Occasionally I get asked if I think tiny houses, or small houses are suitable for families and the answer really depends on the family. This family from Sauvie Island, an agricultural island 15 minutes north of Portland, are a great example of how a family can make the most of a small space, without having to step on each others toes.
Their quaint, little house is just 540 square feet in size and has been remodeled using nearly exclusively using reclaimed materials. The building itself has gone through multiple occupancies, each with it’s own unique purpose. It was first built in the 1940’s as part of Vanport Village – a quickly constructed development built to house shipyard workers. The village was flooded in 1948, and this small house was floated down the river to Sauvie Island, where it then became a goose-check station. Many years later it was remodeled as a rental house.
Jessica and Yianni bought the property in 2008 and decided to remodel it without altering the existing footprint. The ‘great room’ features the kitchen, dinning room and living room. The built-in sofas can also be used as double twin beds for guests. The other areas of the house have enclosed ceilings allowing Jessica and Yianni to introduce a sleeping loft, accessible by a walnut ladder.
The children’s room has two bunk beds, as well as a full bed for guests. To maximise on space, they incorporated a pull-out closet in the children’s room.
The house has also been kitted out with new high-efficiency windows and insulation. The walls were resurfaced with reclaimed wood siding which was found on site in one of the barns. The floors are local Oregon white oak and the dining table was made from salvaged walnut.
The vintage kitchen range was found on Craigslist, and the bathroom tub salvaged from a demolition site. The home is heated by a wood burning stove. On the exterior the existing roof was replaced with a green roof, which has moss and ferns planted on it.
Yianni and Jessica not only live on a small footprint, but are also working towards being self-sufficient food-wise. In the first year that they bought the property they constructed a 1,200 square foot green house, planted vegetable gardens, rows of berries and fruit trees. They have also started to raise chickens for meat and eggs, keeping bee’s and making cheese from a neighbours cows and goats.