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Laura Miller – Baker City

My cottage has 360 square feet of living space – just enough!

“I was living in this big 100 year old house that my kids and I lived in for years, but they grew up and moved out and so I was in this big house and it was just me. I thought, ‘This is crazy.’ I wanted something smaller and I didn’t want an old house where I had to fix everything. I looked for real estate, like a newer one or two bedroom house, but they don’t exist. If it’s newer, there’s nothing smaller than three bedrooms. I was aware of the tiny house movement, but I didn’t know what I was going to do.

And then my huge cottonwood tree dropped a limb right here next to the garage. The tree was enormous, I’m not exaggerating. I wasn’t even here when it fell. I was on vacation and this big branch came down, went down partly over the fence and damaged the neighbor’s shed. It was a danger and the whole tree needed to come down. Later, I was sitting in the backyard, just kind of looking at how different it was with the tree gone and I thought, well, I’ve got all this sun on that detached garage roof and I should put solar panels on it. I talked to the solar guy and somewhere along the way I started thinking I could turn this into a little living space.

I got builders out here, one after another after another. The garage foundation wasn’t deep enough and it wasn’t level because the cottonwood roots had pushed it up. Most people recommended I tear it down, move it, and start over. Then the last guy to come over was Kevin Luckini. He looked inside the garage and he said “I think we can save this.” And I thought, “You’re my guy!” He was actually willing to do it and I think he likes doing things that he has to figure out, things that are challenging.

So my cottage has 360 square feet of living space – just enough! It’s small, but it has a big feel to it because of the high ceiling. Duane Boman did the kitchen cabinets and I have a little fridge. All the things are little. I have a two burner stove and a tiny little dishwasher. Everything I need, but in miniature. Just the basics. When I moved over here from the big house I just took my favorite things. I cleaned the upstairs of the house and left the furniture for my renters. I just put everything else in the basement and now I have a little ceramic studio down there, waiting for my new kiln.

And then I got a puppy. Oscar is a golden retriever and lab mix. He has a big yard to play in and I like gardening and we have river access. So it’s luxury in a little place. Not everyone would be happy in a tiny house, but it really works for Oscar and me.”