A Look Inside a Tiny Home that's BIG on Reuse
Jessie Litven relaxes on the bench seat in the living room of her house and points to the stairway. The stairs have magnificent, dark hardwood treads. These stairs, and most of the houses we see around us, were made from reused and salvaged wood.
This is a beautiful place to live, with a hardwood floor, spruce walls, and a high, vaulted ceiling. It feels spacious, without having to be big. At 20 feet long and a little over 7 feet wide, this tiny house compares with a mid-sized travel trailer.
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And like a travel trailer, this home is on wheels. It’s built on a dual-axle utility trailer frame so that it can be easily moved. It’s parked in a backyard garden in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Great use of space
The house has a kitchen, open concept dining/living room, office, bathroom, and sleeping loft. It’s easy to get to every part of the space, and it feels comfortable, functional, and inspiring.
A unique feature is an office, unlike any we’ve seen in a tiny house until now. It’s built a few feet off the floor, above a storage cupboard in the middle of the stairway! It has a seating space that faces a shelf for your laptop, and there is a window to see outside. If you are heading up the stairs, you step right over the office. Jessie wanted to define a space for doing office work rather than having that activity occupy the living room or bedroom.
"“It was satisfying to start with a design and work to see it through to reality. Every inch and detail has been thought through and worked out, and adjusted. It’s come out pretty close to what I had in mind.” Jessie Litven."
Jessie took care to source used, surplus, or salvaged materials from a variety of sources. The stair treads are made from an old bookcase, and the post supporting the corner of the loft is a Douglas fir piece from a centuries-old building.
The hardwood floor is jatoba, a Brazilian cherry hardwood. While this is not a local tree, she got the flooring as a surplus left over from another project, saving both resources and money. The countertop is a beautiful piece of salvaged live-edge wood. Much of the other lumber, the cupboard doors, and cabinet framing were also salvaged.
The house is insulated with sheep’s wool throughout the walls, floor, and ceiling. Sheep’s wool is an excellent insulator, and it’s a renewable and reusable material. The vapor barrier is standard polyethylene, and the outer air barrier is WrapShield IT.
Heat for the winter is provided by a tiny wood stove. Cooking and hot water are on propane. The water heater is a great little on-demand (tankless) propane-fired unit by PrecisionTemp, designed for tiny homes and RVs. It hardly takes any space, and it vents combustion exhaust downward through the floor, so the vent doesn’t stick out the side of the house.
The house has a 12-Volt battery for a power supply and is wired for direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC). The DC is used for lighting and the exhaust fan, while the AC outlets power the fridge, small hand-held appliances, and laptop charging.
For now, the whole house is plugged into a single grid-connected electrical outlet on the property to supply electricity. The fact that the entire house can be efficiently run from one extension cord says a lot about how little electricity it uses. It also means the future solar panels in Jessie’s plans will be able to more than meet her electrical needs.
- Main Floor: 150 square feet
- Sleeping loft: 50 square feet
- Cost: $25,000
Why we love it
- Reused and salvaged materials.
- Inspiring interior with high ceilings, daylight, and wood all around.
- Comfortable floor plan with good use of space.
- Insulated with sheep’s wool.
- Ready for off-grid solar electricity.
- The office space is amazing!
Photos by Wayne Groszko and Jesse LitvenDisclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2023-11-03T12:23:15+0000
Wayne Groszko is a consultant, researcher, and teacher in Energy Sustainability with 13 years of experience. He has taught at Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Community College, in the Faculties of Engineering, Environmental Science, and Energy Sustainability Engineering Technology. Wayne is also President of the Community Energy Cooperative of New Brunswick, and has worked as Renewable Energy Coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre in Nova Scotia. He holds a B.Sc. (Hon.) from the University of Calgary, and a Ph.D. from Dalhousie University.