Life Lessons from Living a Decade in 84 Square Feet -
 

Life Lessons from Living a Decade in 84 Square Feet

Photo courtesy of Dee Williams

What Houzz contributors are saying:

Williams now works 24 hours a week as a hazardous waste specialist for the Department of Ecology. The rest of her time is spent volunteering, taking care of neighbors, babysitting for friends and teaching tiny-house-building workshops through Portland Alternative Dwelling, which she founded. “I also have an impressive résumé in goofing off,” she says. Williams’ new lifestyle has connected her to her immediate community. “If my neighbor is moving, I have time to help,” she says. “If an organization needs volunteers to help pull invasive ivy, I can do that.” Because she doesn’t have a refrigerator, only a cooler, she shops for fresh produce every day at the local grocer. She frequents the library and Laundromat, local pubs and coffeehouses. “These are extensions of the community,” she says.Time has become her most valued and abundant possession. “I have time to notice my natural environment and take a breath through the seasons, to puzzle over the way that nature is throwing itself at me and the community. I live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. If you’re working all the time, sitting inside, you miss a lot of it. I feel lucky and blessed that I’ve been able to pay attention to it.” As you step inside the home, a kitchenette with a one-burner stove and a sink are to the left. Williams brings in a 2-gallon jug of water for doing dishes, making tea and brushing her teeth. A jar below the sink collects greywater, which she uses in the garden. A bathroom is on the other side, with only a toilet. She showers at work or at as neighbor’s house. She used to have a composting toilet before the city made her bag her waste instead. A closet holds her limited wardrobe, “both pairs of shoes,” she says, and a solar array battery. The 6-foot by 7-foot “great room,” as she calls it, has an 11-foot ceiling with a skylight. A ladder nearby allows her to climb to the sleeping loft.It took Williams three months and $10,000 to build the home. About $2,200 of that went to the solar system. She doesn’t pay rent, mortgage or property taxes. Her cell phone is her biggest monthly billed expense, but her company pays for that. Utilities for her propane gas heater and cook stove run her about $8 per month in the winter.

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This is a tiny house. As you step inside the home, a kitchenette with a one-burner stove and a sink are to the left. Williams brings in a 2-gallon jug of water for doing dishes, making tea and brushing her teeth. A jar below the sink collects greywater, which she uses in the garden. A bathroom is on the other side, with only a toilet. She showers at work or at as neighbor’s house. She used to have a composting toilet before the city made her bag her waste instead. A closet holds her limited wardrobe, “both pairs of shoes,” she says, and a solar array battery. The 6-foot by 7-foot “great room,” as she calls it, has an 11-foot ceiling with a skylight. A ladder nearby allows her to climb to the sleeping loft. It took Williams three months and $10,000 to build the home. About $2,200 of that went to the solar system. She doesn’t pay rent, mortgage or property taxes. Her cell phone is her biggest monthly billed expense, but her company pays for that. Utilities for her propane gas heater and cook stove run her about $8 per month in the winter.
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