I didn’t ask about that we should know?
I think a lot of people assume they have to become a minimalist in order for the tinyhome life to work. But to be honest, I don’t feel very minimalist myself. I still own two bikes, a ski set, and lots of “unnecessary” items and creature comforts. But having a physical limit to my space has certainly been a blessing in making me think through what I really *need* versus what I just *want*.
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Our big thanks to Molly for sharing! 🙏
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Natalie C. McKee
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very nice tiny Home! and renting one would be a good idea for someone who is unsure if the tiny home lifestyle would be compatible for them, Sort of ” Try it before you buy it” type of thing.
Where is the refrigerator?
Doesn’t look like there is one.
Seeing this Jay Shafer floor plan is like coming home again. It’s so beautiful and practical and embodies the tiny home ideal. It makes me remember the thrill I felt when I first saw tiny houses online and new I would be able to have a home I could afford on my own. Thank you, Jay, for being my inspiration.
We all owe a lot to Jay!
It is an adorable tiny house! Love the exterior especially and might choose to have a bit more white for walls so it was cheerier on stormy days. Leave plenty of wood, too, but just lighten it up a little. One thing that always bugs me about the built-in couches/benches is that they are so darn narrow with no way to curl up or even take a cat nap. I understand about saving space but some luxuries cannot be compromised! 😉 I looked carefully a couple of times and couldn’t see where there was a refrigerator. I know this is a rental but if I was the owner, I would definitely opt for an on-demand water heater to avoid the problem of choosing between doing the dishes and bathing. Love that little range! And the little heater…though I would probably choose to install a mini-split system. One would hope that there would be electricity though I noticed that the heater ran on propane, of course. Running out during a really bad storm can be dreadful and even life threatening. All in all, I think it is a wonderful and, yes, cozy tiny house! Ah, yes, I’d opt for a downstairs bedroom, too, so I didn’t have to go up and down a ladder to go to the bathroom! That would be a slightly larger tiny house, though.
Love the layout of this tiny. The only thing that for me is I would need a ground floor bedroom. I have mobility issues, so I can’t do stairs. Buy this is beautiful.
Love this tiny house! And how you’re using it. Looks spacious and comfortable.
I didn’t see the fridge. There must be one, since the article says ‘Her kitchen has all the necessary appliances’.
Thank you so much for sharing.
I think it’s tucked under the cabinet next to the oven.
It a really cute little home.I love that sink. And her loft is so bright I really love it. But I didn’t see a refrigerator. What does she use to keep food cold?
Fridges aren’t always in plane site, could be what’s behind the ladder, for example, there’s a hinged door there that could be hiding a narrow RV style propane fridge… She did mention her only bills are for internet and propane… There’s also an entryway space, between the inner and outer front door that a mini-fridge could be hiding… While it’s a cold climate area, which can allow it to be outside, or as it’s a rental it could just be in the main house of the land owner to allow for a bigger fridge and frees up space in the tiny house…
Yes I realize that all those are possibilities I was wondering about her specific situation. So basically you’re saying that you don’t know either?
Yes, apologies, she doesn’t mention that detail in any of her posts.
Had fun looking at your tiny and was very pleased to see my picture and my Tiny Robin’s Nest in the related pictures. Your comment about why you thought you liked tiny spaces made me think and I realized from a small child I was infatuated with miniature things, doll houses etc. I guess I finally moved into my own “doll house”! I am a bit older than you and solved the night time trek to the bathroom by a small potty in the loft. If you can take care of a composting toilet, emptying a small bucket in the morning would be easy. It looks like you are really enjoying your tiny life. I’m away from mine babysitting for a couple of weeks and I can’t wait to get back. It truly becomes your roots and safe place! Be blessed! Susan Harter
Port-a-potty is more closed in than a bucket. Either way those items are hard to manage one handed climbing a ladder. I would not like to have one spill while trying to go down 🙁
As to the refrigerator being next to the stove….no photo shows enough of the cabinet to indicate one. Her towel is on a rail under the sink. Any space directly beside that stove would be dead space or hard to get to unless a special lazy Susan design was planned. As long as the weather remains cold and snowy she can place a container outside and use the cold weather to keep items chilled or frozen. Another option for cold storage would be the drawer type refrigerator or chest that fits inside a drawer.
Well, there’s also cassette toilets that would have a sealed tank you can remove to empty but otherwise work the same as Porta Potties. If built into the structure, you can even access the tank from outside and not need to carry it through the house. While composting buckets can be sealed before moving them with lids.
You can check youtube channels like OFF GRID with DOUG and STACY, who show how their bucket system works with lids, etc. For an example of how that works… Speaking of off-grid life, there are other ways to preserve food besides refrigeration. Like canning, de-hydration, pickling, etc. So you can keep quite a bit of food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated… Along with ways to set up exterior storage like root cellars, spring houses, storage sheds that you can run power and have an exterior fridge, etc.
Refrigerator may be in one of the drawers as a dishwasher can be. Fisher Paykel makes a single drawer DW which can fit under the sink. And several appliance makers have drawer style refrigerator and freezers. As for heating, I am opting for radiant heat in the floor and also using on demand hot water to eliminate the need for WH Tank. Looking at a reno of an 11′ X 32′ Park Model for my not quite tiny home. Love Molly’s openness to share her home and thoughts here. Hope to be able to share the remodel when I get it done.
How does she get internet for $20?