Dee Williams Downsizes, Again!

Dee Williams has lived in her simple, 84 square foot tiny house on wheels for 12 years. She designed and built the home by hand in 2004, and as one of the first tiny houses on wheels in America, attracted quite a bit of attention for it. Endless camera crews, school groups and aspiring tiny house builders toured her current tiny home in person and online, which she parked safely in the back yards of friends in Olympia, Washington.

But now, Dee is moving…into an even tinier house.

Dee Williams New Don Vardo Tiny House From Side photo Tammy Strobel

Dee also designed her new, 56 square foot Don Vardo Tiny House, and commissioned a carpenter friend to build it for her. With just a built in bench/bed and a small desk area defining the space, it makes her formerly “simple” tiny home look like a tiny house palace.  For two years she used it as a home-away-from-home she could stay in while teaching tiny house workshops with her company PAD Tiny Houses in Portland, Oregon, teaching aspiring DIY builders based on her experience. Staying in the littler house felt right. And living in it full-time seemed like just the sort of “living challenge” she loves:

“There’s no running water, but I’m used to that. And at the moment, there isn’t a toilet…which is a bit of a showstopper.  My plan is to remodel and figure stuff out along the way.  I’ll be hatching an adventure just by moving in the first day, which is exactly the situation I found myself in 13 years ago with my current tiny house.  I have been, and still am, happy enough in the tiny house, living in the shadow of my friends’ houses and kicking the can down the road with them.”

Then why move? The challenge was one draw for Dee, but the clincher was finding a receptive new owner for her current house: new nephew Jonathan. As a recent college graduate and river rafting guide, Jonathan was comfortable living in a tent for months at a time while guiding summer rafting trips and bicycling across South America. Compared to that, a tiny house was palatial and luxurious. When he told his aunt he was moving to Colorado, where she’d accepted a keynote speaking slot at the Tiny House Jamboree, the stars aligned.

Dee Williams new Don Vardo Tiny House in Olympia

Dee just finished moving the 56 square foot house from Portland to the back yard in Olympia for full-time living, and is currently customizing it for full time living. Next, she’ll take her current house on a 1,500 mile road trip to Colorado, “through the high desert of eastern Oregon, the arches and pinnacles of Utah, and sitting quietly at the base of the Rocky Mountains” where she’ll let a crowd of 60,000 Jamboree attendees tour a piece of tiny house history before Jonathan takes it home.

Dee Williams Kozy Kabin in Olympia

It’s an exciting adventure, though the move is bittersweet:

“I still love my house — the skylight windows that pull the moon in at night, the cedar planking that supports the loft and the way it looks from the kitchen.  I love the story of dragging the front door out of a dumpster, and how scared I was the day I took a leap of faith and bought a trailer.  There are a thousand stories about my house held in the walls, roof and floorboards.  There are even more stories about how the house has worked a bit of magic in my life, giving me a chance to re-define home and to grow into someone that I think is kinder to the earth, her community and herself.”

Dee says goodbye to her old house at the Tiny House Jamboree on August 5-7, 2016, where you can tour the house yourself and become a part of the story. Follow Dee’s downsizing adventure and tiny house road trip at

Dee Williams Kozy Kabin in Olympia Dee Williams current Kozy Kabin house loft

9 thoughts on “Dee Williams Downsizes, Again!

  1. Tonita says:

    Wow, I can not imagine even living in her original tiny house. I visited it and met Dee about 4 years ago. I purchased a tiny home 8 x 24′ a few years ago to try on for size. After feeling completely claustrophobic in it I decided to upsize like so many prior tiny home owners have already done. Tiny homes are an answer for some and a huge headache for others as it is VERY difficult to find legal parking for tiny homes where you can actually live in them. You are only ONE phone call away from being turned in by a neighbor who does not want you freeloading on land that you don’t even pay taxes on. I owned a normal size 2,500 sq ft home and paid up to $4,700.00 per year in property taxes and could not legally spend one night in my tiny house that sat on my very rural King County WA acreage next to my normal size home. There are TONS of tiny houses for sale because they are not the dream home everyone originally is infatuated with when they tour one. Think twice about the tiny life. Do your homework before you build or buy one. They do not work for everyone and I have four friends that have already upsized from tiny life, as they found our they needed more space to just enjoy a simple life at home and they also got sick of having to fly under the radar and find places where they could hide their tiny home and spend the night. Wall mart parking lot may be an option if you like to keep rolling down the road. With the price of real homes in others areas (away from the west coast) of the country you can easily buy a stick built, very small home for what new tiny homes are selling for these days. A very real option that makes way more sense in my opinion. BTW – I still have my tiny house and downsized my life from my 2500′ home to a 580 sq ft home. It allows me ample space for guests, storage for my hobbies, space for my animals and preparedness products and food storage. I also have gardening space and land, all for less than the price of what new tiny homes are gong for. While I do miss my larger home size this is a much better option to keep my bills lower but not have to pare down to 50 or less possessions. I just wish more prior tiny home owners would do seminars to educate people about the potential headaches and realities of living tiny. NOT as wonderful as one would imagine.

    • Amy says:

      I agree that changing one’s lifestyle should be carefully considered. But what did not work for you is obviously working for others. To each his own! I am living in a 48 square foot Vardo (including a sink and bathroom) on 20 leased acres. I have built a separate shower house, and I understand that some people may find having to leave their living quarters to shower unacceptable. It works perfectly for me. I have livestock and pets and a garden and do not miss living in a large house at all. I would caution people considering buying a used tiny home that perhaps building one themselves (or hiring that out) may be wiser. Your home must fit you and your needs.

  2. Nickie says:

    That is what I am concerned about today. I have been thinking about a Tiny Home for some years now and I am ready to sell my home and buy a Tiny Home at 24’x8.5’x13.3′ so after I read your comment I am not sure now to try it. I own a Mobile Home now a 10×65 and have lived in it for 8 years to see if I could live this small and I have found it to be quite easy. I have measured off in my home now the size I want in a tiny home and all I did was take off the bedroom size, but I won’t lose that space for it will be in the loft area. So do you think there is much of a difference that I may not like? And I have down sized many times over to see if I could do without less and it seems fine. I am worried though, about where to park it or find land to move it on, but I don’t want to be all alone out in open land for I am 70 years old now, but I don’t look, act, or talk like I am that old and people think I am only in my late 40,s Thank You very much people. But I need to have people close by but not to close. I think I waited to long to get around to building it so I have to hurry before I get any older. But I need to do a little more research where to move it to and live in it, for I now live in Palm Springs, Ca. and there has been a lot of Legal talk about Tiny Home living lately. Please tell me more about what your experiences in Tiny Home living that will help me decide to go on or just live out my life as I am now.


    • Ruth says:

      I would just say if you are worried that tiny living might not end up being for you, just remember that it doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. If it doesn’t work out you can move back into a bigger house! And you’ll know more about what you consider a necessity in your world.

  3. MsDawn Burton says:

    Good luck Dee! You have been a personal inspiration to me. I own a 16×24 one room cabin with small bathroom. I am 54 and have a 58 yr old room mate. Both of us old gals are disabled, in wheelchairs and are seriously considering adding a 16×8 foot 2 sm bedroom addition. Luckily it is all on one floor cause we could never do steps yet alone ladders. I love the small life style and have lived in tents and rvs. The medical equipment requires a bit more space than we have now. I look forward to hearing about your new home and adventure! MsDawn

  4. Rosalie Hagerty says:

    I think it is disgusting how all the states and goverment doesn’t want to accept these tiny homes. We should be able to live as we can afford. Many of us do not require a large bathroom to be clean or a huge great room large walkin closet ect. In this economy it is time to get real and get our homeless people off the streets.

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