If you follow the tiny house movement, you're probably already familiar with Dee Williams of design/build firm Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD). Along with folks like Jay Shafer and Derek Diedricksen, Williams is a venerated figure within the movement — I once referred to her as a "small house proselytizer/educator and de facto cover girl of the movement" — and very much a pioneer who has been building and designing hyper-petite homes — and living in them — long before "micro" became a trendy housing buzzword and dramatic downsizing entered the mainstream. In other words, she's the real deal.
If you've never heard of Dee Williams when there's not a "Billy" involved, Kirsten Dirksen and the gang over at faircompanies recently published a quick but lovely video profile of this reformed "big house" dweller and TEDx speaker complete with a tour of her 84 square foot abode on wheels that she keeps parked in the Olympia, Wash. backyard of her good friends Annie and Hugh (total price tag: $10,000 including a solar PV system, low-E windows, and tons of scrap/salvaged materials). She's been in the home for a total of nine years and hasn't moved it from the property for the the last two.
Not only is the video a fantastic primer on downsized living from a website that's no stranger to sustainable and frequently small living arrangements, it's filled with plenty of fantastic nuggets from Williams including bits on how to use your body as a tape measure, finding the right "fit," and learning to let go of "creep" — the non-essential physical clutter that has a way of sneaking into your life and multiplying. "There's room for having things that remind you of the people that you love and the places that you've been that are meaningful to you without bombarding your sense of space. So the smaller you go, the more you have to be kind of picky about that."
Toward the beginning of the video, there's also a great interaction between Williams and her friend Annie. As you can probably imagine, constructing a tiny house and then approaching someone to ask for permission to park it on their property isn't the easiest conversation to have. But as it turns out, Annie and Hugh totally wanted Williams to park her tiny house (they were aware she had built one) in their backyard of their suburban Olympia home. When she approached them to have "the conversation," they were pretty jazzed about the prospect and said yes with zero hesitation.
In fact, Williams was the one that was hesitant about the arrangement. "I think I didn't want to impose and it's hard not to impose when you're living in someone's backyard."
Related stories on MNN:
- Home (office) on the road
- Student-built tiny house features manure-based heating system [Video]
- 7 tiny homes that celebrate simple living