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Son Designs and Builds Tiny House for his Mom

This is the story of a son who designed and built a tiny house on wheels for his mom. It has about 300 sq. ft. of space.

What an awesome and inspiring story, right? His name is Matt Thorne. His mom has been living in the tiny house for well over 6 months now and she loves it!

Now Matt is looking to build one for a customer. He’s also looking for the right person to partner with to build another one as a vacation rental unit.

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Updated January 3, 2019

Man Designs and Builds an Incredible Tiny House on Wheels for His Mom!

Son Designs and Builds Tiny House for his Mom

© Matt Thorne

Son Designs and Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Designs and Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Designs and Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Designs and Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Designs and Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Designs and Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Designs and Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Designs and Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

Son Builds Tiny House for his Mom

© Matt Thorne

Here is the 28ft Tiny that I built for my mom. I designed and built this last year. I have decided to build another for purchase. I have been a contractor for over 20 years and enjoy building and creating. I am located in Portland Oregon.

Another idea that I have is to build a tiny home on someone’s property for a vacation rental, I need a fantastic piece of property to put it. I would build and share the home with the land owner and when it was not in use I would want to AirBNB it. I would also share that income with the land owner.


  1. https://www.facebook.com/matt.thorne.773/posts/1734009266622097

Our big thanks to Matt Thorne for sharing!

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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!

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{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Cindy Corder January 6, 2018, 12:43 pm

    Beautiful design and clean layout. One lucky mom indeed. Please get the Chardonnay out of the sunlight. Just trying help out a fellow mom. 🙂 And btw…. very nice work Matt!

    • Avatar Eric March 1, 2018, 12:04 am

      Hey Cindy, how do you know that it is Chardonnay? Could easily be any white wine or even just sparkling grape juice.

      Being in the sunlight won’t hurt it unless it is there for days/weeks on end. Don’t know about you, but with me it wouldn’t be there for more than half an hour… lol

  • Avatar Robert Aulicky January 6, 2018, 12:47 pm

    Hi Matt,

    My first question is why the soffit? I’m wondering why not make the footprint 10′ and taper the walls in to 8’6″ to allow the soffit? The width on the roof already requires a wide load permit in some states.

    • Avatar Toni Benton January 7, 2018, 11:37 am

      I’m gonna take a stab and say there is no intention of moving it. Many people build on wheels to avoid regulatory and permitting issues.

      • Avatar James D. January 7, 2018, 6:24 pm

        The width of the house is never mentioned, but going significantly beyond 8′ 6″ usually means customizing the trailer chassis but that’s not something everyone can do or necessarily wish to pay for…

        While you can cantilever a bit around to give a little more space without modifying the chassis… So you may see models with odd sizes like 9 feet wide but not 10.

        Note, as well that the house has very thick walls… They may be 2×8 framed and looks like the interior width may be down to around 7 feet.

        So this may be the maximum possible with the dimensions of the trailer chassis used…

        While there’s also other possibilities… Even if willing to go beyond road legal size limits, the house still needs to be able to maneuver to and from where it is parked and thus the maximum dimensions of things like gates, bridges, trees, power lines, street lights, width of the roads, etc.

        Unless built on site, how you will get it to the site is often a factor…

        Otherwise, people would be going 12-14 feet wide more often…

        With shed conversions, people can even go 16 feet wide if the roads to the site allow it… The you could get something 16 x 50 but that’s not always a option…

    • Avatar Eric March 1, 2018, 12:10 am

      My first answer is… for shade. Really, the same as for a standard/normal house. Also to shed water away from the walls of the house as well, especially during storm events where large volumes of water comes down in a short period of time… especially in Portland Oregon…

  • Avatar DB January 6, 2018, 1:02 pm

    The tambour doors on the cabinets are a smart idea for small spaces.

    • Avatar Eric January 6, 2018, 1:32 pm

      Totally agree… first time in 5 years that I can remember seeing this. No door poking out into the work area is a very smart move.

    • Avatar sc January 8, 2018, 9:28 am

      tambour doors? I didn’t know they had that name. cool. I like them.

      • Avatar James D. January 9, 2018, 2:10 pm

        Same mechanism as a garage door. It’s basically a flexible shutter typically used as a desk top or in place of a door, composed of a number of closely set wood strips attached to a piece of cloth, the whole sliding in grooves along the sides or at the top and bottom.

        Old style writing desks with the slide up cover may be a version you may have seen before, for example…

        I’ve also seen an artist apply it to custom furniture, namely a table that can extend longer, with the table top being the sliding part that unfurled from a rolled up section on one side. So you just pull the table to make it longer and push it back in to make it shorter.

        You can also hide appliances in the kitchen with similar mechanisms, typically just called appliances garages, which can have things like spring loaded pull out tables that support the appliance so you don’t have to carry it in and out of storage, which can come in handy for heavy appliances like mixers, etc.

        There’s lots of ways a kitchen can be designed…

        • Avatar tom January 11, 2018, 7:35 pm

          Yes, tambour doors work well on appliance garages, cupboards for your toaster etc so you have a clear looking kitchen. But had not seen them on regular cupboard doors, it’s a good idea for a tiny house.

  • Avatar Renee January 6, 2018, 1:39 pm

    Although outside is as I designed mine(soon to be built) the big question is why would you put low side of shed roof on door side of house?

  • Avatar Dannette January 6, 2018, 2:02 pm

    Fantastic Work! I have a suggestion for your next project. The kitchen wall where you have the Ikea rail system…I’ve seen slatwall that looks exactly like that reclaimed wood theme. That would be a perfect place for a residential application. All kinds of hooks and baskets are cheap and easy to move around according to need, or preference. If I ever get around to building (commissioning is more like it) a Tiny House, I’m going to cover all vertical walls with custom slatwall. They even have Subway Tile panels that could be used as kitchen backsplash or bathroom storage!

  • Avatar Jane January 6, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Love it!! How does she get upstairs?

  • Avatar John Thompson January 6, 2018, 2:22 pm

    Somebody should mention to this builder that not everybody does facebook. I have a ton of questions and would love to find out how the newer building situation goes.


    • Avatar Eric February 28, 2018, 11:52 pm

      Amen to that. I too, do not use Fakebook. From the times of MySpace and Bebo I could see the implicit dangers. To date I know of several people whose lives turned upside down due to low life’s warped minds or twisted senses of humour. 2 of these people committed suicide.

      I will never ever go down the track of (anti)social media. Ever!

    • Avatar Bob September 23, 2018, 9:18 pm

      It’s very dangerous to use Facebook as a substitute for a website. Unfortunately, those that do will learn the hard way when the European Union begins taking them to court for failure to follow existing privacy legislation (GDPR). It’s also an opportunity killer for anyone which does use Facebook because it infers they do EVERYTHING on the cheap. And, they do limit, severely, access to their businesses as a result. It’s about ignorance of the medium and the dangers that medium has not only to their business model but also prospective customers.

      Since I’m in the business, I know what lurks on Facebook and other social media sites so I’m very careful in how I use the platforms. It’s the wrong use of the tool like using a screw driver as a hammer kind of scenario. So, if any of these tiny house builders, or any business, only has a Facebook page, I stay as far away from them as possible and I highly recommend everyone else do the same.

  • Avatar JJ January 6, 2018, 3:26 pm

    Beautiful! However, I would not locate the sleeping area right over the stove top like that for fire safety reasons. I hope there is good ventilation, a good combo carbon monoxide/smoke detector, small fire extinguishers at top & bottom of the stairs, and an alternative exit directly from the sleeping area.

    • Avatar James D. January 7, 2018, 6:08 pm

      Just having the stove below the loft isn’t much of a fire threat, it’s over 3 feet above it… You mainly only have to worry about what may be within a foot of the stove, like curtains, oil, rags, towels, etc. and then what could then transfer or catch fire from those things.

      Though, I’d have extended the metal tiled back splash to cover both of the corner walls…

      For CO/Smoke detectors and extinguishers… Those things are pretty standard these days, along with emergency egress points.

      The range hood vents also typically have a extinguisher pack that drops onto the stove automatically when there’s a fire and you just replace it after each use.

      Many builders are also taking to installing hidden fire suppression systems, which may look like the CO/Smoke detector or look like a small vent… Some have even installed fire sprinklers…

      Mind, the builder did this for his mom and he’s a contractor with over 20 year experience… The house was also built for a little over 100K, which includes many hidden features that probably include a list of safety features beyond the basics. So I doubt he left anything to chance…

    • Avatar Bob September 23, 2018, 9:10 pm

      What bottom of stairs? There was no photo of how to gain access to the loft. Unless “Mom” is 8 ft tall, there is no practical method to access the loft. No ladder/staircase from the floor to the mid-deck is shown in any of the photos.

  • Avatar M arr January 6, 2018, 6:48 pm

    Beautiful just beautiful.

  • Avatar Linda Carlson January 6, 2018, 9:40 pm

    Where in the country are you located, Matt? My son has some nice property in NE MN and might be interested in having a cool tiny house on it for rental if it’s not too far from where you are.

    • Avatar Bob September 23, 2018, 9:22 pm

      last sentence of the first paragraph where Matt tells the story “I am located in Portland Oregon.”

  • Avatar Debra Bushee January 7, 2018, 10:49 am

    wheres the picture of the other end of stairs too loft?

  • Avatar Sue Moenius Moenius January 9, 2018, 1:10 pm

    I’m guessing your mom is pretty young? I love the house…except with arthritis in knees, loft is pretty much out for living except for storage. Do you have a fallback plan for her if climbing gets hard? Is sofa convertible?

    Congrats on a great job!

  • Avatar Debbie Card January 11, 2018, 9:55 am

    Would LOVE to have a tiny house. Wish contractors would consider tiny house communities, where we don’t have to live on a lot alone! Several women in our condo community have discussed interest if we could all live close!

  • Avatar Michele January 11, 2018, 10:19 am

    Beautiful house. Why is the fire place half way up the wall behind the sofa?
    Hopefully mom enjoys a lifetime of excellent physical health to be able to climb up into that loft.

    • Avatar Bob September 23, 2018, 9:30 pm

      I suspect he’s one of the few contractors to figure out how to disperse the heat evenly throughout the house. A couple of years ago I figured out that if you set the fan to twirl counterclockwise, it pull the warm air up and disperses it across the ceiling and down the walls. Thus, you never have hot air smacking into your body or face directly. It also helps to keep the drafts minimized. Works very well. Keep in mind that hot air rises and cold air falls. So, if you can keep all the air warm using the ceiling fan to optimize the effect, you just about eliminate cold drafts and hot flashes through out the entire small/tiny house. Works well with A-frames as well as with homes with high ceilings.

  • Avatar Darlene Wieliczko January 11, 2018, 2:20 pm

    I would love to be that lucky of a mom! Seriously I really do want something very similar indeed. I don’t really like the stove against the wall or the slideupcabinet doors…they are not disabilty friendly. Also curious about what type of toilet is in thishome.

  • Avatar Dominick Bundy September 23, 2018, 3:50 pm

    Beautifully done with a nice layout, But it doesn’t look all that “tiny” to me. Small yes but not tiny, it has all standard size appliances. As well as ample foot space.. maybe it’s just me ,I don’t know but I just don’t see things here being all that tiny .

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