This Is Definitely the Cheeriest Tiny House of All Time

updated Feb 3, 2020

This Is Definitely the Cheeriest Tiny House of All Time

updated Feb 3, 2020
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Square feet
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Name: Lee Pera
Location: Washington DC
Size: 145 square feet
Owned: For 4 years

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Geographer and builder Lee Pera was fed up with the steep cost of living in Washington, D.C.—so she built a tiny house with the help of friends, designers, and the local building community. She hadn’t operated a drill or a power tool since seventh-grade shop class, but ended up building a lot of the 145-square-foot tiny house herself. In fact, she’s now the proud owner of an entire shop’s worth of tools. Almost all of the furniture in her home had to be built by hand in order to fit the space, like the dining table, bathroom sink, cabinetry, and the closet to name a few.

Inspired by the Scandinavian style of The Springfield House by Studio 804, Lee along with architect Matt Battain of Urban Density Lab, aimed to create something similar for her own tiny house’s exterior. The colors and textures inside complement her personal style, while walls adorned with botanical wallpaper seem to bring the outdoors in, and her cozy sleeping loft even boasts a skylight for added views.

As an early pioneer in the tiny house movement in D.C., Lee has since traveled the country sharing her home-building successes and challenges with other tiny house enthusiasts. She continues to build projects for fun, teaches workshops on affordable and creative living practices, and consults around tiny houses, communities, and accessory dwelling units.

Although she’s not currently residing in her tiny house, it hosts many visitors while resting on wheels outside of her full-size home. And whenever she has a bad day, she says, “I can look at my house and know that ‘I built that’ and I own it outright without being tied to any financial institution and there’s a freedom in that.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Scandinavian design mixed with bright colors inspired from traditional Mexican art, textiles, and ceramics.

Inspiration: The design of the exterior of the house was inspired by this house by Studio804. The architect I worked with at the beginning of the project (Matt Battin of Urban Density Lab) found the inspiration, and then we decided to try and replicate something similar on my tiny house (see my proudest DIY below).

Favorite Element: My sleeping loft. It’s cozy, but I don’t feel claustrophobic because of the skylight. I love waking up to see the trees above me and look down into my living room knowing I built this house myself. I always feel so proud when I take in the view of my house from my loft.

Biggest Challenge: Finding furniture and accessories that were the right size so the house wouldn’t feel too cramped. Almost all furniture in the house had to be built by hand to get the smaller dimensions I wanted—table, bathroom sink, cabinets, closet. I originally built a modular little couch out of plywood, hairpin legs, and cushions because I couldn’t find one that fit the space. However, after a lot of searching I finally found a couch that was six feet long but only 30 inches deep, so it’s perfect for the space and serves as a spare bed if needed.

Proudest DIY: My roof and exterior siding. We decided to take the rain screen system for siding up over the roof to create the look of one continuous siding over the whole house. All the wood is salvaged wood my architect obtained, which was great, but it meant we were ripping down, planing, and treating wood for months. I think the whole siding and roof project took me almost six months. I had community work days every weekend when friends and community members would help me prepare and install siding. I did the majority of the roof “siding” myself. As someone who was afraid to get on the ladder when I started the build, doing the roof was a huge and empowering accomplishment for me.

Biggest Indulgence: The skylight (and my door, but that was donated!).

Best Advice: Plan, plan, and plan. Approach your home build or renovation or design as a project manager. Take tons of photos to document the process and keep them all organized with notes to refer back to later—especially when your walls are open you want photos of electrical, plumbing, where studs are, etc.

What’s your best home secret? In a tiny house you have to constantly pick up and clean otherwise it can get very cluttered quickly. I have drawers underneath my couch and fabric boxes on shelves so that I have extra storage besides my closet without it looking cluttered. I also used a home organization feng shui consultant to help me organize and create systems for the house. That was immensely useful for me as I’m not a very organized person by nature, and it was surprisingly easier to live in my house once I had organizational systems in place.






  • Handmade table out of leftover Ash flooring — Hicksville Mill
  • Handmade shelves — From salvaged cedar



  • Mattress — Tuft and Needle 5-inch mattress (5-inch no longer in production)
  • Bedspread — From Puebla, Mexico
  • Outlet covers — Made in Mexico, bought at the Historic Market Square in San Antonio, Texas


  • Sink and base — Handcrafted out of Ash wood by Philip Silver
  • Shower — Stucco (natural limestone plaster) walls stained blue (saphir 90) and stained concrete base.
  • Algot Shelves — IKEA

Thanks Lee!