Hello Again, Less Is More!

2015-03-15 20.12.56I'm back in snowy Vermont for more Yestermorrow goodness. I spent my weekend in the Design-Building a Successful Design-Build Business class, taught by Adam Cohen. He was a wealth of information and wisdom and I learned just as much from my classmates who were quick with questions and ideas. Last night we started up another round of Less Is More: Designing the Small or Tiny House. I'm honored to be teaching with Dave Cain who is a creative designer, a bicycle adventurer, and an all-around great guy!

Last night we kicked-off class with introductions, complete with inspirational imagery and then we launched into our first design project. The photos in the gallery are the result of that exercise. We have an action-packed week lined up, including tiny house tours, programming, intro to drafting, presentations, and lots of (but never enough) studio time. Final presentations will be all day on Friday and I'm already eager to see what this creative bunch will come up with!

Follow along this week on our adventures! Meanwhile, you can read about last year's class here: Welcome to Less Is More, Less Time, More Drafting, and Less Is More Presentations.

Welcome to Less Is More

a quick model-making activity with found objectsLast night Dave Cain and I greeted our students for Yestermorrow Design-Build School’s Less is More class. We started out with a round of introductions in which everyone shared photos that inspire them. Then we moved on to a parti exercise borrowed from Paul Hanke, one of my co-instructors for the Tiny House Design-Build course. Each team of two students selected a found object which became the “big idea” for a shelter design. It was amazing to see what they dreamed up in 20 minutes! Check out our Welcome to Less is More Slideshow to see what they came up with! This morning we started out our first full day with field trips in the nearby area. You can see photos of our field trips and studio time in the Day 1 Slideshow.

Before heading out we made a list of things we wanted to observe while we were visiting small homes. Here are just a few of the things that made the list:

  • material selections,
  • feel of light,
  • workspace,
  • designated vs. multi-functional spaces,
  • movement and flow.

krunkle tour

Our first stop was Ben Cheney’s house, which was designed and built by the Yestermorrow Semester Program two years ago. This 680 square foot home features a woodshop on the ground floor, a kitchen with spaulted maple cabinets, a living room with a Vermont-made wood stove, a deck with river views, a cozy bedroom. The showstopper at this house is a dramatic cantilevered dining room nicknamed The Krunkle, which features magnificent views of the forest and river below.

filing into Susan & Emily's tiny house on a trailer

Our second stop was Emily & Susan’s tiny house on a trailer. The shell of this home was built during Yestermorrow’s Tiny House Design-Build class three years ago. It’s not quite finished, but it was fun to see how much progress Susan and Emily have made since I first saw the house in October. I especially enjoyed getting to point to various features of the trailer as I shared information and tips for connecting a tiny house to a mobile foundation.

This afternoon was spent playing with big ideas. We discussed which activities we’d like to do in our small homes and which we’d like to have access to. Each student generated a set of lists: activities, wishlists, and site characteristics. Then we moved to drafting tables and broke out the markers so we could spend the rest of the afternoon playing with bubble diagrams and figure ground exploration.

This evening we discussed our observations from today’s field trips and explored the question “How BIG is small?” I’m already looking forward to tomorrow’s adventures: more field trips, a drafting lesson, and sharing pretty pictures to illustrate interior design tricks for small spaces. Follow along!

So Much Blogging - Just Not Here!

Dearly Beloved Readers, I have actually been blogging recently. And prolifically, I might add. But obviously not here. And I don't necessarily have much to show for it just yet. But there's so much good stuff to come. (I've been prepping for my tiny house build, too, so things are going to get even more exciting around here very soon!)

I have an alibi. (I've been at and

And a motive. (I'm helping other people tell their small living stories.)

So please let me explain...

I've been writing ADU Case Studies

Since December I've been Coordinating the ADU Case Studies Project, which means I've had the opportunity to interview the owners of granny flats, backyard cottages, and garage apartments to learn about their inspirations, challenges, and triumphs. Each of these homeowners has created a second home of 800 square feet or less on their property. I've now had the pleasure of working with more than 30 homeowners to help them tell their ADU story. I've learned a great deal about the impacts of regulations, incentives, and design guidelines. And I've heard some really wonderful stories about how ADUs have provided flexibility for the sandwich generation and increased the supply of affordable infill housing. At this point we've published nine ADU Case Studies on, there's one ready to go live on Friday, and there are many more in the queue. Here are the ones that are already live:

You can subscribe to receive the posts in your email inbox or you can just check back each week on Friday. If you ever miss me and my writing, you know where to find me! stories

Meanwhile, I've also been helping 31 Voices for the Tiny House Movement get settled into their role as regular contributors to TinyHomes provides a venue for tiny house designers, dwellers, builders, and enthusiasts to share their love of tiny homes. February was our first month with daily posts. (We've got a couple openings for regular contributors so if you'd like to claim one, please let me know!) Another exciting update is that we are now accepting profiles. You can create a Personal Profile to shout your love of tiny houses loud and proud. And since tiny homes have plenty of character (and often their own names, like Sweet Pea and Bayside Bungalow) you can also create a Tiny Home Profile to show off your tree house, studio apartment, backyard cottage, etc.

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!

Second ADU Case Study Goes Live

  Scott Powers' story is the second ADU Case Study to go live

In December, I began Coordinating the ADU Case Studies Project  and I've had a great time so far talking to ADU owners about their little homes. What a great range of different houses in different styles, built for different purposes by people with different backgrounds!

I have several more posts in a draft format as we work on fact checking and adding photos. I'm eager to share these stories with you. Meanwhile, here's an excerpt of the second ADU Case Study, which I posted this week. It's called Scott Powers' ADU: 3 Generations at Home. Jump on over to for the full post:

Proximity allows the three generations of Scott’s family to share meals and trips to the grocery store. Their children are now teenagers, so childcare is not as important anymore, but it’s still nice having grandma and grandpa close by. Scott’s parents pay utilities but no rent because they paid for the ADU in cash after selling their home nearby. They used high-end cabinetry and finishes, an on-demand water heater, and Scott’s favorite feature, a gas fireplace, to make the ADU feel cozy. Scott jokes “the ADU is nicer than our house!”

In fact, Scott’s only concern about the ADU is that the investment the family made, and the value that it adds, might not be recognized if they sell their property someday. (You can read more aboutUnderstanding and Appraising Properties with Accessory Dwelling Units.) Fortunately, Scott’s family has no immediate plans to move. The ADU has created flexibility for their future.

Looking Forward to 2014

With the transition to a New Year, I'm celebrating Another Year of Little Living. (You can read the highlights of my 2012 A Year of Little Living, too.) Here are some of the things I'm most excited about for 2014:

January & February

On January 6th and 20th I'll be teaching Organize Your New Year: A 2-Part Decluttering Workshop. On January 25th and February 8th, I'll be co-teaching Portland Alternative DwellingsTiny Chair Workshop, which is an introduction to power tools. I'm exciting to be co-teaching the Tiny Chair Workshop with Laura Klement, who participated in the Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. The first weekend of February and the first weekend of March I'll be helping out with PAD's Tiny House Basics Workshops. This weekend workshop introduces tiny house enthusiasts to everything they need to consider from tiny house structural issues to regulations and community building.

Over the next couple months I'm also Coordinating the ADU Case Studies Project, which involves interviewing ADU owners from across Oregon and writing up case studies which are featured on the website. Our goal is to help people articulate what motivated them to develop an ADU on their property, what's working well and what they would do differently, and what advice they have for people considering building an ADU on their property.

I will also continue to build out, a website for tiny homes and the people who love them. Our goal is to create an in-depth, engaging, and informative website for people interested in tiny homes. We are currently collecting Profiles for tiny homes and tiny house enthusiasts. We look forward to having the profiles serve as a who's who of the Tiny House Movement, so we'd love to have you add a profile for yourself or your tiny home! We also feature regular blog posts from people who are exploring, designing, building, living in tiny homes. If you would like to be a contributor on our blog or facebook page, please contact me at I look forward to meeting more bloggers and supporting the small house movement through!

would you like to contribute to just contact me!

March & April

In March, I'll be teaching a week-long Less is More class at Yestermorrow Design-Build School in Vermont with the fabulous Dave Cain. This course, which I took myself in the fall of 2010, helps people design a small (or tiny) home of their own. After seeing a great set of presentation following the two-week Tiny House Design-Build, which I co-instructed in October, I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

The first weekend of April I'll be speaking at the Tiny House Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. There's a great speaker line-up, including Dee Williams as the keynote, so I look forward to this opportunity to meet giants of the Tiny House Movement.

I'm considering staying on the east coast during the time between my Yestermorrow course wrapping up and the Tiny House Conference starting up. I've got connections with Greater Boston Tiny House Enthusiasts, Boneyard Studios, and an artist community in West Virginia, so it seems like it could be a fabulous adventure. If you know of other things I should check out if I decided to spend this time on the East Coast, please let me know!

Dee Williams' book, The Big Tiny (which I've already pre-ordered in Kindle format!) comes out on Earth Day and there will be festivities surrounding its release. I'll likely join in the fun here in the Portland area.

It looks like 2014 is off to a great start! What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

Another Year of Little Living

The end of the year presents us with a great opportunity to look back and reflect upon what we've accomplished and what we've learned. I cataloged A Year of Little Living back in 2012. In 2013 I wrote 87 posts about my Little Life experience and you can read the best of the best here. I'm grateful for the opportunities that were presented to me in 2013 and I'm already Looking Forward to 2014.

Here are some highlights from 2013:

This Is The Little Life

I started blogging two and a half years ago, but I was shy about it, so I didn't tell anyone at first. For all intents and purposes, this month marks my two year anniversary as a blogger. It's been an incredible experience to share my vignettes about my Little Life with all of you. I've enjoyed engaging in fascinating conversations with followers from around the world. It's especially been a pleasure to meet many of you over the past couple of years at gatherings or during visits. Word Press conveniently showed me yesterday that in 2013 This Is The Little Life was viewed approximately 140,000 times by people in 155 countries. Thank you for your support, encouragement, ideas, insights, and for following along!


Niche Consulting LLC

In January 2013, I started up my own sustainable design consulting company, Niche Consulting LLC. I created Niche so that I could work with clients from across the country and around the world who want to create a little home of their own. I've enjoyed doing individual consultations, teaching small group workshops, and assisting clients with small home design work. It's a real thrill to see a design that I helped a client develop be constructed in real life! I've also been able to partner with fabulous sustainable development companies like Portland Alternative DwellingsCaravan - The Tiny House HotelYestermorrow Design-Build SchoolShelter Wise, and Intrinsic Ventures.



I kicked off 2013 by teaching a tiny house workshop for my cousin's fifth grade classroom and discovered Ten Year Olds Design Awesome Tiny Houses! In February, April, July, and November I co-taught Tiny House Basics Workshops with Dee Williams and Joan Grimm of Portland Alternative Dwellings. In April, I worked with Shelter Wise, PAD, and six amazing students to build a tiny house in two days for the Casa Pequena workshop at Casa Verde in McMinnville, OR. In a July PAD Tiny House Build Workshop we constructed the floor of Dee Williams' vardo and built three walls for Naj Haus. In October, I co-taught a two-week-long Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow and in December I taught Unstuff Your Holidays: A 1-Day Decluttering Workshop.


My 200 Things Challenge

Before Downsizing from a Tiny House to a Tinier House, I decided to embark upon My 200 Things Challenge. This time last year I was half way through the challenge. I did a New Year's Re-Inventory and spent some time Taking Stock Without Stocking Up. I also made a New Year's resolution to go paper-free, so I was Strategizing Digitizing and Getting All My Docs in a Row. I recapped What My 200 Things Challenge Taught Me in October.

Masters Degree & Urban Design Certificate

From January through June I worked with Five to Nine Consulting to develop a framework for reintroducing housing into downtown Oregon City. This was our workshop project for our Masters of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree. In June I graduated from Portland State University's College of Urban and Public Affairs with a MURP and I wrapped up my Urban Design Certificate the next month.


Tiny House Fair

Unfortunately, I missed graduation because I was at Yestermorrow in Vermont, presenting at the Tiny House Fair. Fortunately, it was one of the best weekends of my life. I joked that I was taking commencement really seriously and getting on with my career. It was a treat to be back on the Yestermorrow campus and to meet so many great tiny house enthusiasts, builders, designers, and dwellers. My posts about the Tiny House Fair were republished in Tiny House Magazine.


Pedalpalooza ADU & Tiny House Tours

In June, Kimber and I coordinated the Pedalpalooza ADU & Tiny House Tours. I'd coordinated the tours in 2012 while working with Orange Splot. In 2013 we put both tours on one epic day, which you can read about in the Pedalpalooza Recap. It was great fun to meet so many small home enthusiasts and show off great spaces. We wrapped up at Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel, where we showed off Caravan's Tiny Houses, including Tandem, the tiny house on wheels I finished out in the summer of 2012 as part of My Summer Dream Job: Tiny House Design-Building with Orange Splot.

Moving from Home, Sweet Yurt to Home, Sweet Pea

In August, I moved from my Home, Sweet Yurt into Sweet Pea, a tiny house on wheels located in POD49. It's a great little place with really great neighbors in a wonderful location. (And the Sweet Pea Plan Set is available for sale through PAD.) I've thoroughly enjoyed this little home. I've had a Snow Day in the Tiny House and I've even tried Sharing Sweet Pea with my Sweetie.

Site Managing at Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel

In July, my friends Kol Peterson and Deb Delman opened Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel. Their soft opening was serving as the final destination for the Pedalpalooza ADU & Tiny House Tours, but the Caravan Grand Opening in July was a truly wonderful party. I loved visiting with the people who stopped in to take a look at Tandem, the tiny house on wheels owned by Eli Spevak of Orange Splot that I finished out as my Practicum Project for my Yestermorrow Sustainable Design-Build Certificate. Speaking of parties, I celebrated my 30th birthday with a Big Birthday Bash at the Tiny House Hotel. In September I served as site manager of Caravan for two weeks while Kol and Deb were getting married then on their honeymoon. I got to know all the little houses a whole lot better as I developed my Tiny House Cleaning Checklist and I joked Everything I Need to Know About Designing Tiny Houses I Learned From Cleaning Them.


Tiny House Mixers

In 2012 I helped coordinate several Tiny House Potlucks. They were a lot of fun, especially when we had them in parks during the summer months, but it was hard to find a place big enough for us to meet in the winter since we all live in small houses. Fortunately, in 2013 PAD began hosting Tiny House Mixers, which have been wildly popular. The November Tiny House Mixer drew nearly 50 people and the December Tiny House Mixer drew more than 30. I'm already looking forward to the January Tiny House Mixer and February Tiny House Mixer.

In October, I began building out, a new website which I've co-founded with web developer Kenny Bavoso. is a website for tiny homes and the people who love them. Kenny and I are both huge fans of small spaces and we look forward to making an in-depth, engaging, and informative website for people interested in tiny homes. You can learn more about what we're up to and how you can contribute in Looking Forward to 2014.

Coordinating the ADU Case Studies Project

In December I began Coordinating the ADU Case Studies Project on a contract with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. I'll be compiling a series of case studies of permitted accessory dwellings throughout the state of Oregon over the next couple months. Read about the ADU Case Studies Project to learn how you can contribute or follow along.

Coordinating the ADU Case Studies Project

Kol's ADU Exterior

While I was working with Orange Splot LLC, a Portland-based development company that specializes in innovative sustainable infill housing projects, I Showcased Accessory Dwellings in Portland on the website. You can read these posts here:

Now we have updated the website so that we can feature more ADU profiles. Our goal is to compile a collection of case studies of permitted accessory dwellings from across Oregon. I’m delighted to be coordinating the ADU Case Studies Project. I look forward to helping people share their ADU stories so that we can continue advocating for ADUs as a flexible, affordable housing option. You can read our first new case study, Kol Peterson's ADU: A Backyard Home.

If you or someone you know has a permitted accessory dwelling in Oregon and you would like to participate in the project, please email me at


Lina Menard


ADU Case Studies Project

(541) 854-0875

Niche Design & Decluttering Workshops

Two years ago I downsized from a 2-bedroom bungalow to a tiny house on wheels. A year ago I downsized again to a 12-ft diameter yurt and embarked upon My 200 Things Challenge. These days I live in a 130 square foot tiny house on wheels and I've made space-efficient housing both my livelihood and my lifestyle. I've quit counting my possessions, but I'm mindful everyday of What My 200 Things Challenge Taught Me. Now I'm excited to offer a 1-day Tiny House Design Workshop to help people new to design capture their tiny homes and a Decluttering Workshop series to share the tips and tricks that have helped me in my right-sizing journey. Please join me for one of these workshops if you're interested in the Little Life!

Tiny House Design Workshop

If you want to design your own tiny house but you've never designed anything before this workshop is for you! In this 1-day workshop we'll cover programming, bubble diagramming, basic drafting techniques, floor plans, elevations, and design considerations for tiny spaces. You'll leave with a design concept for your tiny house and the techniques you need to capture the desired look and feel. Appropriate for design newbies whether they plan to do their own design or hire a designer. Register for the Tiny House Design Workshop through Niche Consulting LLC.

Unstuff Your Holidays: A Decluttering Workshop

Are you dreading the accumulation that always happens during the Holiday Season? Do you already feel like you have too much stuff? If you want to focus on your family and friends instead of your stuff this holiday season, this workshop is for you. We'll address our relationship with stuff, discuss needs and wants to figure out what really matters, set priorities, and evaluate our possessions. We'll identify old habits and clutter magnets and tackle problem areas in our homes. Then we'll develop organizational systems and new habits to reduce clutter. In this 1-day workshop, we'll cover everything from keeping track of our keys to developing a wardrobe full of clothes we love. Register for Unstuff Your Holidays through Niche Consulting LLC.

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.