Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel

Happy Birthday to Niche Consulting LLC

A year ago today I started my own sustainable design consulting company, Niche Consulting LLC. So my baby company is one year old today! Happy Birthday, Niche! Tiny House Design-Build at Yestermorrow

For Niche, like for most start-up companies – and most human babies for that matter – the first year was full of experimentation and growth. Through Niche this year I taught workshops, met with clients for design and lifestyle consultations, sketched up tiny house designs, participated in conferences and working groups, and supported other sustainable development companies. I worked with dozens of great individuals and a handful of wonderful companies, including Intrinsic Ventures, Portland Alternative Dwellings, Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel, and Yestermorrow Design-Build School.

Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel was the final destination for the Pedalpalooza ADU & Tiny House Tours

As I've embarked on Lina's Next Adventure, I've learned a great deal through trial-and-error as well as from the advice and support of friends, family, colleagues, and a few perfect strangers, too. Sometimes it’s felt like I could barely hold my head up and sometimes it’s felt like I was crawling, but now that I’ve got my feet underneath me, Niche and I are eager to toddle out and explore what this second year of life is all about. (Hopefully, it won’t be the terrible twos!)

Of course, I’ve also been overwhelmed by the support from my friends and family. Special thanks go to Sandy Hall, Amy Gammill, Rose Jones, Kathy MacMaster, and Pat Hovis for being my cheer squad! It’s also been great to be starting up my company while several friends and two of my sisters start companies of their own.

These friends and family members of mine also welcomed new businesses into the world this year:

  • Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 11.43.17 AMMy sister Sarah created Farthest North Films so that she can pursue her love of documenting life in Alaska. (Her company is so new the website hasn't been built out yet - stay tuned!)
  • My sister Katie created Bring Baby Fitness so she (and her infant son Caleb) can help other new parents take good care of themselves and their little ones. (Her company is so new the website hasn't been built out yet - stay tuned!)
  • My friends Derin and Andra Williams have created Shelter Wise LLC to build tiny houses and do energy efficiency work.
  • Small is Beautiful LogoMy friends Deb Delman and Kol Peterson created Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel.
  • My friends Jeremy Beasley and Kelly Nardo are creating a film about tiny living called Small is Beautiful.
  • My friend Karin Parramore co-founded Good Life Medicine Center (and its development overlapped with construction of her tiny house on wheels, Serenity! Two new babies for Karin this year! She deserves a medal – and a break!)
  • Kuli Kuli LogoMy friend Lindsey Thompson started up Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic and began blogging at Stick Out Your Tongue.
  • My friend Lisa Curtis has developed Kuli Kuli Bars which you can now request that your local Whole Foods carry.


Meanwhile, I continue to be inspired by the friends who have blazed the entrepreneurial path before me and created sustainability-focused companies of their own:

  • Brittany Yunker rents out her sweet Bayside Bungalow as a tiny vacation rental.
  • Tammy Strobel teaches e-courses on simple living, writing, and photography (I've just registered for her latest one A Simple Year and I'm so excited to get started!)
  • Dee Williams and Joan Grimm provide inspiration, education, and information for people creating tiny houses through Portland Alternative Dwellings
  • Matt Eppelsheimer does web development through is company Rocket Lift Incorporated
  • Corey McKrill builds websites through Jupiterwise Design
  • Curt Bowen supports sustainable farming practices in Guatamala through Semilla Nueva
  • Emily Dietsman and Andy Asmus grow amazing food, flowers, and community through Welcome Table Farm
  • Apologies to anyone I left off the list! Remind me and I'll add you!

It’s been an honor to work alongside these impressive folks as we create companies that strive to do well by doing good. Here’s to supporting small businesses with big hearts this year!

Coming Full Circle... and Moving Forward

Two years ago this week I moved to Portland and this week I’m Housesitting the Tiny Barn at the location where my first tiny house was parked when My Tiny Adventure Began. So, in a way, it feels like I’ve come full circle. Once again the raspberries are dripping off their bushes and the tomatoes are vining as tall as the apple tree. Once again the school bells are ringing and there’s an excited chatter of children freshly back to school. Once again the mornings are starting with a smidge of crispness and the Canadian geese are honking on their southern migration. It’s nice to be here again, in this oasis of a garden, at the transition time between summer and fall.

And yet, so much has changed in 2 years, too. This garden has become even more glorious in two years. The raspberry canes are taller, the bamboo is thriving, and the day old chicks we slipped under a broody chicken (see April Fooling my Hen) are providing plenty of eggs each day. The tiny house I lived in here is back up in Olympia where Brittany Yunker is renting Bayside Bungalow out as a tiny cottage on wheels.

Meanwhile, the tiny house I’m caring for here this week is the Tiny Barn, which wasn’t yet a figment of anyone’s imagination this time two years ago. I helped my friend develop her design and boneyard materials the winter before last. Over my spring break that year I helped the owner and some other friends of hers construct the shell of the Tiny Barn in a week long tiny house building blitz. Her friends finished it up beautifully, so it’s fun to stay here in the same spot but in a delightful new house. And, of course, I have greater appreciation for this little house now that I’ve had the chance to live in other tiny houses in the past two years, including A Tiny Move for a Tiny House, My Summer Garden Cottage, My Home Sweet Yurt, and more recently Home, Sweet Pea.

Additionally, this week I’ve been site managing for Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel while Deb and Kol are on their honeymoon. The country’s first tiny house hotel wasn’t yet in the works when I first moved to Portland. Now I get to show off Caravan's Tiny Houses while I tidy up and visit with guests when they check in. They’ve come from all over the world to stay here and many of them stay specifically to try out living in a tiny house. In fact, I’m always a bit surprised when I’m talking with guests about tiny houses and they say “Oh, tiny houses are a thing?” Um, yes, perhaps I’m just caught up in this little world, but I’m pretty sure tiny houses are a thing.

While I’ve been in Cully this week I’ve had the chance to visit with several of my tiny house friends and make a few new ones. Only one of them had a tiny house two years ago and now I have six friends in the neighborhood with tiny houses!

A group of us gathered at Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel earlier this week to discuss our dream of creating a Tiny House Community here in Portland, perhaps developing something similar to A Vision for Tiny Cohousing. Then a couple of us made a trip to the permit counter at the Bureau of Development Services to explore what the options might be and last night we visit a potential site, met some new additions to Portland's tiny house community, and toured their tiny abode. We have a long road ahead of us, but it’s exciting to see how far we’ve come in the past two years as the Tiny House Movement Gains Momentum.

Lina's Next Adventure

This post from last summer was lingering in draft mode. Now that Niche is having it's first birthday, I realized I'd better get it posted! -Lina

Lina & Tandem

This summer I've been going through a Transition Time as I wrapped up my Masters of Urban and Regional Planning, my Urban Design Certificate, my work with Intrinsic Ventures in the Ford District. On top of all that, I moved from my Home, Sweet Yurt into my Home, Sweet Pea. And then I immediately spent a couple weeks catching up with my long-lost family.

So as the dust settles, I'd like to introduce you to Niche Consulting LLC and tell you about my next adventures. In January I created Niche, my own sustainable design consulting company, so that I could do design and lifestyle consulting with people interested in creating their own small homes and so that I could work on sustainable development projects. You can read Lina's Next Adventure, the letter I wrote to the folks in the Ford Building for more about that.

I remember declaring as a sophomore in college that I wanted to be a sustainability consultant someday, but I didn’t know quite what that meant. So I was researching the sort of companies for which I’d like to work. The trouble was that I was most intrigued by fringy sustainable housing ideas like natural building, cohousing communities, district sustainable energy use, and creating small homes by converting garages and basements. I couldn’t find a single company that seemed like it would allow me to pursue my passions.

But as I graduated, the parent of one of my dearest friends gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received. Gayle told me:

“The jobs you’ll love best throughout your career probably don’t exist yet. So just be ready for them, when they’re ready for you.”

What better way to prepare myself for all the exciting projects to come than to create a company that will allow me the flexibility to pursue them?

we built 3 of Naj Haus' walls at a PAD Build Workshop in July

I give credit to three people for convincing me I could – and should – start my own company. Matt Eppelsheimer of Rocket Life Incorporated taught me an incredible amount about start-ups. Joan Grimm helped me understand that creating my own single-member LLC would enable me to work with companies like Portland Alternative Dwellings more easily on a contract-basis. And Lizzy Caston, a fellow Portland State University Masters of Urban and Regional Planning alum, inspired me to strike out on my own by telling me about creating her own consulting company. I met with her for a cup of tea in early January and by the end of the week my company was registered!

Now that my graduate school degree is complete, I have the time to see what that means to be self-employed. I'm looking forward to site managing for Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel in September, co-instructing the Tiny House Design-Build course at Yestermorrow in September-October, team teaching Tiny House Basics Workshops with Dee Williams and Joan Grimm in November, and doing some capacity-building work with Portland Alternative Dwellings. Hopefully, I'll also have lots of opportunities to do consultations with individuals.

If you've who have been trying to find your niche and haven't yet, maybe it's time to make it! If you'd like to talk to me about small house designs or tiny lifestyle consultation, please contact me.

Caravan’s Tiny Houses


Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel will be having its grand opening on Saturday, July 27th, 2013 and I’m sure it will book up quickly once the word is out. It’s a great place for a staycation for Portlanders and a unique place for guests to stay when visiting from out of town. (Here's a video about America's first tiny house hotel, which Kirsten Dirksen of Fair Companies made after interviewing Deb and me - my part begins at 7:52.)

Families from as far away as Costa Rica and the UK have already discovered Caravan! Fortunately, I managed to reserve the whole place on Monday night to celebrate my 30th birthday. I arrived a little early so I could spend time in each of the houses before my friends arrived for a Big Birthday Bash at the Tiny House Hotel. Here's my take on each of the little houses on wheels.

The Rosebud

The Rosebud is a sweet little place with a distinctly cabin feel. It has a little front porch, a window seat with built-in storage, pretty wood paneling and awesome cobblestone countertops. I fully intend to appropriate the mason jar lighting idea. And I do love the little rolling table with two chairs. This is where I stayed the night of my Big Birthday Bash at the Tiny House Hotel and I am glad I got to claim this charming little retreat. Staying in The Rosebud is a great way to enjoy a little country in the city!


The Pearl

Derin Williams of Shelter Wise built this tiny house using the Miter Box plans he created. I helped him frame up and sheathe the walls last fall, so I know how meticulous he is about air sealing, energy efficiency, precision craftspersonship, and… well, everything really! The Pearl has a very zen feel with a white ceiling, sleek dark wood paneling, and stainless countertops. It features a dinette that converts to a double bed, a lofted sleeping space above, and a wet bath (the whole bathroom is a shower stall). The outside is just as sophisticated with metal siding and a colored LED light above the porch. With its clean lines and modern aesthetic, The Pearl really is the precious jewel of Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel.

The Tandem 

The Tandem is the largest of Caravan’s three tiny houses and families snatch it up since it can sleep four people. It features a queen size mattress in the loft and a day bed window seat that converts to another queen size bed. The Tandem is wood paneled in pine, giving it a warm cozy feel. The floors are cork and the countertops and shower surround are tiled, so it has several features of a ground-bound house.

I do, of course, have a special fondness for The Tandem, since it’s the tiny house I finished out last summer. (This was the house I used for my practicum project for my Yestermorrow Sustainable Design-Build Certification and it was featured last year on the Build it Green (BIG) Tour.) When I first encountered this tiny house it was a shell: framed, sheathed, wrapped and ready to be finished. I considered buying it myself but it was bigger than I wanted so I told Eli Spevak of Orange Splot about it. He purchased the partially finished tiny house and hired me to finish it out.

So last summer I did most of the finish work: hanging siding, shingling the gable ends, running electrical wiring, air sealing, insulating, rehanging a repurposed door, paneling the interior, trimming out the windows and door, and installing cork flooring. (I even tiled the shower under the tutelage of Rocky, who is an excellent tiler. He said the tile was sure to crack when the tiny house hit the road, but it’s moved once now and the tile is all still intact!)

Fortunately, I had help from Manda and Simon when it came to the parts that were impossible to do alone: installing the long sheets of Hardy Plank on the exterior, installing wood paneling on the ceiling, and installing metal roofing and a skylight. I enjoyed most aspects of the project (except perhaps for fiberglass insulation day!) and appreciated that I was able to learn so many tangible building skills. I had a special fondness for the creative details like trimming out the storage loft window with a special shelf, creating catwalks between the lofts, and rabbeting out the back of the trim piece that rests against the tiled shower.

When I wrapped up My Summer Dream Job the tiny house was ready for the kitchen cabinets to be installed, the ladder to be built, and the finish electrical and plumbing to be completed. The owner, Eli Spevak of Orange Splot, handled all the final construction details. Once the Tandem arrived at Caravan, Deb made it feel like home sweet home with little shelves, a set of coat hooks, and beautiful quilts and pillows.

I know where every mistake is in the house (the spot where the nail gun misfired, the accent tile that I is not quite straight, etc.) but I am proud of this house. I’m really glad that so many other people will get to enjoy it, too!

Big Birthday Bash at The Tiny House Hotel

As my 30th birthday approached I realized that I wanted to figure out a way to celebrate that involved tiny houses, but I wasn’t sure how to make it happen. Last year at birthday time I helped Brittany get her Tiny House On the Road Again so we could return the Bayside Bungalow to its beautiful spot in Olympia. I started A New Year in a New Home by settling into Granny's Garden Cottage, which I enjoyed as My Summer Garden Cottage.

This year as birthday time rolled around I co-taught a Portland Alternative Dwellings Tiny House Basics Workshop with Dee Williams. It was, of course, a lot of fun to meet some great tiny house folks, but I wanted to find a way to celebrate with my good ol’ friends AND tiny houses. And my birthday fell on a Monday, which is not typically the best night for party hosting.

Fortunately, the obvious answer came to me in the midst of a conversation with some fellow tiny house friends. Kol and Deb recently created Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel, which is, to the best of our knowledge, the first hotel in the world. It currently features a collection of three tiny houses on wheels and two more currently being constructed will be added soon. (Here’s my take on Caravan’s Tiny Houses.) Caravan is set up as an RV park so there’s a hook up station for each of the little houses and they have all electric appliances, hot running water, and flush toilets. The tiny house hotel was featured on this year’s Pedalpalooza Tiny House Tour and it opened on July 1. Caravan’s Grand Opening will be this coming Saturday, July 27th and I’m looking forward to the party!

So I asked Deb and Kol if I might be able to spend the night at the tiny house hotel for my birthday (before Caravan's Grand Opening since I know it will book up fast once the word is out!) The place was miraculously not booked out for my birthday night so Deb suggested I reserve the whole place and host my 30th birthday party at the world’s first tiny house hotel. So I did. (And as my birthday present Kol and Deb gave me an incredible discount on the reservation, too! Thanks guys!)

Kol and Deb have outfitted the tiny house hotel with all the fixins for a party. There’s a circle of Adirondack chairs around a fire pit, a parachute shade to provide protection from the sun, a hammock for skygazing, a colorful mural on the ground, and even a table with a grill in the middle! I knew we were in for a good time.

The friends who arrived early joined me for supper next door at the Grilled Cheese Grill. Yes, I ate a delicious but probably not super healthy jalepeno popper grilled cheese sandwich for my birthday dinner, thank you very much! (Deb also informed me that Radio Room across the street is now providing room service to the tiny house hotel!)

My party was a dessert potluck so we indulged in fresh berries, giant chocolate sea salt and caramel cookies, fancy ice cream sandwiches, sticky sweet donuts, refreshing rose, syrupy framboise, and chocolaty porters. Several friends went with the tiny theme, bringing tiny pies, mini cupcakes, and delicate petite fours! We roasted marshmallows on skewers over the grilling table and made gooey s’mores just as the moon was rising, round and golden in the east. As darkness crept up we sat around the fire pit while my long-lost friend Chris strummed his guitar and we sang along.

As most people headed out, a handful of us settled into Caravan’s Tiny Houses for a good night’s sleep. We were all up early for work in the morning, but that seems fitting considering that this was my 30th and it was a Monday night!

My birthday presents were less tangible, but no less meaningful this year. Throughout the day I received love notes via facebook and text from friends and family around the world. I was also able to reconnect with several people I hadn’t seen in a while. It was fun to see my worlds colliding as people from different parts of my life got to know each other. I was even delighted when one of my dear friends told me she couldn’t make it because she’d been offered a job and had to talk through logistics with her partner. It feels good to be heading into a new decade with this sense of appreciation for my loved ones and gratitude that I’m at the beginning of a great adventure as I pursue this path.

Kol and Deb, thanks for making my 30th Birthday Bash such a great time! I’m looking forward to Caravan's Grand Opening on Saturday, July 27th, 2013!

Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel Grand Opening

I had the pleasure of showing off Caravan on this year's Pedalpalooza Tiny House Tour and celebrating my 30th birthday with a Big Birthday Bash at the Tiny House Hotel. Now I'm looking forward to Caravan's Grand Opening. Read on for the press release about Caravan's Grand Opening. You can read my take on Caravan's Tiny Houses, but you really should just come check them out on Saturday! I look forward to seeing you there!

Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel Grand Opening

Saturday, July 27th, from 5-10pm 5009 NE 11th Ave, Portland, OR, 97211 (11th and Alberta) Featuring musical guest Alexa Wiley and the Wilderness

Caravan is the first Tiny House Hotel in the United States and is located in the heart of the Alberta Arts District in Portland, Oregon. At Caravan, Portlanders and travelers from around the world can experience staying in a variety of beautiful, custom-built tiny houses.

In addition to being a unique hotel and event space for family gatherings and celebrations, group vacations, community events, and performances, Caravan is:

  • A ground-breaking model for the innovative reuse of urban space
  • Featuring local art and craftsmanship to celebrate the unique and creative culture of Portland
  • Promoting alternative, lower impact small housing design and urban density
  • Showcasing a variety of architectural styles for tiny house enthusiasts

There are three one-of-a-kind tiny houses available for guests, each with its’ own unique, creative and artistic features.  Two of the tiny houses sleep 1-4 people and one sleeps 1-2 guests. The tiny houses are built on flatbed trailers and range in size from 100-200 square feet.  Each tiny house is connected to the city’s electric grid and water and sewer systems.  In each tiny house, there is a bathroom with a flush toilet and hot shower, and a kitchen, sleeping and dining area.  The tiny houses will be open to the public at the Grand Opening.

Learn more at