Lustado constructed the home on a trailer rather than on a concrete foundation, which is a way of getting around many states’ requirement that any permanent living unit must be at least 600 or 700 square feet, depending on the location. The wheels technically make it a temporary housing unit and not subject to most building codes, building codes were followed of course for safety measures.
One of the big drivers for Lustado was to live off the grid. All the electricity comes from four batteries fed by three solar panels. A 7-gallon propane tank provides a fuel source for a fireplace, stove and hot-water heater. The only utility she pays for is water, fed to the house by a garden hose.The deck is about the same size as the living space and allows for large dinner parties. “Well, what I would call large,” she says. “You can have 10 people there, and it’s intimate and cozy. No one is having a separate conversation, because everyone is close in this comfortable setting.” The deck posts are from fallen trees found on the property. The decking is from an old house and was reclaimed, re-milled and stained. The exterior siding is cedar.
French doors were found on Craigslist for $200, they were painted and refurbished to swing outward, fit the doorway and keep water out.
A path leads from the house through the woods to a shack, seen here in the background. Inside is a toilet hooked up to a septic tank. While there is a compost toilet inside her tiny house, which she disguises as a bench in the bathroom, she uses it only for the occasional middle-of-the night run.
Inside are a built-in desk, loft and sofa. Lustado’s carpenter friend did all the cabinetry, siding, floors and millwork. The built-ins are all made of FSC-certified wood.
She enlisted local artists to design things like a custom frosted glass window, draperies and pillows. The oak hardwood flooring was reclaimed, re-planed, stained and installed.
The sofa has storage underneath its hemp and flax cushion. The cushion can also be used on the loft above the desk for a guest. A storage piece near the desk can be rolled over to the sofa to act as a dining table.
Having a propane fireplace was a priority, and she installed the smallest one she could find. It has a double walled flue and is remote-control operated, so she can turn it off and on from bed. “It’s super luxurious in my opinion,” she says.Trees on the property partially shade the solar panels, so she has to conserve her energy consciously. For example, she doesn’t use a blow dryer, toaster or any other appliance with a heating coil element, because it will blow the fuses. She could cut down the trees, but she appreciates the shade. In the future she will try to install her panels higher or buy more.
Butcher block counter tops provide more than enough work space. A pantry is to the right of the sink and a clothes hamper is also kept there. She has a small refrigerator under the counter without a freezer. “I really thought about what I need, and for the amount of space that a freezer takes up, it wasn’t worth it,” she says.
The double-height cabinets with the stenciling comprise the wardrobe closet. At the top inside is a hanging rod. Below is a custom-milled drawer and shelves. A muralist friend made the stenciling based on photographs of sycamore trees and created the same graphics on the glass pocket door that leads to the bathroom.
A horizontal window above the stove brings light and a sliver of a view into the kitchen.
The two-burner propane cooktop was originally designed for use in RVs. A third induction burner is kept in a cabinet underneath. A hot-water heater the size of a bread basket sits underneath this counter.
A ladder leads to the sleeping loft.
The skylight was non negotiable. “I always wanted to watch the stars from bed, so cost didn’t matter,” she says. She paid $1,000 for the skylight. It’s fully operable, and acts as a fire escape.
The hot water heater enables her to take as many long, hot showers as she wants. “I never have to be conscious of hot water,” the designer says.She has two storage units nearby for art supplies, other things, and some outdoor gear for camping, biking and climbing. But she’s constantly editing down her possessions and always thinks twice before buying anything.After living in her tiny home for seven months she feels more at home than ever.“It’s not temporary,” Lustado repeats. “It’s my house and if I ever relocate it will move with me.”