This 296-Square-Foot Tiny House Has Tons of Plants, over 14 Windows, a Hammock, and a Meditation Loft

published Oct 13, 2020

This 296-Square-Foot Tiny House Has Tons of Plants, over 14 Windows, a Hammock, and a Meditation Loft

published Oct 13, 2020
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Name: Tri Trinh
Location: Washington, DC
Size: 296 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, owned

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In Washington, D.C., where the cost of living is through the roof, one entrepreneur had a dream to live more consciously, so he designed and built his dream tiny house, with the help of the D.C. Tiny House Community. Tri Trinh, yogi and owner of Hot Pink Photobooth, a photo booth rental service serving the Washington, D.C. area, opted for modern, natural minimalism, and sustainably in order to reduce his monthly expenses, all the while working toward early retirement. With a lower cost of living, Tri has the freedom to focus more of his time and energy on the experiences that bring him joy, like travel, yoga, and plants, of course! And as a tiny house owner, he currently pays a third of what he was paying to live in a small studio apartment in the city.

“My main motivation for living in a tiny house was to reduce my monthly expenses as I work towards FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early). Housing costs in Washington, D.C. are high and seem to always be on the rise. I currently pay a third of what I was paying to live in a small studio apartment,” explains Tri. “I am able to funnel my extra savings into Vanguard’s VTSAX, a low cost index fund. My goal is to have 25 times my yearly living expenses in my investment portfolio. Once I hit this number, I can withdraw 4% from my portfolio to live on each year. My current yearly living expense is around $20,000. $20,000 x 25 = $500,000. Once my portfolio hits $500,000, I can draw down 4% ($20,000) each year to live on. I was introduced to the FIRE movement and the  4% rule by Mr. Money Mustache. With a smaller cost of living, I have the freedom to focus more of my time and energy on experiences that bring me joy.”

Not only does Tri have an impeccable eye for design (he designed his tiny house to feel like a zen yoga studio) he has literally brought the outdoors in. His tiny house boasts 14 windows, one skylight, and one glass door, which has created a stunning oasis of natural light and some serious houseplant envy.

“The best part of my tiny house experience are the people and community that helped me along my journey. I met Lee Pera at my first tiny house tour in D.C. and she’s been such a great friend and resource for the tiny house community in D.C. and beyond. I took Jewel Pearson’s Tiny House 101 workshop back in 2017 and she gave me a wealth of information,  confidence and inspiration to move forward with my build. I am beyond grateful to Robin Hayes and her dedicated, hardworking and passionate team at Build Tiny for bringing my dream to life. It really took a village and I am honored to meet such amazing people along the way.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Simple, modern, earthy

Inspiration: Yoga is one of my passions and I wanted my home to feel like a yoga studio. The white walls and bamboo flooring keep things zen and simple but my plants provide a nice, natural pop of color.

Favorite Element: All the windows!!! I have a total of 14 windows, one skylight, and one glass door in my tiny space. I love how all the windows help bring the outside in. When all the windows are open, it’s a wonderful feeling the breeze flow through my home and hearing all the birds, insects, and my many squirrel friends. I love all the natural light but most importantly, my plant babies love them, too.

Biggest Challenge: To maximize every inch of my house, I went with a semi flat roof with a small 6-inch slope from my meditation loft to my bedroom loft—this allowed me to maximize the head room in each loft. I wanted a metal roof since they’re durable and enhance every rain shower but with a flat roof my only option was to go with an EPDM rubber roofing membrane. When it rains, my roof isn’t steep enough so water pools above my bedroom loft. I have been battling a few leaks which is pretty draining and stressful. If I were to do it again, I would go with a metal roof with a steeper slope.

Proudest DIY: I needed to build a skirt around the bottom of my house to keep the cold wintry air out. I decided to skirt my house by building wooden planters around the perimeter and filling it with flowers, herbs and vegetables. I made the planters out of the cheapest fencing wood from Home Depot. I love how the wood changes in shape and color over the years.

Biggest Indulgence: How many plants are too many plants? I love nature and started caring for houseplants as a way to help purify the air in my house. Each plant is so unique and I love the way they grow within my space. It is so satisfying to see a new leaf emerge. Caring for my plants can be very meditative—try cleaning each leaf on a massive golden pothos and you’ll know what I mean.

Best Advice: Do a trial run before committing to build or purchase a tiny house. Stay in a tiny Airbnb for a few weeks or longer to see if you enjoy the tiny lifestyle. Tour as many tiny houses as you can or binge watch all the tiny house YouTube videos to gather ideas and start mapping out what you want and don’t want in your house. Tiny House Festivals are a great way to tour many houses in one day.

What’s your best home secret? Only keep the things you love. I am constantly curating my belongings. It brings me so much happiness to sell, gift or donate something that no longer sparks joy. About once a month, or whenever I feel the urge, I go through my space and see if each item I have still brings me joy. For example, I would take all my clothes out of the closet and try on each piece. If something doesn’t fit right or I no longer feel good in it, I put it in a box and let it sit for a month. If I don’t miss or remember it after a month, I remove the item from my house. 

Resources

PAINT & COLORS

  • Benjamin Moore — Regal Classic Eggshell Finish, Pastel Base N319 1B

ENTRY

LIVING ROOM

MEDITATION LOFT

  • Lanham Marble Top Side Table — Target

KITCHEN

  • Cuisinart Airfryer Convection Oven Toaster — Amazon
  • Vitamix — Costco
  • Bamboo Shelf — Amazon
  • Berkey Water Filter — Amazon
  • Fagor Induction Burner — Amazon

BEDROOM LOFT

BATHROOM

Thanks Tri!!

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