A Tiny House Pioneer
Dee Williams built and moved into her first tiny house on wheels in 2004. After a medical emergency led her to the age old realization that life is short, she re-assessed her priorities and decided that her friends, family and community deserved more of her time than her four bedroom house.
Although she hadn't tackled anything like it before, Dee rolled up her sleeves to design and build her own tiny house. The experience re-shaped not just her day-to-day activities, but also her confidence that her life really was in her own hands, and she could build the life she wanted. She parked her first tiny house on wheels in the backyard of two good friends, and spent 12 years there, happy enough.
Dee became an influential figure in the tiny house movement by opening her home and sharing her story with those curious about her little house long before there was any other way to explore them. Before the TV shows, the Tiny House Hotel, the Youtube channels or personal blogs, prospective tiny house builders made pilgrimages to Dee's backyard to experience a tiny house and get some much-needed advice. The many do-it-yourselfers Dee met during these early years inspired her to write Go House Go, the first how-to manual for building a tiny house on wheels.
Sparking A Movement
As the tiny house movement grew its footprint online, Dee designed some tiny houses for friends and clients before finding her real niche in education for her fellow do-it-yourselfers: she has been teaching DIY builders to build their own homes on wheels in weekend workshops since 2008.
Dee's house, life and book have been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CBS This Morning, Slate.com, Yahoo.com, Yes Magazine, the National Building Museum, and just about every corner of the internet. Below are a few select interviews and videos.
- The New York Times: Square Feet: 84. Possessions: 305.
- CBS This Morning: Inside The Tiny House Movement (Video)
- TEDxConcordia: Dream Big, Live Small (Video)
Dee's story continues to intrigue and inspire others - over 20 million people have toured her house virtually, and thousands have toured it in person - from journalists, to elementary school groups, to crowds of the curious at the Tiny House Jamboree.
The Big Tiny: A Built-It Myself Memoir
Dee's 2014 memoir The Big Tiny chronicled the story of how she came to design and build one of the first tiny homes on wheels, while battling a heart condition, and her life in the backyard. The book sent her packing on a nationwide book tour, countless radio and press interviews, and brought curious crowds out all over the country to hear her story, learn more about the tiny house movement, and see her house's floor plan mapped out in life-size, on a bed sheet.
In The Big Tiny, Dee describes the process of designing her little house:
"All of this consternation — trying to sort through how much I could bend without breaking when it came to modern conveniences — left me one part freaked out about living in the little house, and one part over-the-top excited.
It also begged me to ask a thousand times a day: What am I doing? What is the point? And every time, something deep inside me would shoosh me and say: “Because you can! That’s the point of all of this. You can do this! You can build a simple, kind house ... nothing fancy, no big deal ... just a little house that will fit you more or less.”"
Dee Goes From Tiny...To Tinier!
In 2016, Dee downsized again from her already-pint-sized home. She gave her world-famous, 84 square foot tiny house on wheels to her nephew Jonathan, and decided to start a new life in an even smaller, cute-as-a-button, 56-square foot home. She took her original, Kozy Kabin Tiny House to the Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado, where it was open for touring by the 40,000 or so enthusiastic participants of the event. She passed the house off to Jonathan at a laughter-and-tears-filled event, and returned home to Olympia to unleash the adventure of mini-micro living in a 56 square foot home.
Throughout her moving process, Dee shared many reflections on her home of 12 years, her plans for "Jolene", her new tiny house, and asked Jonathan to reflect on what he thought about moving into a piece of tiny house history. The posts below chronicle Dee's "Tiny to Tinier" journey.