Tim and Hannah's Affordable DIY Self-Sustainable Micro Cabin

House Tour

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Name: Tim Eddy and Hannah Fuller
Location: Tahoe, California
Size: 196 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years; Owned

Hannah grew up in a home her parents built (her father is a boat builder), so it was only natural for her to follow in their footsteps. Tim, on the other hand, has never built anything but fires. With that in mind, Tim and Hannah started out with 20 acres of land and no blueprints, and built one of the most impressive houses I've ever seen in my life — not to mention it's fully off-the-grid.

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Tucked away amidst a dense forest and surrounded by wildlife, Tim and Hannah's tiny cabin boasts a storybook view of treetops and purple-bluish mountains. You'd never guess it's only 15 minutes to town. The cabin is connected to a private road by a 100 yard trail, which their friends helped clear. It was only after a few steps down the trail that I spotted the vibrant colors of the cabin: warm wood shingles against mint green siding and a bright orange roof. Upon closer inspection you'll notice the craftsmanship, as if human hands carefully put each piece into its place - and in fact, that's exactly how it was done.. And the interior is just as impressive, covered in cedar wood from ceiling to floor. It felt very new, very clean, very honest.

The cabin's modest footprint meant the couple had to create smart storage solutions and keep only what was needed. Tim and Hannah have learned to live with less, while also becoming super organized. Everything in their home has its place. They made use of hooks and vertical space by hanging most of their belongings and stacking.

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Less maintenance and fewer repairs, along with the couple's sustainable living style, makes it less costly to own a home. This meant Tim and Hannah can spend less time working and more time enjoying the outdoors together. The two integrated as many recycled, salvaged, low-impact materials into their design as possible. A good amount of building material was acquired for free from Craigslist. Seconds, mis-sized, and salvaged materials were sourced from their local lumbar yard and the Restore. Their pier-like deck is supported by large pine trees they cut themselves. The logs provide adequate leveling for the home, which sits on a hill. Furthermore, they lift the home off the ground to prevent snow drift during cold winter months and heat retention during summer months.

Tim and Hannah's refrigerator consists of a cooler and ice packs, which, in the winter, they easily refreeze by keeping the water packs outside. At night, their main source of light is oil burning lanterns, a few LED lights, and headlamps. Small solar panels collect more than enough energy to generate electricity to charge their phones and batteries, which in turns power the cabin's LED lights. In the future, the two plan to built a 400 square foot home as their primary residence on the property, but their next project will be an outhouse with a solar water heater.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: DIY.

Inspiration: Living simply.

Favorite Element: We built it.

Biggest Challenge: Carrying all of the material for the entire cabin down a trail through the woods to the building site.

What Friends Say: Can we build one on your property?

Biggest Embarrassment: Poopin in a bucket.

Proudest DIY: The Beer-bottle cap popper funnel.

Biggest Indulgence: The gas grill.

Best advice: Big deck, little house.

Dream Sources: Cabin Porn

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Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

  • We used all reclaimed materials which dictated the look and color scheme of the house. We played with reclaimed redwood decking that had old teal paint as our color contrast.

ENTRY

  • We scored a mis-sized alder door from the local lumber yard and stained it to match the roof trim.

LIVING ROOM

  • We designed the cabin around our super comfy love seat, which is the living room. Oil lanterns enhance the cozy ambiance.

DINING ROOM

  • Our Ikea table can fold up on one side for two, slide out and fold up on both sides for four people, or collapse completely for activities. It also has drawers for extra storage.

KITCHEN

  • We love to cook, so we had to make sure all the necessities were there, but nothing extra. We do most of our cooking on the wood burning stove. We made a custom kitchen counter/sink out of a commercial stainless steel table and an RV sink, which drains into a 5 gallon bucket that gets emptied over our compost pile along with our kitchen scraps. Our Yeti cooler keeps our food fresh with ice packs. We bring in potable water, and melt snow on our woodstove for winter utility water. Everything else has to be very organized in such a small space, so it all has a home hanging on hooks or in mason jars.

BEDROOM LOFT

  • The loft is just big enough for our California king bed (some things can't be downsized) and has a beautiful birds eye view of the mountains. It is accessed by a custom ladder we built after Tim plummeted after trying to climb down the old A frame ladder.
BATHROOM
  • Summertime—we use a solar shower outside. Wintertime—we heat snow with our woodstove and brave the outdoors for showers. We have a composting toilet as well.
DECK
  • The deck is about the same square footage of the entire house, which makes it very easy for outdoor living and entertaining. Grillin' and chillin'!
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Thanks, Hannah and Tim!

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(Image credits: June Bhongjan)

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