Good things come in small packages, especially in the form of a cleverly-envisioned, 540 square-foot home with an interesting and colorful history. Named Tiny House and described by its designer and owner Jessica Helgerson as an “experiment in reduction and reuse,” this home built of reclaimed materials sits on a five-acre farm in Sauvie Island, Oregon, just north of Portland. While rooted in form and function, elements including the spare ambiance and clean-lined furnishings add a meshing of modern design to this unique cottage.
Housing a family of four, this unconventional dream home was originally built in the 1940s in Vanport Village, a community which housed shipyard-worker families. After a massive flood, this home literally floated down river to Sauive Island and became a goose-check station. Until the designer and her husband purchased the property in 2008, it had been a rental.
This quaint dwelling welcomes the family and visitors alike with a small front porch and most noticeably its whimsical, yet eco-efficient living rooftop with growing moss and ferns found in the Oregon River Gorge.
Once inside, the kitchen and living area form a great room of sorts, even on this minute footprint. Insulated, interior walls are covered in horizontal wood siding found in a barn on property, while the hardwood flooring is sourced from local white oak. The airy gabled roof pitch with exposed iron rods creates both a cozy and fresh environment to cook, dine, read and relax in. Black, bare-bulbed wall scones add a distinctively utilitarian touch.
The inviting kitchen features three hanging pendant lights over an eclectic pairing of a locally-crafted wooden table with six chairs. A back wall of cabinetry, the sink and a vintage range, all in crisp white, add contrast to the ebony wood-burning stove which further sets the rustic tone.
Low-set, high-efficiency windows welcome plentiful natural light and expand along walls from the kitchen to the living room, which has bookshelves and deep modular sofas, also intended for guests’ sleeping. Toys are hidden in the customized drawers beneath the seating. A leaning walnut ladder leads to the master sleeping loft, a snug nook featuring a small window overlooking the farm.
The children’s room down the hall is stacked with bunk beds and nestled next to a pull-out storage closet. A separate full bed shares the space and sleeps guests.
A stunning surprise to this modest interior is the bathroom with gleaming pedestal sink and the wood-footed soaking tub, a salvaged treasure.
Dubbed the “Wild Goose Farm” by the owner’s young son, the property is as resourceful as it is beautiful. Vegetable gardens, fruit trees, beehives, chicken coops and a 1,200 square-foot greenhouse allow the family to comfortably live off the land.
The couple’s friends and family frequently gather at the outside dining table, which is covered in white-linen and features elegant place-settings of glass stemware, white glazed plates and silver flatware. Festive, rainbow-hued metal dining chairs cheerfully pop amongst the charming countryside setting of this well-designed, tiny dream home.