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 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 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.
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 www.PADtinyhouses.com/tiny-to-tinier.