Welcome. My name is Michelle and I’m here in my empty nest. My life has been a series of unfortunate events. I have been
married twice. I have been divorced twice. I have built two houses and I lost the
houses basically in the carnage of my divorces. So I’ve been a single mom
for 13 years and basically living paycheck to paycheck. My kids are getting older and they’re getting ready to go off to college and do their thing so I’m
looking forward to retirement, but I don’t have any retirement money. I don’t
have a retirement plan. So I had to really start looking at and thinking
about my life in the future from an entirely different perspective. I got
involved in the tiny house movement originally just to build a tiny house
that no one could take away. I figured doing it the same way I did it the first
two times that wasn’t working out really well so I wanted to do something entirely
different. So I built my first house, this house, basically using cash and
sponsorships to make sure that I have a paid-for nice comfortable house when I
retire. Now I’m building a few more tiny houses that I look forward to renting
like on Airbnb or a try it tiny or other VRBO kind of platforms and create some
income so, that’s next. My house is eight and a half feet wide
by 24 feet long and I built it with some help from a few contractors and friends,
but mostly myself in the driveway of my rental. By far my favorite room in the tiny
house is my kitchen. I think that people sacrifice their kitchen when they go
tiny and I wanted to show everybody that you can have a really cool and stylish
kitchen. All of my appliances are circa nineteen mid 40’s early 1950’s. It took me
two years to collect and refurbish the collection. It truly was a labor of love.
My design theme is modern nostalgia and I think I really accomplished it. It’s
one of my favorite rooms in the house. I do a ton of cooking. I do a ton of
entertaining. Also my tile wall, if you follow my blog, you’ll remember that it actually
sent me to therapy and there’s a little tile up there right on the wall and he’s
a little skew and his name is little bastard. One of the things I would do
differently it would be these stairs. Although I love these stairs and they
were really designed from the perspective that I wanted them to be
minimally invasive to the space but at the same time be really architecturally
striking. Underneath of the stairs is the cat box which is a really nice place to
hide it as well. But, one of the biggest critiques I get from most people is how
narrow they are. So, out of all the mistakes I actually made, I think that my
stairs would probably count because if I had to do it over again I might make
them a little more wide because I completely underestimated the width of
my ass. But I love them anyways. One of the things that I did really differently
from most people is I actually adjusted the ceiling height of the loft according
to where I’d be spending the most time. So you probably won’t notice it on
camera but my kitchen has a pretty high ceiling because the guest loft is over
the kitchen and so I don’t spend a lot of time in the guest loft so I wanted
the actual space to be in the kitchen. Conversely I spend way more time in my
bedroom than I actually do in the bathroom. This loft actually has about
four more inches of head room than the guests loft does. My quilt is really really a special memory for me. My grandmother died just prior to planning the tiny house build and I inherited the entire contents of her
entire sewing room. This quilt is actually made from all the fabrics that
my grandmother had given me when she died. When you live in a tiny space
utilization of vertical space is actually way more important than
utilization of horizontal space. People that fill horizontal space actually
creates clutter, but when you create intentional storage in a vertical space
you create architectural interest. One of the things that I don’t like about most tiny houses is they don’t have like real furniture. People take boxes and they put
cushions on top of them and they call them couches. And so one of the things I
wanted to create when I created the living room was a real what I call
proper living room. Living room chairs and an ottoman and a bedside table and an entertainment center. I’m really super proud of the space that I’ve actually
created here. It’s very comfortable and it’s also very functional. What you can’t
see here however is a couple of things. First of all, these chairs were actually
designed to add additional storage space and on top of that if you actually pull
these chairs apart there’s a table that’s tucked beside the refrigerator
that goes right here that actually provides dining and table spaces. So
first and foremost having a glass door on a bathroom is really unique but I
love the feng shui. I love the light. I love the space and I love the
architecture. This is an antique door, but right behind this door there’s actually
a curtain so if you do have to go to the bathroom and there’s someone else in the
house which there’s only people here when I have parties which is regularly
but you know not every day. I actually do have a stackable washer and
dryer. I can’t do all my laundry here. I can’t do my jeans and my towels and my blanket. I have my kids do that. We sort of like this reverse roll thing going on.
I call my daughter my laundry fairy. I drop off my dirty laundry and then it appears
on my front porch all folded. But, for day-to-day laundry I love
the fact that I don’t have to run to the laundromat every five minutes. I can
literally go weeks upon weeks without having to go to the laundromat, which is
really great. Another myth in the tiny house movement
is that you have to sacrifice and downsize like a ton, but the truth is you
can do some really cool stuff when it comes to built-in cabinets and sort of
unutilized space. This is three pairs of my 47 pairs in the house. This is three
pairs of dress shoes. They fit perfectly in the 2×4 framed wall. I’m very much a
girl I have like 200 pairs of earrings and necklaces. I have tons of clothes,
tons of shoes. So there’s only certain things that I was willing to sacrifice
and being a girl was definitely not one of them. Agh! He’s back! Look. Is that at frog? His name is Ralph and I suspect that he’s actually crawling up the drainpipe
behind the washer and dryer. Like that’s the only space in the house that’s
probably big enough. So he’s swimming through the pee trap, he’s crawling up the
drainpipe, and he’s coming in the house and he loves nothing better than to hang
out in my shower. I take him out in the woods and I set him free and then it takes
about two to three days and then he comes back and hangs out in my shower. This is an amazing sink from LaCava. This is actually a hand-carved all
one-piece Italian marble sink. Like a lot of tiny housers in order to
stay off grid and in order to live a more sustainable life we embrace composting
toilets and my favorite by far is Nature’s Head. Basically, there’s three
types of waste. There is grey water and I handle all the grey water in my house by
sitting on top of 18 inches of gravel. Long story short sort of a modified grey
water treatment system I’ve got going on. But then the toilet actually separates
the liquid wastes from the solids. Out back of the tiny house I have a 25 gallon
garbage can. In the bottom of the garbage can I have little teeny tiny holes that are drilled all the way around. I fill the
garbage can up with 24 gallons of water. I pour the 1 gallon of urine into there.
I put the lid on and then it leaks very very slowly down, it’s fully diluted at
25 to 24 to 1, it leaks down through the holes down through the gravel and
actually returns to the ground water itself. That concept came from
the Humanure Handbook. The solids my land host is not really keen on composting
humanure for very very understandable reasons. It’s a really really kind of
high-tech kind of scientific process. So I called the local garbage people and I
said, “How would you like me to dispose of the contents of my composting toilet, my
dry flush toilet?”. And they said, “Put it in a bag and put it in the garbage. We deal with diapers every day.” So that was sort of a compromise on my part
because you know I’d like to utilize it as soil, but my land host they’re not
really keen on the humanure concept, but my garbage company was more than happy to take care of it. When I started building my tiny house I
had no money. None. I had to finance my tiny house in a way that actually did
not consume any of my paycheck to paycheck existence. I had to create
really really creative ways to finance my tiny house. First thing I did was I
actually got an old vintage RV from a neighbor for free. I put about $700 into
it and I turned around and I sold it for $3,700. I did an ombre dresser that I got
for free on Craigslist and I sold it for $325. Just all kinds of separate little
things that would help. And then I ventured on the whole sponsorship thing.
I first discovered the whole concept of sponsorship, Andrew Odom wrote a book called Your Message Here. My advice however for
sponsorships is you don’t have to get twenty two corporate sponsors. You can
get a very very simple sponsorship for a sink or for a toilet or for flooring or
for siding. Whatever it is that you really feel either passionate about or
you feel comfortable advocating and promoting. I really feel like I found my
people. I really feel like I found a group of people that get me and that’s
really rare. I have never really had a sense of home. I grew up in foster care. My birth parents were divorced when I was four years old. I went into
foster care as a toddler. I was adopted as a teen and then left that house when
I was 18 and I’m now estranged from my adoptive family. We’re all just making it work. We’re not necessarily legal. We’re not necessarily rich. Maybe not all of us are
really really smart. We’re all sort of pirates. I’m literally living illegally in my tiny house on the down-low like below
the radar of legality, but we’re just making it work and supporting each other and finding a way to make this life of ours the best version that we can
make it without sort of conforming to what society tells us we have to do. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. If you did be sure to LIKE comment and
subscribe. If you didn’t get quite enough of me, you can hear me also every single week on tiny house podcast if you like the inside of my house and you want to see more pictures you can go to And be sure to check out the podcast cuz I was just
a guest. I know! So fun. It’s so cool. Peace! have a great day.

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100 thoughts on “SINGLE MOTHER Builds TINY HOUSE to Create RETIREMENT PLAN

  1. What a charming place and such an awesome woman! Your the kind of person I would love to just hang out with. BRAVO on creating a wonderful and welcoming home..and giving "little bastard" a place to call home too.😏👏

  2. I love what you've done here. Turning 50 this year and nothing but struggle so I'm starting over…thank you for the inspiration!

  3. I need to talk to her! Been through a lot like she has, and this lifestyle and what she is creating for herself really interests me!

  4. I,would love to start doing what you did, going through a divorce a few bankruptcy and nothing just start walk start out with nothing right now I would love to your advice and your strategy how to start just process as you know I live in Florida

  5. This is fantastically inspiring! Big hugs and props to you, it was such a pleasure to listen to you… You really know your stuff and you’re so intelligent and articulate. What do you mean, though, when you say you’re living barely legally? is it just the sewage treatment issue? Or what do you mean exactly? How could anything you’re doing be illegal? You’re just a wonderful human being, making use of available resources and materials, and trying to have a home without bothering anyone at all. I think it’s amazing.

  6. Great style with glass doors, living room, kitchen- so roomy & welcoming!! Fantastic job!! You definitely got better with age!!!

  7. She is awesome and totally an inspiration for me.
    I am planning to live in smaller house when I am retired.
    Bigger house is painful to clean.

  8. Wow beautiful lady if you happen to see this, I would love to rent one of your tiny homes! Can I have your contact info?

  9. This is a great video and one that is inspiring. If you don't think you can do it on your own, it is good to know there are people out there like Michelle.

  10. This is your time! This is your destiny! You are an amazing, strong, talented and formidable woman! You are an inspiration! Good luck with your new adventure! You are so good at designing! God Bless!

  11. You go, girl ! I loved what you did with your tiny house.
    Blessings, love and much light to your beautiful future. ♥️🌹♥️🌹♥️🌹♥️

  12. I hope she reads this because THAT was the single most informative and inspiring tiny home-building experience I’ve ever seen…and I’ve seen a lot! I love her can-do spirit and tenacity. My husband and I want to get on the Tiny Home Train, but haven’t seen any videos that really explain how someone can do it with limited finances. We too are paycheck to paycheck folks looking to break away from the rental nightmare we are in.

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal story and life with us. You’ve had a great effect on this house wife in suburban Atlanta Georgia‼️

  13. I’m really tired of all these bullshit videos showing ppl who have “figured it out”. I don’t believe it for one minute. It’s all fabricated to make the rest of us feel bad.

  14. I love you!!!! You stole my heart when you were talking about your staircase being too narrow because you underestimated the size of your ass. I can totally relate, my dear. I truly admire you as a strong & intelligent woman. You have done an amazing job with your tiny house. It is adorable!!

  15. Single mother destroyed by capitalist. Forced to live like shot in a tiny house.
    Learned she needs to rent out little shot houses and further oppress her already oppressed neighbors to survive.
    Great system, we all should live so well….

  16. I’ve looked into this, but it’s just not feasible for me. Tiny houses cost about as much to build (including the land to park it on) as what my husband and I paid for our house. Bi-laws are another issue. There are very very few locations in Canada that will permit tiny homes as a permanent living space. The laws really need to catch up with the times.

  17. She's so funny and cool – I can tell. 🤗..great house. When my son graduates from highschool – I want to do the same.

  18. Like until ''..()blablabla)…not confirming to what society tells us to do'' Why the heck can't you just do your thing and accept that other people need other things without discrediting those who have accepted that they are not 'very special lot' who stand above the law as they like (like some aristocrat?) , and that they are part of a society of many millions of others and that there need to be regulation to make them live together in the best possible way for THE VAST MAJORITY? That really pisses me off.

  19. No one questions why people in such a big and rich country have to build tiny houses and cannot afford retirement in decent conditions after working all their life?

  20. From the first minute of the video I have to say, this is one of the most comfortable looking tiny homes I've seen so far.

  21. Correction: This is the most accommodating and attractive tiny homes yet. This one is the bar to which all others should be held.

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